The short and sweet version:
Elizabeth Eulberg was born and raised in Wisconsin before moving to New York City to work in the publishing industry. While she got to work with amazing authors as a publicist, she also once had to play basketball dressed in a Clifford the Big Red Dog costume. Luckily life as a full-time author is just as exciting (and sometimes embarrassing) where she gets to research the best chocolate chip cookie in New York and how to pick a lock. She is the author of novels for teens and young readers, including internationally best-selling YA novels The Lonely Hearts Club and Better Off Friends, and the acclaimed Great Shelby Holmes middle-grade series. Elizabeth lives outside Manhattan with her three guitars, two keyboards, and one drumstick.
The long and babbling version:
I was born in the small town of Portage, Wisconsin and am the youngest of four children. My father owned a clothing store, called (appropriately enough) Eulberg’s, that had been in my family since 1929. My mother was a teacher then stayed at home with us kids until I was old enough to go to school. She eventually became a high school librarian…at the high school I attended! (And no, she did not play favorites. Ever.)
Growing up, three things dominated my life: traveling, music and reading. I still have passion for all three today.
Every summer my parents packed us all up in a van, complete with a tent that slept six—and we travelled for two weeks to a different parts of the country. Being the youngest child, there are many pictures of me crying in numerous historical landmarks across the United States: Mount Rushmore, the Grand Canyon—you get the idea. Of course, as soon as I was able to appreciate these trips, my parents decided to stop doing them. Something about us wanting to spend more time in the campsite pool than site-seeing…
My love of travel prompted me to become a foreign exchange student the summer between my junior and senior year of high school (if you do it in the summer – no homework!). I lived in the tiny village of Bühler, Switzerland and got to travel all around Switzerland. I also studied abroad my junior year of college in London. I have since travelled extensively around Europe, been to Australia (twice!), New Zealand, Argentina… I have a lot more places that I want to go and think Chile is going to be next on my list, but I also really want to travel around the countryside of Ireland since I’ve only been to Dublin. So many places…
My mother had me begin taking piano lessons when I was five since, she says, I banged on the piano more than my two older sisters who were taking lessons. Music became my main obsession throughout childhood. I started playing the clarinet when I was in fourth grade and even played the drums in marching band in high school (how cool was I?). A few years ago, I decided I wanted to learn to play the guitar. I still keep up with the piano, although I’m nowhere near the level I was in high school and continue my quest with guitar lessons to become a full-out rock star (some day!). It was my love of music that led to my career in publicity… but more on that in a bit.
Reading didn’t come easy to me as a young kid. In the first grade, I was put in the lowest reading level. It was very frustrating to have my friends not struggle with reading like I did. I felt like something must be “wrong” with me. By second grade, I was tested and we discovered I had a couple learning differences, including a mild version of dyslexia. I worked with my mother and teachers to help me find ways to become a better reader. Luckily, I grew out of most of my differences, although I still have the occasional flare up, especially if I’m tired and not paying attention. By around fourth grade, I became an avid reader.
The first book series that I remember becoming enthralled by was the Betsy-Tacy books by Maud Hart Lovelace. I was hooked instantly and followed Betsy from the first book to the last, Betsy’s Wedding (I always laugh when publishers say kids don’t want to read about adults). I also remember reading Anne of Green Gables, Little House on the Prairie, From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler and, of course, Little Women. I say “of course” about Little Women since my mom wanted me to be called Beth, after the character from the book (oh, and I have a sister named Meg). But alas, I never went by Beth. I prefer Elizabeth (and still do).
My next reading craze happened when I started reading the Sweet Valley High series. My mother always encouraged us to read. While some people would prefer their children to read more “literary” books, my mother didn’t care. She was just happy I was biking to the library every day to pick up the next book. When I finished that series, my mother put Homecoming by Cynthia Voigt in my hand. I quickly read the sequel, Dicey’s Song, and then every book written by Ms. Voigt.
When I was in Switzerland for the summer, I’d read all the books I brought with me, so I went to a bookstore and scanned the one rack of English-language books and bought the thickest one: Stephen King’s Four Past Midnight. For the remainder of high school and college, I pretty much read Stephen King exclusively.
One would think that a career in publishing would be a given, but not quite…
Music dominated my high school existence. If I wasn’t practicing piano or playing in pep band, jazz band, etc., I was listening to music. A career in the music industry was something I aspired to. My mother, the librarian, got a book for me called Careers in the Music Industry. When I looked through that book there were two careers that interested me the most: public relations and A&R. After doing research, I knew public relations would be the perfect fit.
I went to Syracuse University and attended the Newhouse School of Public Communications, which has one of the best PR programs in the country. After graduation, I got a job at a small entertainment PR firm. I wanted to work in music, film or TV. Then I got a fateful call from a reporter asking about a book published by one of our licensing clients. When I called the head of publicity at the publishing company, he mentioned they were looking for a publicist. And asked if I knew of anybody. Feeling unhappy at my current job, I quickly said yes. I had the new position the next week.
I worked in publishing for over 10 years (yes, I started when I was 14) on numerous titles from picture books to middle-grade to young adult. I’ve been able to meet some of the amazing authors I admired as a child. But never did I ever think that I would be an author myself.
I always was kicking around stories in my head. Usually they involved my celebrity crush at that moment and I living happily ever after. I had a lot of people tell me that I should write, but I kept thinking about all the people who think that writing a book is easy, anybody can do it. What makes me any different? Why should I think that I could write a book?
Finally, I decided to give it a try. I started with a couple of ideas that fizzled out, mostly because they were too serious. Then I remembered the books that I really enjoyed as a teen, books that were fun. It wasn’t easy and took a long time, but I finally did it. My first novel, The Lonely Hearts Club came out in December 2009.
In early 2011, I made the transition to writing full-time. Hopefully, this is just the beginning of my story.