A big thanks to Stacy and Valerie for taking the time to answer my questions. Their newest book, From What I Remember is out now! You can check out their website here.
Can you tell the readers a little bit about your new book, From What I Remember?
From What I Remember…is our second novel. Our first, Karma Bites (Houghton Mifflin, 2010) was a middle grade novel. This is our first YA novel and it was a blast to write. Our background is in screenwriting and producing films so we liked the idea of taking a high-concept movie premise, a sort of HANGOVER in high school, and deepening the story and characters and then turning it into a novel. What began as a high-octane, action adventure, turned into more of a character driven romance as we started to fall in love with our characters. We started from the premise of: what would happen if two people who hated each other, who never spoke to each other in four years of high school ended up trapped together for twenty-four hours? That turned into Kylie, a self-professed loner, and Max, a popular golden boy, getting kidnapped and taken over the Mexican border, without their passports, on the day before graduation. They have twenty-four hours to make it back over the border, in time for Kylie to give the valedictorian speech. And during those twenty-four hours, they discover a whole world about themselves and each other, while falling in love. We tried to find the sweet spot between a YA contemporary romance and an action-adventure story. Hopefully, we succeeded.
Can you describe what the writing process is like when working collaboratively?
Before writing books, Valerie and I wrote screenplays together so we’ve been able to finely tune our work habits after years of practice. We start by breaking the story together, either in the same room or on the phone. That is, we come up with the story, character arcs and themes and then plot out the novel from beginning to end. One of us takes the lead, writing the first chapter and then the other one follows, rewriting. We pass chapters back and forth, rewriting each other so much we can’t remember who wrote what and, ultimately, it feels like a singular voice and point of view.
From What I Remember includes topics that aren't frequently included in YA books (i.e. sexual orientation, Autism, cancer, wealth). How did you manage to address all of them while maintaining the humor?
Truthfully, it was a challenge and that’s where the rewriting comes in. We knew the issues we wanted to tackle. It was important to us to not just write a funny, escapist read but to dig a little deeper into some of the issues teens face every day while still trying to live their lives and have fun. The trick was trying to have a lighter touch in order to first and foremost keep our reader entertained and turning the pages. It took a lot of rewriting and rereading to find the right balance.
If you could sit down over lunch/coffee/etc with one of the characters in From What I Remember, who would it be?
That’s a tough choice. It’s a toss up between Will and Kylie. Kylie could probably be one of our BFF’s. There’s so much of us in her. We’d most definitely bond immediately. And yet, Will would probably a total hoot to hang out with, crazy and fun. Gun to our head, we’ll go with Will, for pure entertainment value.
Do you have any new books in the works (co-authored or otherwise)?
Indeed we do. Thanks for asking. We are currently working on two new YA books (good thing there’s two of us). One is a contemps romance and the other is a thriller, which is a little out of our wheelhouse but we’re having a lot of fun with it. We can’t wait to get our new babies out in the world. Fingers crossed you won’t have to wait too long!
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