Zibby Books author alert!! Zibby speaks with debut author (and resident doctor!) Elle Evans about WEDDING ISSUES, a laugh-out-loud, feel-good story about a charismatic law student who is the maid of honor for two brides competing for the same magazine cover: her best friend and her cousin. Elle describes her unique path to writing and what it’s like to juggle it with a demanding medical career. Then, she reveals some of the inspiration behind this novel, touching on some of her wedding mishaps (it involves purple shirts and tofu). She also delves into her novel’s themes: friendship, LGBTQ representation, messy family dynamics and generational tensions, and the pursuit of personal and professional fulfillment.


Zibby: Welcome Elle. Thank you so much for coming on. Moms Don't have time to read books to discuss your book, wedding Issues Novel.

Elle: I am so excited to be here. Thank you.

Zibby: It's always so fun to talk to an author of a book that we're actually publishing, which makes it even more exciting.

We got an advanced look. Okay, so Elle, please tell listeners what Wedding Issues is about.

Elle: Sure. I love this question. Wedding Issues is about a fast talking charismatic law student who finds herself as maid of honor for two weddings that are competing for a bridal magazine cover. Her best friend's wedding and her cousin's wedding.

So she's kind of dealing with competing priorities, a scheming aunt, and an off limits crush and trying to juggle all that and graduate law school. So it's a fun ride, I had a ton of fun writing it, and I hope people have even half as much fun reading it.

Zibby: So this is your debut novel. Where did this come from?

You also have other work and, you know, both sides of your brain seem to be working, you know, right side, left side, all of that. So, talk more about Becoming a novelist at all and when you started writing this book and I don't know, everything. Where did you grow up? Let's go all the way back.

Elle: I grew up in Massachusetts really.

I was a big reader always. Family lore says I wrote my first quote book at the age of four. On a bunch of post its, it was called the cat who ate dog food and the dog who ate cat food. And that was pretty much the whole plot right there in the title was widely praised by all critics who were related to me.

And then I wrote, you know, these little novels in elementary school that my parents would publish at Kate goes and distribute to, you know, the great parents who, again, are very receptive audience to that kind of thing. And then it just was sort of writing, you know, casually, you know, sort of my whole childhood.

In college, I started writing plays more actually. So I had a couple of short plays done in festivals around Massachusetts. And then a couple years ago in med school, I started, you know, I was like, all right, you know, I've been reading long enough. I think I want to try and take this seriously and then learn a little bit more about character development and story structure.

And, you know, I never really took any writing classes growing up. So it's very much just sort of, you know, Modeling, all the things that I read in books, so very sort of self taught, so I had a lot to learn from the structural aspect. And then for wedding issues, I wrote that in Time of My Life.

Zibby: Wait, go back for a minute. So how, what did you do to learn the structure and what were some of like the most salient points that you're like, Oh, okay, I didn't know this. And now I'm going to put that into play.

Elle: I think as a reader, and I was a huge, I think someone very wise once said that, you know, all writers are first readers.

I don't know if that's true. It sounds true. It's true for me, but I read a lot of books growing up. So I think the sentence structure, sort of putting words on the page that came very naturally just from having read a lot growing up. I think thinking about things like, Oh, my protagonist should probably change in some way, like have a character development over the course of a story or, you know, You know, there shouldn't be long periods of the book, most of the time where, you know, they're just reacting to everything and they're not doing anything, just things like that, that feels sort of intuitive.

Now that I've read some books and, you know, listen to a bunch of interviews and heard other authors who much. Better trained than I am. Kind of think through those process, all those sort of intentional things that if you write a good book as a reader, a casual reader, you don't really notice. You're just like, this feels like a good story and I wanna root for this person, and I like them better at the end than maybe I did at the beginning.

Those were all sort of things that I had to be like, oh I sort of took those for granted as a casual reader, and now if I want to be a writer myself, I have to take them a little more seriously.

Zibby: Interesting. Okay, sorry. All right, back to wedding issues.

