Recently we brought you the review of Elizabeth Eulberg’s debut novel The Lonely Hearts Club and the story of Penny Lane’s determination to swear of dating guys for her high school life. We are now very excited to bring you an interview with Penny’s Creator herself – Elizabeth. So sit back and enjoy. Just a warning, there are a few spoilers throughout.
How much Beatles music did you listen to while writing The Lonely Hearts Club?
EE: I only listened to the Beatles while writing The Lonely Hearts Club. They are such a huge part of the story and if I needed to evoke a certain feeling, I’d put on a specific song (like “Yesterday” if I needed to feel sad).
What influenced the decision of writing about a novel based on a ‘no dating’ club? Was it an idea that had been with you a while or a result of a recent personal experience?EE: I’ve certainly sworn off guys more than once! However, the idea for the book came when I was out with a friend one night. She’s one of those friends who only calls when her boyfriend isn’t around (we all know the type!). We were out and she was ignoring me to talk to some guys. I started throwing a pity party for myself and realized, “this is silly, you have so many amazing single girl friends, you should go out every Saturday with them – like a single girls’ club?” I had the basic idea for the book and the title by the end of the evening.
From the beginning, Penny Lane thought she was alone in her thoughts about swearing off boys, but then discovered that many of her classmates felt the same way, yet weren’t strong enough to say so for themselves. It highlights many of the issues with peer pressure and teen dating. Was this an influence from the start of the novel or developed during the writing process?
EE: From the beginning of the writing process, I knew I wanted anybody to read this book to realize that it is okay to be single and not date. But over the course of rewriting the book, the strength of the Club and how much certain members got out of the Club really grew.
Ryan tried hard to please Penny Lane during the course of the novel, yet both Ryan and Penny Lane made mistakes before they eventually forgave each other. How important were it for them to learn from these mistakes?
EE: Everybody makes mistakes and nobody is perfect. I feel it is important to grow from every situation. A lot of Penny’s problems through the book were learning how to trust herself and others again after being badly burned by a guy. She was more than happy to open herself to the members of the Club, but shut herself from trusting guys. She really grew the most as a person over the story, and a lot of that was learning from the mistakes she made.
If you wanted readers to take one thing from Penny Lane’s story, what would it be?
EE: Besides being entertained, I want readers to realize that they should never compromise themselves to be with someone and always put yourself and your friends before a guy.
Worse/most embarrassing relationship as a teenager and what you learnt from it?
EE: I didn’t have many bad relationships as a teenager (but I made up for it later in life!). I did go a little boy crazy at the beginning of high school. I had glasses, braces (the metal kind!) and a really bad haircut growing up. Then the summer before freshman year, I got contacts, my braces taken off and a better hair style. I got a lot of attention from guys at the start of school (I NEVER got any looks before). I was sort of overwhelmed by the interest and just started dating different guys. I was more excited about the attention than the guy. Dating at fourteen can be pretty silly (movie then pizza EVERY Friday night). I sort of burned out on dating early. I was more interested in my friends. I didn’t really date my last couple years of school.
The destination that you would choose to go on a romantic getaway to?
EE: Paris seems like such a cliché, so the Greek Islands – gorgeous!
Any quirky writing rituals or habits?
EE: I have to listen to music while writing and I need to know what I’m going to write before I sit down. So during the week I’ll figure out certain plot points and then when I sit down on the weekends, I know what I need to write.
What is currently in your To-Be-Read pile?
EE: A LOT! At the top of the pile is Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan, Somthing, Maybe by Elizabeth Scott, Waiting for You by Susane Colasanti – and that’s just what is on my nightstand. I’ve got an entire bookshelf of books I want to read!
Authors that influenced you growing up?
EE: Louisa May Alcott (I’m named after Beth in Little Women), Maud Hart Lovelace (the Betsy-Tacy books were the first series I ever became addicted to). E.L. Konigsburg (was obsessed with From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs Basil E. Frankweiler) and Cynthia Voigt (my mum introduced me to her after I ran out of Sweet Valley High books to read).
Check out www.elizabetheulberg.com for more information on Elizabeth and upcoming works!