Our spotlight author today is Elizabeth Pegues, author of Sierra Phillips: A Lesson in Swimming in Blue Liquor, available here on Amazon.
Stacie: Welcome Elizabeth. We’re pleased to have you here as a guest author.
Elizabeth: Thank you! I’m really happy to do this. It’s my first novel so I’m pretty excited about it.
Stacie: You recently published a book, Sierra Phillips: A Lesson in Swimming in Blue Liquor. Give our readers a peak at the story behind the story. In other words, where did the idea come from and how did you decide to write the book?
Elizabeth: I have a friend, who is reading it, ask me “so how close to real life is this?” I had to laugh that she’s really into the book and the twists and turns. But my life is not really that exciting so it’s safe to say the book is only like 10% me.
I moved to LA in 2006 from Ohio with a suitcase and a dream. I was jobless for a couple months and pretty stressed about it. When I’m stressed, I write. I wrote the novel in about a month. So Sierra’s stress in the book was definitely reflective of my own.
Stacie: Sierra Phillips: A Lesson in Swimming in Blue Liquor as a coming of age story. How much of your own background comes through in the book? Elizabeth: I’d say that Sierra is probably my personality. My mother was a tad concerned that she’s a terrible mother as a result of reading some of the passages about Sierra’s mother. I explained to her that a novel with a good mother wouldn’t actually be appealing. No need for therapy…yet. Some of Sierra’s childhood reflections align with my own. I did attend an Ivy League so the feelings of inadequacy that Sierra feels were definitely me during the time I wrote it. When you come from that overachiever culture, you tend to measure every level of progress or lack thereof against your peers.
Stacie: Describe how you developed the characters and how you evolved the main character throughout the story.
Elizabeth: I’m a huge fan of soap operas. What I love most about them is even if you don’t remember the soap, you remember the characters. You may not know from where Erica Kane came, but you know who she is. You know who Luke and Laura are and they hold a place in television history. I strive to develop characters like that who make an impression on you. I interview my characters and actually outline them more than I do the story. The character drives the story. I want my characters to be as realistic as possible so that they are relatable. A good story must be believable.
Stacie: What’s the overriding message you hope to communicate through Sierra Phillips?
Elizabeth: I’m big on stories about faith. That’s what this novel is about. And not the religious view of faith, though I do handle religion in a way. The analogy of swimming is a huge factor in having faith for me. I had to learn to swim in college in order to graduate. I started out in the kiddie pool. It was embarrassing at first. I was 18 years old and couldn’t swim. But my swim teacher was wonderful and patient with me. But you must have faith you won’t drown. Your fear will sink you.
I wouldn’t touch the Olympic size pool until my test. The day of my test, I’m watching all of these athletic swimmers diving in and swimming like pros. Talk about feeling incompetent. We had to do three laps to pass. I passed but I never swam again. But overcoming a fear like that is pretty huge and reinforces your faith. During the time of writing this novel, I had to reflect on that and have faith that I was meant to be where I was and I would survive. And ten years later, I’m still here.
Stacie: You published through the Amazon Digital Platform—known to readers as Kindle. This platform has changed the world of publishing for self published authors like yourself. What was your experience self publishing and would you recommend it to others?
Elizabeth: So I wrote this back in 2006. And I was pretty stoked that I actually wrote a novel. I’ve mostly leaned towards wanting to pursue screenwriting but a novel felt like instant gratification. So I immediately sent it out to agents. I think I sent out like 20 queries and half of them responded pretty quickly. They all pretty much said the same thing. They were pleased with the story structure but they didn’t know how to market the book. I didn’t know what to do with that feedback because I was expecting it to be black and white. Either “You suck as a writer” or “Awesome book! Let’s make a deal”. So I didn’t know what to do with that. I just shelved it.
It wasn’t until end of last year, I was talking with a friend, Alexis Ayres, who has had success with self-publishing through Amazon, that I was inspired to try again. It’s a little early for me to give a glowing recommendation. But I do encourage writers to go the way of self-publishing to get your material out there.
I plan to submit queries again for Sierra because I could use more eyes on it. I think I have a good novel out there. And I appreciate Amazon giving writers a simplistic means of distributing our material. I was really happy to find the perfect covers from Cover Design Studio. It was a huge weight lifted because the cover is the draw. And the covers I’ve purchased have gotten some great feedback and they fit the storylines perfectly.
Stacie: I too am incredibly grateful to Amazon. I got my start self-publishing with them as well. I’m glad our website was able to support you and lift some of the burden. That’s great. Sierra Phillips was your first book. Will we be seeing anything more from you in the future?
Elizabeth: Yes, next month I plan to publish a romance novel called Incarcerated Hearts. I would also love to do a continuation of Sierra’s story if people were into to it. I think there’s plenty of dramatic story left to tell with Sierra. My script-writing partner, who is self-publishing as Damien Russell on Amazon, and I are working on some projects for both television and film. Our production company is called Mann Jones Productions (website www.mannjones.com in progress).
Stacie: That’s really exciting. Congratulations. Where can readers go to learn more about your or your book?
Stacie: Thanks for sharing your time with us today Elizabeth. It was great talking to you.