Today is Halloween and it's time for a little fun. Author Elle Druskin has written several stories set in the fictional town of Liberty Heights, NJ. The characters in the Liberty Heights series are quirky, a tad zany, and totally lovable. To celebrate Halloween, Elle composed the short story, Adams and Eve.
Jerome, the celebrity turkey, famous for his television commercials. Why? Is
someone holding Jerome for ransom? Cutting down on holiday dinner costs? I
really had fun with this book. It captures all the lunacy of Liberty Heights in
the nicest way possible. It’s also a PG book and suitable for Young Adult
readers and shorter than a full length novel.
Penny, thanks so much for having me here. Happily, I know you are as addicted to reading the Liberty Heights books as I am addicted to writing them.
AUTHOR: Elle Druskin
BOOK TITLE: Adams and Eve A Liberty Heights Halloween Short Story
GENRE: Humor, series, romantic humor
When and why did you begin writing?
I think I’ve always been attracted to writing. I was blessed to have a wonderful teacher in high school (a pretty long time ago) who taught me so much. Oddly enough, or maybe not, the lessons weren’t in the classroom in the formal sense. I was editor of my yearbook (an award winning book, thanks to this teacher) and my best friend was the editor of the newspaper. This particular teacher, the late Cecilia Whitehouse, was truly special. She’d been a journalist, and when we knew her, she taught English and journalism and served as moderator for the school publications which meant she spent every day after school with us working on them. She taught us how to write, break down text, write headlines and captions—you name it. No wonder she became an award winning teacher. She also was a wonderful listener to various teenage woes and helped us all write our college entry essays. No surprise we adored her and called her Ma with great affection.
I believe strongly that first and foremost, I am storyteller. If you don’t have a great story, all the writing skill in the world won’t be sufficient. On the other hand, poor writing cannot fix a great story. They go together.
What inspired you to write your first book?
I wrote my first book To Catch A Cop mostly to figure out how to write a book. I’d written and published a substantial number of academic articles, book chapters, etc. That’s a different style of writing but nevertheless, still writing. I was interested in fiction so I wrote the book on the basis that nobody would ever see it so it didn’t matter a great deal what I wrote. Nobody was going to see it, remember?
It went through quite a few re-writes before I dared show the thing to anyone. The teacher I mentioned previously read it for me. Her opinion counted more than anything. Luckily, she loved it although she said there were a few dangling participles—should she fix those for me? Yes indeedy.
By then I was ready to get more feedback although I still didn’t know what I would do with this book that was only meant for practice and fun. Jane Beckenham, who is a successful romance writer and friend, thought it was an unusual romance. The teacher thought it was a mystery. A third reader who must remain nameless is a very successful writer of thrillers. He thought it was a thriller. I honestly didn’t know what I wrote at that point. Did it matter? What mattered was a good story, fun characters and engaging a reader. They all thought it should be published so imagine my surprise when To Catch A Cop was published and nominated as Best Romantic Comedy of 2010. It didn’t win, but not bad for the book that was only meant for practice. The book is available as an e-book and should be out in print soon.
Does criticism or positive feedback change how or what you do in your writing?
Of course. It does and it should. As long as it’s constructive. For the most part, I’m busy writing my Liberty Heights series. I love working on those books! I didn’t intend to write a series, I originally wrote Animal Crackers (Book 1) as a stand alone book but as I was writing, more ideas for stories that involved people in that mythical, slightly (okay, more than slightly) eccentric New Jersey town, kept popping into my head. I love catching up with characters from previous stories. They’re like old friends who appear in each new book in the series. Liberty Heights might not be a real place, but it seems real to me. It’s wonderful to know that readers fall in love with Liberty Heights. It’s a healthy kind of addiction. BTW, as I write this, Animal Crackers is on special at Amazon for only 99 cents. That won’t last so it’s a good time to grab it and take a trip to Liberty Heights.
I’m reasonably confident writing those books but I still use beta readers. They are also devoted to Liberty Heights and love finding out what the heck is going on now in that wacky town in each new book. I do ask them to read critically and provide any feedback they feel is helpful about characters, story, tension, construction. Inevitably, they make the story better so I find that highly beneficial.
Any advice for a new writer just starting out?
Read a lot. Don’t give up reading because you want to write. That’s the best advice anyone can give an aspiring writer. Reading should be a pleasure but it can also teach how to engage a reader. Why did you have to turn that page? How to build tension and twist it. How to create characters that readers care about. How to write believable dialogue. Read everything and start writing. Don’t give up. Take constructive feedback. Keep reading and writing. As a side note, I read anything and everything and on average read about 4 books a week depending on the type of book.
What are your current projects?
I’ve just finished two Liberty Heights short stories that are holiday themed. I actually wrote Pranksgiving which is a Liberty Heights Thanksgiving story first. In short, someone in Liberty Heights kidnapped (or is that birdnapped?
It seemed natural to also write a Halloween themed short book too. Adams and Eve, A Liberty Heights Halloween will be out for this Halloween, 2013. Briefly, ditzy LouAnn Freedbush who first made her appearance in Book 4, Light My Fire, is throwing a Halloween party. “Come as an Adams” says the invitation. Nobody in town can figure out why LouAnn came up with this theme. Everyone’s busy trying to find a suitable costume as a famous person named Adams.
