This Valentine’s Day I am so happy to present you with a special gift. It has been a huge honour and pleasure to host my first online interview with two amazing indie authors who are not only both gifted (I know, I read a book by each of them), but also married. Imagine having two authors in the same house, each tossing and turning at night with their own worlds spinning in their heads!
Well, these two are proof it is possible, and even entertaining. It’s all in the attitude.
Well, hi there, you two! Finally in the same place at the same time! Do tell, how difficult was it to get the three of us in the same spot online, on a scale of 1-100?
Nah, really? Only two?
Neil: It’s a quantum entanglement issue 🙂
Liz: You did all the work; I just held on for the ride.
Are you actually in the same room right now?
Neil: There is a wall between us. We don’t like intimacy.
Liz: There is no wall. He’s silly. Go to your corner, Neil!
Hehehe…. Ready to start the official interview then?
Liz: Yup, I’m all set.
Neil: Yes, ma’am.
1. Were you both writers when you met or not? I’m just letting you fight over who answers this one.
Liz: Yes we were both writers. We met in a writers critique group Neil set up.
What were you criticising;)? Critiquing?
Neil: I had started a mailing list for writers and she joined. I found out later that she was also from New York and that she had gone to the same school my father taught in, but he never met her. I liked her stuff from the beginning. I don’t like a lot of fluff and she doesn’t have that. Sparse and to the point.
Would you call that serendipity or fate? Meeting her like that?
Neil: Absolutely. I never met her in New York. Or at least I don’t remember. There are a lot of people there. Meeting anyone is a low odds prospect.
Liz: Fate! Kismet!
I bet it was.
2. Do you have similar writing routines or do they clash? The music you listen to, if any, the writing spot…
Liz: Hmm that’s a good question. I think I am more intense. Live what I write. It’s as though I experience it.
Is it a character trait or a male-female thing? Empathizing?
Liz: It may be a female thing. I like to get into the heads of my characters. I prop myself up in my recliner or at my desk by the window in the den and turn on some true crime tv thing and write away. Sometimes I write while listening to CNN.
No kidding? No wonder you write crime! What about you, Neil?
Neil: I write when I feel like it. No schedule. I don’t like music when I write. It’s distracting. But I can write with people talking and the TV on. Lizzie is more of a “trance” writer. It starts to affect her moods even whe she’s not writing. I am not that enveloped by it and can walk away. She thinks that if she loses a piece of writing it is bad because she will “never write that again”. I feel that if I write something over it will probably be better.
Oh wow! Huge difference there. But sort of balances you.
Neil: Crime is fine with me but not a passion. I tend to like stories of transformation of characters.
3. Do you help each other? Was there ever a situation when one spouse’s writing annoyed the other?
Neil: We help each other in practical ways, like proofreading, but I don’t think we have any desire to be back seat drivers during the writing process. I am happy to let her write what she wants. I may make one or two suggestions after I proofread her book.
Liz: I don’t think his writing annoys me. I suspect my intensity can be difficult for him at times. It must be like living with someone who has DID (dissociative Identity disorder) LOL.
Neil: That’s not just when she’s writing 🙂
Liz: Hush. I’ll let Olivia get you!
Neil: Olivia is on vacation. She told me so before she left.
Well, authors are a world in a person, right?
4. Did you happen to name a character the same, envision a similar setting or scene, or even title?
Liz: No, I can’t even imagine that. Although we are working on a book together. But even that will be from different POVs.
Neil: No. We’ve discussed a project where we both write but we talk it out and usually persuade each other to do things a certain way. Never any arguments!
Lizzie and I have a character of a similar surname and that was from before we’d even met or published the books.OK, so tolerance in works for the two of you then. That’s good in any relationship, let alone marriage/writing.
5. Having read your books, I can sort of see the similarities and differences. You both write about socially relevant topics for modern times. Do you discuss them previously? Tell us a bit about this aspect of your novels.
Liz: We discussed my first book a lot. Neil went with me to Dallas and we discussed the whole Oswald conspiracy thing ad infinitum. As for his book, yes, we talked about his characters, child abuse, and of course 9/11. It gives me insight into how an outsider views an issue I might consider important.
Neil: We are pretty much apart when we write our own books, though not physically. I don’t feel the need to examine her writing and make suggestions. I think writing is so personal that that would be a violation but also I’m sure she is capable of writing her own books.
Liz: Darn right I am! Hee hee…
Neil: Well, that is true. I did say once “what if Oswald was alive”. But the story is hers. We did discuss a few details but I didn’t feel like I was responsible for the Oswald story.
I wonder what sort of a story Neil would write about Elizabeth’s Norma, seeing how he likes character transformations;)? Any chance of a spin-off?
Neil: Norma is a freak and I tend not to go that far into the darker parts of the mind. I don’t really write “horror”. If I wrote about Norma I’d probably ask her if she goes to the dentist a lot, since her teeth woud have to be in good shape to rip out someone’s throat. I don’t foresee writing about anyone like that in the near future. It doesn’t do anything for me.
