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Elizabeth Hopkinson

La Belle Dame Sans Merci, nonfiction, Issue 22, March 1, 2013

Elizabeth Hopkinson has been writing ever since she used to make books out of scrap paper in wet playtime at school. She has had over 30 short stories published in magazines, webzines and anthologies; and has won prizes in the James White Award, the Jane Austen Short Story Award and the Mifiction Interactive Fiction Contest. Her historical fantasy novel, Silver Hands, comes out in 2013 from Top Hat Books. She has spoken at Swanwick Writers' Summer School, Ilkley Literature Festival Fringe and University of Leeds Careers Expo.

Elizabeth describes her writing as, "seeing the magical in the ordinary". She has loved fairy tale and history since studying English Literature at Leeds University; and has a particular passion for Japan and the Edo period, visiting Japan while researching Silver Hands. Among her other loves are coffee shops, the piano, and the Yorkshire arts scene. She has lived all her life in Bradford, West Yorkshire, UK (home of the Bronte sisters and the Cottingley Fairies) and couldn't imagine living anywhere else.

Get to know Elizabeth...

Birthdate? 28th December 1973

When did you start writing? As soon as I became the first person in reception class to get onto sentence making!

When and what and where did you first get published? I had a poem in my local paper aged about 9, but my first adult publication (in December 2004) was "Fairy Dairy" in EOTU Ezine.

What themes do you like to write about? I like to write about coming of age, love and friendship, faith, asexuality, and the struggle to do the right thing.

What books and/or stories have most resonated with you as an author? Why? How do these stories and their characters find expression in your work? Grimm's Fairy Tales, because I've never lost the magic of fairy tale, or its ability to express the inner workings of the heart in a symbolic story. I find symbolism to be the only way I can really express what goes on inside me.
Everything by Juliet Marillier, because she knows so well how to involve you emotionally with a character to the point that you end up shouting at the book. And she shows masterly use of fairy tale in her work. My first novel, Silver Hands, owes a lot to her. Fushigi Yugi by Yuu Watase, for the same reason of completely absorbing you in emotional conflicts and the lives of characters. I cried for days reading a certain part of it. I want to be able to create that sort of emotional intensity with my characters. Also for humour, and well-researched use of history and legend. And for being so honest in the side-panels about her struggles with self-esteem. That resonates with me a lot.

The Tawny Man Trilogy by Robin Hobb, which wrung me out emotionally even more than the previous two. Particularly because of the unique, androgynous character of the Fool, and his relationship with Fitz. Tammo and Carlo in my current novel-in-progress, Cage of Nightingales, would not exist if it were not for Fitz and the Fool. I still have a picture of them on my computer background.

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