Letter and Interview - Frequently Asked Questions
It's great that you've discovered my site. If you don't know my books I hope you'll find enough of interest to read further. If you have read my books, an especially warm welcome, and many thanks to all of you all over the world who have kept them alive and who have campaigned for their republishing.
Many of my readers have been wonderfully encouraging, sending letters, offers of help, advice and great stories about reading the books when they were fourteen! I hope that you will want to share your stories with a wider audience here and discuss the books. There's a lively message board for your use. I'd love to hear from you.
You will find chapters of all the books I have written, Easy Connections, Easy Freedom, Mel, The China Garden, including my new book, Finder. You will also find chapters of the original prequel series of four books to Easy Connections and Easy Freedom - Janey and the Band, Sing the Blues, Janey, Bright Lights Shining, and the latest, Fool's Gold.
You will find links to the sites mentioned and others, together with blurbs, reviews, and photographs.
For collectors I have included details of all the editions in English, together with the cover images of the editions, including some foreign editions, that I know about. If you've come across others, I'd like to hear about them.
If you wish to buy autographed copies of new editions of the books from me click on Bookstore, where there are full details of all the books available and how to order them.
I hope you enjoy your visit. Let me know what you think - and come again!
With very good wishes,
Special thanks are due to......
Kate, in Arlington, USA, who first wrote to me about the interest on the Internet; Angela Connell, in Brisbane, Australia, who developed the Unofficial Liz Berry Homepage; Lizzi, the Webmaster of 'Republish', in the USA, who put up a petition to try to get the books re-printed, and Loosey, in England, who posted an open letter to me and my publishers asking for a new edition of Easy Freedom.
Catalyna of Walkersville, USA, contacted dozens of people to tell them about the reprint and the Webmaster of the Koala site in Australia wrote a review for Amazon, and, showered with requests for her copy, set up a board for Liz Berry readers to exchange messages and finally find out what happened to Cathy, Dev and Chris! Many thanks, too, to Nada of Melbourne who has researched pages of links here to help readers understand the more obscure references in the books.
Most of all I want to thank Anna (aka beard of evil/beard of pants) in Auckland, New Zealand, who has tirelessly campaigned for the books, set up the Liz Berry Network, helped many readers find those elusive copies and, with Kiles, started two Liz Berry Forums.
Interview - FAQ
Question: When did you start to write?
As soon as I learned to read. I had my first story published when I was eleven in the local paper ( I was very excited about my special book prize) but it was downhill all the way after that! Like many beginning writers I wrote short stories and tried, unsuccessfully, to get them published. It was not until I began to teach teenagers and needed to read through the school library every two years, that I began to take my writing more seriously.
Question: Easy Connections was your first book?
No. I first wrote three books for 13-16 year olds about a girl with a wonderful singing voice called Janey and a band called Night Mission - yes, the same Janey and Dave who appear in the Easy books. From these came Easy Connections and Easy Freedom, intended for young adults, but all part of the same series.
Gollancz, my publisher, didn't want a series at that time but took Easy Connections. In one way that was a pity because other publishers weren't then willing to publish the rest of the series, so they have sat in my filing cabinet all these years.
Easy Connections, intended to show the disastrous effects that a single act of mindless violence could have on everyone concerned, including the guilty person, was published in the UK in l983 to ferocious criticism and controversy and almost hysterical attacks. Westminster Council (home of the most notorious case of political corruption in two hundred years!) banned it from their public libraries. At that time my students' favourite viewing was snuff movies. I think academic snobbery and antipathy to rock music might also have had something to do with it.
Despite all this it went into paperback, and then into both hardback and paperback in the States, and then into various editions in other languages. The readers wrote to me and said they loved it, which kept me writing. It stayed in print for over ten years.
It is interesting to see that the controversy hasn't completely died, (see a couple of comments on Amazon) and the same misreading and misrepresentation flares up from time to time, mainly from people who havent read the sequel.
Question: Why is the sequel, Easy Freedom, so difficult to find. Where can I get it?
Easy Freedom, dealing with redemption and forgiveness, was originally written as part of Easy Connections. 'Too long,' said the publishers, 'They won't read that length. Split it up.' It eventually appeared as a separate book in l985 - to only moderate interest.
