Liz Reinhardt was born and raised in the idyllic beauty of northwest NJ. A move to the subtropics of coastal Georgia with her daughter and husband left her with a newly realized taste for the beach and a bloated sunscreen budget that exist right alongside an intense longing for the bagels and fast-talking foul mouths of her youth. She loves Raisinettes, even if they aren’t really candy, the Oxford comma, movies that are hilarious or feature zombies, any and all books, but especially romance (the smarter and hotter, the better), the sound of her daughter’s incessantly wise and entertaining chatter, and watching her husband work on cars in the driveway. You can read her blog at www.elizabethreinhardt.blogspot.com, like her on Facebook, or email her at email@example.com.
So I've been driving my little sister nuts talking about the boring ins and outs of self-publishing and crying about how no one will ever bother to interview a self-pubbed writer because who really cares if someone says she's hot stuff just because she says so? And she felt bad for me, so she offered to interview me. You know, if I helped with some of the more boring questions. And wrote it all out. And gave her a foot massage. And pedicure. But I love her, and am perfectly happy to abuse our sister-guilt for my benefit! So here it is...and now I have to go put bonbons in her mouth and pour her a fresh glass of wine. Thanks, Katie!
So, when did you decide writing was your thing?
It all started with Twilight...
Seriously? I love Twilight!
I know, because we both have awesome taste in books. And, yes, that started my real writing, as in the writing that led to the creation of an entire book I really liked. As opposed to my fake writing, which was either assigned or for someone else or crap, and that really started in 7th grade in Mrs. Schroth's class or in junior year of high school for Liz Coopersmith or in senior year of college when I was having a nervous breakdown and my boyfriend (now husband) had to work and couldn't spend the entire day letting me cry on his shoulder.
So as far as real writing goes, it was all about you getting hot from Jacob Black? By the way, I still can't believe you're not Team Emmett!
Emmet's yours, and I know I'd totally lose him if I tried to fight you, and I don't want my eyes scratched out, because you're scary. Oh, and now you got me thinking. In 7th grade, I wrote this story. Actually, Shakespeare wrote this play, Romeo and Juliet, and we had the choice to act out a scene or rewrite the ending.
Please tell me you opted to act out the scene?
No! Why? Lame! I rewrote the ending.
Seriously? Wouldn't it have been easier to act it out? You were such a nerd.
No, you're a nerd, because who wants to act out Shakespeare in front of the whole class? I mean, I guess it would be easier. But not more fun, because I couldn't have killed everyone.
Don't they all die in Shakespeare's ending anyway?
Well, Romeo, Juliet and Tybalt do. And Mercutio. But in my ending they ALL die. First they all live happily, because all wrongs get nicely righted and everyone's happy and in love. Then there's a toast, and someone poisoned it on accident, like before he realized love would conquer all, and they all drink and they ALL DIE! My teacher loved it.
You are a horrible person. So that was why you wanted to write YA romance?
No! That was junior year. My friend, Liz Coopersmith, loved the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew. And I guess there was this line in the series where they were all older and cool and they did a big mystery smorgasbord. But it always ended at kissing. That's it. And Liz was unsatisfied, so I wrote a steamy Drew/Hardy love scene and gave it to her, and it was pretty touching.
She didn't feel like you ruined Nancy Drew?
How could finally getting it on with one of the Hardy Boys (I don't remember which one) be a bad thing? Anyway, my love-writing took a hiatus until senior year of college, when I was spazzing out and asking myself what life meant and if I wanted to join the Peace Corps or move to China to teach English, and that's when I wrote this long, crazy historical Western romance while I should have been studying biology.
Wait, I don't remember a weird western romance. Wasn't your first book a YA?
No. And I never made you read that one. You're welcome, it was awful. It wasn't YA because I wanted to publish through Harlequin and they did adult, so I pretended to know what two logical adults would do in a relationship instead of just channeling my inner 16-year-old. And Harlequin looked at a lot of them, but kept passing. And I got all sad, and then I read Twilight. It inspired me to write a book about teenagers, but this was still before Double Clutch.
Please don't tell me you wrote a vampire novel.
Um, yeah, two actually. I didn't make you read those either! You're welcome on that, again. If you were an aspiring YA author who read Twilight and didn't try to write a vampire novel, you obviously had no soul! So I wrote two awful books, and made poor Lex (my best friend) edit them and it was awful of me. I apologize. But I realized that I hated vampires (at least the boring-ass ones I wrote), and loved teenagers (fictional teenagers I created). But I didn't really love those vampire-teenagers, the ones I made. Or I loved pieces of them. So I decided to write what I knew, but cooler.
Sorry for Lex. But better her than me! And that was Double Clutch?
Yes! Which started when I was staring dreamily at Frank, probably while he was stuffing his face full of Doritos and watching Overhaulin', and I wondered, "What would it be like if he and I dated in high school?" And it was actually a fairly lame fantasy, because we were both kind of boring. But we had potential to be cooler! So I kind of Bryan Adamsed my teenage years, and looked back at them and reinvented them, and the book just poured out.
Haha! So it was Frank who made it all happen? Too funny! Was it different to write than your adult romances?
