One of the things I’ve noticed about life is that there are a lot of things They don’t tell you. (Nobody in the history of the world ever actually cut off the bottom of that ugly bridesmaid dress and wore it to parties later. With the exception of a few Scottish boys who have the legs for it, plaid is almost always a bad choice. This actually won’t hurt me more than it hurts you. Episiotomies.)
But every once in a while, the things They don’t tell you are actually the best ones. I started this blog because They said I’d need it if I wanted to be a writer. But what They never mentioned was that I’d get to meet an incredible, exciting, mind-messing group of people I’d never have a chance to encounter any other way. Take my guest today. E. Van Lowe’s list of accomplishments is stunning enough. Top that with great writing in a genre I aspire to, and genuinely engaging presence, and that brings us to today’s post. (NOTE: I don’t often—okay, ever— do this, but I’m printing his expanded bio below the review. Check it out, and then take my advice and check out his terrific blog, and sign-up for his newsletters. There’s a lot of great stuff there for readers, but especially for other writers.)
Please join me in welcoming E. Van Lowe today as he discusses his life and his writing.
1. I’ve heard some aspiring screenwriters say that writing a novel is a great foot in the door for becoming a screenwriter. But you’ve done just the opposite and moved from writing for movies and TV to being a novelist. Can you tell us how that happened?
Actually, I didn’t start out as a screenwriter, but screen and TV is the writing in my career I am most known for. In college, I wrote magazine short fiction and articles, but I’d always wanted to be a novelist/playwright. I wrote the horror novel, Child’s Play while I was still in grad school, and was lucky enough to sell it right after I graduated. I had visions of a big payday, of making a fabulous living as a novelist. I made money, but not what I was looking for. I was helping out at a magazine and asked someone there ‘what kind of writing pays really well?’ The person told me TV writing. So, I changed course, got a book on scriptwriting and some teleplays and started studying writing for TV and the screen. The sad thing is that in grad school they offered all these screenwriting classes that I eschewed. I was a purist—a novelist/playwright. After a few years, I caught a break and started working in TV. So that was my journey. I really did start with books, and now I’m back.
2. What did writing for TV and movies teach you about writing novels?
I don’t think writing in those mediums taught me very much for books. One important lesson I will say I learned was how to keep a story moving along lively. My second job in TV was on a show called Knightrider, and I have to admit I was horrible at it. I was still very much a story teller. My bosses were very kind when they told me to stop being a story teller and lead with pace. “If you have a choice between story or a car chase, go with the car chase,” one of my bosses told me. It was not an easy show for a storyteller to write, but I picked up one of my greatest tools there—pacing.
3. Tell us about that first story you sold, and what it means to you when you look back on it.
When I came out to LA to start graduate school I was a typical dead broke college student, only I wasn’t a kid—I was twenty-nine. I was very serious about making money as a writer. I read an article in a magazine called The Writer about writing for true romance and true confession magazines. As it turned out, they weren’t true stories, they were fiction. I bought a magazine and discovered each of the magazines in the genre featured about ten stories a month. There were around ten magazines at the time. I surmised there were 100 opportunities to sell a story each month. I liked my odds. I studied the genre and on my third submission, I sold one. They only paid forty dollars for that first story, but I didn’t care. I was finally in print.
4. In Boyfriend from Hell, Megan has three types of relationships—with her two best friends, with her new boyfriend, and with her mother. Do you think those relationships are helping or holding her back? And why were you interested in presenting them that way?
I write from what I call ‘my truth.’ While what I write is all made up, there is an underlying truth in my stories. I lost friendships in high school. I was too young to realize many kids lose friends as young people are attempting to spread their wings—and often not necessarily in a good way. In Boyfriend From Hell, Megan suffers the loss of two friends–Erin, which was entirely her fault, and Matt, who wasn’t. Megan’s close relationship with her mother is based on my close relationship with my son. Like Megan and Suze, we were close friends, and like Megan and Suze, we went through some growing pains. Fortunately, we didn’t have Satan to deal with. LOL.
5. Megan starts out as the quintessential “good” girl, whose status as a member of the debate and math team makes her one of the “card carrying members of our school’s leper colony”. Why is she so attracted to an obvious bad boy like Guy?
I have no idea why girls are so attracted to bad boys. I should be asking you that question. LOL. I can’t tell you how many women in my life have passed on me for the bad boy. I remember wishing I was a bad boy. In Boyfriend from Hell I wanted Megan to be attracted to the wrong boy, like many girls are. I figured “what’s the best way for a girl to raise her status in school—date a bad boy.” But I created a bad boy who was actually good.
6. Which comes first—characters or plot?
While there are times I think of plot before character, a story isn’t a story unless you create interesting, compelling characters. So, character, of course.
