One of the best parts of running KO is getting to know some of my favorite authors. There is nothing more fascinating that understanding who they are and what makes them tick. Today is no different. While I know (admittedly) nothing about Sarah, I have been an acquaintance of Elisa’s for a while, so when she emailed me about her new book, “Why I Love Singlehood” I figured… hey… what better way to promote the book than getting to know the people that penned it. So here it is, my minute with 2 very different, very interesting ladies in literature. Happy Reading.
Why I Love Singlehood is a smart and introspective romantic comedy about a committed single woman who navigates the dating scene to figure out exactly who—or what—is the true love of her life.
Eva Perino is single and proud of it. Owner of The Grounds, a coffee shop nestled in the heart of a college town, thirtysomething Eva cherishes her comfortable life filled with quirky friends, a fun job, and no significant other. In fact, she’s so content to be on her own that she started a blog about it: “Why I Love Singlehood.” Yet when she hears the news of her ex-boyfriend’s engagement, her confidence in her single status takes a surprisingly hard hit. So begins Eva’s clumsy (and occasionally uproarious) search for love as she secretly joins an online dating site, tries her hand at speed-dating, and breaks her own rule by getting involved with one of The Grounds’ regulars. Soon Eva is forced to figure out exactly who—or what—is the true love of her life. Sparkling with warmth and wit, Why I Love Singlehood is a charming and insightful must-read for anyone—single or otherwise—who has ever been stymied by love. (click image for additional details.)
A Minute With Elisa Lorello & Sarah Girrell
KO: Elisa, I read that you are a Duran Duran fan. Prepare yourself to be crazy jealous. I got a big ol bear hug from Simon Le Bon when I was a very cute, and obnoxiously loud 14 year old. *swoon* (you know you wanna be me right now. LOL) Is there any correlation between your love for incredible 80’s music and the naming of your novel “Ordinary World?”
Elisa: I’m totally, insanely jealous of you right now. (If it had been John Taylor who hugged you, I would’ve had to kill you.)
The title of ORDINARY WORLD was definitely inspired by the song of the same name, but that’s as far as the similarity goes. I knew Andi’s story wasn’t over after I finished writing FAKING IT. I asked a what-if question (what-ifwhat-if question. And it seemed only natural to use it for the book’s title. There’s no mention of the song in the story, however. (There was in an earlier draft, but it seemed a bit too corny.) But you can tell Andi is a Gen-Xer. And Eva (the protagonist in WHY I LOVE SINGLEHOOD) is a little younger than typical Gen-X, but is heavily influenced by her Gen-X older sister, Olivia. questions always precede my novels): What if Andi lost what she loved most, the one thing she’d worked so hard to attain? I was listening to Duran Duran (big surprise), and when “Ordinary World” came on, so did the answer to my
KO: You admit to being a Facebook addict. Could you please describe this condition in detail? (My therapist says this will help me get past the denial phase.)
Elisa: My addiction seems to have waned into more of a habit, or perhaps an annoying compulsion. I can tell because I no longer refer to myself in the third person when in conversation with real-life people, my status updates are no longer the first thing I think about upon waking up (or while I’m in the shower), and I no longer feel the need to update my status every ten minutes. On the other hand, I find myself wanting to write “Like” on student papers in lieu of a grade.
Sarah: I wish my professors would’ve just “liked” my way through school. It would’ve made the whole process much less painful. And who knows, with less pain might’ve come less avoidance tactics, which would mean fewer hours of crossword puzzles and Facebooking. But alas, I’m with you, Misty, in the denial stage. I don’t have a problem with Facebook, I just check it as frequently as I check my email, my word counts, and my backup files. Okay, maybe I do have a problem…let me go post about it on Facebook, and see what my network says, then I’ll get back to you.
KO: And now… for my generic I-ask-every-author-this-question question… Who is your favorite author and what is it about them that keeps you coming back for more?
Elisa: Believe it or not, my two favorite writers are screenwriters. The first is Aaron Sorkin. It’s been said before, but his dialogue is like music, with a unique rhythm and tempo and style. I come from a musical family, so I think I hear dialogue with that same kind of musical ear when I write it. His style has definitely influenced my own. And his projects always attract top notch talent, so the delivery of those words is pure deliciousness. On top of that, Sorkin develops wonderful characters who are smart and passionate about what they do, and those qualities tend to find their way into my own characters, as well as the flaws.
