Elizabeth Eulberg was born and raised in Wisconsin before heading off to college at Syracuse University and making a career in the New York City book biz. Now a full-time writer, Elizabeth Eulberg is the author of The Lonely Hearts Club, Prom and Prejudice, Take a Bow, Revenge of the Girl with the Great Personality, Better Off Friends, We Can Work it Out, and The Great Shelby Holmes. Elizabeth Eulberg lives outside of Manhattan with her three guitars, two keyboards, and one drumstick. Please enjoy my interview with Elizabeth Eulberg.
When someone asks you ‘what do you do for a living?’ – How do you respond?
“I’m a writer.” But I don’t say it with the confidence that I should. Then I brace myself for the person to tell me they have an idea for a book and can I get it published.
What’s your earliest memory of reading?
I struggled with reading as a kid so much so that I was tested for a learning disability when I was in second grade. I have a mild case of dyslexia, but luckily, I’ve mostly grown out of it. The first book I remember reading and loving was Betsy-Tacy by Maud Hart Lovelace. I devoured the series. My mother, who was a librarian, was so happy her daughter finally loved to read.
If you could encourage young people to read one book in particular, what would it be and why?
It depends on the age. 5-9: The Adventures of Captain Underpants by Dav Pilkey because those books are hilarious and really turn kids who struggle to read into readers (I’m also biased, I used to be Dav’s publicist and he was the first person to encourage me to write). 10 and up: The Harry Potter series by JK Rowling. Those books are magical in so many ways for readers of all ages.
Can you remember the first story you ever wrote?
I used to write song lyrics every night starting in eighth grade or so. I wanted to be the next Debbie Gibson (yes, I’m old). I still have them and WOW. There’s a lot of rhyming “girl” with “world” and mostly inspired by my love of Joey McIntyre from New Kids on the Block (again, OLD).
What is the worst job you’ve ever had?
I worked the phone bank for alumni donations at my university. I lasted two months. It wasn’t only having to call up people and ask for money, there was a really long script and we were to ask past donors for FOUR TIMES the amount they’ve previously given. My three-hour shift seemed to last for days.
What two pieces of advice would you give a young aspiring writer?
Read! Read as much as you can inside your genre and out. And just sit down and write. I have so many people tell me they have an idea for a book, but few actually write anything. The only way a book is going to get written is to sit down and write it. And that first draft is going to be messy and imperfect, but it’s something!
Do you read as much as you’d like to?
I always want to read more, but I try to read 50 books a year and have reached that goal the last few years, so I’m happy with that. I’m at 41 books so far this year with less than three months left, so go me!
Just reading anything is beneficial. I haven’t read a lot of “craft” books, but did enjoy Save the Cat! by Blake Snyder. It’s a book for screenwriters, but it talks about the “beats” of a story and it made me look at movies (and books) in a different way.
Is there a book that you’ve read more than once? What is it and why did you revisit it?
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen—I think it’s the book I’ve read the most. My second novel was a modern retelling called Prom and Prejudice, so I read it for the first time since high school to just to get the story back in my head and then again to break it down. It really changed the way that I write. You can’t have a better teacher than Jane Austen!
What book have you recommended the most to friends and family?
Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates. I’ve been telling everybody I know to read this since it came out. It’s so important to understand where other people are coming from. The world lacks empathy right now and this book really made me think.
Who would you say are the three writers that continue to inspire you?
Jane Austen, J. Courtney Sullivan, and Liane Moriarty – smart women who write stories that inspire me to be a better writer and they usually have a few surprises in their books that I love as a reader.
What’s your favourite genre of book?
What do you think a world without books would be like?
Very sad. Opening a book lets the reader discover vast worlds and characters. Reading requires more of an engagement than simply watching a TV show. It’s interactive and it’s THE BEST.
Is there an author whose writing you’re such a fan of, that you’ll read everything they release?
J. Courtney Sullivan—after reading The Engagements, I read her two other novels right away. I was tapping my foot for Saints of All Occasions to be released and it was worth the wait. The way she tells a story – often from multiple points of view and through different time periods – influenced a book that I was working on. I trashed a 100+K manuscript and started from scratch because she inspired me to do better. Still not sure if I should thank her yet…
Do you think digital books will ever completely replace real books?
No! I love reading a book on paper. There’s something more personal about cracking open a book.
I’m going to go with Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates again. For the same reasons as above.
What is the book that you feel has had the single biggest impact on your life? What impact did it have?
This is hard! I think Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes. I read it freshman year of high school and I remember the voice really drew me in. I think it’s the first time I really paid attention to HOW a story was being told. I’ve been partial to first-person narratives (in writing and reading) ever since.
Are there any books you haven’t mentioned that you feel would make your reading list?
Probably Little Women by Louise May Alcott since I’m named after Beth (even though I go by Elizabeth, I also have a sister Meg). Gotta give a shout-out to that!
What books or subject matter do you plan on reading in the next year?
Because of my middle-grade series, The Great Shelby Holmes, I like to read books on forensics. I need inspiration for how she solves cases since she’s smarter than me!
If you were to write an autobiography – what would it be called?
Revenge of the Girl with the Great Personality; -although I’ve already used that for a novel, but it fits so well. HA!
If you’d like to learn more about Elizabeth Eulberg, you can find her on her website, Facebook and Twitter.
Image credit: Liz Logon