As writer of the popular “Ask Eros” advice column, Simon Beck has an answer to every relationship question his readers can throw at him. When it comes to his own life, the answers are a little more elusive—until computer troubles introduce him to the newest and cutest member of his company’s IT support team. Simon may be charmed by Benji’s sweet and unassuming manner, but will he find the answer to the one relationship question he has never been able to solve: how to know when he’s met Mr. Right?
I asked Lilah is she’d mind telling us about the inspiration for the story and the journey from concept to publication. And did the final story match the initial idea or did the characters lead the story in a different direction? Here’s what she had to say.
I set out in the beginning with the aim of writing a Rom-Com, so there were particular narrative beats I knew I wanted to hit and a general idea of where the story would go and how it would end. I also decided early on to use Simon’s columns as a touch point in each chapter, so that helped to keep things on track. But other than that, I’m not a very detailed planner. That way I know I have room for the characters to lead the story as they and their journey get fleshed out along the way.
However, I do find that I always have to go back and rewrite the first few chapters, just because I know the characters so much better as the story goes on, and sometimes the character in the first chapter doesn’t match up with the character in the rest of the story. One change that seems small, but ended up having a pretty big impact on Benji’s character, was that in the beginning he had a Captain America tattoo instead of the shirt that he and Simon initially bond over. A few chapters in and it just seemed wildly out of character for Benji as I knew him to have a tattoo. So it became a T-shirt instead. A small thing, but it’s amazing how little details like that really change the landscape of a story: Benji’s T-shirts became so much a part of who he was after that adjustment.
Overall the book is really what I hoped it would be, and part of the reason for that is anticipating that the story will shift and change, and giving it the space to do so, but knowing that I was working towards these particular outlined moments. I think there has to be a balance. It’s exciting to watch characters come to life as I’m writing them. I just don’t let them take over completely! Unless it’s a dog like Walt, and then I let them do whatever they want.
Thanks for sharing, Lilah.
“How about you? Did you always want to be a writer?”
“Yeah. I think I did.” He finally gives up on work completely and closes the laptop. “I mean. I guess what I write about is kind of pointless, but I wanted to be a poet once upon a time, so I guess it could be even more pointless,” he jokes.
Benji’s eyebrows knot. “It’s not. Why would it be pointless?”
Simon gives a humorless laugh. “I mean, I write a sex column for women. Not exactly moving prose or hard-hitting journalism.”
Benji scoots over little on the desk, sitting with his legs so close to where Simon is sitting low in his chair that he can smell Benji’s crisp laundry detergent and citrusy soap. He suddenly has to fight the urge to move a fraction to the left, press his nose to the inside seam of Benji’s jeans and breathe him in.
“You listen to people. You remind them that they’re valuable and worthy of love and respect. How is that not important?” Simon is struck speechless, chest tight and breath caught. Then Benji claps him on the shoulder and hops off the desk. “Come on. Let’s go have lunch.”
Rafflecopter Prize: Grand Prize: $25 Interlude Press Gift Card; Multi-Format eBook Copies of Spice to Five Winners
Click here or the image to enter the Rafflecopter
About the author
Lilah Suzanne has been writing actively since the sixth grade, when a literary magazine published her essay about an uncle who lost his life to AIDS. A freelance writer, she also authored a children’s book and has a devoted following in the online fan community.
Where to find the author:
Facebook: Lilah Suzanne
Facebook Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/lilahsuzanne
Tour Dates & Stops