In presenting her newly published novel, NORTH OF BOSTON, to the gathering at Stellina's Restaurant in Watertown Square, Elisabeth Elo began by explaining that as an adult, she had never found a character that she wanted to read about. At the same time, she had had a character living in her mind that would not leave her alone -- a character that insisted on being brought to life on the pages of a book. That was the beginning . . . . Or perhaps the beginning of NORTH OF BOSTON occurred when Elo was involved in a boat accident. Elo explained that she began writing this novel, but 60 pages in, she realized that she didn't have enough information to write this book . . . that she needed to do research before continuing. She put the book aside and wrote another book. But the character in her mind persisted. She had no peace until she released the character onto paper.
Or perhaps NORTH OF BOSTON began during her stay in Newburyport, Massachusetts, where she lived close to Joppa Flats for many years. Or on Cape Cod during her participation in dolphin shows (where she actually swam with the dolphins, something that she and her cohorts were specifically forbidden to do).
Elo describes the writing process -- the creative writing process -- as superimposing structure on total chaos. She talked about the need to be coldhearted (if it doesn't work, throw it away!) . . . the need to be comfortable with complete uncertainty until the last word. "You have to be comfortable taking risks in your writing, or the book will be dull." She explained that she always found structure and research "a pain", but loved writing. She continued, "I'm always surprised when I get to the end of writing a book. . . that's the last word? Really? I ask myself as I write that last word."
"NORTH OF BOSTON began with the theme of conquering fear -- of getting back on the horse when you've fallen off, as it were," Elo said. "Lots of things from my life poured out -- I had too much material -- not overtly, but too many themes and preoccupations . . . ", much of it from her own life. She was the youngest of 4 kids, 2 of her brothers were ships men and her sister is now preparing to sail around the world. As youngsters, her older brothers and sister were always going off boating, and her mother would beg them to take Elisabeth along; they wouldn't!
Elisabeth Elo has written five novels, two of them have been published. The first published novel was a comic novel, published under her own name; her second novel, NORTH OF BOSTON, is a suspense novel published under her pen name, Elisabeth Elo. She explained that it was difficult to find a publisher -- that the first agent she approached said her book was terrible, but she found another agent who loved the book and found her a publisher. Viking proceeded to remove 25,000 words from the manuscript which had taken Elo three years to write. Elisabeth Elo's NORTH OF BOSTON was published this year, 2014.