My second favorite writer is Nora Ephron. I just love her sense of humor and her wit, ever since When Harry Met Sally (also a major influence on my writing!). I’m currently reading her latest collection of essays called I Remember Nothing. She can sometimes be wry. Her female characters are smart, feisty, sometimes a tad quirky, and there’s a wonderful strength to them as well. I’m not sure how to describe it other than “feminist,” and even that doesn’t seem appropriate. (And yet, neither does “feminine.”) She embraces the best of womanhood, and she’s had a rather interesting life. I also love the way she talks about food.
Richard Russo, David Sedaris, Jennifer Weiner, and Marian Keyes are my go-to authors, be it for humor, story, character development, language, or just plain good writing.
Sarah: Does Elisa count? I would have to say that my favorite authors change throughout time – depending upon what I’m going through at that point in life and how I’m feeling in the moment that you ask me. I share in Elisa’s love for Nora, Aaron, and David (it comes with the territory) but also have a secret, geeky love for old translations of classic lit.
KO: Ok. ok, on to the more serious stuff, like a proper more respectable interview. Tell me a little about your co-author (for Why I Love Singlehood).
Elisa: Sarah is, in a word, faboo. We met about eight years ago, and I knew immediately that she had a talent for writing. I also learned very quickly how wise beyond her years she is. It turns out that she is also brilliant (she was writing at graduate level while still an undergrad), and a talented artist. She later went on to become a gifted healer, too. I don’t think I could collaborate with anyone else. Plus, she likes cookies. I mean, really gets them. How can you not like her?
Sarah: Aw shucks, Elisa, you’re gonna make me blush. Truth be told, when I first met Elisa the Professor, I thought she was a little over the top. I mean, she loves teaching. Really loves it. Apart from Duran Duran and good chocolate, the only thing she clearly loves more than teaching is revision. I’d never seen anyone get so amped up about revision and the process of writing. And that’s when I started paying attention. Elisa has an uncanny ability to make any writing – even boring old English 101 papers – something worth reading. So at first I was only in it for the craftsmanship, but then she brought up vanilla chai, and I knew she was onto something good.
KO: What was it exactly that inspired you to shoulder only HALF of the weight? Co-authoring has been known to turn people away, for no other reason than blatant skepticism. So… were you simply trying to think outside of the box, or were there more complex reasons (like y’all were sorority sisters and made some secret pact to enter the celebrity world together?)
Elisa: I’d had this idea for a novel (it started as a joke at first), and when I mentioned it, Sarah not only insisted that I write it, but that she write it with me. And since we’d already collaborated on a previous writing project, I knew we could work together and would have a good time doing it. (Although, to make things more fun, we tackled this endeavor while she was in med school in upstate New York and I was teaching full time in North Carolina.) So it was a no-brainer. I probably acted very low key and said something like, “Well, ok.” But in my head I was probably thinking “Yay Yay Yay!”
And believe me, we each carried an equal load!
Sarah: That’s funny… I remember Elisa insisting that if she were getting roped into writing this thing, she wasn’t doing it alone. You know, I didn’t realize what we were doing until we were months – almost a year – into writing. To me, it was just a fun story that kept unfolding between Elisa and me; I just wanted to know what happened next. Then, it sort of dawned on me that Elisa was right: somewhere we had uncovered a plot and characters with minds of their own, and we were in it together. Co-writing never really crossed my mind, it just happened almost of its own accord. That said, it didn’t happen easily, but it happened nonetheless.
Elisa: Is that how it started? Hmmmmm…. I had known from the start that we were going to finish and publish it as co-authors. I also knew that no matter what the outcome, we were going to have a blast writing and revising it.
KO: “Why I Love Singlehood” was quickly snatched up by Amazon Encore.. is that correct? Yes.. correct (see I don’t actually need you for this interview) However… I heard you gave them a run for their money, something about “no… I want the digital release out this year, take it our leave it!” Any truth to that?
