I’m thrilled to welcome the #1 Kindle Bestselling Author Eliza Watson to Bookaholic Confessions today. Eliza very kindly stopped by to reveal all about the first book her in Travel Mishaps of Caity Shaw series, Flying by the Seat of My Knickers (best title ever, don’t you agree!?) Eliza chats about her inspiration behind the series, her favourite destinations to visit and also doing some, erm, ‘unusual’ research for her books…
Hi Eliza, welcome to Bookaholic Confessions! Thank you so much for participating in this interview. I’m thrilled to have you on my blog! Would you like to start by introducing yourself…?
Thank you so much, Holly, for having me here today at Bookaholic Confessions. I live in Wisconsin with my hubby Mark and my cats Quigley, Frankie, and Sammy. I’m an event planner and I travel over 100 days a year for work. When I’m not traveling, I’m at home writing or tracing my Irish roots. I’m obsessed with Ancestry.com and T.V. shows like Who Do You Think You Are? After visiting Ireland in 2007 with my parents and cousin, I began researching my ancestors. I have met numerous Irish rellies and recently fulfilled my dream of owning a vacation home in Ireland.
Can you tell us a bit about your latest (brilliantly titled!) novel, Flying by the Seat of My Knickers?
Thank you. I’m so glad you like the title! The book is set in Ireland and features Caity Shaw, who is a bit of a mess, trying to recover from an emotionally abusive relationship and being fired from her first real job out of college. When her sister Rachel, an event planner, asks her to assist with a meeting in Dublin, Caity jumps at the opportunity to travel abroad and escape her life in Milwaukee. However, she soon realizes her troubles can follow her around the world.
As Flying by the Seat of My Knickers if the first book in The Travel Mishaps of Caity Shaw series, can you tell us a little bit about what readers can expect from the rest of the series?
Over the course of this five-book series, Caity travels to Dublin, Paris, and other fun destinations, hoping to find herself and regain her self-confidence. She experiences different cultures, makes new friends, and encounters a few surprises during her journey—like uncovering the mysterious pasts of her Irish grandmother and her hot Irish co-worker, Declan. She learns she’s not the only one with secrets.
What gave you the idea to write a series chronicling Caity’s travelling mishaps?
My job. However, I never write about real-life experiences. I no longer plan events. I only go on location to hotels and venues to execute them, the same as Caity’s new job. I’ve been in the industry for twenty years and no matter how well you organize an event, once you are onsite many things are out of your control. You have to be able to troubleshoot issues and think on your feet. Each event entails a different city and hotel while working with new vendors, clients, attendees, and co-workers. The job has little stability and familiarity. Poor Caity is in for some major challenges.
Is Caity an entirely fictional character or is she based on anyone in real life?
Caity is mostly fictional, based a bit on myself. However, I am more like her sister Rachel, who is an experienced planner and proactive, unlike Caity, who is very reactive because she doesn’t have the background to foresee potential problems. I remember being in Caity’s shoes, clueless about my job but excited to travel.
Are you a big traveller yourself? What’s your favourite destination to visit?
Oh man, choosing a favorite destination is really difficult. Paris is my favorite city. I studied there in college and visit every chance I get. Istanbul and Marrakech are the most exotic, and intriguing, cities I’ve visited. Since we recently bought a vacation home in Ireland, I obviously love the country. All future vacations will be to Ireland, unless we get wild and crazy and hop a plane to Scotland, my Watson’s homeland, for a weekend.
I imagine that there’s a large amount of research that goes in to writing your books. How do you go about doing the relevant research for your novels?
On my website, I share some of the unusual things I’ve done for the sake of research, like being blasted with pepper spray, participating in a Paris puppet show, touring funeral homes, and test driving a Vespa scooter—when I’d never driven a motorbike in my life.
For The Travel Mishaps of Caity Shaw series, I didn’t have to research Caity’s job, since I’ve lived it most of my career. Even though I set books in destinations I’ve visited, I still have to conduct some research. Every time I’m in Ireland, I jot down unique expressions and cultural tidbits. One time when I was visiting my neighbor, she kept saying, “Going out to the chipper, be right back.” I felt guilty that she was cutting wood while we sat inside enjoying cocktails, until she returned with a plate of fries. I learned that a chipper is a deep fryer, not for cutting up wood like in the U.S.
Have you always wanted to be a writer?
No. I was an avid reader but never was one of those people who read a book and said, “I could have written this.” I attended a Romance Writers of America conference in Chicago with my sister Penny, who was a finalist in the organization’s writing contest. I met some wonderful women and loved the camaraderie they shared. My sister and her friends encouraged me to write about my often humorous, and a bit crazy, travel adventures for work. So the journey began.
What advice would you give to any aspiring novelists out there?
A few years ago, I wrote a blog post titled Dear Newbie Author Me, an advice letter to myself when I started writing fourteen years ago. If I knew then what I know now, my road to publication would likely have been much easier, and faster. The letter is posted on my website. My main words of wisdom are to not give up. I see too many new writers quitting after only a few dozen rejections. I received a few hundred rejections on five books before I sold my first one. Unless you are very lucky, perseverance will play the biggest role in becoming a published author, whether you self-publish or go the traditional route. So my advice is to follow your dreams and never give up!
Who are your favourite authors and which type of books do you enjoy reading?
My reading tastes are very eclectic. I love romantic comedy, amateur sleuth, young adult, chick lit, and women’s fiction. I’ve never been able to pinpoint one favorite book. My favorite series are Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series and Lawrence Sanders’ McNally series. The McNally series helped me reignite my passion for reading after studying non-fiction, often boring, textbooks in college.
And finally – can you tell us a bit about what you’re up to at the moment?
It’s 92 degrees outside and I am trying to get in the holiday spirit, listening to Christmas music, while writing book three in The Travel Mishaps of Caity Shaw. The book comes out next summer and will be set in Ireland at Christmas!