Our book this month is Better Off Friends by Elizabeth Eulberg and–look out–I got to interview Elizabeth (who I was already seriously fangirling over and now officially love even more).
For Macallan and Levi, it was friends at first sight. Everyone says guys and girls can’t be just friends, but these two are. They hang out after school, share tons of inside jokes, their families are super close, and Levi even starts dating one of Macallan’s friends. They are platonic and happy that way.
Eventually they realize they’re best friends — which wouldn’t be so bad if they didn’t keep getting in each other’s way. Guys won’t ask Macallan out because they think she’s with Levi, and Levi spends too much time joking around with Macallan, and maybe not enough time with his date. They can’t help but wonder . . . are they more than friends or are they better off without making it even more complicated? (Goodreads)
Now, without further delay, here is my interview with Elizabeth Eulberg (Eeeeeee!)
YA Crush: I loved, adored, wanted to climb inside of, Better Off Friends. Books about best friends who fall in love tend to be a big favorite with the girls from The Selective Collective. Was there any real-life inspiration to the story?
EE: Thanks! Better Off Friends is all fiction (although I like to tease one of
my guy friends that it’s how I really feel about him–although that’s so
not true. Ew! He’s like my brother!). Better Off Friends was the first
time the “seed” of the story didn’t come from me. My editor, David
Levithan, was having a conversation with one of his colleagues, Erin
Black, about stories they are looking for. Erin was the one who said she
wanted a YA version of “When Harry Met Sally…” When David told me about this, I called dibs. But that was all I went on. Everything else came from me.
YA Crush: I really loved both of the families in this book, more specifically, I loved Macallan’s relationship with her uncle, and her attachment to Levi’s mom. Looking back, do you think Macallan and Levi would have become so close–despite their shared love of Buggy and Floyd–if their families hadn’t bonded the way they did?
EE: Not at all! The family dynamic happened when I tried to figure out what would make these two characters form such a close bond. While “Buggy and Floyd” gave them a spark, I needed something to ignite their relationship deeper. I was on a plane when I was trying to figure out why Macallan would be so attached to Levi’s family, and then it suddenly hit me: her mother has died. She really latches on to Levi’s mother since she doesn’t have a mom of her own. As for Macallan’s uncle, he is based on my uncle. When I wanted to round her family out, I called my dad and asked if it would be okay for me to base a character on my uncle Peter. Peter is
beloved in my hometown, he has a job (where he is often employee of the
month), drives a car, and leads a pretty normal life. Like Macallan, I
didn’t realize Peter was mentally handicapped until someone told me. I
think my uncle is a really extraordinary person. I wanted to show that,
but for it to not be an “issue.” My dad read the book and told me that I
did my uncle justice and he thanked me for it. It’s the greatest praise
any book of mine has ever, or will ever, receive.
YA Crush: Speaking of Buggy and Floyd, what books or TV shows or pop culture things, if any, are you a crazy fangirl for?
EE: More like what AREN’T I crazy fangirl for? I guess first and foremost: THE BEATLES. I’m an insane music fan. I go to a ton of concerts. I’m currently obsessed with CHRVCHES, Haim, Lorde, and Kodaline. As for TV shows: I’m FREAKING OUT for the new season of 24. That’s my favorite TV show of all time. I once saw Kiefer Sutherland in a bar and couldn’t contain myself. I had to tell him that I named Ryan Bauer in The Lonely Hearts Club after Jack Bauer. And Jack and Chloe in Take A Bow after 24’s Jack and Chloe. He kissed me on the cheek AND bought me a drink! (That will go down as one of my best days ever!) It’s nearly impossible for me to pick books because I love so many (and have lots of author friends so this can get me in trouble), but I totally geeked out over The Hunger Games. And I will readily admit that I Google “Henry Cavill shirtless” A LOT. I am only human!
Yeah, I couldn’t resist. That was all for Elizabeth, obviously. I did NOT want to peruse those pictures. Nope. No way.
YA Crush: What’s the writing process like for you? Do you have an idea and begin to write immediately? Do you think about it for a period of time and plan it out slowly? Is there music or chocolate involved? Or is every experience a bit
EE: I spend a lot of time marinating an idea in my head. I thought about
Better Off Friends (the characters and plot) for nearly a year before I
sat down to write it. I usually know what I want to work on next while I’m
writing a book. I never take notes during this period, I solely think
about it a lot. Then when I’m ready, I do a brain dump in a notebook. BOF
was the first book I used index cards to map out. I knew certain scenarios
that I wanted to happen. So I made a column for the different years it
would take place (since the book spans five years). I also used colored
pens so I knew which part I wanted each character to tell. Then I write a
very loose outline for my publisher. Once I get the okay, I take it
chapter by chapter. I make notes, then sit down and write. Music is ALWAYS involved and cupcakes are rewards if I need motivation.
YA Crush: Where do you imagine you’d be if you were not a writer?
EE: I’d probably still be a publicist if I wasn’t a full-time writer. I really
loved working in publicity, but I was burning out. I’m so fortunate I had
writing to fall back on (HA!). If I could do ANYTHING, it would be a rock
YA Crush: I am a huge Beatles fan too (best band ever!). Who’s your favorite Beatle? I’m a George girl (I mean, “Here Comes the Sun”, “While My Guitar Gently Weeps”, and every hilarious line he had in A Hard Day’s Night? No contest).
EE: Nice! I love that you’re a George girl. This is how I always answer this
question: Paul is my favorite if I had to choose, but I have a HUGE soft
spot for George. He is an underrated songwriter (Here Comes the Sun and
Something are two of my favorite Beatles songs) and guitar player. He had
to compete with the Lennon/McCartney juggernaut, but even Sir Paul likes
to tell the story that Frank Sinatra once came up to him and said,
“Something is my favorite Lennon/McCartney song,” to which Paul replied, “Mine, too.” I love that! Sir Paul always preforms “Something” in concert and I tear up every single time I hear it.
YA Crush: Thank you so much for taking the time to chat with me!
EE: Thanks so much for having me!
Trust me when I say you will fall in love with this book. I would read it again and again. And today you may be in luck because Scholastic is giving away one copy to a lucky reader!
Just make a comment below telling me which Elizabeth Eulberg book is your favorite (or, if you haven’t read one, tell why you want to read one). The contest will officially close on Wednesday, February 26th at 9:00PM PST. The winner will be chosen at random (I just want to read your answers!). This is open to US residents only.
The Selective Collective:
Please be sure to visit my amazing blogging partners and check out their features today.
The Book Addict’s Guide- Boy Friend vs. Boyfriend
Gone Pecan- Roundtable Discussion
The Grown Up YA- Review
Teen Lit Rocks- Casting Call
Finally, thank you to Scholastic for providing each SC member with a review copy and one lucky winner with a finished copy.