Elisa: Actually, AmazonEncore snatched up Faking It first. Ordinary World followed, and then Why I Love Singlehood. Of course, we were a lot more diplomatic than “take it or leave it!” but they were nice enough to negotiate the early Kindle release with us since we had previously planned to publish it ourselves in time for the holidays and very much wanted to keep that goal.
KO: When did you decide that writing was your calling?
Elisa: I’m not sure I ever felt “called”—it was something I just did, one of the constants in my life, like being a twin or listening to the Beatles. I was in my early thirties when I made a career of it, going to grad school for professional writing and rhetoric (and began teaching). But shortly after I self-published Faking It in my late thirties, I knew I wanted to make novel-writing my full-time paying gig. By then I was completely in love with it.
Sarah: Writing is not my calling, healing is. Writing is like breathing to me – it’s just something I do every day, all the time, without thinking or being prompted. My mother loves to say that she knew I’d be a writer when I was in kindergarten. I had a terrible temper, and whenever I got mad I’d write out apologies instead of saying them aloud because – even then – writing was how I expressed the truest parts of myself.
KO: What has been the biggest struggle you have faced to date when plotting a novel? Character development? Time lines… etc.
Elisa: Probably timelines and the plot itself. I don’t typically do formal plot outlines (although Sarah and I made one after we finished the first draft of WILS). I tend to be more character and dialogue driven (funny that I’m not a screenwriter, all things considered), and I sort of let the plot unfold as I move along, especially when I’m mentally composing. (Very often the plot figures itself out while I’m in the shower, driving to-from school, etc.) I always have to go back and fix the timeline, however. That’s usually where things get out of whack.
Sarah: You mean apart from our final proofread where we fought over three words for literally forty-five minutes?
Elisa: Oh yeah…how could I forget that? It’s true. Forty-five minutes over three words, and they weren’t “I love you,” either.
Sarah: In this case I’d agree that the timeline was our biggest sticking point for “Why I Love Singlehood”. Originally we wrote non sequitur scenes, so lacing them together took finesse and patience, but also flexibility as we realized that the characters had taken the plot to places we’d never expected.
KO: If some random person finally got off of their lazy ass and invented a time machine… would you go back and change anything in “Why I Love Singlehood?”
Elisa: Oooh, that’s a tough one. I tend to be a perfectionist with my writing and always think I could have used a better word or added an extra detail or something like that. But in terms of the big things—characters, story, etc., not a thing. We love our novel!
I would, however, like to go back and change some of those outfits and hairstyles I wore twenty-something years ago…
Sarah: That’s easy. I’d pause the rest of the world, whisk Elisa away to a comfy café, order a chai, and hash this beast out in person every time we got stuck. The distance and conflicting schedules really bogged us down at times (not to mention ate up a lot of minutes in our call plans). Other than that, I don’t like thinking about things that I’d change when I have no power to do so. We wrote our hearts out, revised like madwomen, and love every bit of what we ended up with. Well, apart from those three words we fought over…we both had to compromise there.
KO: And lastly… cause by now I’m sure you are starting to wonder what in the hell you got yourself in to. If there was ever a point in your life when you were forced to choose between writing and teaching/healing which would tossed into the dumpster?
Elisa: Right now, if forced to make either-or choice, I’d choose writing without even blinking an eye. (Of course, now’s not the best time to ask, when I’m neck deep in grading—the part of the job I like the least!) However, I could never give up teaching in its entirety, and definitely couldn’t carelessly dump it. It would/will simply take on a new form, not as academic or curricular as it’s been for the last ten years. I’ve loved teaching, loved my students, and love what both have taught me. And I would probably write about teaching if I couldn’t actually do it.
Sarah: If I were forced to choose between healing and writing, I’d choose healing, but I’d be thinking about writing the whole time. Here’s the thing, for starters, practicing medicine without a license is generally frowned upon. But, more importantly, secretly continuing to write after being forced to promise not to (maybe even with some sort of super-secret alter ego) would be a great angle! I could even wear a mask while I type…
KO: Thanks so much for the chat! I know my unorthodox interviews can get a little crazy and I just want you to know how much I appreciate your time!
Elisa and Sarah: Thank you for featuring us on KindleObsessed!