Monday, December 21, 2015

Elizabeth Joseph | Author Interview

This week we'll be sitting down with the author of TWIN REFLECTIONS--Elizabeth Joseph. This interview with Elizabeth causes me to nostalgically  remember that I too was once a young writer. Whenever I meet young poets and novelists, I feel a strong urge to encourage them and to applaud them for taking on this world (quite literally!) of storytelling and poetry. There is nothing more exciting than to see budding, young talent. I hope that you enjoy this conversation I had with Elizabeth!

When and why did you begin writing?
I think around the third grade, which I've noticed is the starting place for a lot of people, because that was when I really remember sticking with writing stories. I don't really remember why. The reason always seems to change based on where I am at what point in life.

I also started writing around that age! For me, it was second grade. Great minds think alike! Anyways, what inspired you to write your first book?
So, unsurprisingly, I was inspired by a mirror maze I went to in fifth grade. After that I wanted to write a story, and started the very first draft of Twin Reflections in my local school aftercare, and then a bunch of other ideas came about. I mean, they weren't necessarily super original, but they were ideas that I wanted to write about and put together. I posted a bunch of "chapters" up on my old school blog (which is deleted now, I believe), and you can find some old sections in

Who designed the covers?
We found an editor who designed the first cover and hired a third party to do the cover art and the second was done by a colleague of my father.

Why did you choose this title?
My dad and I were tossing out titles, trying to figure out what the book should be called. The very first one, from way back in fifth grade, was The Palace of Mirrors - and given that the current story has little to no focus on palaces of mirrors, the title was no longer relevant. He came up with Twin Reflections - which I liked a lot. It's a pun on the story, as the two main characters are twins, their experiences become a reflection of one another, and there are literal twin reflections, as they are in a mirror maze. There's many meanings to the title, and I think as you read you get to interpret the title in different ways at different points.
TL;DR: I chose it because it was a giant pun.

I think that when I read the novel, i'll have a lot of giggles with that pun. Quite clever. I hope you develop that idea more. So it seems like you were inspired by some puns, but  were you also inspired by any authors or books?
So, so many. Way back, I loved Rick Riordan's Percy Jackson and Heroes of Olympus series's and the Secret Series by Pseudonymous Bosch. I love Philip Pullman, Tamora Pierce, and Neil Gaiman's works. When I can't read books, I read short stories or fiction on the internet, and a lot of how I write is an amalgamation of a ton of different people, especially because as I kept writing I kept learning new things and (unintentionally) emulating certain styles. I'm very impressed by people who can make something visual with just a few words. I take paragraphs and paragraphs to try for the same effect.
I read comics too, art is always an inspiration. There are lots of good quotes by good people on, and fantastic fantasy art by Renae Taylor and I find lots of interesting stuff on social media.
And J.K. Rowling, of course.

Goodness. Queen Rowling,  Duchess Pierce, and Sir Riordan (that's what I call them in my head, haha) are some of my favorites.  I actually follow Pierce on GoodReads. She has inspired the way I write and think about female characters. You should check out her blog at some point; it's amazing. If you had to choose, which writer would you sit down and have lunch with (alive or deceased)? Why?
This is really hard and I have no idea who to pick. If I can pick literally any writer, either Tamora Pierce or Lin Manuel Miranda (who wrote the musical Hamilton and technically counts). Miranda because he writes really well and his work is great and Tamora Pierce because she would be a great resource from whom I could get knowledge. I'm pretty indecisive when it comes to these questions because I'm indecisive and also because there are so many options. 
I take this back, I'd want to have lunch with Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and probably ruin his life once he finds out how popular Sherlock Holmes became, or lunch with someone who really needed a good meal.  I give up this is too much.

Pierce. Pierce. Pierce. I'm so glad that we both love her. Anyways, what book(s) are you reading now?
As of right now, I've started the Welcome to Night Vale novel. I've put it on break, but I am reading it, even though I'm going through it really slowly.

What process did you go through to get your book published?
Twin Reflections is self published. We found an editor who led us to through the process. Time was the main goal, we were hoping to get it out before I started high school, but that didn't quite happen; TR was released about a month into school. 

Self publishing is getting pretty big now. It's cool that you had the resources to join in on that. What did you find most useful and most challenging in learning to write and in writing this book? 
Plotting was really difficult because I could never stick to the frame of events I created. I couldn't figure out which ending was right until I wrote it, and that was challenging. I read lots of blogs and works by other people about writing and that helped, as well as reading any type of writing by other people and developing stronger sense of what worked and what didn't. Ultimately what was most helpful were the responses I got from those who read and picked out things in the drafts, as they pointed out everything that was wrong. Everything. My dad picked holes in the logic of the story, I kept flipping over phrases and wording, a few people picked out things that they noticed were not right and rushed, and that helped me learn about what I was doing right and wrong too. 

