Elizabeth Barber Q&A

Q&A with Elizabeth Barber, author of Stone Arrows.

When did you start writing?

A long time ago! When I was about six, I remember stapling together little books about fairies that I’d written and illustrated.  I’m still at my happiest when I have a pen in my hand, or nowadays a keyboard at my fingertips. 

What books do you most like to read?

Like most writers, I love reading and I particularly like reading books for children.  As a child I read pony books, boarding school stories and just about anything I could find in the library.  I like any novel with a good ‘hook’ and an exciting plot – the kind of book you don’t want to put down when it’s time to turn out the light. 

Do you have a special place to write?

I’m one of those writers who works best in one place – and that’s usually a table in my living room.  The window looks out on a huge hornbeam tree that helps transport me to the natural world where Zeta and Finn live. I’m also lucky enough to have an amazing wood nearby and I often go there, early in the morning, with my two dogs – a toy poodle called Murphy and Monty the Chihuahua.  We sit on a log and I imagine Zeta flitting through the trees with her bow and arrow.

Zeta's wood in summer
Zeta's wood in spring
Zeta's wood in winter
Where did you get the idea for Stone Arrows?

I often find that random objects will give me the idea for a story, and Stone Arrows grew out of one of these.  Some years ago, I was digging in my garden when I saw something unusual in the stony soil. When I wiped it my heart did a flip! I’d found the flint flake that you can see on this website. It’s very small - only five and a half centimetres long -  but it’s my most treasured possession. Straightaway I imagined who the last person to hold it might have been.  And that’s when Zeta came into my life.

Do you plot your stories?

 I start off with an idea then ask myself questions.  I usually have the shape of the story and how it might end.  The funny thing is,  I can be halfway through writing and then suddenly the character does something I’m not expecting and the story takes a completely different turn.

What advice would you give to anyone who wants to write?

Write as often as you can and never give up! I used to write magazine articles and short stories but I wish I’d got round years ago to publishing a novel.  I hope the ideas I’ll be adding to this website will help you to write something of your own.  What starts off as a short five minute exercise may end up as a full length novel! It happens sometimes.