Elle: Yes. Wedding issues. I spent five years in Nashville for grad school and I was in my mid twenties and that was a period of my time, especially in the South where everyone's getting engaged and married.

A lot of my close friends. So I was a maid of honor and bridesmaid and wedding planning was just a huge part of my life in that time. And I got engaged and married in that time too. So really was in the thick of it. Something I didn't really appreciate until my friends started to get married is, you know, obviously there's the huge, romantic, exciting part of it, but there's also a big sort of friendship component to a way a lot of people experience wedding planning and something that brought me and my friends, especially friends who lived in different cities, closer together, even if we were just Skyping about bridesmaid dresses, it was an excuse to, you know, get together and sort of chat on.

So I wanted to write a book sort of fashion. Yeah. With that backdrop of wedding planning and sort of focusing more on those friendship and family dynamics more than, of course, the, you know, very obvious romantic part of weddings. And then setting it in Nashville, which is just a really fun city that I was, had the chance to live in.

Zibby: I love your, how you'd really take us in the setting of Nashville. I mean, I've only been once and I'm going again, you know, with you, I'll be there for the event. You're doing, I'm so excited, but even just like, okay, now here we are in Centennial Park. And like, now here, you know, it's just like rooting us in the city.

Feeling like now I know it a lot better than, like, I have some inside information or something. Like, I really, like, the insiders look at Nashville versus just like driving around being like, that street looks cute. So, you know, that was a fun element.

Elle: Yeah, it was, it was very fun to write the book and, you know, everything in the book, even the first restaurant that they have their first date.

is it's a fictional name, but it's very much based on a real place. And so I'm excited to go back and to sort of do the little mini book tour in my head of like, Oh, this is what I was picturing for the bachelor. This is what I was thinking of for this restaurant. So yeah, it's a really fun city.

I'll just throw that out there. You don't have to be in a bachelorette party or a bachelor party to enjoy it. There's really a lot to do.

Zibby: Amazing. There's a whole element of New York sort of New York longing in Nashville though, right. So like even looking at the editor, what is her name again, the editor at the magazine, how her office looks like it's sort of posed very Southern with like the blue and white gingham and like the ceramic cowboy boots and how your protagonist can just walk in and be like, okay, she's clearly, you know, long to be in New York.

Look at how she's dressed. Look at how fake this backdrop is like, you know, so do you feel like, because I felt like that was a slight source of tension as well, the love of New York versus Nashville. Tell me about that dichotomy.

Elle: Yeah, so I think that was sort of a proxy for what I experienced living there, not New York specifically, but more sort of The Northeast Yankee style of life versus the South.

I lived, I grew up in Massachusetts. Like I said, I did college outside Boston. So this was my first time living in a different region of the country is when I was in Tennessee. And it's very different. And I liked it a lot, but you know, when I first walked, moved down there, I remember the first week I was like in a little boutique and this lady came up to me and just sort of struck up a conversation, not the typical, you know, Disinterested Northeastern sales associate who's just like, can I help you?

And then like, doesn't really want to help you. Like this person, you know, wanted to chat about everything. And I was a little creeped out and I was like, it's kind of weird. I'm not really used to strangers just talking to me so much. And again, I was a little creeped out just for my Massachusetts upbringing as that happened repeatedly.

And then. Two years later, I'm going up to Massachusetts for Christmas. I'm like, everyone here's kind of mean, you know, me in the checkout line. I was like, Oh my gosh, Nashville's rubbed off on me. So there are, you know, a lot of culture differences, you know, more subtle ones than, you know, the big political things between the Northeast and the South.

And, you know, part of what I was experiencing when I was living there was I came in very much with my Northeastern identity. And then as I spent more time in, in Nashville, I, there are parts of this culture that really appealed to me. And so, you know, to be honest, I might end up moving back to Nashville one day.

So stay tuned.

Zibby: Okay. Interesting. Yeah. I mean, I spent some time in Charleston where my husband used to live. Not that Charleston and Nashville are the same, but I was there for a book event and I needed a different pair of shoes. For some reason, something had happened to my shoe. I don't even know. And I was running late and the lady, the sales lady was like, Oh, just go to your event and come back and pay us later.

