Meet Elizabeth Lim.
Elizabeth Lim grew up on a hearty staple of fairy tales, myths, and songs. Her passion for storytelling began around age 10, when she started writing fanfics for Sailor Moon, Sweet Valley, and Star Wars, and posted them online to discover, “Wow, people actually read my stuff. And that’s kinda cool!” But after one of her teachers told her she had “too much voice” in her essays, Elizabeth took a break from creative writing to focus on not flunking English.
Over the years, Elizabeth became a film and video game composer, and even went so far as to get a doctorate in music composition. But she always missed writing, and she turned to penning stories when she needed a breather from grad school. One day, she decided to write and finish a novel — for kicks, at first, then things became serious — and she hasn’t looked back since.
Elizabeth loves classic film scores, books with a good romance, food (she currently has a soft spot for arepas and Ethiopian food), the color turquoise, overcast skies, English muffins, cycling, and baking. She grew up in Northern California, with a brief stint in Tokyo, Japan, but now lives in New York City with her husband.
Elizabeth graduated from Harvard College with a degree in music and a secondary in East Asian Studies, and completed her graduate degrees at the Juilliard School.
She is represented by Gina Maccoby of the Gina Maccoby Literary Agency.
I saw fanfiction and squealed. How has your fanfiction shaped you as a reader and writer? Oh and dare I say it… fangirl?
Haha, writing fanfiction definitely shaped me as a writer, simply by instilling a love in me for writing! As a kid, I always liked writing short stories, but I usually did them for class assignments and rarely on my own time. Discovering fanfiction totally changed that. I was a huge Star Wars and Sailor Moon nut, among other fandoms, and I started out reading other people’s stories online before deciding to try my hand at writing my own.
Borrowing characters that already exist and making them your own is a fantastic exercise for beginning writers, because so much of the world building is already done so you don’t have to agonize over little details and can get straight into juicy character developments and original plots. Once I was brave enough, I posted my stories online, and I learned so much from the community’s feedback. Anyway, to make a long story short, writing and reading fanfiction was critical to my development as a writer — it helped me love the art, and be open to honing my craft.
Wow. The “too much voice” in your essays really hits home for me. I gave up creative writing two years ago after a professor said there was “too much me” in my writings. How did you overcome the self-doubt when you did start writing again?
This was tough fr me. Honestly, in college and much of grad school I gave up creative writing to focus on composing good, academic papers. At some point, I don’t know when, I just missed creative writing so much that I started doing it for fun again, and at least until I graduated, I had to compartmentalize my essay-writing brain and my novel-writing brain. It wasn’t easy though — one of my professors definitely warned me that my writing sounded too much like music journalism, and that I sounded like I was trying to entertain my reader, lol (like that’s a bad thing), and in my creative writing, I could see myself overthinking things and making everything way more complicated than it needed to be. Having supportive friends and family helped me get through it, and not being too hard on myself while focusing on getting better.
Does your degree in music, and therefore love of music, ever trickle into your writings or writing habits?
For sure! I try to pay attention to the rhythm of my words, and you’ll find little homages to music here and there in my stories! I also really love writing musical themes for my characters — it helps me get to know them better!
What is your favorite myth or fairy tale?
Ahhh this is a tough one. I have so many loves…I love the Eros and Psyche myth, Wild Swans, East of the Sun, the Chinese legend of the Cowherd and the Weaver…you may see hints of a bunch of these in THE BLOOD OF STARS 😉
Reflection is published this year. The next is in the works. Did you suffer any book two syndromes when you began pitching and later writing The Blood of Stars?
Nope! I actually started writing THE BLOOD OF STARS before I began work on REFLECTION, so I neatly avoided book two syndrome. BoS is the book of my heart, so I was so thrilled when it sold. I am getting nervous and excited about writing BoS II though!
Is there anything you’d like to share with the readers today?
First off, I feel like all people who love reading books are like kindred souls to me, so high fives all around! Secondly, thanks for taking the time to read this interview (and thank you, Rae for hosting!), and thirdly, I’m really excited to share REFLECTION: A TWISTED TALE and THE BLOOD OF STARS with you all!