Current Employer/Organisation Name
Chudleigh Phoenix Publications
What have you been doing since leaving Exeter, and what are you doing now?
I have become an independently-published author under my own imprint, and using a pen name, Elizabeth Ducie. I now have a portfolio of four novels, one of which was runner-up in the Self-Published Book of the Year Awards in 2015; three collections of short stories; and a series of non-fiction books under the title ‘The Business of Writing’ which teach simple business skills to writers.
Why did you choose this career? And what do you enjoy most about your work?
I was a (very) mature student who had spent thirty years in a technical and scientific world, writing millions of worlds in audit reports, text books, training modules and journal articles. I decided it was time for a change and so I switched to creative writing instead. And, having had experience of the traditional publishing route in my first career, I decided to investigate the new options provided by technology advances of the past decade. I love the freedom I have as an authorprenuer (someone with responsibility for all aspects of writing and publishing) to write what I want – fiction, non-fiction, short pieces or epic novels – when I want.
What did you enjoy most about your programme and what was the biggest highlight?
I enjoyed learning how to write discursively rather than having to stick to pure facts as I had in my first career. And it made me a much better reader. There is a great joy in reading novels or watching movies in the middle of the day – and knowing it is work and therefore justified. The biggest highlight was Sam North’s module on writing story treatments. Although it was primarily meant for scriptwriters, I found the technique worked very well for novels as well. I used it to plot out my debut novel, the first draft of which was completed just after I graduated.
What did you enjoy most about studying here?
It’s a beautiful campus, connected to a tiny city. I found the course satisfied my objectives to move from technical to creative writing and from short stories to novels.
Why did you choose to study at Exeter?
My home is in south Devon. It was the obvious choice from a location point of view, but it was also a good course which gave me what I needed.
What skills and experiences have been most useful for your career?
Learning to think for myself; an interest in the business as well as the creative side; reading more widely; self-directed working.
What advice would you give to a current student who wishes to pursue your career?
Independent publishing is a viable option these days and should not be considered as a last resort for someone not able to get a traditional deal. It is certainly not an easy option and requires an interest in and aptitude for business systems as well as the creative side of things. But for someone with those interests, the opportunities are great.
What are your plans for the future?
A series of murder mysteries set in the Halden Hills in Devon; a series of travel shorts; lots of short stories; plus anything else I feel like writing and publishing. I am my own boss and can decide for myself.