Elizabeth was a huge Enid Blyton fan and didn’t let the fact that she’d never even been out of Australia deter her from writing a story about an English boarding school, full of girls having midnight feasts in the dorm and saying stuff like: ‘I say, we’re off to Cornwall for the hols!’ When her mum and dad gently suggested that she try writing about an Australian school, Elizabeth was appalled. Who cares about an Australian school? Not a midnight feast or a scary but benign matron in sight.
When Elizabeth was eleven her parents bought a veterinary practice in Newcastle, and she lived there until she was twenty-one. When she finished her HSC, she was offered a job as a copywriter at a local advertising agency, where she’d gone for work experience in Year 12. For the next several years she wrote TV, radio and press ads in Newcastle and Sydney while also writing her first novel, Being a Ballantyne, on the weekends. She never submitted this novel for publication, which was probably wise because it was pretty crappy (not that she realised that back then). She also wrote other stories and plays on her own time – well, mostly her own time. Decades later she feels free to confess that sometimes she hid in a toilet cubicle to write her own stories when she was supposed to be writing promotional brochures for the Sydney Morning Herald. Luckily for her, she worked with like-minded graphic designers who’d knock on the cubicle door and warn her when the boss was coming.
When she was twenty-one, her boyfriend was sharing a house with a communications graduate who was doing a submission for a writing gig on TV soapie, Sons and Daughters. This was a real eye opener for Elizabeth – it had never occurred to her that somebody actually wrote TV drama. She decided to give it a go, and at around the same time her old school friend Catherine Hill, a budding theatre director, suggested that she write a play for the New South Wales University Drama Society. Between her one act play called Civil Strangers and her experiments with TV scripts, Elizabeth discovered a love for performance writing. Soon afterwards she was lucky enough to land a job as trainee script assistant on Home and Away at the same time as being accepted into the NIDA Playwrights Studio. Ever since then she’s worked between theatre and television.
Elizabeth is particularly fond of her plays Secret Bridesmaids’ Business and It’s My Party (And I’ll Die If I Want To), which were both directed by Catherine Hill and broke box office records in their premiere seasons. They’ve both been produced in several countries, including a Japanese musical version of Secret Bridesmaids’ Business and an Off-Broadway production of It’s My Party starring F. Murray Abraham. Twenty years later, Secret Bridesmaids’ Business and It’s My Party are still regularly performed by amateur companies throughout Australia and New Zealand. Elizabeth has also loved writing for many TV shows including Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries, Wanted, SeaChange (both the original and the upcoming revival), The Secret Life of Us and Bed of Roses, which she co-created and wrote with Jutta Goetze.
In January 1991 Elizabeth moved from Sydney to Melbourne for a three months script editing job on The Flying Doctors and never left. She loves living in Melbourne with her husband Alan and their two dogs Hazel and Rex and she treasures the frequent visits from their honorary niece, Tori.
Losing the Plot started life as a film script called Her Stolen Passion, but Elizabeth found herself drawn back to her childhood dream of writing a novel. As cheesy as it sounds, she found the process of writing Losing the Plot a joy from start to finish, and she felt sad when she had to stop hanging around with her imaginary friends Dave and Vanessa. She’s looking forward to writing lots of other novels and making many new imaginary friends.