School of Cultural Studies and Humanities

Graduate publishes debut novel

Elizabeth Cartwright, who graduated in 2018 with a first class honours degree in Media, Communications and Cultures has published her first novel and she shares with us her experience studying at Leeds Beckett and how this helped her in her publishing success.

Elizabeth Cartwright

I loved my course and all the lecturers, I can’t tell if it feels like only yesterday, or decades ago when I was at University. As a person who always enjoyed the theoretical side of media and culture, I really appreciated the amount of reading and writing the course asked for. I enjoyed every module—even Sports Media (I am definitely not a sportsperson)—and still hold the lessons learned in Race and Culture with me.

After graduating, I went back home to Thailand where I worked in marketing and development for a year, optimising the social media profiles and presence of the company. While I was working there, however, I was also beta reading for other to-be authors. It was my enjoyment of working with authors that led me to start my own business, EC Editorial, in mid-2019. I’ve been working as a full-time novel editor since then and have a client base that stretches across several continents. You can find me at and @ec.editorial on both Facebook and Instagram.

Studying media, communications, and cultures at Leeds Beckett has helped me in many aspects of my changing career. Of course, most traditionally, my course prepared me for my stints in marketing, but it then also helped me to market myself once I'd started my own business. I already had a good grasp on how to get people’s attention and how to create well-crafted content, which made attracting clients relatively easy. The large amounts of writing and evaluating developed my writing skills, and the heavy analysis of television and film also taught me a lot about how to write good stories—after all, all scripts start off as words on paper.

I’ve always been a writer. Before I was 6, I’d written my first story inspired by an episode of the Cbeebies programme Come Outside. By the time I was 13, I’d written my first proper book (or what I would now call a novella). Then, almost 10 years ago, Earth's population hit 7 billion. As a secondary school student at the time, I remember watching the news and seeing two types of story: fear-mongering about Earth’s limited resources, and the desire to live longer and longer lives. To me, these didn’t work together, so I created ‘Reapers' out of the dilemma: a story where immortality was the enemy and which would go on to be known as Seeking Shadows.

As I mentioned, the process of writing Seeking Shadows took me 10 years, mostly because I hit a wall of writer's block for several of those years. But in 2018, inspiration struck (with the help of a few of my own beta readers), and I pushed on to complete it in early 2020, at which point I sent it to my editor who helped me polish the story ready for its publication in February 2021. Sending my book out to reviewers was more terrifying than hitting publish a month later, as, for the first time, I was making myself vulnerable to criticism that I wouldn’t be able to act on. But overall, reviews have been largely positive, and I’m already hard at work on Book 2! 

Reviewers have commended Seeking Shadows for its “fresh characters, engaging pacing, and strong voice,” calling it “fast-paced, richly built, and addictively written," and “the start of a promising and unique fantasy series!” (Quotes from 3 Goodreads reviewers).

As an author, I’m active on Instagram and Facebook @lizzy.squiggle (these are separate accounts to my editor ones).

Here’s the book description:

Humans on Kana live unaware of the Shadows holding their world together—and for good reason.

As a high reaper, it will become part of Branwen’s responsibilities to protect the Balance, should she be crowned. However, consistently demeaned by Taren, her bitter competition to the Nether throne, she struggles to feel confident in herself and the power she keeps hidden—until a reaper returns from Kana injured, speaking her rival’s name.

When Taren joins forces with a pompous businessman hungry for invincibility, Kana quickly transforms into a deathtrap as humans unite under a common goal: no more reapers, no more death.

While starving reapers grow weaker and humans feel the consequences of a life with no end, Branwen sets out on a mission, navigating a world of technology to bring Taren to justice and restore the natural order. But an unlikely friend leads her to a discovery that there is more to the humans’ unified behaviour than meets the eye, and saving the worlds may no longer be so straightforward.

The problem is locked inside an old clocktower, and the solution hangs around Branwen's neck.

Ancient magic and modern technology collide in this fast-paced epic. Seeking Shadows is an intriguing science fantasy, and the first book in the Chronicles of the Balance series.

Seeking Shadows is available online at Barnes & Noble, Waterstones, and Amazon. The ebook is also available on Amazon and Kindle Unlimited.

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