Elizabeth Eulberg‘s third novel Take a Bow came out earlier this year. Having already enjoyed her previous novels The Lonely Hearts Club and Prom and Prejudice, I was delighted with her latest effort filled with drama and excitement at a performing arts school in New York City.
Miss Print (MP): Can you tell us a bit about your path as a writer? How did you get to this point?
Elizabeth Eulberg (EE): I still can’t get used to saying that I’m a writer! I never thought being an author was a possibility growing up, this was in the dark ages before the internet and blogs, so authors were these mythical creatures. I loved to read and tell myself stories, but never once thought I’d be a writer. I went to school for public relations and got a job in publishing as a publicist. It was author Dav Pilkey who first encouraged me to write, I was scared to admit that I had been thinking about it. But there’s a huge difference between thinking and doing. And one day I decided to sit down and write.
MP: What was the inspiration for Take a Bow?
EE: I was obsessed with performing arts high schools growing up (I blame the movie Fame). I was in every musical offering at my high school – band, marching band, jazz band, pep band – but always envied people who got to go to schools that focused on the arts. So I decided to write a book set in one.
MP: Take a Bow is set in the fictional New York City School of the Creative and Performing Arts. What kind of research did it take to write about a performing arts school?
EE: I went online and looked at a few different performing arts high schools to see what the entrance requirements were and what a normal day looked like. My fictional school is loosely based on the La Guardia School in NYC and the Houston High School for the Visual and Performing Arts.
MP: Take a Bow is your third novel. It’s also your first with multiple narrators. How did you decide which characters would get a voice in the narration? How did writing multiple narrators compare to having just one narrator in terms of your writing process?
EE: Originally the book was only supposed to be told from Emme’s point of view…then I decided to take a shower! I was thinking about the story in the shower, as one often does, and realized that you really don’t get the full story if you don’t know what Sophie’s thinking. So I thought, okay, I can do both of them. Then I realized you really need to hear from Ethan as well. Okay, three points of view… I was thinking about Carter, who originally was only supposed to be a secondary character, Sophie’s celebrity boyfriend, when I realized he had a secret. I shut off the faucet right away before I decided to give the piano a POV!
I plotted out the story the same and then decided who would tell what. I knew that some characters would have more of a voice than others. But I really like how it worked out. I think you get a fuller story this way.
MP: With which of your four narrators—Emme, Ethan, Sophie or Carter—did you most identify? Who would you have wanted to be like in high school? Who was the most fun to write?
EE: I liked writing all of them, but think I’m probably most like Emme now and even back in high school. I will say that writing from Sophie’s POV was a lot of fun since we are so different. I did lean forward a little more and type fiercely when I was writing her. But I also liked being an emo boy with Ethan. But Carter surprised me the most.
MP: A big part of this story is Emme and Sophie’s changing friendship during their senior year. It’s obvious early on that Sophie is desperate to be a star. She’s also cunning and willing to use every advantage she can find. What was it like not just writing a character that is often unsympathetic but also having her tell part of the story?
EE: I knew from the beginning that Sophie would be unlike any character I’ve ever written and would be someone people wouldn’t necessary like. But there are people like that and I didn’t want her to have a teachable moment either, because some people never learn! I will admit that when writing Sophie, I started feeling sorry for her, mostly because she felt sorry for herself. It’s funny when people ask me about her, because they think I’m going to be offended that they don’t like her. It’s a compliment to write a character that brings out a strong reaction from readers – even if it’s a negative one!
MP: Aside from worrying about school performances and college auditions, Emme is in a band with her friends. Were you in a band in high school? What would your dream band look like? What instrument would you want to play?
EE: I wish I was in a band like Teenage Kicks! I was super jealous of Emme for that. I was only in the bands I mentioned above. I wasn’t cool enough to be in a proper band. But I would still love to be in a band, I’d play both guitar and piano…and get a singing solo every once in awhile. So basically, Teenage Kicks is my dream band. Watch out, Emme!
MP: Do you have a playlist for Take a Bow? If so, do any of the songs mentioned in the book feature on the playlist?
EE: I don’t have an “official” playlist for Take a Bow. But “Teenage Kicks” by the Undertones, “Beat It” by Michael Jackson, and Rihanna’s “Take a Bow” would definitely be on it!
MP: Can you tell us anything about your next project?
EE: My next book, Revenge of the Girl with the Great Personality, comes out in March. I’m really excited about it. It’s about a girl named Lexi who’s the funny, clever girl that never gets the guy. To make matters worse, her younger sister is a beauty queen contestant so all her family’s time and resources focus on that. So Lexi decides she’s had enough of being the wallflower and starts to bloom.
MP: Do you have any advice to offer aspiring authors?
EE: READ! WRITE! Then read some more and WRITE! I really believe in writing the story you want to hear, not what you think will be popular or the next big trend. I’ve had to read and edit all my books countless times so if it wasn’t something I truly loved, I would’ve had gone crazy by now…well, more than I already am!
Thanks again to Elizabeth Eulberg for taking the time to answer my questions. You can find more information about her books on her website.