And I was like, what? And she's like, yeah, just go wear the shoes. Like, we know where you are. We can find you over there. And I looked at my husband. He's like, this is Charleston. This is just, this is totally typical. Yeah. So I was blown away by that. Yeah. Couldn't believe it. Well, there are themes also in the book, not just of weddings and all of that.

And, but really It's this competition, but also entrepreneurship, right? Because one of the bridal contenders, which you can talk about the differences of the two, Leighton has, is launching a business at the same time or wants to launch this ready, handmade bridesmaids dresses and all that. And so they're trying to position her as one of the contenders as not just her wedding because she's a beautiful Southern woman with a huge Instagram following, but Yeah.

Also because you can see the progression of her career and like launching a business at the time and that weddings used to be the end of your career for a woman, right? And now this is the beginning for her and sort of what that means societally. So talk about that a little bit.

Elle: Yeah, no it's, I did that very intentionally because, you know, there's the two brides in the book, and I don't think this is a spoiler.

Very briefly, there's Leighton, who's Olivia, the main character's best friend, who's sort of your quintessential Southern girl is hoping to pursue a career in fashion and, you know, has a large Instagram following, has been working on growing that, but is also trying to launch some made for tailoring bridesmaid dressing and dresses.

So hopes that this exposure will sort of help propel her. Callie the other bride, Olivia's cousin is very disinterested in weddings in general, and is sort of doing it for family reasons. The Layton character. You know, could definitely erred more towards sort of stereotypes of Southern girls in particular, you know, there's, there still is a culture and many universities in the south of that sort of ring by spring phenomenon of going to undergrad or certainly grad school with the hope of finding your partner.

And I remember I moved down to the south when I was 23, completely single, and I moved down and I called my mom after like two months. I was like, I'm going to die alone. You know, I have five. I'm a widow, you know, I'm washed up. I'm a spinster, you know, that was what it was like. There was such a focus on getting engaged and starting your family and doing all of those things.

I think the South is a little bit more traditional in that aspect, but I do think there's. Recently been more of a shift towards, you know, even if there's a cultural expectation to get married earlier, it's not necessarily like the be all end all the pinnacle of everything you're achieving as a woman, you know, sure, you may want to start a family earlier, etc.

But it doesn't mean you're setting aside your career to do that. So I think that's a little bit of a change that I was hoping to show is sort of late in balancing both of those.

Zibby: Interesting. And Callie, you have as an L-G-B-T-Q new the pitch is she will bring a new point of view, a new life into this very staid magazine Southern child.

And Callie is sort of a reluctant poster child for this magazine, right? But her Aunt Charlotte really wants her to be this person, which of course speaks to all the generational things going on in the book as well. I mean, even Leighton's mom and you know, sort of not. Thinking that her Instagram career is actually a career and sort of wanting to please the elders and just sort of that rift.

Do you, did you see that? Did you find that sort of generational tension when you were there?

Elle: I think there is some of that generational tension. Nashville itself is a very progressive city compared to the rest of Tennessee in general. I think, You see more of that. The more you get out into more rural parts of the state.

This is a little bit different, of course, then are very different than sort of the LGBTQ angle for Cali. But I had a good friend when I lived in Nashville, who was in a biracial relationship, which is very common. It's, you know, 2023 and sometimes when they traveled. They would drive to a couple states away, so they had to drive out through the rural parts of the state, and they actually caught, you know, a lot of attitude at some of those smaller hotels for asking for one room for two of them, which I, you know, is.

Sounds shocking, and maybe it shouldn't be, maybe that's my naivete that I was shocked by this the first time she told me that, but it's, you know, there's, Nashville itself is very progressive, but there, there certainly are elements of the state that are a little bit less so.

Zibby: Interesting. Wanting to help and be in this creative field of Olivia, or Liv, versus her very methodical law track career.

Talk about those sort of dueling parts of her. mind and brain and how it parallels you versus the writer side versus the doctor side and all that.

