Author, Elaine Blick, is no stranger to turning to new chapters in her life. Shortly before the release of her latest novel (Hearts Set Free – at Chapters in Pukekohe, the Clarks Beach local spoke to JON RAWLINSON about her past and, importantly, her process.
In an age where an almost limitless stream of entertainment is just a few clicks away, it can be easy to forget that behind every great story is a writer. While Elaine Blick says she enjoys reading, often enough she makes her own fun. “I write novels simply because I enjoy writing. I’m an avid novel reader and try to write the kind of book I myself would like to read. I look forward, each day, to settling back into the story,” the Clarks Beach author says.
“Before beginning a book, I usually have a rough idea of the direction it will take, but the twists and turns of the plot often surprise me as they are dictated by the characters and the relationships that develop between them. It’s like watching a play unfold on the page.
” Of course, tales can be told just as well through modern devices. And yet, this England-born, New Zealand-raised novelist believes there is no definitive substitute for the tangibility of a book.
“I know we live in a technological age. I do own a Kindle and download many books, but I still prefer to read a printed book and turn the pages. There is nothing I like more than settling down with a book at the end of a day.”
Rural Living first spoke with Elaine a few years back – see our Aug-Sept 2014 issue, accessible via ruralliving.co.nz. Since then, she has published her fourth work of fiction, First Names Only, and her fifth, Hearts Set Free is set for release soon – see secondary story.
When seeking inspiration, Elaine says she need only look out her window or into her past. First Names Only borrows from both.
“My surroundings inspired several chapters. I drew from memories of Clarks Beach as it was in the ‘60s, when baches were almost the only dwellings near the beach. Those were halcyon days for holiday makers and I think this book contains a wistful note for the past.”
Published in 2015, First Names Only tells the story of a young, unmarried mother in the 1960s. Elaine’s mother worked at Childhaven – a home for unwed mothers in Epsom – for many years.
“Throughout my youth, I knew many of the young mothers and their stories, so the book is written from an authentic background. I think First Names Only struck a chord with women who had been in the same situation in particular.”
Specific people from her past have graced Elaine’s pages; however, as her books are works of fiction, she’s careful to ensure that connections aren’t too obvious.
“The one book where I did draw heavily on characters I knew was Where the Bellbird Sings. They were mostly teachers from a school where I taught. I thought they would not be recognisable as this was 50 years ago and I had changed names
and the location, but someone identified them,” she says.
“After that, I’ve been careful not to model my characters on actual people. Even though they’re only used as a starting point and for some characteristics, people can be upset by this.”
Born in England, Elaine moved to New Zealand aged five. The former teacher has lived in both counties since. Although she doesn’t write for money or adulation – more for the love of the game – her novels have met with some success here and abroad.
Above all, she believes everyone should share their stories.
“Many New Zealanders are discovering the satisfaction of seeing their personal stories in print. Even if their books are read only by their families and friends, it’s important to make a permanent record of their unique experiences,” she says. “After all, it’s our individual experiences which make this world such an interesting place in which to live.”
Find out how you can Win! A copy of Hearts Set Free HERE