After university Liz taught English in Leicestershire and then lived in France for a year, in the Loire Valley. On her return she worked for the National Women’s Aid Federation and subsequently read for the Bar. During her time at the Bar, working from the chambers of Michael Mansfield QC, she represented Greenham Common Peace Protesters, Anti Apartheid demonstraters, striking miners and Clause 28 activists, as well as battered women, children who suffered sex abuse in and out of their homes and gay parents seeking parental rights.
Throughout her life, Liz has been writing – plays, stories, and she has always kept a diary.
As with the tales in A Sense of Occasion – the Chelmsford Stories, her latest novel, The Essex Girls (formerly Beyond the Beehive), describes the lives of working-class mod girls in Essex in the 1960s. Liz began writing the novel many years ago. ‘After the kitchen-sink dramas of the Fifties the interest in the working-class began to wane, particularly with regard to the lives of girls – their love affairs, their struggles, their dreams. I wanted to record the life I lived,’ she explains.
It is said – once a mod, always a mod, particularly where clothes are concerned. And Liz is still looking for a way to recreate the grey pin-striped fan-pleated skirt that she wore with such pride in 1965. It was made of a cheap, scratchy material and was two inches too long, so she had to roll it over at the waist, but worn under her three quarter length brown suede coat, it absolutely looked the part. Unnecessarily, she ironed it every Saturday evening before going out to see Georgie Fame or Zoot Money or the Who playing at Chelmsford Corn Exchange. Ironing has now fallen from her (very short) list of domestic practices, along with the mod habit of taking exquisite care of her hair – clips at bed time for smooth curls the next day and vinegar rinses to ensure shine. Her only regret is that her family didn’t own a record player until 1967 so she missed out on the chance to buy all those wonderful singles by the Motown, Chess and Stax artists of the day.
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For her Frankie Richmond novels, Liz turned to her experience as a barrister. In the award-winning Good Bad Woman, family law barrister Frankie is low on lucrative work and spends her time listening to her collection of 60s Tamla classics. When one of her clients dies in mysterious circumstances, Frankie is number one suspect. Frankie’s clerks and other members of her chambers, 17 Kings Bench Walk, are based loosely on people Liz has met through her time at the Bar. And while one or two of the incidents described, or something like them, have happened to her, she has never yet been arrested for murder.
Liz’s second novel, Babyface, also features Frankie Richmond, this time battling to discover the truth about systematic child abuse at a children’s home in the Midlands. The third Frankie Richmond novel, Crazy Arms, will be released shortly.
Her books are available here.
Elizabeth talks about her writing here.
For more information contact Annette Green Authors’ Agency