The Writers’ Clubhouse: Q&A With Author Elizabeth Mary Cummings

Elizabeth Cummings

Elizabeth Cummings

Welcome to the Writers’ Clubhouse. Join us behind the scenes in the book industry as we talk to prominent authors and illustrators about the process of creating great books for kids. Have you ever wanted to be a writer? Get inspired here!

While Elizabeth Mary Cummings has done many jobs all over the world, her true passion is for sharing stories.

The author of two picture book series, Elizabeth has used her work to teach kids about difficult topics like mental health and grief in an accessible way. In her latest series ‘Verityville’ she tells the stories of the everyday people who make the world a better place.

Her first book ‘The Disappearing Sister’ has gained attention for its simple explanation of eating disorders aimed at siblings and families of sufferers. She also enjoys writing poetry and won the HARP Writers’ Prize in 2015 for a poem about gender and identity.

We spoke to Elizabeth about what inspires her as a writer and asked what advice she would give to emerging creators.

Library For All increases literacy globally by bringing a unique digital library to readers without access to books. We work with writers all around the world who want to share their cultural stories and see their words in print.

Q. You have written some amazing books for children, but what was your professional background before you became an author?

A. I studied Psychology and Business Studies at The University of Edinburgh and then went on to do a postgraduate in Primary School teaching. I taught for many years, both full time before I had children and then part-time once my children were a little older. I taught in lots of different schools as a relief teacher as well as short term learning support contracts and working with some of the first waves of Iraqi refugees in New Zealand. It was also during this time that I completed my Master’s degree in education, focusing on Art education and cultural identity as well as a component in teaching Drama in primary school. When I came to Australia 11 years ago I ran a foreign language business for the first five years and then worked as a business development manager for the national language company with whom I was contracted.

Q. What is the best thing for you about being a published author?

A. I love writing and I love words. I love connecting with others through these and using them to start important conversations.

Q. What are some of the key ingredients that make a great book for kids?

A. Relatable content, characters that resonate and a great plot/message!

Q. What advice would you give someone who is just starting out as a writer or illustrator?

Read read read! Connect with others, join your local writers’ centers and then get your bum on the seat as there is no substitute for sitting down and getting those words down – all the fine tuning reworking and ‘KYD’ can only be done after that!

Q. What new creative projects are you working on right now?

I am on the third draft of a speculative fiction YA manuscript as well as working with a Kiwi friend on a JF series and finalising another JF book for indie-publication. I have two major author-illustrator picture book collaborations on as well about environmental themes – watch this space!

Looking for some great writing to inspire your work? Visit Elizabeth Mary Cummings’ website, or look for her many books in stores or at your local library. 

Images courtesy of Elizabeth Mary Cummings’ website: