Welcome to my tour stop for Must Love Otters by Eliza Gordon. This is an adult romantic comedy and the tour runs February 24th- March 7th and will consist of reviews, guest posts, interviews and more. You can find the full schedule on the tour page.
Today the lovely couple cohort that is Eliza Gordon is answering some of my burning questions, but first…
Tell us about yourselves, and how Eliza Gordon came into creation.
Eliza Gordon is, as you probably already know, two people—me, and the Husband. We write different things—I write YA under my real name, he writes screenplays. And we have other jobs—I’m an editor and he works in the film industry as a sculptor/model builder/art department guy. Creativity is encouraged in our house, mostly as a means of maintaining sanity. We LOVE movies, and of course I love books, so it’s not unusual for us to spend an inordinate amount of time dissecting films we’ve seen or books I’ve read. Last year I mentioned how I’d like to have more material out there as I waited for my YA project to make its way through the editorial machine, and Eliza Gordon was born. We felt that it would be a fun undertaking to write silly, romantic stuff where we could capitalize on our individual talents—he’s better with building the framework for stories, and I’m good with adding all the meat. We talk about the project through the entire process, but I’m the one who does the actual writing. Mr. Gordon then helps finesse the comedic elements, character nuance, and overall silliness.
What inspired you to become writers?
What inspires anyone to become a writer? LOL … madness, perhaps? It’s cliché to say I’ve been writing since I was a little kid, but it’s the truth. And it’s the only thing I’ve ever shown any aptitude in. Of course, life is expensive, so I’ve had to find other ways to pay for those pesky things (housing, electricity, food, underwear), but words have always stitched a common thread throughout most of my working life. Mr. Gordon, on the other hand, got a degree in art and then moved to Los Angeles for film school. He then fell into writing later as his understanding of the film industry deepened.
How did you connect and start writing together?
When we first met X years ago, we started co-writing a screenplay. Those were fun times. Sadly, we never finished it but we spent a lot of time talking about writing, about mentors, technique, who inspires us, etc. Over the years, I’ve edited his projects and he’s offered invaluable feedback on mine, but it wasn’t until 2013 that we really decided that collaborating would be a good idea. The timing was right—the publishing model has changed and I now have an agent who is very supportive of both my traditional and self-publishing efforts, so the ducks lined up for us.
How do you divvy up and balance writing?
Like I said above, Mr. Gordon is great with structure. We have a few intense brainstorming sessions to get things rolling, and we build the outline together. Then I go off and write like a maniac; we meet up to read and discuss the new pages and he provides his feedback, injects things I missed or stuff that will fatten up the narrative, and then we brainstorm again to really fine-line the scenes to come. Funny thing about writing a story—change is inevitable. And sometimes that change is HUGE and can completely redirect the course of a story. It’s like throwing a dam across a river and then the water flows over what used to be an abandoned field.
Our process of writing, singularly and together, has also evolved quite a bit. I was always a pantser (someone who writes by “the seat of his/her pants”), and then I started working with an incredible editor at HarperCollins Canada who taught me the beauty of outlines. I’d been so resistant to using outlines up to that point, but as I proceeded through this editorial process, I loved how much more in control I felt about the story, the characters, everything. With that said, though, when working on a story, certain elements will change or a character will pop up with his/her own agenda (I’ve had characters walk out of shadows and steal an entire scene!), and the overarching outline gets blown apart. Which is okay. When that happens, Mr. Gordon and I will go back through, tweak our outline accordingly, and I will rewrite scenes to fit whatever changes we’ve decided to go with.
Where do you like to write?
I used to leave the house to write in my car, longhand, in the parking lot of a local coffee shop. I spent a lot of cold nights writing alone. I mostly write at home nowadays, although I do like to hide in my room under my blanket when I need to meditate my way through a tricky scene. Mr. Gordon sneaks away to a room in the basement—it’s super quiet down there, but I don’t like it because the spiders also find that room comfortable. Eek!
Where did the idea for Must Love Otters come from?