It's great that your family was involved in the process. BETA readers make all the difference sometimes. What makes your book stand out from the crowd?
Strictly speaking, there is nothing that really makes my book stand out, because different things stand out to different people. I'm Indian-American. I wrote about a sister and brother duo who don't know what race they are and who have two different perspectives on their futures, and a queen who'd be East Asian in real life. I have the perspective of a teenager who has no idea what's happening at all ever, and that influences/influenced my writing a lot - and that's evident in my characters. I think the thing about teenagers is that we never really have it all figured out, no matter what adults who have things figured out want, and I tried to reflect that in my characters - I made them as real as I know how, as I know myself and the people I surround(ed) myself with, and I think that really makes it stand out, that perspective I have. 
Another thing that I've realized from talking to people is that there are a lot of kids who like to write. There are so many people who want to write things. I'm really young, but I made a thing! And there are lots of people who may look at me and say, "gosh I'm old and I can't/haven't done anything" but that isn't true. I'm really lucky that I got to create TR, and there's a lot of potential in the story that I've not yet expanded on, and there's a long ways to go from 14 to the rest of my life and lots of things to do. I guess TR really stands out because a 14-year-old wrote it, and there's a lot more to be done with it.
I'd have to say that the description I give people, "two twins go into a magical mirror maze" also really makes the story stand out, but.

So you've spoken a lot about these twins. Who are they and are there any other protagonists? Was there a real-life inspiration behind him or her?
The main three are Vera, Mark, and Missena. Vera can do magic and has a lot of self doubt. Mark is mostly ordinary but optimistic. Missena is the queen of her kingdom, and got there by means that led to her have an uneasy rule.
Honestly, there wasn't any one person in my life who directly inspired any of the characters. For some characters, I wrote and later realized that the traits they had were really similar to people I knew in real life. For other characters, I modeled a certain aspect of their character on a person I knew. One character in the story, Mark, has ideals that were (unintentionally) a variation of those from someone in my life. How Vera feels and deals with what she feels was a mix of a lot of people I knew, same for Mark, same for Missena. Ultimately, I wanted to let all of the characters be real and be relatable, but also a logical extension of who they are. 

That's great. It is amazing that you've grasped that characters are not just figments of the imagination, but they are as tangible as you and I. I really shouldn't be surprised, I was once a young writer too, haha. What was your favorite chapter (or part) to write and why?

The one part that really sticks out in my mind is this one scene (I'll be really vague so I won't spoil too much) where there's a thing with the heart and stuff, but I wouldn't say that's my favorite, although I do remember constantly going back and rewriting it. I think probably (SPOILER) the interactions between the reflections and their humans was a good part for me to write. I was looking over stuff from Sailor Moon, there's one scene where something similar happens with the characters in a mirror palace, and it was really good. It was really, really focused on the characters, and I tried to live up to that. I kept going over it, and when I finally figured out who Vera and Mark really were, and what they wanted, that was something. It's those breakthroughs that I really write for, I guess. I got that breakthrough about breakthroughs while writing about breakthroughs, so :|

Can you share a bit of your work with us? 

An excerpt  from "Twin Reflections":
"Vera turned around. Behind her stretched an entrance that was dark gray and muggy, at odds with the cool blue sea and rocky shore before her. She turned to look behind her. The entrance disappeared. She looked around. It was on top of the cliff with spikes and sharp edges, on the cliff’s surface. She would have to climb up to get there.
Vera cursed, looking around. Everything seemed barren from what she could see when she went further up the beach. If she and Mark stayed here they wouldn’t last long. If they went back in, there was a higher chance they would come across something or someone.
Even if she did stay here, everything felt dead. There was nothing here that she could pull something from, and her own spark of magic felt dampened. If her magic couldn’t work here, then she didn’t have any way to force Mark awake.
Vera reached in the knapsack and found a very long rope. She looked at it curiously, sure she hadn’t packed this much. After all, one never knew when rope was needed, but this was much more than what she had taken from the docks…it must have been part of the illusion. Vera tied it around Mark and the other end around her waist.
She only felt the damp of the air like a soaked cloth thrown across her face and the taste of salt on her lips from a mermaid’s kiss. Vera tried to let green flare up in her hand, but nothing happened.
She inhaled deeply, tasting the spray from the ocean and the salt in the air. The waves foamed as they crashed against the shore, dull blue against the pale sand. Some color between red and orange flared up from her hand. For a moment, everything seemed to ripple. Vera felt like she had eaten a sugar beet. The temporary energy rush was making her feel very optimistic, and maybe that was what made her start on the cliff."

Learn more about Elizabeth through her blog:

Thanks for reading!
Much Love, Peace and Blessings,


  1. Loved this interview! Elizabeth contacted me to review her book and I can't wait to read it!

    This interview gave me a better sense of her personality and motivation for her book, it was very insightful!

    1. Hi Bookishbeauty, thank you for stopping by! Elizabeth seems like a sweetheart and it was a pleasure doing this interview with her. Please share your review when it becomes available!!


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