Interview with Eliza Gordon, Author of Welcome To Planet Lara

04 May 2021

What can you tell us about your new release, Welcome To Planet Lara?

It’s nuts. I started out writing another romantic comedy and then things went sideways and Lara and Rupert and Finan and Humboldt decided THEY were in charge, and the story took off in a completely different direction. It’s now a mixture of romance, comedy, mystery, and thriller, underlaid with a timely eco-positive foundation. Lara is a bit hard to like at first, but if readers show a little patience, they’ll have a front-row seat to her unfurling arc. She’s a messy work-in-progress, just like the rest of us.

What or who inspired you to become an author?

I read Little Women when I was six, and I knew I would grow up to be Josephine March. Eventually. And my late sister—she was severely physically disabled and had a sky-blue Smith Corona electric typewriter. I wasn’t allowed to use it unless I had something to say (waste of paper and ribbon otherwise!), so my first story was about a dentist, written to make my sister laugh, which in hindsight is bizarre because I am terrified of the dentist and who the hell laughs when leaving the dentist unless they give you the good drugs? I think Michelle laughed all those years ago, though, so I’m guessing the story was just weird enough to crack her up. Also we were six and nine, and everything was funnier back then.

What’s on your top 5 list for the best books you’ve ever read?

Brave New World, Aldous Huxley; Grasshopper Jungle, Andrew Smith; Outlander, Diana Gabaldon; The Hunger Games, Suzanne Collins; The Gargoyle, Andrew Davidson … and of course, Little Women, Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Titus Andronicus, and The Tempest (and a dozen other of his plays but not the mushy stuff), EVERYTHING by Liza Palmer, Jane Steele by Lindsay Faye, The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate, Hearts and Other Body Parts by Ira Bloom, Invisible Monsters by Chuck Palahniuk, everything by Jojo Moyes, Dreyer’s English by Benjamin Dreyer … I’m also reading The Weird Sisters right now by Eleanor Brown, and it might be the most beautiful thing I’ve ever laid eyes upon. Oh, and Sleight, by Jennifer Sommersby.*

Oops. As you can see, I like a little of everything and I cannot pick just one. Can I keep going?

*OK, I’m just kidding. That’s my book, written under my real name. My humblest apologies.

Say you’re the host of a literary talk show. Who would be your first guest? What would you want to ask?

Louisa May Alcott would be my first guest, and I would ask her about growing up in a transcendentalist household and also why didn’t Jo marry Laurie because he was so sweet and also loaded, though I guess it worked out in the end. Oh, and I would have her come early to the TV studio and we would watch Greta Gerwig’s 2019 version of Little Women because it is amazing and I think Louisa would seriously dig it. The scene with Amy and Laurie in Amy’s art studio in Paris, when she’s schooling him on the financial realities of being a woman? Bloody brilliant. *chef’s kiss*

What’s your favorite thing about writing?

Having written. Someone else said that, and I love it. Writing can be glorious and ecstatic and heady and intoxicating, or it can be agonizing and demoralizing and depressing and murderous. But when I build a stack of all my published books in their various formats, it’s pleasing to admire them and say, “Hey, you did that. Good job, weirdo.” This is usually followed by cookies and gin.

What is a typical day like for you?

I have several tracks upon which I motor: the writing track and the day-job track.

Writing days are delightful because I feel like a horse loosed from her paddock. I get to run around and eat dandelions and chase cats out of my field and kick at people who smell like farts. In human terms, that means I get up, eat a quick breakfast, deal with my kids, shower, put on a clean Superman shirt, make a pot of coffee (and hiss at anyone who gets near it), and then head out to the Howling Cat, which is the insanely cool writing shed my husband made for me in our backyard.

 I then spend as many hours as my brain will allow, with the requisite bladder and snack breaks, writing or doing research for whatever project is on deck. The HC is AMAZING because it’s so quiet, except it’s called the Howling Cat because we also have a “catio” (enclosed patio for our two very spoiled cats), and two-year-old Rosie Cotton can see me through my glass-paned door so she yells at me because she doesn’t understand why I am in the little box instead of in the house where she can sink her teeth into my flesh when I try to pet her. These are my favorite days.

On day-job days, I work in my inside-the-house office (which is our dining room that’s been blocked off by bookcases on the living room side) and is filled with my Superman and elephant and otter toys and many books and a few hidden snacks and did I mention my Superman toys? I am a collector, and I like to have my THINGS near me so I can gaze adoringly at them when I am supposed to be repairing comma splices and run-on sentences.

Oh right, my day job—I’m a freelance copy and line editor. Other writers send me their books, and I make them shiny and aromatic. Been doing that for approximately one million years, though by this rambling pile of goo herein, you’re probably questioning who would trust me with their book baby. Just a few NYT and USA Today bestselling authors, but who’s bragging now? Pas moi.

What scene from Welcome To Planet Lara was your favorite to write?

Oooooh, if I say the romantic scenes between Lara and Finan, does that make me a perv? Yeah, probably. But Finan is hot, so come on. I blushed through writing those scenes, fanned myself a few times, and now I’m blushing and fanning myself as I realize people in the Real World are reading them too. (Perv.)

Hmmm, truthfully, though, I really like writing scenes where all the carnage unravels—and there’s a big showdown toward the end of Planet Lara where a bunch of shite hits the fan, and that was super fun to scratch out because [spoiler redacted]. Also anything to do with the dog was fun. I’m a cat person, but that Humboldt is pretty damn cool, albeit ridiculously slobbery. Eww, Humboldt. These pants were clean.

Do you have a motto, quote, or philosophy you live by?

Focus on the work. Head down, blinders on, full steam ahead. (I even have stickers of this available in my gift shop on my website, but you don’t have to go look at those because never mind I mentioned it.)

Also: Cupcakes are breakfast food. Fight me.

Eliza Gordon is the author of the new book Welcome To Planet Lara

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