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Author Interview: Elizabeth Luly Chats about Not Just Gal Pals

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Get ready to learn more about the book Not Just Gal Pals in this discussion with sapphic author Elizabeth Luly.

Join us for an exclusive peek behind the scenes as we quiz Elizabeth Luly about Not Just Gal Pals, writing, reading, and more.

This book is part of the Beach Reads category in the 2024 IHS Reading Challenge.

Why did you write Not Just Gal Pals?

I lived in New York for five years. While I love my current home town, Melbourne, one of the things I miss most about the States is fall! The decorative gourds, fall farms, pumpkin spiced lattes, apple fritters, Halloween and gorgeous foliage. Since I haven’t been able to travel back to the US for a number of years due to COVID and having small children, writing Not Just Gal Pals was a way for me to experience all the North American fall feels without leaving my house! Given the past few years, I also wanted to write a funny, uplifting, low-angst romance that was pure escapism.

Who is your favorite character in the book?

I love Blake. She’s gruff and a socially awkward mess around her teenage crush Jenny, but a very kind-hearted and generous person. She also looks suspiciously like my wife! I can definitely relate to Blake’s social awkwardness, but like to think my text messaging skills are better than Blake’s!

What part of Not Just Gal Pals was the most fun to write?

I loved writing the Pride & Prejudice-themed bachelorette party chapters, especially when Blake walks in dressed in a Mr. Darcy-inspired outfit and blows Jenny away and later has her own “Mr. Darcy in the lake” scene. I’m a big Pride & Prejudice fan so it was really fun to incorporate it into Not Just Gal Pals and put a sapphic twist on it.

How much research did you need to do for Not Just Gal Pals?

While I relied a lot on my memories of living in New York and visiting the Hudson Valley, I did fall down a rabbit hole watching a lot of YouTube videos of fall farms!

If you’re planning a sequel, can you share a tiny bit about your plans for it?

I actually published the second book in the Sapphire Springs series, called Novel Problems, in May 2024! It’s about Hannah, a bestselling fantasy author suffering from writer’s block, who accidentally gets a job at Sapphire Spring’s local cafe-bookstore and falls for the warm-hearted owner, George, who is Blake’s best friend from Not Just Gal Pals.

The next book in the series will be another sapphic romance about Olivia, Blake’s sister, who owns the local flower shop.

What is your favorite line from your book?

“It was Mr. Darcy, crossed with…a very hot woman. And I was here for it. Really here for it.”

What is your writing process like?

I fall somewhere between a plotter and a pantser. If I plot out the book in too much detail, I get bored and lose interest in writing it. But if I have no idea where I’m going, I can also feel discouraged and spend a lot of time writing scenes that are eventually deleted. As a result, my current approach is to have a very high-level outline which leaves me plenty of room for creativity.

Where do you usually write, and what do you need in your writing space to help you stay focused?

My favorite location is my local cafe, but because I have to fit writing in amongst my day job and family responsibilities, I’ll write pretty much anywhere! On the couch at home, on the train to work and even walking (I usually dictate when I do this, so I don’t fall over!). Since I can’t afford to be picky, all I need is my phone or my laptop!

What is the most valuable piece of advice you’ve been given about writing, and by whom?

Just keep going! Learning that I could write “shitty first draft” and then go back and fix it later was revolutionary for me. Before that, I’d get caught up trying to make the first few pages perfect and never get any further.

Do you feel bad putting your characters through the wringer?

I find it really difficult putting my characters through the wringer, which is one of the reasons why my books are fairly low-angst! I get too attached to them, and don’t want to ruin their lives. I try to find ways for my characters to experience personal growth without going through too much trauma.

What type of books do you enjoy reading the most?

The last few years have been difficult with COVID, world events and some personal challenges, so I’m currently all about reading for escapism! Give me a sapphic celebrity romance or a rom com and I’m very happy woman. Pre-COVID, I’d be more likely to read literary/bookclub fiction, autobiographies and crime novels, but feel-good sapphic romances are currently my jam!

What books did you grow up reading?

I was a voracious reader as a child. The Narnia books were the first “real” books I read, and I was obsessed with them. A few years later, I fell in love with British girls boarding school stories, especially The Chalet School series. Looking back, I feel like there were sapphic undertones to a number of those books! Reading Ellen Hart’s lesbian cozy mystery series as well as Sarah Waters and Jeannette Winterson when I was a teenager was quite formative. That experience has made me very keen to write books centering queer women.

Meet Elizabeth Luly

Romance author Elizabeth Luly lives with her gardening-obsessed wife, cheeky toddler and highly strung Schnoodle in Melbourne, Australia. She loves strong coffee, dogs, traveling and happily ever afters, especially if they involve queer women!

Visit Elizabeth Luly’s Website

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