Elizabeth Eulberg, author extraordinaire for our March Book of the Month — The Lonely Hearts Club — was kind enough to answer our lengthy interview questions. Today, we bring you Part 1 of 3 in our interview!
“Well hello, smart and beautiful person, has a boy ever acted like a jerk to you?” I don’t know if I’d really need to say more than that!
How much of Penny’s story was inspired by your own life?
There are bits and pieces. I’ve been cheated on and lied to. Several of the stories about boys gone stupid are inspired by things that happened to me or my friends. I also fell from the top of a bunk bed when I was little because my sister wasn’t watching me, which might explain a lot.
The characters in LHC seem so real. Have there been people like them in your life? A Ryan, a Todd, a Rita, etc.?
I wish I had a Ryan in my life! I think we’ve all had guys like Todd, but most of the characters are pure imagination. There are parts of me in Penny and Tracy (especially Tracy’s sarcasm). Tracy is also somewhat based on one of my good friends who is fiercely loyal and always says what’s on her mind. My sister Meg (the one who is responsible for my unfortunate bunk bed incident) has been a supportive and protective sister like Rita.
The Beatles play such an important part in the story of LHC. Why theBeatles? (Why not a different band?)
The Beatles came along with the title The Lonely Hearts Club. At first I thought I would have an inside joke and make the club consist of four girls: Paula, Jonatha, Georgia/Georgette and I couldn’t think of a girl’s name for Ringo. Then Rita came to mind and I thought, No, I should have a character named after a Beatles song and have her love the Beatles and Penny Lane Bloom was born!
We know music is important to you. What songs would be on the soundtrack of your life?
This is such a fun (and tough) question!
- The Beatles, “With a Little Help from My Friends” – I have such an amazing support system.
- Oasis, “Wonderwall” – This not only reminds me of studying abroad in London, but it was the first song I learned on the guitar that actually sounded like it does on the record!
- Passion Pit, “Little Secrets” – I love to let loose and have fun, particularly after a stressful day. If you ever want to see me dance like a lunatic, put this song on!
- Kelly Clarkson, “Since U Been Gone” – One of my favorite songs of all time and reigning champ on my iPod, I listen to this at least once a day at the gym.
- Pat Benatar, “Hit Me With Your Best Shot” – I love going to karaoke (I even have a machine in my apartment) and this is my go-to song.
- Madonna, “Holiday” – I am constantly planning my next vacation. We need a holiday…
- Snow Patrol, “Chasing Cars” – I hope someone feels this way about me someday: “those three words are said too much, they’re not enough.”
- Beyonce, “Crazy in Love” – This is the song I’d want playing as I strut down the street in the opening credits of my life story (like John Travolta in “Saturday Night Fever” – wow, I just dated myself).
You’re working on your second novel. What is your major influence for this book? What music are you listening to while you write this one?
My next novel, Prom and Prejudice, is a modern retelling of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. So Jane Austen is the major influence for the book. I decided I wouldn’t listen to the Beatles while writing Prom and Prejudice. So, I’m listening to a lot of Snow Patrol, Elbow, The Swell Season, Temper Trap, Death Cab for Cutie, Owl City, Arcade Fire, Gomez, Metric, Nada Surf and The Shins.
We know you’re a fan of “24.” Is Ryan’s last name of “Bauer” deliberate?
Yes! Good catch! I’ve always liked the name Ryan and when I was trying to think of his last name I decided to do a shout out to Jack Bauer.
As an adult writing a book about teens, how did you come up with the contemporary teen slang used as dialogue in LHC — words like “adorbs” and “himbo”? (In other words, how did you manage to write believable, contemporary teen dialogue without falling back on words used when you & I were teens?)
Is it wrong that I use some of those words in real life (especially himbo!)? I paid a lot of attention when I was around teens to see how they talked and what they talk about. I didn’t want to overuse contemporary slang so it felt forced or contrived, so every once in awhile I’d throw in a word. It started with “whatevs” because I use the world “whatever” way too much. Then I decided to spice that up since I use it so much to “what to the evs” which is a saying I gave to Tracy. So then I decided to have her use cute words like “adorbs” every now and then. Tracy also has a tendency to call people by nicknames, which is why she usually refers to Penny as “Pen.” Her language really became part a key part of her personality.
Tune in tomorrow for Part 2!