We’d been talking about books and films and certain elements we really love about our favorite genres. I go through these stages where I only want to watch films with either romantic or romantic comedy themes, so one thing led to another. I said, “I wanna write something funny! With a happy ending!” We thought it would be fun to build a completely relatable character with everyday problems who finds love—and Hollie Porter was born. She’s not drop-dead gorgeous, she’s not particularly well organized with her life or what she wants—she’s a typical 25-year-old girl with some mommy issues who doesn’t quite know where she fits in the world.
There is nothing interesting about a perfect character, someone who starts the story with nothing to lose and nothing to gain. We fall in love with characters, and especially their faults, because imperfections make it easier for us to relate to and root for these people. When we built the Hollie/Ryan dynamic, we really wanted to bring together two people with their own baskets of issues and see what would happen. Long answer to a short question. 🙂
Why an otter?
Because they’re adorable! And we’re cat people—otters are so much like cats! We’re members at the Vancouver Aquarium, so over the years, we’ve fallen in love with Elfin and Milo (RIP) and the females, Tanu and Katmai. The Aquarium now has Wally (a big male who was found shot on a beach in Tofino, BC, on the northern tip of Vancouver Island), and a new orphan baby has apparently joined the ranks out of Alaska. A love for animals was something was felt our lead character should have, so otters just seemed like a fun fit. And we’re both from the West Coast, so sharing some of our local beasties was a no-brainer.
Hollie had a pretty amazing journey in Must Love Otters. Will we see any more of Hollie at Revelation Cove?
Maybe! We’re talking about a follow-up book for Hollie and Ryan, but we’re still in the planning stages.
Do you have any other books in the works? What are your future goals as writers?
We do have another project planned for release late spring/early summer. I can’t talk about it, though, which is dumb, I know, but I’m superstitious. I don’t talk about my projects until they’re at least through the first-draft stage. Under Jennifer Sommersby, I will have a young adult novel coming out sometime in 2015. That’s up to the powers that be.
Future goals? More books! Mr. Gordon has a few screenplays that are about to go through significant edits so his agent can start shopping those around, and I’m looking forward to moving onto the second book in my YA series.
What is the craziest thing that’s ever happened to you?
Craziest thing? Wow … good question. I’m sorta boring. I think it’s pretty wacky that I, a native Oregonian, had to move from rural Washington to Los Angeles, California, to meet a boy from Victoria, British Columbia—and that he was my neighbor in the apartment I moved into. If you were to draw a map, we grew up within a few hundred miles of each other but we had to move to one of the most populated cities in the country to meet each other. And neighbors? It really is a “I married the boy next door” story.
Mr. Gordon’s crazy moment: He and a movie friend were driving a five-ton truck during a Teamsters’ strike in LA and they had to pick up some props from Paramount. They drove to the side gate to avoid the picketers, and as they drove through, they bent the decades’-old, historic metal Paramount Pictures sign. The Teamsters’ then started cheering. (That story cracked me up.)
Thank you so much for hosting us on your blog today! Great questions—we hope your readers get a kick out of us and Must Love Otters.
Must Love Otters – Synopsis
Hollie Porter is the chairwoman of Generation Disillusioned: at twenty-five years old, she’s saddled with a job she hates, a boyfriend who’s all wrong for her, and a vexing inability to say no. She’s already near her breaking point, so when one caller too many kicks the bucket during Hollie’s 911 shift, she cashes in the Sweethearts’ Spa & Stay gift certificate from her dad and heads to Revelation Cove, British Columbia. One caveat: she’s going solo. Any sweethearts will have to be found on site.
Hollie hopes to find her beloved otters in the wilds of the Great White North, but instead she’s providing comic relief for staff and guests alike. Even Concierge Ryan, a former NHL star with bad knees and broken dreams, can’t stop her from stumbling from one (mis)adventure to another. Just when Hollie starts to think that a change of venue doesn’t mean a change in circumstances, the island works its charm and she starts to think she might have found the rejuvenation she so desperately desires. But then an uninvited guest crashes the party, forcing her to step out of the discomfort zone where she dwells and save the day … and maybe even herself in the process.