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Author Update: E. P. Rose

Author, sculptor, and poet Elizabeth Rose received more than a dozen awards for her first book—her father’s story—Poet Under A Soldier’s Hat (2015). Her second nonfiction release, The Perfect Servant…Nope (2018), chronicles her years caring for her husband after his diagnosis of Parkinson’s Disease. You’ll find Liz on Facebook and at See all of her books on her Amazon author page, and for more about her writing, read the 2015 SWW interview.

What is at the heart of The Perfect Servant…Nope?
People speak for the sufferer—Parkinson’s Disease in my husband’s case—but what of the caregiver? Who speaks for them? By sharing our story, our private horrors, my hope is my voice will be an advocate for the plight of us Caregivers. Without any training, we are forced by circumstance to take on the 24-hour care of our loved ones. Strong, feeble, old, young, rich or poor, caregiving is a soul-body-marriage and bank-account-breaker. I want to voice all those taboos people fear to speak.

When readers turn the last page in the book, what do you hope they’ll take away from it?
Forget giving advice such as “take care of yourself” and other irritating platitudes. What I, as a caregiver, cried for was practical and financial help for respite, some training to make our lives easier, and actual hands-on support. Isolated social pariahs, society needs to hear us.

You began sharing your caregiving journey on your blog in 2016. How did the book itself come together?
In order to reach a wider audience, I realized if I wrote at least 1000 words a week, in 18 months I’d have enough material for a book. I decided to edit only glaring grammatical errors and spelling mistakes so as not to lose the raw passion that breaks through the writing. The agonizing facts speak for themselves. By leaving the blog posts as they were written, and in order, readers can travel the daily agonizing ups and downs along with us, and so gain better understanding.

When did you know you had taken the manuscript as far as it could go?
I planned to continue until my husband died. Before our last holiday in France, my husband and I both knew that time together would be our last. And that’s what happened. He passed a month after we returned, leaving me free but grieving in an empty nest.

What did you learn from writing your father’s story, Poet Under a Soldier’s Hat, that you were able to apply to The Perfect Servant…Nope?
The power of dialogue and the first person voice.

Of the four writing projects you’ve published—two nonfiction books, a collection of poems and artwork, and a book of children’s verse—which one was the most challenging?
My first book, Poet Under A Soldier’s Hat. As my first I knew nothing of the mysterious craft of writing (arc, POV, reversals, etc.), but also the subject, the places, and my father’s thoughts were unknown.

You began your writing career later in life. What did your mature self bring to the writing table that your younger self never could have?
As a visual and younger artist I was not involved with words. My mature self was better able to bring to writing the aesthetic sense of expression and critique I used for my sculpture.

What is the best compliment you’ve received as an author?
How much my blog helped a long-time blog visitor (Carol) and her husband to accept the hell they were living and their way of coping. Carol hadn’t lost her mind or turned into a monster—her uncharacteristic screaming outbursts and weeping were symptoms of anticipatory grieving. I used one of her responses to my blog as the foreword to The Perfect Servant…Nope.

Who are your favorite authors, and what do you admire most about their writing?
I’m attracted to unusual personal stories of unconventional people, like Rachael Joyce’s Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry and Alexander Frater’s Chasing The Monsoon, that transport me to places and experiences outside my normal life.

What writing projects do you have coming up?
My next book has the working title When Cows Wore Shoes. It records a time under Franco when people had no use for money or machines and cows really did wear shoes. The project after my book about Spain will be one about my life growing up in India, A Raj Baby Speaks. Better get busy. Too much to do, in too little time.

KLWagoner150_2KL Wagoner (writing as Cate Macabe) is the author of This New Mountain: a memoir of AJ Jackson, private investigator, repossessor, and grandmother. Kathy posts to her speculative fiction blog at and writes about memoir at

An Interview with Author Elizabeth Rose

Elizabeth Rose was born in the foothills of the Himalaya’s during the last decade of the British Raj, but she makes her home on the other side of the world in Galisteo, New Mexico. Once a sculptor, she now funnels her creative passions into her writing. Elizabeth has received more than a dozen awards for her first book—her father’s story—Poet Under A Soldier’s Hat: An Unwilling Officer’s Adventures in the Last Years of the British Raj. Visit her website at

PoetUnderASoldiersHat200What is your elevator pitch for Poet Under a Soldier’s Hat?
Based on my father’s biographical notes, Poet Under a Soldier’s Hat illustrates 100 years of British colonial Rule from 1850s to Partition in 1947 through the personal stories of one family…mine.

What do you hope readers will take away from the book?
I hope readers will see a broader picture of the British Raj than the one portrayed by Hollywood. Its people weren’t all from traditional military upper class backgrounds, but from all classes with diverse motives, who chose to devote their lives to India and her people.

What unique challenges did this work pose for you?
My father being deceased, and not knowing any of his living peers, I had no person to question or check if I had correctly portrayed the facts and his sentiments or those of the other characters. Another challenge was writing authentic sounding dialogue.