Elle: Yeah. So my, the reason that I use Elle Evans is a pen name. It's, I joke like the worst kept secret. It's not, I'm not Batman, you know, it's not a big secret.

The reason I use one is because my day job is as a resident doctor. And sometimes patients like to Google us for credentials or publications and just sort of wanted to keep those elements of my life separate. So for me, I'm in sort of the apprenticeship stage of medical training. So I have my medical degree.

I'm a doctor, but I spent four years working under more. I'm more experienced, fully qualified anesthesiologists, et cetera. So it's a pretty demanding time and energy part of my career. And it takes a lot out of me. So writing has always been a way for me to sort of not lose that other part of me, because medicine as a tendency of being very all encompassing, there's all, there's always more to learn.

And there's that pressure that you have people's lives in your hand. And I don't say that lightly, you know, my, my specialty anesthesia. You know, when everything goes well, you just tell you to pick out a nice dream. I'll be there with you. I'll see you on the other side. But when things go wrong in my, in anesthesia, they go wrong very quickly and you have seconds to minutes to act, and so there's a lot of pressure always, not only when you're at work, but when you're outside of work should be studying and making sure that you're the best doctor you could possibly be.

So that when you're in that situation, that You know, you can take the best care of your patient, which is not a responsibility that any of us take lightly, but at the same time, it can lead to burnout where there's that feeling of should I always be studying? Should I always be working on my skills?

You know, that my career is I have people's lives in my hand, but you also, you have to take care of yourself too. You can't take care of patients. You don't take care of yourself. And for me, writing is a way to really, you know, hold onto a part of myself that I really love and to really be able to exercise those creative muscles that.

To be honest, I don't use every day when I'm thinking about drug dosages or things like that.

Zibby: Oh my gosh. Well, Matthew Perry's ketamine overdose situation, do you like, I was thinking it's used for anesthesia and you as an anesthesiologist to be like, what did you make? What did you make of that?

Elle: Yeah, no, we were all talking about it when the news came out.

I think there's likely contributing factors. It was probably, you know, and I haven't read, I'll say I haven't read the official pathologist report or anything like that. Ketamine is a drug that we use commonly in the OR. It can be used as a sedative. It can be used lower dose as a pain medicine. It's possible that he was receiving ketamine infusions at home and mixed it with some other substances that can sort of depress respiratory function.

Ketamine itself doesn't do that as much, but it can sort of sedate you. And you know, if you're in a hot tub and you're overly sedated, then, you know, bad things can happen.

Zibby: Wow. Sorry. That was a random tangent.

Elle: No.

Zibby: So with the book, what are you hoping readers get out of the story?

Elle: That's a great question. I, well, I'm hoping to get some laughs out of it.

You know, I hope they put this down and they're like, this book may, you know, it took me on a ride, made me kind of visit this other world. And I had a really good time doing it. And then also hopefully think a little bit about, you know, what they want out of life. Cause that's something that Liv is really sort of thinking about throughout the book.

And she's just sort of on this path of big law and career and just not really, but hasn't really thought intentionally about why she wants those things. And if. If she really does, and there's definitely a sunk cost fallacy. We all get in these paths in life and the next step seems apparent and then you don't stop to question once you're three steps in if you really want step number four.

And so I hope that at least for some people, that book might spark that question as well.

Zibby: And that it doesn't have to necessarily be one thing. Like, look at you, you know, there might not be one answer. Maybe it's not. I mean, you have a lot of A, B, C, you know, different multiple choices. Like sometimes the answer really can be all of the above.

Elle: You know, for sure.

Zibby: Interesting.

Elle: That was so poetic.

Zibby: Thank you.

Elle: Are you working on a new book? I am. I'm working on a couple of different books right now. One of them, I think one thing about me, sometimes I've listened to some of your podcasts, many of your podcasts and the authors talk about all the research that they do for the books.

And I am in awe because I am so sleepy and I really like to write about things that I know a lot about already so that I don't have to research quite as much. You know, I wish that I would be the kind of person who's like, I want to learn about undersea sea diving. So I'm going to write. And, but for me, I would have this anxiety that an undersea diver would read my book and be like, she's never been sea diving.

