Friday, 9 January 2015

Getting to Know the Authors: Featuring Elizabeth Dutton!

      Elizabeth Dutton was born and raised in California. She always considered her upbringing relatively normal, but each decade of adult reflection has further revealed her family and childhood to be both bohemian and completely eccentric. She wrote her earliest literary work, a 27-volume illustrated epic chronicling the adventures of the eponymous “Fop Girl,” at the age of four. Sadly, this single-copy edition was lost forever years later to an El Niño dampened garage. Such is the impermanence of life.
    Elizabeth Dutton went to Catholic school and was incredibly well behaved. She received her Bachelor’s Degree from the University of California, Davis, in English with a minor in Film. Her undergraduate days were filled with crossword puzzles, poetry and BMX bikes. She was fortunate to study Poetry Creative Writing under both Gary Snyder and Sandra McPherson, two keen artists who fostered her love of words and turns of phrase. After a number of years working in offices with fluorescent lighting (including a stint as the Special Projects Manager at Mother Jones Magazine – a gig that took her to many clean energy festivals, book fairs and Woodstock ‘99), she pined for foreign shores and a future of uncertain employment, which prompted a move to Scotland and enrollment in the prestigious University of Glasgow Creative Writing Graduate Program.

Upon graduation, she returned to the United States. Although a lifelong Californian (and 5th generation Bay Area resident), she chose to leave the Golden State and move to the middle of nowhere in the rural South. Surrounded by dogs, chickens, gardens and the loveliest of trees, Elizabeth Dutton writes constantly and teaches English at the local community college.

What has she written?
She has written: 
Driftwood: A Novel and 1,033 Reasons to Smile

Now on to the Interview!
1) How old were you when you started writing, in your opinion?
I *begged* my mother to teach me to read when I was about three. I was a real jerk about it. She kept telling me to wait and I would learn at school. When she couldn't take my nagging anymore, she sent me to a school for precocious little ones and I started reading. Once that happened, I began to write and never stopped. I used to write really obscure little books that I would sew up to bind them and do readings for my family -- I was, like, five. I would get frustrated if they didn't get the point. Thankfully, they put up with me to this day!

2) What do you want a reader to gain from reading your works?
I like books that stay with me for a while after reading them, books that make me think about deeper issues. I also love gorgeous language in books and savor beautiful lines and turns of phrase. I would hope my readers would gain something like that from my work. 

3) What are your three top suggestions on becoming an author, or being a pleasure writer?
a) write the book, story, or poem you want to read but haven't found yet
b) don't worry about publication or anything like that; write for yourself and everything will fall into place
c) a blank page is just endless possibilities and for every setback, there's always a blank page waiting for your ideas

4) What is your favourite novel, why?
I think One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez is my favorite. I adore the genre of magical realism and the poetry of the prose. It is a masterwork. 

5) Who is your favourite author, why?
I love John Steinbeck for a million reasons. The Grapes of Wrath is one of the finest novels ever written (that would be my runner up for the previous question). He also captures California like no other author and shines a light on the life of ordinary people. And, again, there is a simple poetic beauty to his turns of phrase that I can't resist. 

6) What are your favorite past times besides writing?
I love gardening, going to tide pools, reading, playing with my dogs, being outside. Boring stuff. My wild years are behind me, 

7) Who in your life do you credit your imagination to the most?
My grandmother, who helped raises me, always told me that only boring people get bored. She was a voracious reader and social activist. She never did anything in a conventional manner, and she is still an inspiration to me. She knew that the only limits we have are our own imaginations. If you want it, create it. 

8) What are the top five things on your bucket list?
I don't really have a "bucket list." If I want to do something, I do it. I wish I had time and money for more travel. But I have no regrets and am content in the here and now.

9) What is your funniest childhood memory?
My brother used to do hilarious pratfalls in the supermarket that made it seem as if he'd truly injured himself. The noise came from him slapping his palm on the floor, of course. This would send me into complete laughter, which strangers found especially cruel as my brother moaned in fake pain on the ground. Maybe you had to be there. 

10) To the youth of today, if you could tell them one thing, what would it be?
Read. Question everything. Read more. Kindness is way more important than material things. Read some more. 
That's more than one thing, but we'll just have to live with that.

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