Author and attorney Gabrielle Dorian marries courtroom experience with witty banter and memorable characters in her debut romantic comedy Waking Up in Vegas (2018). When she’s not writing or practicing her magic in the Land of Enchantment’s legal system, you’ll find her rollerblading or kickboxing. Connect with Gabrielle on her website at WritingWithTheSharks and on Twitter.
What is your elevator pitch for Waking Up in Vegas?
A stop-and-go divorce case spurs a stop-and-go romance between opposing counsel on the case.
What unique challenges did this work pose for you?
Formatting. The characters communicate with each other via text occasionally throughout the book, and I wanted the text messages to appear in the book as they would look on a phone screen. Now that that’s been accomplished, it is proving to be a challenge adapting the text messages for the audiobook script. Fortunately, I am working with a creative audio team, and I think it’s going to be great.
What was your favorite part of this writing project?
I loved the moments when I made connections between something that had happened earlier in the story with a later part, where something cool could happen, just because I had fortuitously set it up. Maybe it was there on some subconscious level. I’m willing to give myself some credit. But it felt like I had a lot of serendipitous “aha” and “yay” moments where I was able to work something back into the story, which gave it a lot more depth.
How did your book come together?
I had been happily single for about seven years when I met someone (not opposing counsel on a case, but an attorney I met in court) who made me question my views on relationships. But that relationship ended just as quickly as it began, and I was left wondering: What just happened? I started working through my thoughts on relationships, using writing, and a story developed out of it.
The first draft was completed in about nine months, and then the book went through two major editing rounds (which included a few additional rounds targeting specific chapters). It took about two years and some change from initial idea to the time I hit “publish” on Amazon KDP.
Why did you choose Las Vegas, Nevada as the setting for the book?
I chose Vegas as a backdrop for a few reasons. Although it is almost as easy to get married in many other states (no blood test required, no waiting period), there is still a common perception of Vegas as the destination for a spontaneous marriage or quickie divorce. One thing I discovered about Vegas in my research is that the County Clerk’s office is open sixteen hours a day, which, coupled with the legal public drinking and ongoing party atmosphere, probably does allow for (if not encourage) a higher rate of spontaneous weddings than in other states. I also enjoyed juxtaposing Mallory’s character (somewhat introverted, career-focused, risk averse) with the stereotypical outlandish Vegas setting.
Tell us about your main characters.
The two main characters are attorneys. Mallory, a talented estate planning attorney, is reluctant to leave her comfort zone. Tyler, a brazen divorce attorney from Chicago, starts off on the wrong foot, looking like a smug jerk to Mallory. He quickly wins over Mallory’s paralegal, Amanda, and Amanda convinces Mallory to give Tyler a chance.
I really enjoyed writing Amanda, because she has a lot of qualities I wish I had, plus a ton of confidence and minimally censored sassy responses. My favorite character to write was actually Tyler’s mother, Quinn. Completely uncensored and unapologetic, Quinn is the free spirit who enters into a spontaneous marriage that sets the whole story in motion. Those close to me have pointed out commonalities between me and several of my characters.
Did you discover anything interesting while doing research for Waking Up in Vegas?
I searched for “crazy things people do in Vegas” online, and read a lot of interesting stories. Only one anecdote ended up becoming the basis for a minor character in my story, but describing it would spoil one of my favorite surprise moments in the book.
What are the hardest kinds of scenes for you to write, and what do you do to get over this hurdle?
I find it difficult to write scenes involving dialog in a group of people because the reader has to be able to tell who is talking, and because there must be action (a lot of people just standing around talking gets dull quickly), and again, the reader has to be able to tell who is doing what. I hate using a lot of dialog tags, but when more than two people are talking in a scene, I have accepted the need to use more tags to identify the speakers. I try to make each character’s voice as distinguishable as possible and to pair a character’s action with the speech to minimize the necessity of tags.
What writing projects are you working on now?
I am currently working on the second book to follow Waking Up in Vegas, tentatively titled Chicago is So Two Years Ago. I am also working on a series of short stories about lawyers, more dramedy than romantic comedy, to be released close to the Discovery Channel’s “Shark Week” in 2019. I blog about lawyers, being a female attorney, and dating on my website. Finally, I am working on a screenplay about gym rats—a modern day bromance.
KL Wagoner (writing as Cate Macabe) is the author of This New Mountain: a memoir of AJ Jackson, private investigator, repossessor, and grandmother. Kathy has a new speculative fiction blog at klwagoner.com and writes about memoir at ThisNewMountain.com.
Great interview! I also read the book. I’m really glad to hear there will be a sequel!
Thank you, Drew! I’m so glad you enjoyed the first book. I’ve been having a lot of fun working on the second one, and I hope to have it out soon.