Elizabeth Mary Cummings was born in Manchester, educated in Scotland and has lived in ‘down under’ Australia and New Zealand for many years. She writes picture books and junior fiction as well as award winning poetry. Her stories often take a child’s perspective to explain the world and reflect on important life experiences including themes of resilience, grief, equality, the natural environment, kindness, empowerment, anti-bullying and mental health.
Who or what inspired you?
In relation to this book many things over the years have inspired me. Growing up knowing I had an uncle who died as a teenager one I had never met nor seen any pictures of made a great impact as did the obvious grief my family had surrounding the telling of his narrative. As a teacher I have had to cope with being involved with families during their times of loss and as a friend, not only have lost some very close friends in recent years but have been close to others who have gone through loss of a child or sibling.
What has been your journey up to this point?
My family are always there; living so far from my roots has meant that times together are precious. This has influenced the away my husband and I have parented our children. We have had to be this little supportive network to each other as work has taken us around the world and far from our support networks. We have learned to make strong support network from new friends we’ve met over the years and miles.
What are you working on now?
I am on a third draft of a speculative fiction YA manuscript as well as working with a kiwi friend of a JF series and finalising another JF book for indie-publication.
I have two major author-illustrator picture book collaboratives on as well about environmental themes – watch this space!
As a child, what was your relationship with books?
Gosh I was a total book worm – and my parents went crazy trying to get me to stop reading under the covers!
What is the most important thing about what you do?
I love writing and I love words. I love connecting with others through these and using them to start important conversations.
What are the challenges you face in this industry?
Obviously getting traditionally published is a challenge is there is so much fabulous competition out there. This is why I am so wrapped that BSP are publishing this important story about grief and remembrance. In the independent publishing I do there is a steep curve in learning and in becoming efficient and building networks.
What advice can you offer to aspiring authors?
Read read read! Connect with other, join your local writers centres and then get your bum on the seat as there is no substitute for sitting down and getting those words down – all the fine tuning reworking and KYD can only be done after that!
What is your definition of success?
Accepting where you are in your own journey and being grateful for each little milestone.
What is your ultimate goal?
To get all the stories in my head out into the world!