Today, I'm lucky to have two authors chat with me: Charlotte Bennardo and Natalie Zaman. Thanks for hanging out with me today and answering all my questions!
Their second book - Sirenz: Back to Fashion just came out.
What made you choose to write YA?
Nat: I think there’s still a tiny corner of me that’s seventeen. It’s also what I’m surrounded by at home at the moment—either way, it’s what I’m enjoying J
Char: I’ve written an MG which is out on submission, and have several adult novels that are being reworked. I kind of fell into YA on a fairy story (which I’m still revising), and then when Nat & I decided to write together, we chose YA for its audience- they love to read vampires, mythology, angst, humor, anything.
Where do you write best?
Nat: Anywhere where I’m by myself. I can be surrounded by people and noise, but as long as I’m solitary, it seems to work.
Char: Where ever it’s quiet, comfortable and I’m alone! Sometimes in my office surrounded by great books and little junkies to inspire me, or poolside, at the fencing club waiting for my son- but when I’m inspired, I can write anywhere.
How do you get your ideas? Do you use real events in your novels and if so, can you describe one?
Nat: I try to be always prepared and alert—because you never know when something will come to you. When I’m note-bookless, I probably look weird trying to repeat over and over to myself the thought that decided to come to me. Real events, real events… I have some real objects that I’ve incorporated into my writing; books, pieces of jewelry—they have this odd way of meeting up (ie: I’ll write about something, then find it).
Char: Whatever and whenever I see something interesting or funny I incorporate it. In Sirenz, the opening scene has my character, Sharisse, making a snarky remark about her roommate Margaret’s shoes. Nat wears some pretty wild shoes and I’ve made some remarks about her choices, and she’s countered about not being able to wear stilettos like I do.
How did you come up with your titles?
Nat & Char: Originally we named it Sirens, but our editor, Brian Farrey-Latz, added the z to make it more current. The Flux team also came up with the “Back In Fashion” tag for the second book.
Can you tell us a little bit about Sirenz Back In Fashion?
Nat & Char: While it can stand alone (there’s a short recap in the first chapter), it’s the continuation of Meg and Shar in their standoff with Hades. He’s intent on getting his sirens back, and has pulled a sneaky trick from his Armani suit sleeve; he had a loophole in the contract which indentures them for another Herculean task. The only problem is this time he’s going to divide and conquer; Shar goes to the Underworld to play hostess and Meg stays topside to send Paulina Swanson to the Underworld. If either don’t live up to his expectations, it’s Tartarus—and doggy sitting duty for hell hound Cerberus—for them.
How many books will there be in the series?
Nat & Char: Originally we’d planned four. While Flux is only doing the two, Sirenz Myth Appropriated is partially written and we plan to release it next June. We’ll wait to see about Sirenz 4, depending on other projects and how well the series does.
Is it hard having a co-author?
Nat: Any partnership has its ups and downs—co-writing is no different. We’re both still breathing, and that’s what counts!
Char: Yes—and no. Yes because we both have visions in our heads of what we’d like to see, and that doesn’t always jive with what our partner sees. It’s a balancing act where there’s no room for petty squabbles, egos or stubbornness. And no because I like to start the project, which Nat hates, and she likes to do the revisions, which I hate. We really balance each other out.
What’s your favorite Greek Myth?
Nat: The more I think about it, the more I like the Kraken. He’s probably misunderstood.
Char: Well, I like our take on the Persephone-Hades myth. Was she really seduced, or was she manipulative to catch her man?
What will you do on your release day?
Nat & Char: We’ll be at the NJ Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrator’s Annual Convention in Princeton, NJ. (Char will be manning the registration desk and talking to everyone, Nat’s moderating some panels…)
Nat: Chime by Franny Billingsley. Every word is gorgeous and counts for much.
Char: I Hunt Killers by Barry Lyga. It’s intense, and almost too scary and I loved it.
Do you have a book crush?
Nat: The Vintage Tea Party Book—a visual feast as well as a wordly one J
Char: One that I wished I’d written? Lord of the Rings. I have serious Tolkien envy.
Do you have a favorite library experience?
Nat: I used to work in the library when I was in college—so many old, old books. I like discovering new things, but old books. Oh, old books!
Char: When I was writing non-fiction articles, I was drafting a piece on food science and not knowing much about it, couldn’t really find anything on the internet. One of our local librarians recommended I contact the Library of Congress. They truly are the ‘people’s librarians’ and can find anything. They were so anxious to help! Between the two librarians, I felt loved! (Even though that article never did get pubbed…)
Are there any authors you’d love to meet?
Nat: There are loads—but here’s the thing: I tend to get completely tongue-tied, then turn into a gushy puddle in these kinds of situations, so I’m content to admire from afar…
Char: Um, all of them? Every time we go to an event, like PAYA (PA loves YA), or BEA, or conventions and conferences, we meet so many great authors. I figure I’ll run into most of the ones I’d like to meet.
Do you have a favorite literary quote?
Nat: “The End.” My favorite words—they mean that I’ve either finished reading a good book, or I’ve finished a round of writing and revisions of my own work—either way, I win!
Char: “Not now, I’m reading.” Don’t know who said it, but my mother used it a lot!
Listing of your favorites: (add anything else fun you can think of)
Candy: Nat: Anything cinnamon. Char: chocolate covered M&Ms peanuts!
Cake/Cupcake Flavor: Nat: Victoria sponge with raspberry jam Char: red velvet w/cream cheese icing
Ice Cream: Nat: When I could eat it, Cherry Garcia Char: Rocky road, w/almonds and brownie chunks
Pizza topping: Nat: Mushrooms Char: lobster!
Genre of books: Nat: all of them? Char: Anything that is un-put-downable
Singer and/or Song: Nat: at the moment—Florence and the Machine, Blinding Char: Moonlight Sonata by Beethoven is all time fave, but Adele & Evenescence
Restaurant: Nat: Tea and Sympathy, New York, NY Char: Café Picasso, Somerville, NJ
TV show /Movie: Nat: Downton Abbey/Evil Dead II (I’ve been watching this lately—LOVE Bruce Campbell!) Char: TV show Dexter and Vampire Diaires, movie Lord of the Rings
Color: Nat: Black Char: Emerald green
Shoe: Nat: Vivienne Westwood Rocking Horse Boots Char: Franco Sarto black stilettos
Video Game: Nat: Is it bad to say I don’t play video games? Oh wait, Ms. PacMan Char: Wii bowling
Anything I didn’t ask?
Char: Favorite place to end up in if I was the only person left alive- a huge library or mega bookstore (with a Starbucks nearby for my Chai lattes!)