Definitely. I stayed up late, typing way into the night, and Frank kept begging me to stop because you know how he always whines that I have 'hammer fingers' when I'm excited about what I'm writing? So I would sneak out into the living room and type all night and go through the days like a zombie. And I forced Frank to listen to the whole thing, which he hated.
How could Frank hate Double Clutch? Or does he just hate YA books?
He's not a big reader at all. Like, I think he's read five books in his entire life. But it wasn't that; he really thinks he's Jake Kelly, and it pissed him off when Brenna didn't totally devote herself to Jake.
But didn't you say he is kind of Jake Kelly? Um, which is kind of gross because I have a serious crush on Jake, and now I know he's my brother-in-law.
Sorry! But don't think of Jake as Frank, because Jake is just that awesome, sweet guy you always hoped would pop up and sweep you off your feet in high school! And Frank hates when I tell him this, but he's also kind of Saxon Hendricks. Or at least he was. He's a lot tamer now than when he was a teenager. And, of course, as much as some of it is based on true life, lots of it is just made up. Like completely made up.
Ugh! He's Saxon too? You're ruining my book crushes! Okay, I'll just forget your answer to that question so I can still consider Frank my perfectly nice brother-in-law and lust after Jake and Saxon, thanks. Did you use your friends and enemies in the book? Anyone going to sue you?
Hahaha! I hope not! I did use names and kind of mixed people together to get details down, but no one character is any one person. Although, you helped a ton with that. Like when you would stop reading it and call me and say, "You know you used so-and-so's name here. Did you know that?" And I was like, "Wait, is that someone real?" Thank God you were so popular in high school, because you always let me know when I accidentally plug a real name in.
This reminds me that you actually get the real credit for my writing career, you know.
Because I was willing to talk non-stop about Twilight with you?
No! Haha! I had to force you to read it, remember? And then we mostly just talked about how hot Edward and Jacob were. No, when we were in high school, you tore this page out of the back of an Avon romance that said something like, Have you always dreamed of being a writer? Avon is looking to sign the next big author! Which is really odd, because now things are so strict at publishing houses and they never, ever want people just randomly sending them manuscripts. They want it to come through an agent!
But you pulled it out and were like, "This book kind of sucked. You could totally write a better book than this." And you're never really full of shit. If you don't like something, you're a straight shooter. So it was touching that you believed in me like that.
Aw, I actually remember that! Well, I hope you get famous and make a lot of money and share it with me. By the way, am I the inspiration for Brenna in Double Clutch?
Um, you should totally see a ton of yourself in it. I mean, she's pretty much us. We're both pretty mean to boys and have no issue blowing them off. But there is another character written just for you; she's bad ass and gorgeous, and she comes in in the third Brenna Blixen novel.
Ohmygod, I can't wait! How many Brenna Blixen novels do you think you'll write?
I loved Meg McCafferty's Jessica Darling books, and I felt this huge connection to Jessica because they followed her from sophomore year, out of college, and into the workforce. I felt like I grew up with her, and I'd love to do that for Brenna.
Is there anything you're really proud of with this book? Anything that you think makes it stand out?
I don't want to get on a soapbox or anything here, but I think the whole concept of teen sexuality is really prudish in America. Like, we have these very suggestive images and videos and songs, but when a writer writes a scene with emotion and details and it's true to life, everyone gets very shocked and upset. The truth is, I hope kids are having safe, loving experiences, and I don't think blacklisting examples of that in contemporary books makes any sense.
Also, I love family. I mean, I love my family, and I hate that in many YA books the parents are dead or gone or absent across the board and the teens just run wild. I mean, that's kind of a fun concept, but it's not reality. Brenna's mom is very involved and so is her step-dad. One of the problems with Jake and Saxon is the lack of parental involvement they've both dealt with, for different reasons.
Any advice to other would-be writers or writers who want to self-publish?
The internet is a miracle for us. Hire a good editor. If I can plug mine here, Alexa Offenhauer of Loose Leaf Editing did amazing things with Double Clutch. And I'm not just talking commas and spelling. She looked for continuity. She checked facts about when things were said and if that made sense. She warned me that, though they were the coolest type of pant going in 1995, cargo pants are no longer the style du jour of the modern young man. She questioned my mention of MySpace as the main online social forum. The book wouldn't have been nearly as awesome without her.
And my cover designer, Steven Peterson has been amazing! Not only does he have a ton of experience, he's enthusiastic and he really listens. When he sent me the first designs for the cover of Double Clutch, I was literally jumping around the room, screaming because it was just beyond my expectations. Self-publishing is a little nerve-wracking, but he made me confident that people were going to be drawn to my novel. And then, hopefully, once the cover made them bite, they'd fall in love with the characters.
Any last thoughts?
Just that I'm so happy to have this opportunity to self-publish. If I wrote Double Clutch ten years ago, it would have sat in the bottom of some drawer. Today I have the opportunity to get it out to so many people.
Who, hopefully, will love it as much as I do.
Oh, and if you ever want to write me, you can go send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or like me on Facebook at Liz Reinhardt's Page.
And thanks for interviewing me, Katie!
You're welcome. Um, and I'm dead serious about the brownie mix in your cabinet. You should make some. Like now. For me.