Author Name: Lilah Suzanne
Publication Date & Length: April 2, 2015 – 250pgs
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?
Simon and Benji
This is a wonderful book! It is the very simple story of the beginning of a relationship. It is the story of Simon, an advice columnist at a women’s magazine in New York. It is also the story of Benji, an IT technician at the magazine.
At the start of the story, Simon is slowly extricating himself from an unhealthy relationship. His friends are marrying and settling down and he feels lonely.
Benji is the consumate geek. He references science fiction films, wears character t-shirts and has collections.
This book is so well observed. As the central characters developed, I moved from thinking that I’d known people exactly like them to wondering uncomfortably if Suzanne was actually writing about me and my relationships. The relationship between the two characters was real. It was possibly the third character (though Walt the pit bull might have something to say about that).
This wasn’t an urgent, passionate rush for bed followed by declarations of undying love. Instead, and unfortunately unusually, it records the slow, sometimes awkward getting to know a new lover. It observes the equally awkward and sometimes frustrating meshing of lives and homes that follows. Above all, it manages to capture very accurately the silly moments, the unfailing support offered by true partners, and the playful interludes that make everything else in life worth doing.
So often, romance is serious and passionate involving exaggerated misunderstandings and artificial barriers. This is just real. The story is funny and sweet and almost painfully well observed. I loved it.
Unfortunately, all of that wrapped up in the first third of the book. The rest was just a lot of sex. I’m not against erotica, but there was absolutely nothing else happening, and this was a fairly lengthy novel. Every time I thought an element of plot twist or tension was being introduced, it was resolved far too easily and typically within a chapter. Even the characters’ bedroom play was comparatively vanilla. That’s fine, but this story really needed something more in some way.
This would have been cute as a serial, but it really didn’t work for me as a full-length novel. I suspect some readers would love the hot sex and not be bothered at all by the lack of plot, but I prefer more of a complete story with some tension in among the fluff.
“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.”
1) Can you describe in detail what your writing environment is like?
My writing environment is really just a nook by the window in my bedroom. A wobbly laptop desk with a little extra table next to it that I can pile junk and papers and pens on. I often have my dog sleeping behind me and a cat or two on the chair with me. Right now there are two ladybugs crawling around on the window outside.
2) Is there one of your characters that you relate to (from any of your works)? Why?
They all have bits of me of course, so I don’t think I relate to one of them more than any other. I identify with all of them in different ways. For Simon I really relate to his desire to have things wok out the way he’s imagined them to be, even if it doesn’t quite match up to reality. For Benji I identify a lot with the way he’d rather avoid conflict altogether than deal with things being difficult or awkward.
3) If you couldn’t be an author, what would you do instead?
I’d probably be a preschool teacher. Seriously.
4) Is there anything that you learned during the writing process that you wish you had known before hand? (Advice to new authors)
I think the biggest lesson for me has been that you have to keep going. Keep writing, keep working, keep editing. The difference between being successful and not really has less to do with natural talent and a lot to do with perseverance.
5) Is there anything that you wish you could change about your book now that it is out?
There’s always something I still want to tweak or change, I don’t think there’s an end point for that feeling! But no, I have to let it go at some point, not dwell on what I wish I could change and appreciate the story as it is instead. I’ll make myself crazy if I don’t!
6) How long does it on average take to write a book?
From the very first draft to the very final product? Several months. I can finish writing first draft in about 6-8 weeks. I write fast, edit slow!
7) What’s next for you as a writer?
I am currently polishing up the manuscript for my third book, Broken Records, which is about Nico Takahashi, an LA stylist who has reluctant feelings for a client: a country music star named Grady with a reputation for being a player.
8) Where do you live? Do you think this influences how or what you write?
I’ve lived in the South for all but one year of my life, in Florida and then North Carolina. Even though I have some pride and affection for it, I’ve never quite felt like I fit in here. I think that does influence the kind of stories I write, and how my characters are often looking for that place, or person, where they finally feel like they fit.
9) What is your favorite genre outside of the one you write in? Why?
Probably humor. I like stories that don’t take themselves too seriously.
10) Which one of your books is your favorite? Why?
There’s this sense of a book feeling like it’s less “mine” once it’s been out there in the world for a while, so I’ll say Spice for that reason: it’s newer and closer to my heart currently.
What skill do you wish you had that you don’t (or haven’t learned)?
Playing an instrument. I can muddle through a little, but I wish I could really play.
Go to a theater or rent a movie?
Beer or wine?
Indoor or Outdoor?
If you could stay a certain age, what age would it be?
I’m having a pretty great time right now!
The best part of waking up…
Coffee. Always coffee.
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.