Writer Of The Day: Elizabeth Meyer

Photo by Elizabeth Meyer. © Writer Of The Day

Our latest Writer Of The Day is Elizabeth Meyer.

Her story, “A Sheep On The Line”, appears in our January 11 issue.

Every short story in that issue is by a brand new writer, so make sure you don’t miss out!

Hello, Elizabeth. Tell us where the idea for “A Sheep On The Line” came from?

I was on the train, travelling with my friend up to London from my home in the west country.

When we stopped at Tisbury station in Wiltshire, she laughed and told me that she smiles to herself when the train stops at this station. It always reminds her of the time that her husband stopped the trains.

Naturally I was curious!

She told me that her husband, who is a shepherd, was moving a flock of sheep out of a flooded field when one managed to make a break for it and got onto the railway line.

He called the station to stop the trains and ran up the track after it, catching it at the station. A very kind woman managed to hold the sheep in a portaloo for him while he went back to get his truck.

She missed her train as a consequence, and he presented her with a very nice bottle of wine which he had just been given, as a thank you.

I really couldn’t have made up this story! I began to wonder about the woman who helped and had missed her train.

It made me think about how chance encounters can change the whole course of our lives, and the story developed from her perspective.

How long have you been writing fiction?

Exactly a year! And I’m already a Writer Of The Day!

Last January I was intrigued by a course I saw advertised called “Writing For The Terrified”.

English was my favourite subject at school, and I had always loved writing stories as a child. But I hadn’t written any fiction since I left school, nearly thirty years ago!

I decided that learning to write would be my New Year’s resolution.

“Writing For The Terrified” was a good title to use to advertise the course to me. I was terrified of having to read my work out!

I needn’t have been though.

The course was run by Della Galton, who has written over a thousand short stories, several novels, and is a writer for the “Friend”.

She is an excellent teacher, and the others in the class were all really friendly.

In a short time I found myself writing complete stories, and feeling confident enough to read them out.

I felt very proud of myself when I won the first end-of-term competition.

The support and encouragement of Della and the other members of the class have been invaluable.

This story was my first submission to “The People’s Friend”. I can’t wait to see it in print.

Who are your favourite authors?

I love historical fiction, particularly Philippa Gregory and Hilary Mantel, who have both written vividly — but in very different ways — about the Tudors. It’s an era I’ve always been fascinated by.

I think Sarah Waters‘ writing is fantastic. “Tipping the Velvet” and “Fingersmith” were unputdownable.

I love being transported to a totally different time and place when I read. I also love the novels of Patrick Gale who writes about relationships, childhood and family secrets in such a compelling way. “A Place Called Winter” and “Friendly Fire” are my two favourites.

Also Joanne Harris, Helen Dunmore, Kate Atkinson, Anita Shreeve . . . the list goes on!

What are your writing ambitions?

To get more stories published by “The People’s Friend”!

I would love to write a novel one day. I have a few ideas floating around in my mind, but for now I want to concentrate on short stories as I learn more about the craft of writing.

Notebook and pencil or laptop? Kitchen table or study? Blank wall or inspiring view?

I jot down notes either in a tiny notebook or as a memo on my phone when odd ideas form.

When I start to write properly it’s on a laptop, sitting on the sofa, usually with one of my dogs wedged up next to me. And sometimes, annoyingly, jumping on the keyboard!

What’s your top tip for an aspiring Writer Of The Day?

I still feel like an aspiring writer myself, so don’t really feel qualified to answer this, but I would definitely say find yourself a writing group. Whatever stage you’re at, everyone can learn from others, and also be there as a support for  other writers. Also, reading lots of  whatever genre you want to be published in. I have been an avid Friend reader for the past year!

Keep an eye on the Writer Of The Day tag below to meet more of our newest contributors.

Click here to sign up for our new Fiction newsletter, and you could be in with a chance to win a signed book by Annie Murray or Glenda Young!

Tracey Steel

Having worked on a number of magazines over the years, Tracey has found her perfect place on The Friend as she’s obsessed with reading and never goes anywhere without a book! She reads all the PF stories with a mug of tea close by and usually a bit of strong cheese too!