Interview with author Liz Czukas (aka Ellie Cahill)
I absolutely loved I Temporarily Do by Ellie Cahill (the not-so-secret pen name of author Liz Czukas). It all starts with a marriage of convenience between two wonderfully written and believable characters who don't mean to fall in love. They really don't! And I'm not giving away anything here--this is a romance novel after all. Of course, they fall in love. But what happens next is what makes the story so delicious. I just love a story that makes me laugh out loud. I was so glad to learn there that this is the first book in Cahill's Cordially Invited duo. Can't wait for the next installment.
About the book:
A little white lie. A little white wedding. A pair of roommates in over their heads.
Days before she's set to move across the country and start a prestigious graduate program, a con artist leaves Emmy with no where to live and less than zero dollars in her bank account. But her day doesn't seem quite so bad compared to Beckett's--his fiancée called off their wedding just days before they tie the knot. Now he's single and ineligible for his place in married student housing.
So what are a girl without a home and a guy without a wife supposed to do? A quickie wedding in Vegas will solve both their problems. It's a business arrangement, and no one even needs to know. They'll just get an annulment in a few months. What could go wrong? Only Beckett forgot to mention his new apartment is a one-bedroom. And neither of them counted on their new friends at Middlesex University thinking they're a great couple. The platonic newlywed game might be harder to play than Emmy thought. Especially when it starts to feel less than platonic.
I'm so glad Liz agreed to let me pepper her with questions here today, because she's really busy writing great stories for us!
Can you tell us about the different jobs you’ve had other than writing? I always like to ask authors this, mainly because authors always seem to have had so many different careers and often an interesting job history.
Before I was published, I was a Labor & Delivery nurse for 9 years! I have a master's degree in Nurse-Midwifery as well, although I never practiced as a midwife. But I only went to nursing school after I realized that my undergrad degree in History and Anthropology wasn't exactly a hot commodity on the job market! Writing is by far my favorite job.
How long have you been writing and how long ago did you publish your first book?
I've been writing as long as I can remember. Terrible stories as a kid, novels, short stories, non-fiction for a health information website, fan fiction...you name it. I wrote it. My first book didn't come out until 2014, but it definitely wasn't the first book I wrote!
If there’s anything that you could go back and tell your ‘unpublished’ self, what would that be?
Patience is a virtue. It can feel very "do or die" in publishing, but the truth is, humans have been making and reading books since we figured out how to communicate. Stories aren't going anywhere, so it's okay to take your time, and it's okay if publishers don't like your first offering.
Is there anyone/anything you would consider the most inspirational or influential in your success as a writer and why?
My senior year English teacher told me that I was a good writer. In fact, he told me he'd give me my money back if I didn't get a 5 on the AP English test. I got the 5 so he got to keep his money. But the things he taught me about reading and writing stuck with me. I dedicated to my first book to him (and my other high school English teachers, actually, because they all had an influence on me in one way or another.)
As you can see from my review above, that I loved “I Temporarily Do”, which you wrote as Ellie Cahill. I know that you also write books under your real name—Liz Czukas. Can you tell us a little bit about how your pen name came to be and how the books you author as Liz Czukas differ from each other?
First of all, thank you so much! I'm glad you loved it. I was first published as Liz Czukas. All my books under that name are YA, intended for teen readers. When I got an offer on my first adult-oriented book "When Joss Met Matt", my publisher wanted me to have a separate identity so readers would know what they were getting. Thus, Ellie Cahill was born. It's handy having a name like Elizabeth, because there are so many good nicknames to use for author personas. And as for Cahill, I wanted something people could actually pronounce!! (Incidentally, Czukas is pronounced CHEW-kiss, or two fun things to do with your mouth.) Although I have a lot of cross-over readers, there are definitely people who prefer one type of book over the other. If you are someone who reads multiple genres, I think it's safe to say that if you like one of my books, you'll like the rest. I'm all about the fun, romantic-comedy feeling in both YA and adult.
Can you please explain the difference between the Young Adult (YA) and New Adult (NA) genres? (I still find people who don’t know that the new adult genre exists.)
New Adult is basically a fancy title for books about people who aren't teenagers, but aren't living the responsible lives of "grown-ups" yet. It can be about college students, or people in the military, or athletes...anyone who is still kind of figuring out who they want to be as adults.
Can you tell us a little bit about how your ideas develop as a writer? Do you have a clear vision of the main characters from the beginning? Do you outline?
Every project is a little different for me. Sometimes the idea for a character comes first. Sometimes just the spark of an idea. Some ideas start as sparks, but can't go anywhere until I combine them with other ideas or characters. I'm not a full outliner. I am a planner, though. I write out a 1-3 page synopsis that gives me a rough plan for where I want to go with my story.
As a writer of middle-grade/young-adult stories, I often get asked why I write stories for this age group. What appeals to you about writing for the young adult and new adult age groups.
I like writing for these age groups because the characters still have so much to learn. They haven't become set in their ways, or bogged down by the drudgery of adulting, like paying mortgages and grocery shopping. Instead, they still have the chance to learn about new things, and who they want to be. They're open to new ideas and possibility. Plus, the intensity of relationships is so strong at these ages. First love, first kisses, first heartbreaks. So much more juicy than later in life.
Of all the books you’ve written (and there have been quite a few) do you have a favorite or is that rather like asking a parent which child is their favorite?
Ha! Definitely like asking my favorite child. I like them all for different reasons. Some, like Ask Again Later, were so much fun to write because of the structure. Others have characters that I practically feel like old friends, like "When Joss Met Matt". Some have favorite scenes or lines of dialogue. That's the joy of writing a lot--there's always something new and unique.
I am always curious about other author’s writing environments . . . so where do bring all your wonderful characters to life?
Nowhere special! I don't have an office at my house. So I'm usually working on my couch on kitchen table. I also meet up with other local writer friends and do some writing at coffee shops, or libraries. If I'm lucky, I get to go on multi-day writing retreats with other fabulous writers and get to immerse myself in nothing but making the words appear on the screen for days and days.
Can we look forward to another book from you soon?
Yes! I have another romantic comedy coming out as Ellie Cahill in November. It's called "The Designated +1", and it features a character who made a very brief appearance in "I Temporarily Do". Don't worry though, it's a complete stand-alone. You can read it without reading any of my other books. It's up for preorder at Amazon, Kobo, and iBooks.
Before we move on to the Fast Five list, is there anything else you want to tell readers about yourself or your books?
Just that I can almost guarantee you a laugh if you read my books. When you need a pick-me-up read, keep me in mind!
Fav Pizza Topping – mushrooms
Book You’re Reading Now – Romancing the Beat by Gwen Hayes
Coffee, Tea, or Both – both, but especially latte
Fav TV Show as a Child – Tiny Toon Adventures
Best Place You’ve Vacationed – Rome
How can readers discover more about you and you work?
Thanks, Liz, for taking the time out of your busy schedule to talk with me today!