Of course, this is Liberty Heights so there are a few gatecrashers including LouAnn’s sister BettyAnn who is a recent graduate of witch college and member of Registered Witches of America. BettyAnn’s finally snagged a boyfriend who more than resembles Frankenstein. He’s downright creepy looking although kind of sweet. He’s practicing to be a vampire. One little problem; he faints at the sight of blood. Then there’s another gatecrasher who plans to murder LouAnn but like I said, this is Liberty Heights, and things definitely don’t go to plan. I really had fun with this story too.
Finally, I’m working on a new Liberty Heights book. Tentative title is Wait Watchers. I kind of like that it refers not only to a woman who gained and lost a fair amount of weight, but also, people waiting too long or maybe waiting just long enough for the right one to come along. I thought that was neat.
What do you plan for the future?
I hope new ideas for Liberty Heights books will keep coming. I’d also like to do a few stand alone romance or mystery books and it’s been suggested I might try writing a Liberty Heights full length novel aimed at Young Adults. I guess I will think about these ideas and let them percolate for a while. Thinking and letting scenes and stories take form over time works for me.
How can we find you? Website, Facebook, Twitter, blog, etc.?
You can find me in all these places. I don’t always keep up to date on my website as much as I would like but I’m a lot better with Twitter and Facebook.
My website and blog with book excerpts, reviews, news, free bookmarks and recipes.
I also hang out at Books and Writers Community, a great place for writers and readers. It’s free, it’s fun and everything you can possibly imagine is discussed. You’ll see some famous names there including Diana Gabaldon and Joanna Bourne. Right now, we’re having lots of fun discussing casting for the upcoming mini-series of Diana’s Outlander book. We’re all looking forward to that.
My books are available at Amazon:
At Barnes and Noble for Nook:
Any other news you’d like to share?
What gave you the idea for this particular book?
As I said, I had just finished a Thanksgiving themed short story in the Liberty Heights series and Halloween seemed a natural. LouAnn is more than a little ditzy. She owns Wayne, a beagle who is psychic. (Or psychotic, depending on your point of view). LouAnn’s sister BettyAnn finally graduated witch college and she’s snagged a boyfriend who’s practicing to be a vampire. His only problem is that he faints the second he sees blood. It all fit in so well with Halloween kinds of events, the story took on a life force of its own. It’s a given that anything to do with a Freedbush is more than a little off center but they’re fun.
Is this story written for adults or children? Why did you target this audience?
Most of my Liberty Heights books are meant for adults. All the books are fictional although I do get a kick out of readers who ask for driving directions to Liberty Heights thinking the place must be real. I’ve often thought I should include a map of the town because I know exactly where all the shops are, where everyone lives and the important places in the town.
The Liberty Heights books often contain sexual references but the two short stories including Adams and Eve don’t. In that respect, they’re different which doesn’t detract from the fun. It also means they are appropriate for Young Adult readers and shorter than the full length novels.
Do you believe in ghosts? Why or why not?
Well, why not? Not everything is logical and deductive. In a way, it’s kind of nice to believe that when someone dies, they’re not completely gone from your life. They’re nearby, still caring about you. It might be wishful thinking, but I don’t see anything harmful about that.
Does your main character believe in ghosts? Why or why not?
LouAnn definitely believes in ghosts. She’s so ditzy and sweet, she’d have nothing to fear. On the contrary, she would likely say, Freedbushes are well known for their hospitality. Any ghost is welcome in my house.
I haven’t written a Liberty Heights book with a ghost but I’m thinking about it and wondering which resident of the past might be back in town and why. It’s giving me plenty to think about so thanks for generating that idea!
What is your favorite:
Pasta. Always pasta. I’m a sucker for it. I can’t eat it often because I blow up like a balloon but I love it. Italy was heaven!
Where do you write?
Usually in my living room on a laptop. I get up and walk around a lot and think but this seems to be the place where I work best.
I’m still enjoying Ballroom and Latin Dancing. It’s terrific fun and always something new to learn. It’s a challenge and I think anyone can learn to dance. I know I’ve benefited socially, but also developed much better posture, balance and musicality so it’s terrific. There’s a rumor that one of the pros from Dancing With The Stars is coming to our studio later this year to give a special lesson. Well, sign me up for that! Isn’t that going to be great fun!
I admit it. I do watch Dancing With The Stars because I love the choreography and watching as the contestants really evolve into dancers. I’m addicted to The Big Bang Theory. Never miss it. I think it’s a fabulous show. Wonderfully written and beautifully acted. Sharp, witty, and always engaging. Never dumbed down to the audience. Bazinga!
Serendipity. No idea why. Maybe because it’s a word I don’t get to use very much but I do love it when things are serendipitous.
Calvin’s index finger tapped his forehead. Brains. Something LouAnn was more than a little short on. All he had to do was get rid of her. Permanently. Collect the inheritance as her grieving husband and head back to the good life, Renata, and the Copacabana. He started the ignition and paused.
That damned beagle. Wayne was devoted to LouAnn who claimed the dog was psychic, more than sufficient proof she was a total lunatic. Yet, in California, celebrities flocked to Wayne for readings. More nutcases.
Wayne could be a problem. For starters, he loathed Calvin. No matter how many times Calvin shoved the dog in the car when LouAnn wasn’t looking and threw him out miles away, Wayne had the instincts of Lassie. Like a magnet pulling him back to LouAnn, Wayne always returned home. Footsore, hungry, and worst of all, furious and snarling at Calvin.
Darned dog. Better not show his face in Liberty Heights until he did some reconnaissance on his wife and that pesky dog. All he had to do was lie low, case the town, and find a foolproof way to kill LouAnn.