First a bit of background on our author:
Eliza’s first attempt at creative writing was in fourth grade. She and her friends were huge Charlie’s Angels fans and she would sit in her bedroom at night writing scripts for them to act out at recess the following day. She was Kelly Garrett. The journey from fourth grade script writer to published author wasn’t an easy one, but it was always an adventure and the final destination was well worth it.
When Eliza isn’t traveling for her job as an event planner, or tracing her ancestry roots through Ireland, she’s at home in Wisconsin working on her next novel. She enjoys bouncing ideas off her husband Mark, and her cats Quigley, Frankie, and Sammy.
Thank you for joining us at Scribbler’s today, Eliza!
Can you tell us a bit about what your book is about?
Sure, here is the book blurb.
Event planner Samantha Hunter is prepared for a few challenges when escorting a group of good ole boy beer distributors to Paris, the city of haute cuisine and fine wines. However, she doesn’t foresee being passed up for a promotion because she is too professional and doesn’t knock back beers with her clients.
Her focus soon switches from landing the well-deserved promotion to finding her free-spirited sister, who lives in Paris and has disappeared, leaving behind family secrets to be uncovered. A sexy puppeteer helps Samantha search for clues to her sister’s whereabouts and teaches her to embrace her inner child. And a funeral-crashing psychic demonstrates the importance of living life to the fullest. It takes Samantha’s life spiraling out of control for her to finally get a life.
What genre do you consider Kissing My Old Life Au Revoir to fall into?
The book is women’s fiction with strong romantic elements.
What inspired this story?
Much of my inspiration for characters and plots comes from real life experiences. I’m an event planner like the main character Samantha. However, I am very careful never to include any non-fiction tidbits from my real life. I want to keep my job! Of course I encounter many things that inspire fictional clients and situations. Paris is my favorite city and I’ve set two books there.
While reading your book, I felt like I could see the streets of Paris, did you spend a lot of time there for research?
Thank you, I love to hear that! I spent a college semester in Paris and I’ve visited there numerous times. My husband and I vacationed in Prague a few years ago and I stopped over in Paris on the return to research puppet shows and maternity wards. I had the pleasure of befriending a puppeteer who invited me to participate in one of his puppet shows. It was a great experience.
When initially brainstorming a story idea, do you begin with Character or Plot?
My books are character driven. I know my characters before I know the plot.
Do you develop a deep backstory for all your characters before sitting down to write or do you just have a general idea of who they are?
I’m a pantster not a plotter. The only thing I do prior to starting a book is to create a Goal, Motivation, and Conflict chart so I know these basic items about a character and that’s it.
With such a wonderful cast of secondary characters, do you have a favorite? And why?
Libby. I love writing secondary characters because they can be a bit more quirky and carefree than the main characters.
Can we have an excerpt?
“It’s now illegal to sunbathe topless along the Seine. Women can’t wear thong bikinis.” Luc’s gaze traveled down below my waist, where it lingered, as if he were envisioning my thong. My inner thighs throbbed. “What’s next? Will they outlaw kissing in public?” He raised his gaze to my mouth, and I instinctively licked my lips, thankful I’d reapplied my Risqué Red lipstick before coming up. He peered into my eyes. “Or smoking on the streets, now that it’s not allowed in restaurants, or…” He went off on a passionate tangent, and I could barely keep up. Conviction filled his eyes, and outrage reddened his face. “Putain de merde! This is crazy. If I want to show my butt to everyone, I’ll show my butt, non?” He looked to me for confirmation.
I nodded slowly. Yes, please show your butt. My nodding became more vigorous. “You’re absolutely right. You should be able to show your butt.”
It was the two demi-carafes of wine talking. I sounded like this was the most unjust law ever. As if I’d lost my right to the freedom of speech. He watched as I took a sip of wine. I slowly lowered the glass while his gaze remained fixed on my mouth.
Was he going to kiss me?
My mouth went dry with anticipation.
He placed a warm hand on my bare shoulder and gently massaged his thumb against it, gazing deep into my eyes, as if we were one, in this together. “You’re as passionate as Libby.”
His finger grazed my cheek, brushing back a stray hair. His hand lingered against the side of my face. “You have to stand up for what you believe in. It’s your right.”
My blood was racing. I believed I wanted to kiss Luc.