Gosh, that scene was really memorable. I gulped it down, the ripping thing.
6. Do you believe in conspiracy theories? Your books reveal legal plots, bribery, corruption, lack of empathy in the entire legal system. Was that written consciously into your novels or not?
Liz: I do believe in conspiracy theories. I actually feel very strongly about government corruption and political cover ups, much more than Neil does I suspect. Although he does see the injustice in the legal system re: domestic violence and child abuse.
Neil: I don’t see what I wrote as a conspiracy. Or maybe it’s a tacit conspiracy to ignore things that we don’t want to hear about. That conspiracy, including domestic violence and child abuse, is as old as time. It sets people apart and takes them out of “normal society”. But no one agrees to be in that conspiracy; they just react.
I meant covering up for a rich criminal.
Neil: Ah. Well we currently have a presidential candidate who discusses the horrible inequalities between the rich and poor. That is a real conspiracy in that people agree to lie or help other rich people, or take money to cover things up. I do believe in that kind of thing. We’ve had a lot of criminals get off here who had money and good lawyers.
Same everywhere. Sad but true.
7. Neil, who is your favourite character in Elizabeth’s novels? Elizabeth, who is your favourite character in Neil’s novel?
Liz: Moskowitz was my favorite character in Neil’s book. I wanted to smack everyone else in the head and tell them to get over themselves. I was particularly annoyed by Megan. I know that’s awful but I wanted to forego all my belief in no spanking and put her over my knee for a good wallup. Awful, I know.
Neil: Oswald did not really come out as having a defined personality but Liv did and I liked her, especially the way she toughened up at the end and started to fight for herself. She even threatened those that were persecuting her and made the back off. She is cool.
Liz: Oswald was hot. You’re just jealous.
Neil: Yes, little rat faced men are really sexy.
8. Are you working on a novel together? What is that like? (Just a hint – ever thought about writing a book for children? Being grandparents and all;)
Liz: We have been working on this plot for over ten years but it keeps getting shoved to the back burner. It is, of course, a murder mystery. The characters are rather like us in real life I think. It should be fun and may be the start of a series if we ever get the first one done.
Looking forward to that one. The dialogues should be fun. Slapstick style;)
Liz: My granddaughters and I are planning a children’s book called The Walking Dogs based on The Walking Dead. They are Zombie Dogs. It will be quite funny I think.
OMG, that would be preteen?
Liz: Yes. It’s not scary, more silly of course.
Neil: I’m not sure I could write for children. I am too sarcastic. Though I did read a book about a little boy who could turn into a rusty nail if he was in a tense situation. That seemed really funny to me. It would have to be for precocious children.
9. Do you alfa-read each other’s novels? Out loud together or by yourselves and alone? How much feedback do you provide for each other and how much advice do you actually follow?
Do you ever read each other’s stuff and wish it were you who’d written something like that?
Liz: I am terrible about taking advice unfortunately. I read Neil’s book before he published and actually encouraged him to remove some stuff and one particular character and situation I thought detracted from the story. He is much friendlier about advice than I am.
Neil: I have never read a book by Lizzie and thought that I’d wished I wrote it. Her books are her books and we tackle different subjects. I don’t feel that her books lack anything. I just don’t think we want to write the same book.
10. What does the rest of your family say about both of you writing? Do they read your stuff?
Neil: You’d be surpised how hard it is to get your family to read you books. Some of them are not readers and some don’t have the time. I think that they consider writing a mystery and don’t understand what compels us to do it. Oddly they are more enthusasitic about my music but that makes sense. Everyone likes music and listens to it.
Liz: My grandson’s girlfriend and one of my son’s girlfriend’s read my books. I feel as though most of our family thinks we are crazy, which of course we are. Our daughter Alyssa hasn’t read anything but she is very encouraging. Oh wait my sister read our books and she loved View, liked Riddle, and thought Neil’s character drank too much. LOL.
11. If you weren’t writers, what would you love to do?
Neil: Play music 🙂
Liz: I have been fortunate enough to have done many of the other things I wanted to do. I was a pre-school teacher for a couple of years, I was a counselor for over 13 years. I guess I would like to be a counselor again. I like helping people find themselves. I also love teaching. Other than that I would love to have been a forensic psychologist or behavior analyst for the FBI.
12. Elizabeth, what do you think makes Neil’s writing unique? Neil, what do you think makes Elizabeth’s writing unique?
Liz: I think Neil is fearless in allowing his characters to be good guys with bad habits and weaknesses. It isn’t easy to make a flawed personality a hero but he does it. Even though I hated Mike Dobbs with a passion I could see his true “goodness” shining through. Moskowitz fascinated me because he was obnoxious but you got the feeling there was a real good guy underneath. He was sexy. I like bad boys who have golden hearts.
