You’re wrong, “gourd-painting” is, too, a thing. I painted my first gourd last week, using the time I should have used to post a new blog post. I made a wee gourd chicken, and if you behave yourself, I’ll show her to you. We’ll talk about this later. For now, I want to talk about Liz.
Liz is doing all of the writing things necessary to build a career. She’s written standalone novels and series novels and novellas and short stories. She developed some lovely websites to promote herself and her work, she uses social media in all of the right ways, and she spends her time at the word processor, creating new novels.
While I was providing finishing touches to Clara Cluck, she was finishing another book.
Recently, she came up with an absolutely terrific title for her latest novel: The Nanny with the Skull Tattoos. I’ve told you how much I love great titles. This is my favorite title this year.
So I read the story’s synopsis, then I read the reviews, then I realized I wanted to interview Liz about her book because I think this story is going to be her biggest success yet. Because we’re friends, I was a little silly. I'm happy to say, she was, too.
You could have written a novel about the Apocalypse and how it affects billionaires. Instead, you wrote Nanny. Why this story?
Where I grew up, there are a lot of young, single parents. Some professional would say it’s an inner-city statistic, but here it’s a reality. Many of them don’t even make it to college, because it’s a struggle. My mom was able to get her Bachelor’s when my little sister and I were both in school. But The Nanny with the Skull Tattoos was mostly inspired by my brother-in-law and niece. He’s like super dad. He works full-time, paints these incredibly sick mixed media bang art pieces all night, and plays Monopoly with his five-year-old daughter 100 times a day. I don’t think he sleeps. I’m constantly amazed and inspired by his dedication to his daughter.
I think Max’s story is a pretty common one for people in my generation. We don’t celebrate diverse families enough, but we definitely praise single dads even less.
Is Max, Nanny’s hero, a billionaire? Also, did you pattern Max after anyone? Is he your dream date? Now, if you’re going to go all mushy and say your hubby is your dream date, then--
Max comes from a middle class family. He’s the last in a long line of brothers who are doctors and lawyers and NYT-bestselling authors. As the youngest, he’s kind of the forgotten kid. His parents are retired and not interested in raising any more children. So they kick him out, and he moves to the ‘hood.
Okay, so silly secret: Max’s messy, spiky hair is inspired by my husband’s. Mike doesn’t care what his hair looks like, but Max is always trying to push it down and tame it. And, yeah, Mike is my dream date. I’m still wildly in love with him. You would think we would be settled, in a boring routine by now, but we’re ridiculous. I torture him by singing numbers from Frozen with my own words—“Do you wanna go to Target? It doesn’t have to be a Target!”—and he tries to take me out with deadly farts. We fight, of course, but mostly we’re goofballs and I think people probably think it’s gross how in love we are.
Is your husband a billionaire? If not, are you sure he’s your dream date?
There’s probably an alternate dimension where Mike is a billionaire. We’re both artists. He’s been painting these intensely detailed and creepy oil pieces. I don’t want to embarrass him, but I think he is really talented and has the potential to build a really successful career. We are going to break the stereotype of the struggling artist, but unfortunately, probably won’t reach billionaire status until we’re long dead and our children have fully exploited our legacy.
I’m positive that Mike is my dream date, for one major reason... We bump fists all the time. One night, I gave him an upside down fist bump when he held his out. It made him crazy, and the more frustrated he got with me, the more I did it because I thought it was so funny. (I don’t even need drugs to have fun, guys.) After a couple of weeks of this, he came over to the dark side and we now have a secret handshake that involves upside down fist bumps.
Is there any BDSM in Nanny? Why not? Don’t you want to make money?
There’s no BDSM, and I feel like I missed out on the opportunity to take Savannah’s love of cooking to a whole new level. I don’t want to talk about it. It’s really painful for me! I’m going to be mid-list at best, and it’s all because I’ll probably never write a were-bear porno. There’s got to be something wrong with me.
Which came first, the title or the story? (It’s such a great title.) How did you think of such a fun title?
The story kind of slammed into me one day. It was more of an idea: “Hey, why don’t I write a story about a single dad in college?” I liked it, but there wasn’t much that I could do with it. So I wrote it down in a notebook until I could develop it into an actual plot. I knew Savannah was going to have a sleeve of those sugar skull tattoos. The original title was Finding a Mom for Chloe. I didn’t love it, but it was all I had. Then it dawned on me that Savannah is a nanny with skull tattoos, and the title kind of came up with itself.
Do you have another great title that you haven’t used yet, and you’ll give it to me?
Aw, I wish. I’m normally pretty bad with titles. An embarrassing chunk of my writing time is sitting, staring at my screen, trying to think of what to call the damn thing. I’m a little worried that I might never be able to come up with another title again, like all of my title juices went into this one. Maybe my career is already over!
Are you a plotter or a pantser? Did any bit of the story go in a direction you didn’t expect?
I’m kind of both. Once I developed The Nanny with the Skull Tattoos into an actual story, I sat down and wrote a synopsis. I’ve got a system and it works for me every time. I just let it flow at this stage. I can always tweak whatever comes out. Then, using the synopsis, I wrote an outline. My outlines are more like really crappy first drafts. I usually devote a page per chapter, and fire out what I want to happen in that chapter. I usually try to end it on a cliffhanger, to keep people reading. (Mwahaha.) When I finish outlining, I go back, read through, and rearrange and revise as necessary.
Usually, the story rebels in some way, but with “Nanny,” I actually ended up pretty close to my original outline. When I initially planned out the book, I was angling for a cat fight between Savannah and Nicole, but then I realized that Savannah is way too poised for that noise. She would get rid of Nikki in a more classy way, like slipping rat poison into her soup.
Is there any fun/intriguing/different question that you wish someone would ask you about your work/your writing/Nanny/your odd obsession with billionaires and BDSM that hasn’t been asked yet? Would you please ask and answer that fun/intriguing/different question?
I really wish someone would ask me if I’ve sought help for my billionaire BDSM problem. I mean, this path I’m on cannot be healthy.
Really? I mean, really? You thought THAT was a fun/intriguing/different question?
See? I’m totally crazy.