20 September 2012

Today's HNS Conference Guest - Liz Harris

Liz Harris's interest in foreign travel and different cultures led to her debut historical novel, The Road Back, which is to be published by Choc Lit in September, 2012. A member of the Historical Novel Society, she is also an active member of the RNA.

I was born and raised in the north west of London.  In between reading Law at Southampton University, and later English at London University, I spent six years in California, living in both San Francisco and Los Angeles, where I did a variety of jobs, from looking after children to being PA to the head of a large Japanese trading company.

Real life eventually intervened, and I returned to England where I taught for a number of years. During the last six of those years, my articles on educational matters were printed weekly in two local Cheshire newspapers.

My hobbies include the theatre; travel; reading books of every genre – my all time favourite author being Jane Austen - and cryptic crosswords.

I am an active member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association, and for more than seven years, I’ve run the Oxford Chapter of the RNA, and I ran the RNA’s Romantic Novel of the Year Award 2011.

I am also a member of The Historical Novel Society, and am on the committee organising the HNS Conference 2012. In addition to this, I’m a member of the Oxford Writers’ Group and a contributor to their fourth anthology, which comes out later this year.

I have two sons, who live in London, and I now live in South Oxfordshire with my husband., where I happily spend a large part of the day sitting at my laptop in the most comfortable computer chair that I’ve ever sat in.

My interest in foreign travel and in different cultures led to my debut historical novel, The Road Back, which was published by Choc Lit in September, 2012.
The idea for the novel came about when, three years ago, my cousin, who now lives in Australia, asked me to help her to find a home for an album that her father, my late uncle, had compiled after a visit he made to Ladakh in the mid 1940s during the time that he’d been stationed with the army in North India.
His album is now in the Indian Room of the British Library, on Euston Road.  I read it from cover to cover and fell in love with Ladakh.  Increasingly fascinated by the Ladakhi people and how they managed to live so successfully in a country with very little rain, I knew that I had to set a novel there and I began to research the country in depth.  The result is The Road Back, set in London and Ladakh in the 1950s and in 1995.
In addition to my novel, my People’s Friend Pocket Novel, A Dangerous Heart, set in Umbria, Italy, was published by DC Thompson in March of this year. At present, I am working on A Bargain Struck, which is set in Wyoming, 1887.

Liz's Banquet Guests

Mr. Darcy
Pride and Prejudice was the first Jane Austen novel that I read, and it will always be my favourite.
Mr. Darcy invariably tops the list of alpha males.  I suspect, however, that he might be somewhat boring in real life, lacking by his own admission, a sense of humour, and I should like to test the truth of that for myself.

Stephen Fry
Having a Devil’s advocate at the dinner table – as I’m sure that Stephen Fry would prove to be – would guarantee a lively and intelligent exchange of ideas. Whatever it turned out to be, it would not be a dull dinner party!

Mary I
I have chosen Mary as I’d dearly love to know the secrets of her childhood, and what she was told as she grew up about her half-sister, Elizabeth, and what she thought of Elizabeth.

For the same reason, I should like to invite Elizabeth I to be my guest.  Pole position would be sitting opposite the pair of them, surreptitiously listening in to their conversation.

Tony Warren
Although an actor and a writer of television dramas and critically acclaimed novels, he’s best known for creating the soap opera Coronation Street.  With his ear for dialogue, scurrilous gossip and for the foibles of others, I think that he’d be a highly entertaining companion at any dinner table.

Sir Nicholas Hytner
He’s revolutionised theatre in London by making plays accessible to those who can’t afford to pay huge sums of money for a seat.  For £10, people can go to any one of the huge range of plays he’s directed, from The Country Wife to Edward II; from The History Boys to Carousel.
The list of plays he’s directed, or brought to the theatre with other directors, is already impressive, and I should love to hear what productions he’s planning to put on in the future.

William Shakespeare
An actor and a playwright, he’d be very entertaining company.
Moreover, I would be the toast of school children throughout the country for putting an end to the speculation that plagues them at present throughout their examination years as to which were the exact words that Shakespeare wrote, and which parts of his plays he wrote himself, and which he didn’t.
Having taught for many years, I should enjoy the novelty of coming across as one of the good guys for a change.

Nancy Astor (Viscountess Astor)
Despite being anti-Communist, anti-Catholic and anti-Semitic, she was the first woman to sit as a Member of Parliament in the British House of Commons – that is to say, she was the first woman elected of the House of Commons who actually took up her seat.  She was not the first woman to be elected to the House – that honour went to Constance Markievicz, but she did not take up her seat owing to her Irish Republican views.
Nancy Astor had the chance to do much good in Parliament, and to advance the cause of women.  She squandered her opportunity, and I should like to have a word with her about that.

Delia Smith
Whilst I’d have to deflect her from any mention of Norwich Football Club as I find all discussion of sport tedious in the extreme, she could be a very useful dinner companion to have as if anything went wrong with the meal.  With Delia at the table, we wouldn’t have to leave with empty stomachs in the event of a culinary disaster – she’d be able to slip into the kitchen and do wonderful things with an egg.
Liz's Website

1 comment:

  1. Thank you very much for the interview, Helen. I thought it was great fun to do, and I love the idea of the dinner table guests. I must see what your other guests have said about whom they would invite.

    Liz X


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