My paperback publisher, Penguin, didn't want it. 'The readers won't be interested in the characters once they are married,' they said. So it was never published in paperback, nor in the States, either in hardback or paperback. Only a few countries took it - lovely Iceland and Spain - and my guess is that the original UK print run was on the low side - hence the difficulty of getting hold of copies.
Occasionally first editions appear for sale on the Internet auction houses, but they are very expensive. Last year a copy of Easy Freedom went for $1025 on ebay. For years I've had letters from readers dying to know what happened next, and where could they get a copy? Unfortunately I only had one original copy myself!
As to reprinting - for a start let me explain that there's no chance of Gollancz reprinting. This company has been taken over several times by other publishers and no longer publishes children's or young adult books.
The limited edition paperback which I had reprinted sold out in a few months. The new edition has taken many months to be reprinted, but is now available in the Bookstore.
Question: I think the Easy books would make a good film. Have you thought about that?
The film rights were sold just after Easy Connections came out in l983, but nothing came of it. A few years ago a young Australian film maker was interested - but she has yet to find the funding. She wants to set the whole story in Australia.
Question: We all thought there would be another sequel - about Chris.
Gollancz said they didn't want another Easy book, so I wrote Mel. Mel was considered to be a much more realistic book and had good reviews - except for the music connection, which the critics thought spoiled it!
There was difficulty with the publishing of Mel and with the mauling I had had with the two previous books, I decided writing wasn't worth all the trouble, and to concentrate on my painting. I have always had a tendency to suffer from that dread disease, writer's block, and this together with the lack of interest and encouragement from publishers, gave me good reasons for giving up.
Question: But you published another book more recently?
Yes, the ideas for The China Garden became compelling, the setting and atmosphere began to haunt me, and I started to write again. This book took longer than any of the others because it has a complex internal structure, with several story lines and the history and mythology had to be researched carefully.
However, this book too had its troubles. Difficulties with the cover design meant it appeared in the UK in the middle of August, when all the schools were closed and few newspapers bothered to review it.
Question: I have tried to find The China Garden in the UK. Is there a paperback edition?
The hardback is out of print, I'm afraid, although I have a few copies for sale. A new paperback edition has recently been published and is available from the Bookstore. The US paperback Avon edition is still available. Try some of the bookstores on the Links page.
Question: There are 5 star reader reviews on Amazon.com.
Yes, the lack of interest in the UK has been made up for by the book's success in the States. It had good reviews and the readers too have given it a five star rating. I am very proud of my award from the Virginia State Reading Association, voted for by 90,000 students across the State (thank you, guys!) and proud of being included in the Best Young Adult Book exhibitions of the American Libraries Association.
Question: It's been quite a while since your last book. Are you writing anything new? Will you write a sequel about Chris?
My last editor asked for a realistic book and suggested a crime story. I wrote Finder. It is a kind of thriller and it has a rather tense and spiky love story. It is another controversial book. There are chapters here, look under Books.
Recently I finished the fourth in the Janey series, called Fool's Gold, (for 16-18+), which makes the series complete. At the moment I have no definite plans for writing a sequel about Chris - but lots of good suggestions have been made, so you never know! Have a look at Third Book
Question: I'd love to read the four Janey books. Any chance of seeing them?
There are excerpts here. The four books have now been collected into two volumes - a cheaper alternative for those who might want to read all four! Available, of course, from the Bookstore.
Question: What about Finder?
Also available in the Bookstore.
Have you got a question you want to ask? Send it along and I'll do my best to reply. Contact Liz
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Liz Berry was born and lives in London. She worked in offices, magazines, politics and for a well-known examination body, before becoming a careers guidance advisor, helping young people plan their futures and finding employment opportunities for them. Then, for twenty-two years, she was Head of Art in an East London Comprehensive school.
At the same time she started and ran the East London Gallery for four years
Liz Berry is an artist in oils and mixed media. She also makes experimental embroidered textiles. She exhibits her work mainly in London and southeast England and sells her paintings through Gallery 41.