After just breaking up with Evan, and only twelve hours in Paris, I was suddenly open to making out with some guy I barely knew? I was looking at Luc through wine-colored glasses. He was not my type. But I was tipsy. Vulnerable. A scorned woman…
I didn’t really want to sleep with Luc, right? He just had me fired up. Hell, I was so psyched right now I’d strip and picket outside Hôtel de l’Opéra for the deportation of Natalie Darwin. Something I truly believed in. However, I’d never protested anything in my life. At least not in public, where I could have been arrested or fired.
A rap sounded at the door, jarring me back to reality.
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
My sister published two historical books and belonged to Romance Writers of America. In the late 1990s, she was a finalist in an RWA contest and I went to Chicago to cheer her on. I was telling several writers some of my humorous travel experiences as an event planner and they suggested I incorporate my stories into a romantic comedy. And so the journey began.
What is the writing process like for you? If you were to describe the process in one word, what would it be?
What is your process for coming up with character names?
I go with my gut when it comes to naming characters. I usually pick a character’s name when I start writing a book and I rarely change it once the book is finished.
Do you use a pen name/pseudo name? If so, why? If not, why did you decide to write under your own name?
I have three pen names. I write romance under the name Eliza Daly. Daly is one of my Irish ancestor’s surnames. Women’s fiction under Eliza Watson. And young adult under Beth Watson. All three genres are so different I felt that readers would need to be able to distinguish between them.
How do you respond to negative reviews?
They bothered me when my first book Under Her Spell came out, but they really don’t any longer. Some readers will click with my writing and some won’t, especially the humor, so that is fine.
Do you belong to a critique group or have a critique partner? If so, how important is this to your overall writing process?
I have a few critique partners and beta readers who are critical to the writing process. I get their feedback once the book is completed.
Do you have a particular daily writing schedule you stick to?
I wish I had a typical writing schedule. However, I travel a lot for my job, so my writing has to adapt to my travel schedule. When I’m traveling for my job, I’ll brainstorm story ideas or do line edits in my hotel room or on an airplane. Late night is my creative time, so when I’m in my hotel room and can’t sleep it gives me something to do. When I’m home, I try very hard to stick to a schedule, writing daily from 9am to 5pm and some evenings.
What writer has most influenced you as a writer?
Lawrence Sanders. I was a huge reader before I went to college. During college, I studied so much I rarely read for fun. About a year after graduating, I mentioned to my now husband how much I missed reading for fun and he recommended the McNally series by Lawrence Sanders. He said it was a quick and light read. I laughed through the entire first book then devoured every book in the series. He enabled me to rediscover my love for reading, which ultimately led me to becoming a writer. And his writing style also influenced the type of books I wanted to write.
How do you balance the need for self-promotion vs writing time?
Very poorly. I’ve published four books and it took a long time to determine what promo was beneficial and what wasn’t. It was easy to get sucked into online platforms, such as Facebook and Twitter, which only help so much. I’ve cut my promo time in half since I first published.
If you were able to only give one piece of advice to an aspiring writer, what would it be?
Don’t give up. I see too many new writers giving up after only a few dozen rejections. I had hundreds of rejections on five books. Talent is a small part of becoming published. Timing and perseverance are the most important factors to becoming published.
What’s one new thing you’d like to try?
I’d like to write a novella. I think it would be very challenging to plot a book with so few pages. I am tossing around the idea of writing a series of new adult novellas.
What are you most afraid of?
Losing my passion for writing. Five years ago I was disheartened with the whole writing process and I stopped writing for three years. I started writing again two years ago but I’m always afraid I might lose my passion and stop writing forever.
What word makes you the happiest?
Shenanigans. A very fun word.
What is your favorite curse word.
Cat or dog person?
I have three cats, Quigley, Frankie, and Sammy. I love dogs, but I am gone too much for my job to have dogs. Cats are more self-sufficient.
Go to snack when writing?
I don’t have a go-to snack but I celebrate the end of each book with a Big Mac.
If you could become one fictional character for a week, who would it be?
Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum character.
What’s up next for you?
This past October I published the first book in my young adult series, Getting a Life, Even If You’re Dead. I am currently writing the second book, which will come out this summer. Thanks so much for having me on your blog. Hopefully, I’ll return in the near future to chat about another book!
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