Tell us how the project came together.
About 30 years ago my father gave a typewritten copy of what he called Memoirs of an Eccentric Colonel to each of his three children. When I finally got round to reading it about 20 years later, I realized, although not publishable in that form, the historical facts, people, and places of whom we’ve all heard (but perhaps don’t know much about) were too important/fascinating not to preserve and share. Step one was to change the format from 8”x 5” English writing paper to standard format, and to edit gross typos—laborious conversion work over two years in spare moments using Omni-page on an ancient computer. I had no thought then of writing myself, just editing and perhaps publishing his notes as he had written them.

In 2009, when a writer friend suggested we should write together and critique each other’s work, we began with poems of first memories, and short stories. I found writing them so satisfying, it was then I decided to turn my father’s notes into a readable and expanded form, not a novel but as readable as one. I rearranged, cut, and embroidered the material into a logical and arced story line, and added descriptions from my own experiences of India and the Middle East. I used artistic license to weave description, dialogue, and interpretive thoughts around the actual events and people, and came up with a strong hook.

Not having written before, I joined SouthWest Writers to learn the craft through monthly morning meetings, afternoon sessions, and by entering their competitions to both build a resume and get the judges’ critiques, then rewrite as per their suggested improvements. I even resubmitted the same piece but with a different title. (As Hugh’s Footprint, the book won 3rd place in the Historical Fiction category of the 2010 SWW annual contest, and in 2012, Poet Under a Soldier’s Hat won 1st place in the Historical Novel category.)

What was the most rewarding aspect of writing Poet Under a Soldier’s Hat?
For me, the most important aspect of my writing journey was rewriting, editing, and learning little by little how to improve—person and tense use, make each chapter stand alone, show not tell, no clichés, reduce adjectives, get rid of as many “thats,” “likes,” and exclamation marks as I could. Until I joined SWW I’d never heard of a protagonist, let alone point of view, reversal, or an arc.

What was it about your father’s life that made you want to share it with the world?
The most important thing I wanted to share about my father’s life was how an unremarkable and repressed child can turn difficult, deprived circumstances into a successful, rewarding, and colorful, if unconventional, life. A sort of goal for not only me but others to never give up passion.

What did you learn about yourself from writing this book?
Despite what my repressive English boarding school taught me to believe, I was surprised to find I could write a passable sentence and how much I enjoyed the creativity of writing. So much so, I put down my chisel with a-been-there, done-that attitude never more to make sculpture, and took to writing. Not as strange as it sounds—verbal communication/non-verbal communication—two sides of the same coin to my mind.

How has your artistic nature helped you in your writing journey?
In my sculpture I deliberately avoided detail, so leaving the observer room to add their own interpretation. I’d like to bring the same respect to my writing by learning how to suggest images and situations strongly enough that I never need to tell. To me it’s as important as avoiding information dumping, something else I picked up from SWW. The other crossover I see between the arts is the freedom to create something from nothing—a bag of clay, a block of wood, canvas, and words on paper. I’ve found each medium equally satisfying.

What can fiction writers learn from nonfiction writers (or vice versa)?
Like a good fiction writer, I think a nonfiction writer has to present factual information in a riveting form, make every sentence and word choice interesting and unique. Not that I have this skill yet, but that is my goal for the prequel of Poet Under a Soldier’s Hat and all future work.

What would you do differently if you were starting your writing/publishing journey today?
I’d collected more information before choosing an editor. Weigh the options regarding self-publishing and the traditional route. In my case, being in my seventies, I decided I hadn’t the time it might take, so I went with self-publishing. My goal was not to make a million, but to get the information out there as a historical record. Again thanks to a SWW presentation, I discovered Ingram Spark and reprinted my book in a more professional way than the first edition with new format, cover, back cover, bio, etc. (having learned their importance).

If you had an unlimited budget, how would you spend your money for marketing and promotion of your book?
Money no object, I’d find a scriptwriter to convert Poet Under a Soldier’s Hat to a film script.

What writing projects are you working on now?
I am about 30,000 words into a memoir reflecting the last decade of the British Raj in India and recording my memories of that historical period. I also take mini-breaks; perhaps write a flash fiction piece, poem, or short story.

What advice do you have for discouraged writers?
I’m not one to give advice. We are all at different points in our writing journey. My advice to myself is, “Be like a Buddhist, focus on the process of the doing not the end product.” I try to write for myself, the best I can but without attachment, such as listening to critique and acting on it. I’ve found chopping a larger piece to flash fiction length and submitting to competitions, and paying for the critiques, is a great way to tighten a piece and get feedback.

KLWagoner150_2KL Wagoner (writing as Cate Macabe) is the author of This New Mountain: a memoir of AJ Jackson, private investigator, repossessor, and grandmother. She has a new speculative fiction blog at and writes about memoir at

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