7. You write snarky, funny YA paranormal romances and also horror. Do you ever have trouble switching between genres?
No. In my life I’ve learned to write in many genres. I’ve written sitcoms, action shows and TV dramas, horror, YA, and paranormal romance. But I can’t help but be funny. I am currently writing a TV drama and yet my snarky sense of humor keeps raising its ugly head. Delete-delete-delete.
In closing I’d like to say how much I enjoyed this interview. Some of you reading this might think I had it easy, that everything just fell in my lap. It didn’t. There were many nights when I wondered how I was going to pay the rent—hundreds upon hundreds of rejections. Days when I doubted if I had what it took. My greatest gift, however, isn’t the writing, it’s the ability to put the bad new behind me, pick myself up, dust myself off and try all over again. If you wish to have a successful career in writing, don’t give up. Don’t buy into all the bad news about what’s going on in publishing today. Keep telling yourself that YOU are entitled to massive success. Mediocrity is not an option.
And now a plug, if you don’t mind. If you’re a writer and liked what I had to offer, more writing advice is available on my blog. Please follow me. If you’d like to keep up with who I am and what I’m up to as a writer, go to my website and please sign up for my newsletter. Keep Reading-Keep Writing!
BlurbFifteen year-old Megan Barnett and her single mom, Suze, have a special relationship—they are friends, close friends, who do almost everything together.“But come on, guys, she’s my mother… Can I really tell her that while we’re snuggled up on the sofa watching Spider Man Three, I’m secretly undressing James Franco with my eyes? Of course not…” The special bond takes a turn for the worse when Suze decides to start dating again. She hasn’t had a man in her life since Megan’s father left ten years ago. Enter two mysterious young men, Megan’s new classmate, sinfully attractive bad boy, Guy Matson, and the dangerously handsome art dealer, Armando. Before long Megan and Suze both wind up in steamy relationships. But neither of the handsome pair is quite what he seems. In fact, one of them is Satan, with his sights set on a new bride. Megan has precious little time to figure out how to stop him. If she doesn’t, either Megan or Suze are quite literally going to HELL.
- Book Title: Boyfriend from Hell (Book 1 of the Falling Angels Saga series)
- Author: E. Van Lowe
- Genre: YA Paranormal Romance
- Length: 261 pages
- Release Date: August 13, 2011
Contact Links For E. Van Lowe
Purchase Links for Boyfriend from Hell
Why Boyfriend from Hell is
the worst YA romance the best YA romance I’ve read in a while.
In reading Young Adult romances over the years, I’ve made a list of the things that should be included:
- Heroine hair-flick—there is no emotion or situation that can’t be illustrated by having the heroine flip her (preferably long, red) hair. Lots.
- Mirror self-exam—by way of showing that she doesn’t get how beautiful she is (even though everyone else says so), the heroine looks in a mirror and catalogues her large (violet or lavender) eyes, long slim legs, and perky but small breasts.
- Best friend has bigger breasts.
- Mother doesn’t understand her.
- Heroine’s not-boyfriend has blond hair, which he flicks. Or maybe black hair, but only if he’s a Bad Boy and is Only After One Thing.
- Heroine’s not-boyfriend sometimes hurts her and sometimes protects her. He’s conflicted. She must save him.
And if the YA is also a paranormal fantasy, you’ll need the following as well:
After a careful examination of these elements, I’m very sorry but I must conclude that Boyfriend from Hell just doesn’t get how to be a proper Young Adult paranormal romance. For one thing, take the heroine, fifteen-year-old Megan. Sure, she’s probably pretty, but the only time she looks in the mirror is when she’s trying to avoid hearing about her mother’s love life. And her hair? Not one flick. Plus—there’s no getting around it—Megan is a geek. She collects trivia (“What most people don’t know is Pythagoras also stated: “It is evil to eat beans.”), googles kissing on howtokiss.info, and is a member of the school’s math team. She likes being a geek, except for the resultant dating difficulties “Erin and I were on the debate team and the math team. We were card carrying members of our school’s leper colony.” “Unfortunately at Glendale Union, hitting the Dating Daily Double (looks and intelligence), is a near impossibility.”
And her mother, Suze? They are good friends who love going to garage sales, polishing silver, and watching Jane Austen movies together. But when Megan’s world changes— her two best friends begin dating each other, single-mother Suze also decides it’s time to get back into the dating scene, and a hot new guy joins the math team—Megan handles it the way any exceptionally bright, well-adjusted, happy teen would. She tries to break up her friends’ romance, figure out her own romance, discourage her mother’s romance, and ignore clues that Satan is shopping for romance.
Even though Boyfriend from Hell manages to miss almost every YA trope, I still give it five out of five stars. The writing is the kind of confident, fast-paced, often laugh-out-loud prose you’d expect from a professional with E. Van Lowe’s experience. Megan is a convincing teen, sophisticated and snarky one moment, then whining in childish frustration the next. Her pleasure in falling off the good-girl wagon (a little)with her first kiss is beautifully contrasted with the growing up she does before our eyes as she confronts the destruction caused by her own jealousy. But interspersed with these scenes of a young girl on the edge of womanhood, are the ominous hints that maybe all of Megan’s suspicions are not just childish spite.