This does, you know, et cetera. So with that long intro, I'm working on a couple of books, sort of more set in the hospital setting. There's a lot. of interesting sort of social and political dynamics in the hospital that I think are, you know, in any workspace fairly unique to that workspace. But I think people are usually curious about that.

It's as evidenced by the success of things like Grey's Anatomy. So yeah, so more to come there soon, hopefully.

Zibby: That's exciting. Very cool. And what are the types of books you like to read? You said you were a huge reader growing up. Were there any that you really can point to as shaping you as a kid or that you particularly love now or just what kind of genre do you like or all of the above?

Elle: Yeah, I think what I can point to the most for shaping me even though I don't write like him is Robin Cook. He is sort of the archetypal, wrote the, or kind of created the subgenre of the medical thriller. He wrote Coma, I think is his best work. Our best known work and he's written like 39 or 40 books.

He's a successful doctor and author. So when I was like eight and I found his first book, I was like, I want to be Robin Cook. So him, he, again, we don't write the same type of books, but he was sort of my model for, Oh, you can do both of these things. You know, you don't have to pick just one. So him in that way.

And then when I was growing up, I read a lot of science fiction, more than way more than I do now. Hello. Read a lot of Michael Kreon. I really liked Jurassic Park is probably his best known. And then nowadays I mostly read sort of in my genres just to get better and to learn from other authors really.

So, of course, you know, Emily Henry is great. So I read just sort of anything I can get my hands on, to be honest.

Zibby: Amazing. I should just have you read all these books. You could just read them for me. All the ones coming up.

Elle: I love reading. As you do. I know who I'm talking to.

Zibby: That's true. So what advice do you have for aspiring authors?

Elle: Oh I think the single, which I'm sure they've already heard, but the single most important piece of advice is to just get words on the page. That's what changed things for me a couple of years ago when I started taking writing seriously. Before that, I would write these like I would get somewhere between five to 15, 000 words into a book and I wouldn't have plotted anything out and then I would just sort of run out of steam.

But especially if you have a demanding career, if you have, you know, family responsibilities, or we all have a lot going on in life is just I set goals for myself or number goals. And I really embraced the approach of I write Flaming garbage heap first drafts that I would be embarrassed for anyone to read.

So, but that takes the pressure off of them having to be good. And so it makes it a lot easier to get words done. So just write every day. Don't worry. They don't have to be good. And then for me, it works a lot better to just write poor first drafts. That I would never let anyone see and then revise a lot more before I, you know, let anyone even start to give me feedback.

Zibby: And when do you do this? Like with a full time resident career, I mean, the lore is that is like the most intense thing ever is being a resident. You don't even know.

Elle: It's very intense. Well, my ideal writing is in this room, which is like our little study and I crank the AC up. So I'm artificially cold and then bundle up and sit here and write for like six hours.

But if I waited for those conditions, I would never write because I can do that like once a month. So part of embracing the very bad first draft is that I write a lot on the notes app on my phone, just whenever I can, if I'm waiting for a patient to use the bathroom and pre op, if I'm waiting for the surgeon to finish their case or, you know, anytime I have downtime, I just pick up my notes app and I'll write a couple of sentences.

And as you can imagine, writing sentences at a time, that's It's a little harder to keep the flow of a seed intact. You know, there's more inconsistencies and there's more to clean up later. But by doing that, it helps me write. And then again, part of my job in residency is sometimes just to physically be in the hospital in case someone needs surgery, in case someone has an airway problem.

Doesn't mean I'm actually, you know, doing medicine all the time. So when I'm at the, I was on call yesterday or over the weekend for 24 hours, and I was probably only like in the OR for. 12 of them. So for the other hours, I was just sort of sitting in my little column room writing on my computer. So you found out.

Zibby: What about sleep?

Elle: I do sleep sometimes. Yeah.

Zibby: That is so crazy to me. The image of you like in your scrubs, like pulling out a phone and typing.

Elle: That's where the magic happens. It's very glamorous. Trying to get them done in the hallway.

