Author Elizabeth Kaiser Interview
Elizabeth, author of Jeweler’s Apprentice, joined the Nebraska Writer’s Guild last year. She’s already working on a sequel to the timeless fantasy about a sixteen year old girl whose curiosity makes her stumble upon a secret the King can’t allow to be revealed. Sent to a mountain jeweler as an apprentice, life becomes no less fraught with adventure and intrigue as she learns the trade of crafting jewelry.
Elizabeth is an intriguing person. As I read her blog, I discovered many facets make up this beautiful gem that is the woman behind the author. I will let her explain to you how her life story lends to her mindset of fantasy.
Elizabeth, you have an eclectic interest in preferred reading. However, you’re first book is a young adult fantasy which incorporates some of your hobbies such as intricate jewelry. Tell the readers the story you related to me about your family and life on the farm.
I’m third in my family with an older sister and brother. I’m 28, and Abigail is my youngest sister, and best friend. She and I manage a small herd of dairy goats, (registered Alpines, their site is here.) and share so many other interests that we make a great team no matter what we’re doing, whether it’s quilting, designing and sewing our own clothes, painting, drawing, or obedience training the dogs. Although she isn’t interested in writing, she loves stories, so she’s my best “writing buddy” and we brainstorm on plots, characters, clichés and all things writing! She’s a nit-picky perfectionist, and my first reader, so she drives me to do more and be better!
My parents, three siblings and I live and work on the farm. Our family business includes training, marketing and selling horses. Our operation has been blessed to have gained a really solid reputation over the years we’ve been in business, and buyers from all over the country bid some high money for a horse from Double K Ranch. Abi and our oldest sister work full time in the horse area, first training, conditioning for months, then photographing & videoing, and then making the sales. A web presence is a big part of making this successful, and I take care of a lot on that end of things.
Dad has been quite ill to varying degrees for basically his whole life. Living a healthy lifestyle and eating a balanced, natural diet have always been a big part of our lives. We produce approximately 99% of our own vegetables and our own dairy products. We raise & butcher our own meat, can, dry, and freeze much like farm families did in the first part of the last century. This keeps the schedule very full, and there’s always something next to try and add!
Mom has been into growing and using herbs for as long as I can remember, and so I am a neophyte compared to her experience! This has given me a lot of exposure. I value the knowledge I have gotten secondhand, and do try to keep picking things up as we go. Remembering all of it is the challenge! But that’s one of the great things about writing, doing the research is so fascinating!
Since I like to write in pre-modern or fantasy settings; I like to slip little nuggets of fact in on the storyline. This is especially useful in the herb section, since they were so important to health care prior to very recent centuries.
Abi and I are involved with the Nebraska Dairy Goat Association and I have done the cover art for its monthly newsletter for about three years now, and somewhere in there became the S.W. Director for the club. Having a monthly deadline has insisted that I focus on my drawing periodically, and I’m not able to “let it slide” like life has a tendency of doing! Lately I’ve been encouraging Abigail to help me out a little with a few drawings, and she did one last week that is really fantastic. Being a perfectionist, she has a tendency to hang back until she’s sure she can do it perfectly. When she took the plunge and got it as far as she could, then I was able to give her a few pointers, and she was really pleased with the result. I’m so happy about this, because now her confidence is boosted and she can be bolder about tackling her art on the next! Her pencil still life, “Cheese Plate,” will be appearing on a future cover, and I’m going to keep her going on this track!
I’ve really been grateful for the support she’s often given me on my endeavors, and I definitely try to pay that back.
How did that influence Jeweler’s Apprentice.
We always lived out in remote areas, and so we kids grew up exploring whatever new woods we had moved next to and learning to get along with horses, cows, goats, sheep, dogs, cats, chickens, and lately turkeys. I was more the “nose in a book” type, but my siblings were my peer group, so I did what they did a lot of the time. The older two could get kind of wild, especially with horses.
I count myself blessed with a good understanding of how things were before industrialization, which sets me up to write about faraway lands in long ago times. I’ve always been a lover of fairy-tales, so oftentimes a serving of that gets stirred in to the mix.
Many people have commented that the setting of Jeweler’s Apprentice feels very “real,” as if the history actually happened somewhere. I love that compliment and credit my unique childhood for much of that.