Neil: Lizzie doesn’t contemplate killing people while she’s writing. She gets her evil out in the writing :-). Seriously, I like her style in that it is very regional or “period”. She wrote one short story about a sailor who sees a ghost ship and she got the tone and language down perfectly. Olivia is another example. She is a really southern belle who knits and is obedient to her husband. She wrote another really good story about a crazy maid who was black and got the insanity down perfectly. I am a little too much me in anything I do so I can’t transform my characters too far from my personality.
Liz: LOL! Ah yes – Pearl.
13. What do the two of you like to do when you are not writing, to preserve your relationship in its fun, non-working fashion?
Liz: Travel. Getting away and seeing new places or going out to dinner is very rejuvenating, I think.
Neil: We talk a lot. She is my best friend and we have fun discussing things of all kinds. We go out to dinner but mostly we talk. I know of couples who get sick of each other and need a break. I can spend 24 hours a day with her and not get antsy. Pretty unique.
14. You are both indie writers. What do you find most difficult to handle in the entire process and how do you help each other in that respect? Have you ever wanted to just give it all up, the whole writing thing?
Liz: I never want to give up writing. I don’t think I could. I imagine I will be a senile old lady writing naughty stories. Editing is the most difficult part for me. I hate it. I find it frustrating because once I finish a story I am ready to move on to the next one. I think Neil hates promoting but I like that. I think I help him with promoting.
Neil: I don’t think we help each other except for proofreading and some suggestions. I want her books to be her books. As far as giving it up, this has been an uphill battle. It’s not based on your writing skill but on luck, your ability to manipulate your presence on the internet or knowing someone. I want to be succesful but I realize it may not happen. So there are times that tweeting and facebooking every night gets discouraging.
Liz: I don’t feel that way at all. I don’t worry about a presence or a brand. I write because I must. Sure I want people to read and enjoy my books but it isn’t my goal. I don’t care about money.
15. Unavoidable question – do you fight over the remote? Do you fight at all? How? What about?
Neil: She has the remote. I don’t care what we watch mostly. We don’t fight much. I can get prickly if my job is annoying and then we might sort of pi.. each other off. But generally we don’t fight.
Liz: I control the remote at all times. We fight very little. I can’t think of anything substantial we have issues with. Maybe who gets the last cookie in the jar or chip in the bag.
16. Please, Neil, finish this line for me, in your own words: What I value most in people is… And now, Elizabeth, the same thing with this line: What I am most proud of in life is…
Neil: Honesty, integrity, being willing to stand up for things that need addressing.
Liz: What I am most proud of in life are my children and grandchildren. They have grown to be wonderful and responsible adults who have care and compassion for others.
17. What would you both like your legacy to your kids and grandkids to be? Since you are in the same room, you may as well agree on one reply before you type.
Neil: I would like them to find out what they want to do and be their own person and not take the safe route. I would also like them to be responsible for the rest of the world as much as possible.
Liz: Hmm, I want them to show care and responsibility for others and the world they live in. Sort of the same response. Oh I want to leave my shoes and jewelry to my granddaughters. LOL.
18. What are you working on right now? Each?
Liz: I am writing my third novel “Stolen” which has evolved into something quite interesting, a couple of short stories, and bits and pieces of our joint venture. I want us to do a small book of short stories together as well.
Neil: My next book is a strange mix. Simply put a scientist fights the greedy powers that be on a tropical island using the technology of Nikola Tesla. It is a story about justice but also a cautionary tale about power.
Excellent! Your fans will be happy.
19. Any final thoughts for this session?
Neil: I would like world peace and endless supply of lobster!
Sandra Bullock might supply the first, but as for lobster – no idea…
Neil: And I would like to know why so many Europeans speak perfect English? You are not the only one. It seems like an epidemic 🙂
Must be something in the water;)
Liz: A big thank you to you for this interview. It was fun and thought provoking. Also I want to thank our readers who take the time to read our offerings and especially those who review us on Amazon. Indie writer’s live for those reviews. It’s how we know if we have touched a nerve. And I do love to touch those nerves! 😉
Before you go, you get homework. I AM, after all, a teacher. How about that?
Neil: Both my parents were teachers. I lived it. 🙂
Liz: Okie dokie.
Homework assignment (borrowing from Neil’s book): Think which book you would be(like in Fahrenheit;) and let me know in a day or two.
Neil: I already know. Emphyrio by Jack Vance. I doubt you’ve even heard of him. He is a hidden gem in science fiction. In fact he’s really not science fiction. But his stories are amazing.
Liz: It’s a toss up between “Rose Madder” by Stephen King or “To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee.They seem different but I see connections.
Oh, you both liked homework and finished already? Hehehe…
Neil: Extra credit?
You both get extra credit with me.
Thank you both so much for your time. Just a sneak piece of news, Elizabeth’s Riddle will be 99 cents during Valentine’s Day. My review for this romantic thriller is here.
Read my review for Neil’s uncompromising contemporary novel The Railroad
Don’t forget, dear readers, your favourite authors share their dreams, sleepless nights and selves with you. Share your opinion with them in the form of a review! Read and recommend!