by Marleigh Green

I sat down with Canadian indie authors Elizabeth Helen, a sister writing duo whose recent romantasy book series Beasts of the Briar has taken off and become an Amazon bestseller. The series, a Beauty and the Beast inspired reverse-harem, stars a heroine named Rosalina, whose father has been searching for her mother ever since she was kidnapped by the fae. Rosalina’s father is seen as the town outcast, and Rosalina herself struggles to fit into the ordinary society into which she was born until her father mysteriously goes missing. The writing duo credits market research, TikTok, and their commitment to their craft for hitting such an impressive milestone in their careers. We had a wonderful chat about their impression of how authorship has changed, shifting from YA to adult, their advice for pre-published writers, and of course, Taylor Swift.

Q: So I have to begin by asking, what was the fantasy book or movie that started it all for you? Did you have a specific crush on a character, and if so, who was it?

Elizabeth: We were big readers from a young age, Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit were a core memory for us. Aragorn was the pinnacle of a gentleman.

Q: Lord of the Rings had my first crush, too, which was Legolas. But the Elvenking can also get it. On the topic of inspiring writing, in your opinion, what is the best way to begin a book?

Helen: We like to start our books in the middle of the action. We also like to put our characters in their normal lives before they get shifted to a new normal in a new world.

Elizabeth: Starting where the story’s already in progress, and you definitely want to ground your readers and show the difference between where they are at the beginning and the end.

Q: I know how hard it is to pick just one, but if you had to choose one song that represented each Beasts of the Briar book, what would it be, and why?

Elizabeth: This is tough because we love our playlists! For Bonded by Thorns: Taylor Swift’s Enchanted. We wanted the vibes of Rosalina being somewhere new. The line “please don’t be in love with someone else” is how she feels throughout the whole book. For Woven by Gold: We listened to Dance of the Druids from Outlander to give the mystical vibe of the Autumn realm. It represented Rosalina’s journey. For Forged by Malice: Across the Stars from Star Wars is so tragic and sad but so romantic and that fits the vibe.

Q: How do you go about editing your work, being two writers instead of one?

Elizabeth: Beasts of the Briar is our 11th and 12th book. We wrote under other pen names before, so people don’t always realize that. Typically we write the first the draft together, divvy up the scenes, write the rough draft, and edit each other’s work after reading the whole book separately. We print the entire document out and read it out loud front to back. This is more to make sure we didn’t miss anything or write ourselves into a corners, especially the verbiage. We then send to our beta reading team that we recently cultivated, they’re trusted ride or die readers and we know if they’re happy, the greater audience will be. They call out scene blocking they can’t visualize, what needs to be built on, what can be cut, all of that general feedback. Our editor will also give us feedback. Final step is proofreading.

Helen: Over the years, when we edit now there’s a lot less cutting and editing. Maturing as a writer is finding your process and we did a lot more editing at first compared to now. We also outline very heavily, and having a firm outline helps us figure out what will and won’t fuel the plot. We throw everything at the wall first and see what sticks.

Q: What do you wish you knew when you started this endeavor?

You can read the rest of this story by purchasing our print issue or our online flipbook (coming soon)!

Author Bio

Instagram: @author.elizabeth.helen

Categories: Interviews