I understand that besides the family business, you have an interest in art, along with your sister Abigail who helps review your writing. In your book Jeweler’s Apprentice your protagonist, Fia, has a younger sister Eilma. How much is Eilma like your younger sister Abigail?
Eilma definitely shares many traits with Abigail, certainly being about the same span of years younger than Fia, and blonde/blue eyed, sweet and caring, quiet and thoughtful. Eilma differs in that she is more precocious as a youngster than Abi was, so in that way Eilma is borrowing traits from an older Abi and maybe some from a younger me. Abi was a picture perfect child, whereas I had a certain sense of curiosity and boldness.
I do have to say that I’m very fond of Eilma, and was sad when the story required leaving her so soon! I hope to write her story as well someday.
Elizabeth, you joined the Nebraska Writer’s Guild sometime last year and attended the fall conference. I’ve had such wonderful experiences with the other members of the guild. I noticed in your acknowledgments of Jeweler’s Apprentice several of the guild members are mentioned. Explain just how being a member of such an organization has advanced your writing career.
I joined NWG just before the Fall Conference 2011, and so I haven’t been around in the group a whole long time. I went up to Ainsworth with two lovely ladies from my area. They were such great company. It was my first time at a writing conference of any kind, and having made two new friends right beforehand was so nice!
I had an all-around great time at the Conference, and the part I liked best was networking with all the nice fellow writers! Everyone was so open and friendly, and it was a blast to talk with people who were all thinking along the same lines; improving craft, gaining new social media/marketing skills, and the whole publishing animal!
After coming home I felt empowered enough to get my manuscript seriously edited, and then put out there as an e-book. This has been a huge turning point in my writing career. I’ve received some excellent feedback and gained fans; all of which has been like high octane fuel to my writing aspirations. It’s catapulted me into a Writer instead of a hobbyist. Now I feel pressured to turn out a good manuscript within a certain time frame; always trying for each to be successively better than the last.
So I’d say that joining the NWG was a major “plot point” in my story as writer. And I’d suggest any writer-hopeful to find a writer’s group near them to get in with. Having fellow writers/storytellers there’s so much information to be shared and so much encouragement to be shared as well.
Of course, a lot can be found on the internet, so folks just need to reach out and get in contact with people who share goals with them!
Some people have commented on the depth of emotion; sorrow and anger, shown in some pieces of your writing. It’s not what they expect when first meeting you. What has influenced this?
I’ve had a unique life in many ways; including sadness. Dealing with severe illnesses within my immediate family… anyone who’s been in that position knows it can go on forever and drive everybody to the breaking point. The repeated, unexpected losses of extended family who were very special to me, those are sorrows that don’t go away. We loose things; that are, were or might have been… and it breaks our hearts.
It all serves to show that life is precious. We are held together by a thread, and sometimes… it severs. In all lives, things are irrevocably changed, and there’s no going back.
We deal with it. The process of grieving comes in many stages, and, as writers, I definitely think the darker days of life are the ones that we’re kind of afraid to allow out into our writing. But when I have taken that chance and let it manifest, the release from within was so freeing. Writing is great therapy!
Then I built up the courage to share with others, I was humbled by the intensity of their reactions to the honesty of the piece. It was amazing to see how it resonated with them on different levels; and it really showed me that we’re not alone in feeling sorrow, anger, or fear, anymore than we are when we feel joy, hope and love.
It’s easy to think that no one understands the depth of pain, but the fact is we tend to hide our hurts behind smiles. Smiles are so important! But healing is important too, and believing the universal connections we all share is liberating in a deeply powerful way.
I don’t focus on the sad things. Happiness is a better place to live. But pathos gives our stories, and our lives, depth and layered meanings. I think recognizing this as something good is vital.
As a member of the Nebraska Writer’s Guild and a fellow author, I’d like to thank the Kaiser family for moving to Nebraska. Elizabeth works hard with her family and we can expect that she will continue to put as much care and effort into her writing. With Jeweler’s Apprentice available at http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Ddigital-text&field-keywords=Jeweler%27s+Apprentice for Kindle and the promise of more books to come, I expect much from Elizabeth Kaiser.
Elizabeth, I’m looking forward to whatever you and Abigail put your heads together on next. I’ll buy it.