Born and raised in the heart of Southwestern Ontario’s dairy country, Elaine is a graduate of Western University and a former high school teacher. She taught French, English and Computer Studies at various schools across the province. Writing is Elaine’s pleasure and her obsession. She has written two books of family memories, a cookbook, a children’s book, and her two historical novels: The Loyalist’s Wife, which was published in June of 2013, and the sequel, The Loyalist’s Luck, launched in October, 2014. She is currently working on the third in the Loyalist trilogy, The Loyalist Legacy. The Loyalist’s Wife was shortlisted in the Inspire! Toronto International Book Fair’s Self-Publishing Awards. A lover of people and especially writers, Elaine is the winner of the 2014 WCDR Pay It Forward scholarship and delights in speaking to groups large and small. Her teaching skills make her a natural at leading workshops on writing, speaking on various related topics, and answering the questions of book club readers. On Becoming a Wordsmith is Elaine’s writing blog where she writes about the journey to publication and beyond.
- When did you start writing?
I started writing in Grade 5 with a straight pen, a dipping inkwell and a blotter to clean up the mess. Oops! I think you mean when did I start WRITING? Sorry. I was creative as a child and received a lot of encouragement from my Grade 12 English teacher but I didn’t really start on my current path until I left teaching. My son said to me, “If not now, when?” and I started writing novels.
- What motivates you to write?
I love words. I love juggling them, softening them, slicing through them and making people cry with them. No, I’m not a masochist but humans seem to internalize ideas more if those ideas touch emotions. To write like this touches my own emotions.
- What genre do you write in and what made you chose this particular genre?
I am currently writing the third book in my Loyalist trilogy (historical fiction) which carries a family through the American Revolutionary War, the War of 1812, and the chaos in Upper Canada (Ontario) leading up to the Rebellion of 1837. Writing the stories of real and fictional people against the backdrop of history helps me internalize those struggles of my own ancestors. That these events actually happened makes the stories seem more real to me. Hopefully, my readers feel the same.
- What is your goal in writing? Do you have dreams where your writing should take you?
Just now my goal is to finish the trilogy! So far this has been a nine-year journey from inception to publication of the first two books. I want to write well but I mostly want to tell a good story. My readers often tell me I keep them up at night because they can’t put my books down. This fulfills my writing dreams for now. Of course, there may be new ideas percolating in the back of my brain. I always like to be planning.
- Do you ever suffer from writer’s block and if yes, how do you deal with it?
Every writer, depending on how they define writer’s block, suffers from it in some measure. I never stare at the proverbial blank page wondering what to write. I do, however, struggle to just write and not worry how great my words are or even if they’ll survive editing. One way I keep going is to reread my pages from the day before, massaging and seeing if the words flow, and that just gets my head back into the story and the history so that continuing the writing often just happens. Learning to accept that my words may not be perfect and that’s okay has been a freeing concept for this perfectionist!
- What advice would you like to give new, hopeful authors?
Listen to everyone’s advice for a good long time and then, once you’ve studied and learned and gained the chops, trust your own judgement. You know what you’re trying to achieve. Go for it!
- Please, tell us about your work.
Here’s a paragraph from the back cover of The Loyalist’s Wife which shows my heartfelt themes and my reason for writing:
With vivid scenes of desperation, heroism, and personal angst, Elaine Cougler takes us back to the beginnings of one great country and the planting of Loyalist seeds for another. The Loyalist’s Wife transcends the fighting between nations to show us the individual cost of such battles.
Thank you for being my guest. It was such a pleasure to have you here!!
Connect with Elaine Cougler
Blog: “On Becoming a Wordsmith” https://elainecougler.wordpress.com/