About Lisa Eveleigh:
I work in publishing as a literary agent and represent mainly commercial and literary fiction, but have always loved reading biography in my free time, impelled, I suspect, by sheer curiousity about the lives of others. The novels of Georgette Heyer inspired my love of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries and my first book ‘Beauty and Chivalry’, which tells the story of the famous ball shortly before Waterloo, is an expanded version of an essay which I wrote as part of my MA in Biography at the University of East Anglia.
I’m currently researching the life of Sarah Sophia, 5th Countess of Jersey, a famous social and political hostess who will be familiar to many readers of Regency fiction and biography.
What inspires you to write?
Biographies by other writers, in part. I admire work by Richard Holmes, Michael Holroyd, Claire Tomalin, Frances Wilson and Kathryn Hughes. But I also love the process of research, and have been finding gems in biographies, journals and letters published in the mid-nineteenth century, looking back to the Regency period.
Tell us about your writing process.
In biography, the most important thing is to keep a timeline with dates of what happened when, both to the central characters and their friends and relations. This can be expanded to include events of national and international importance, which is good background, and it’s also possible to discover what the weather was like on a certain day etc. which fleshes out the facts. I read fiction from the relevant period as well, for atmosphere and descriptions of clothes.
Using contemporary quotes is helpful, too.
What advice would you give other writers?
Edit! Self-editing is hard work but always worth it. I advise my novelist clients to put a manuscript away for at least a fortnight after they’ve finished it, and then to read it outloud to themselves from start to finish. They will then ‘hear’ what is working and what isn’t and this is particularly crucial for dialogue.
Also it is really worth printing out a manuscript and giving it to someone else to proofread before submitting to your agent or editor. A fresh eye will spot the dreaded typos.
How did you decide how to publish your books?
I chose to self-publish my first book partly because of its short length, but mainly because the material was time-sensitive and needed to be released to coincide with the Waterloo bicentenary. A traditional publisher would not have been able to release it in time.
Self-publishing can attract the attention of a publisher if the sales and reviews are strong, but many new writers underestimate the level of self-promotion they will need to do to maximise both.
What do you think about the future of book publishing?
The agent Ed Victor famously said ‘Nobody knows anything’ and there is a grain of truth in that. Who could have predicted the success of Fifty Shades of Grey? But trends change. I don’t think it’s a good idea to write to the market and always advise people to write the book that makes their heart sing.
What genres do you write?: Biography
What formats are your books in?: Both eBook and Print
All information in this post is presented “as is” supplied by the author. We don’t edit, to allow you, the reader, to hear the author in their own voice.