Zibby: That is really cool though. There could be a whole book about. Maybe that's what you should put in your book if it's being sent to the hospital.

The hospital writers. Oh my gosh. So where do you think your characters would be today?

Elle: Oh, that's a fun question. I think, well, I don't want to give too much away.

Zibby: Okay. Don't give, well, you have to, without any spoilers.

Elle: Okay. Without any spoilers, I think Olivia, the main character, has thought critically about what she wants in life and has made the choice that's best for her.

It is happy on that path in a way that she may not have been before when she wasn't really thinking too hard about that. I think Leighton partnership took off. I'll just put it that way. And that she's sort of taking those first steps. And I think Callie. Is probably somewhere in Africa and she's with Greta and they're taking some amazing photos of zebra, which is where I'd like to be right now.

Zibby: Okay. Did you have any, just as a last question, tell me about any wedding issues that you had with your own wedding?

Elle: Oh my gosh. I planned my wedding. So I lived in, I was living in Tennessee and I got married in Maine because I'm from the Northeast and spent a lot of time in Kennebunkport where my grandparents live.

So I planned my wedding from several states away, which of course, if you have a choice is, I would not recommend. More difficult. But I have my mom, my grandma who were like my boots on the ground and we had a wedding planner. So I had this whole crew, my mom is crazy organized, wedding planner was great.

We're going to nail this. It's going to be awesome. It just goes to show like the best laid plan. So I think two of the funniest things that happened were my, and again my husband Probably your typical, not so involved room, a stereotype would apply to him. He knew that the date, you know, the general color scheme, but he didn't know a lot, but you know, I told him to get the groomsmen in Navy suits and they had blue ties, which he distributed.

And then one of the groomsmen showed up with like a, like this color purple shirt to wear underneath, which I guess, you know, I think we had all thought was, you implied to bring a white shirt to wear underneath and then we had in this like mad scramble in the bridesmaids group chat like what are you what size are your dates like who has a white shirt so one of the bridesmaids boyfriends gave up his white shirt so that the groomsmen could not be in like purple for the wedding photos and then the other thing was we did our first dance We like choreographed something.

Neither of us are big dancers. We got through it. I messed up one thing. It's fine. We're feeling good. Walking out the dance floor, and someone walks by with our salads, which look nothing like the salads we picked. And then we're all like, what's that? That looks weird. And then the next waiter walked by with this like, neon orange, like, Just horrible, like jello looking thing.

And we were like, what is that? You know? Cause the one thing my husband cared about was the food. So we take on our food really seriously. I'm like, what the heck? So we go to our chair and they've given me one of these orange things. And long story short. They had, the hotel had messed up what we picked for our vegetarian order.

So we picked this like really delicious mushroom risotto and they served like this horrible orange tofu thing. And including to me, cause that's what I picked. And so that was a little on the fly. We were trying to figure that out. And the worst part was the tofu was very bad. And I had personally talked like five people out of the salmon.

Cause I was like, risotto is so good. Like I'm getting it. You should get it. So I felt so bad. That was just like, I was like, you know, you do all these things and somehow orange tofu still crashes your wedding and you know, it is what it is. It's fine.

Zibby: Orange tofu and purple shirts. You never know what you're going to get.

Elle: Exactly. So, you know, if those are the biggest things that go wrong, you know, it was a great day where we were very happy and they're funny stories now, but in the moment I remember it walking, watching that tray go by and just like, what is that?

Zibby: Oh my gosh. Well, those are, yeah, we had like a deluge of rain and anyway, they're like every wedding has.

Elle: There's always something.

Zibby: There's always something, but anyway, Elle, so exciting, even though that's not your real name, but I'm just going to go with it.

Congratulations on wedding issues. Thank you for trusting Zibi Books to launch your book. We're so excited to have you as part of the author team. So really looking forward to everything we have in store with you.

Elle: Me too. Thank you so much, Zibby.

Zibby: Thank you.

Elle: I'll talk to you later. Bye.

Zibby: Okay. Bye.


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