It was such a pleasure to see Megan step into the role of heroine when the lives of those she loves are on the line. Even as she uses all her resources to unmask the evil threatening her family and friends, there is one tragic twist that I just didn’t see coming, but that shows us the woman Megan could become.
The rest of this series? I can’t wait to read it, and I’m making a list of young teens I can introduce it to.*I received this book for free from the publisher or author in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.**
Ehrich Van Lowe
Ehrich Van Lowe began his television writing career with a bang, writing for the successful television series “Charles in Charge” and “227, and immediately segueing to staff positions with “He’s the Mayor,” “Knight Rider,” and “The Robert Guillaume Show.” While in the midst of an accomplished career in television, Ehrich also made a successful leap into the feature film world, writing the short film “Cadillac Dreams,” the first ever ‘hood’ movie, which garnered him an Academy Award nomination.
The bang then turned into an explosion. Ehrich was invited to join the staff of the Emmy Award-winning series “The Cosby Show”, where he wrote and ultimately produced the hit show for three seasons. During that time his screenwriting career also continued to blossom, with “Stompin’ at the Savoy” for Lou Gossett Jr. and LoGo Entertainment, “Car Wash II” for Thom Mount and Universal Pictures, and “Ain’t Too Proud To Beg” for Paramount.
From there Warner Bros. came knocking and Ehrich entered into an overall writing and producing deal with the studio. While at Warner’s, Ehrich wrote and executive produced “Roc” for the Fox network, co-created and executive produced “Where I Live” for ABC, and wrote pilots for CBS and FBC.
Ehrich’s ability to create family programming soon caught the eye of Walt Disney Studios, and the Academy Award nominee ushered his Sweet Lorraine Productions into an exclusive agreement to create and develop long and short form television programming for the studio. During his first year with Disney, Ehrich developed “On Our Own” with rap sensations Salt n’ Pepa, and wrote and sold pilots to ABC, the WB, and UPN, culminating in the critically acclaimed camp sci-fi series “Homeboys in Outer Space.”
In 1998 Ehrich decided to leave the Disney fold to join the realm of the independents. In 2000 Ehrich returned to Disney as an independent producer, developing the Disney Channel’s first hit comedy series “Even Stevens.” In 2001 Ehrich and the series were nominated for an Emmy Award for Best Children’s Series. The series has gone on to garner numerous Emmy nominations.
In 1999 Ehrich joined forces with Marcela Davison Aviles to take Blackboard Entertainment (formerly a children’s DVD distributor) into the new millennia, turning Blackboard Entertainment into the first children’s multi-media company. Ehrich was instrumental in sealing strategic deals with Magic Johnson, United Talent Agency and Silicon Valley Ventures.
In the unique world of Standup comedy Ehrich and his Sweet Lorraine Productions have financed, produced and own three comedy concerts currently in DVD distribution: Jamie Foxx’s 2002 HBO Special, I Might Need Security, Jamie Foxx’s underground comedy concert, Unleashed and Craig Shoemaker’s concert DVD, That’s A True Story.
In 2003 Ehrich joined Ardustry Entertainment, a Hollywood film and distribution company, as VP of Production. During his short stint at the company Ehrich brought in the Queen Latifah starrer “Tall Dark And Handsome.” He also raised the funds for and launched one feature film, “Customer Of The Week,” as well as completing the feature film “The Orphan King,” starring Chris Evans, Alexis Bledel and Bill Pullman.
In 2005 Ehrich helped create and Executive Produced “The Tom Joyner Show,” a comedy/variety show starring radio celebrity host, Tom Joyner, for Reach Media which aired in late night syndication.
As a novelist, Ehrich has written two classic 80s horror novels under the Pseudonym, Sal Conte: “Child’s Play” and “The Power.” As E. Van Lowe, he has launched a new career writing novels for teens, employing a unique style of combining horror with humor. His first teen novel, “Never Slow Dance With A Zombie” was published by TOR/Teen, September 2009. The hit novel was chosen as a selection of the Scholastic Book Club. It has also garnered an ALA Award and Cybils Award nomination.
E’s YA paranormal novel, “Boyfriend From Hell,”(White Whisker Books) entered the Best Seller list in January of 2012, and in March entered the top 10, ranking as high as #7 in Children’s and YA Ebook Bestsellers. The sequel, “Earth Angel,” also topped the list, ranking as high as #8.
Ehrich holds an MFA in Professional Writing from the University of Southern California. In 1997 he became a proud member of the faculty where he taught various forms of writing for eleven years.
Ehrich has been nominated for numerous prestigious awards including: The DGA Diversity Award, The Academy Award, The Emmy Award, The NAACP Image Award, and the American Library Association Award.