Lilybeth Zefram

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I’m just your average Aussie sci-fi nerd and scientist. I didn’t start writing stories until I was doing my Honours research as my escape from work. By day I do all things science. By night, or when I’m procrastinating about science, I’m dreaming up all manner of scenarios and characters in my head. I enjoy reading and writing just about any genre.

I’ve never thought of myself as a writer, but as a scientist I have to write fact. Now I like to think that in writing fiction I’m making everything equal.

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Email me at: [email protected]

Q: Where did your love of books and stories come from?

A: My parents always let me develop my interests quite freely. As a child my parents would always read to me. Then, as I got my older my older sister, who I shared a room with for years, told me stories she would make up. My sister is also the person that got me into science-fiction and history. All three of them are massive and much loved influences in my life.

Q: When did you first start writing fiction?

A: I find myself an accidental writer. I always say that my sister got the creative gene and I got the analytical gene. The first time I attempted to write was essentially because I was bored. Or perhaps I was procrastinating. In fact, I probably was procrastinating.

I was preparing for my Honours research in marine biology at that point and probably wanted to avoid work. It started out as a fan-fiction which I choose to forget. It was my only attempt at fan fiction. As soon as I finished that one, I started to write what I like reading. I had a lot of ideas because for about six or so months before while in my undergrad degree I had actually started forming my own ideas, I just hadn’t known what the hell to do with them.

Luckily for the world at large, I refuse to let any of those stories see the light of day.

Q: When did you first consider yourself a writer?

A: My supervisor tells me that all scientists are writers. We need to write to publish so we can maintain employment and funding, and we need to write to get funding. In addition, the way my supervisor has taught me to write is that when you write a paper you need to write a story and have the data to back it up. (Circle of life, baby!)

So get this: I write about my science research, I’m completing a PhD and I’ve now added publishing fiction to this and yet I still don’t consider myself a writer. I don’t know what would ever make me consider myself one. I never actually considered myself a scientist until I was forced to write my occupation for jury duty and I couldn’t put in “PhD student”, like I did for my tax returns.

Q: When do you write?

A: Since I am actually meant to be writing science, fiction is a fun side. That being said, when I get writer’s block for my research I switch back and do pages of my fiction. When I do need to step back from my work is always a great time to write fiction as well because I don’t have to stop. Weekends when I’m avoiding my crazy extended family, though I love them to bits, is also a good time to write.

The writing style from formal scientific to fiction is a big leap. Going through my first edits was a big but wonderful learning curve.

Q: Which authors do you enjoy reading?

A: The writers that were the biggest influence on me creatively as well as simply entertaining me were Diana Gabaldon, J. K. Rowling, Sara Douglass, and Naomi Novik. I also happen to enjoy Jeff Lindsay and George R. R. Martin. I found myself loving historical romances, too, including Carol Mortimer, Helen Dickson, Connie Mason, and Julie Garwood. In the last few years I’ve quite fallen in love with the MM genre and so read anything by Andrew Grey, Carol Lynne, Lynn Hagen, and Stormy Glenn.

Q: Where do you get your ideas?

A: My ideas come directly from what I enjoy reading and watching on TV and movies. I’ve always enjoyed historical, science-fiction, fantasy and paranormal books. TV like Star Trek, Star Wars and Doctor Who are excellent fuel for my mind... as are Marvel Superheroes. Historical based shows I enjoy are The Tudors, Vikings,Outlander, and Poldark. I also love historical and science docos. Throw in some awesome rock music (modern and classic) and that is my tastes in a nutshell.

My pen name is Lilybeth Zefram – I thought it was a cool combination of science fiction and [modern] history. I wonder how many others with the same twisted taste can figure it out. And if you do figure it out, drop me a line on my Facebook page.

Q: How did you form the idea for your first published book?

A: To Be By Your Side changed a lot as I was writing. Some characters just took a life of their own. It was first going to have werewolves in it and George was never meant to be Evelyn’s love interest!

The actual seed of idea came from me watching an episode of Time Team (BBC). They were digging up a medieval enclosure which featured a partially standing tower and stones from the medieval structure were taken to build the nearby Georgian estate home. Of course, this is not uncommon in England but it gave me the idea for what is now the story excerpt. To me all books also have a soundtrack. To Be By Your Side had a lot of Foo Fighters in mind because I went to their concert around the time I was writing. Songs like "Everlong" and "February Stars" were very intense with their message. The song "Oh, George" helped with the character name.

From there things fell into place.

Q: What made you decide to publish?

A: I had thought once or twice before that it would be cool to publish but never felt confident to do so. For To Be By Your Side, it is actually the 36th story I’ve written, but this is the one that I felt “alright, you’ve done so much practice writing and reading so many books. You’ve adapted your fiction writing from what you’ve read.”

The final push to actually publish was more or less a dare, of sorts. I was speaking to some colleagues about writing fiction vs. non-fiction, in our case science research. One of them is a prolific fan fiction writer. Long story short, I decided that it would be easier to publish fiction than it is to publish peer review science and my colleague did not believe me.

In my experience I won that conversation.

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