Readers: February 27th: Apologies for the scattered posting that's about to come during the next week or so. University has just started and I have a lot of work to do to get on top of things (and ahead!). Thanks for your patience, as always.

Publishers: I promise I'm not abandoning the lovely review copies you've sent!
I'm getting through them and the reviews will come eventually!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Sirenz Blog Tour: Author Interview + Giveaway

When Charlotte's not contemplating embarrassing situations for the characters in the sequels, she works on her own YA, MG and adult level novels. She's held captive in New Jersey by three sons, husband, cat and friends.
Natalie (left), Charlotte (right)
Natalie is currently plotting disasters for the characters of Sirenz and working on a Victorian steampunk fantasy for teens. She lives in central New Jersey with her family and several fine looking chickens. 

I loved Sirenz so make sure you check out my review!
Yes, this interview may seem long but honestly...these two are hilarious so READ ON! I've got a little goodie bag to give away if you make it to the end :P

Can you tell us five interesting facts about yourselves? 

Char: I play handbells in my church bell choir, write in multiple genres, love cool looking cars, don't have THAT many pairs of shoes, and had a poem win a contest.
Nat: I raise chickens, have lots of tattoos (actually it's only like one BIG one), make my own jam from berries and grapes that I grow myself (does that count as two?), and I can knit and crochet pretty well :)

In 100 words or less, why should people read Sirenz?
Char: The economy sucks, world tensions are high, there are no REAL sexy vampires, and life can be hard. SIRENZ is funny, lighthearted, and a nice bright spot in a lot of current dark literature. Forget your worries over school, job, money, boyfriends, parents or whatever, and come laugh @ Meg & Shar while they try to look good, escape Hades, do a nasty job and just survive in spite of themselves. Loosen up!
Nat: If you read SIRENZ all your dreams will come true :) (Disclaimer: this may or may not happen, but if it were up to Char and me, you know it would!)

How do the two of you know each other and what made you decide to publish a book together? 

Char: Nat came to my critique group--and we've been friends ever since. We live in the same town, our kids go to the same schools. We started writing together as a joke, when I 'bunny sat' her rabbit, he bit me, and I made him 'confess' in an email to Nat. She responded back in the persona of her cat, telling the rabbit (Rosebud) to stop whining. We had a lot of fun, even though this project didn't go anywhere. From there...

Nat: We decided that writing together was so much fun that we would try something else. I'd been wanting to try YA so we started brainstorming ideas. Vampires turned into Greek Gods and then it just took off from there. It “felt right” from the start.

Where did you get the inspiration for Sirenz?
Char: Xena Warrior Princess came to mind while we were discussing what to write. Somehow I think Greek mythology is more well known. Does anyone really know about the Roman god of the Underworld, Pluto? The name and the (mis)conceptions about Hades are more familiar.
Nat: It was also fun to put the gods into modern situations. What would Hades be like if he was here, now? Certainly not in a toga—no, he would wear Armani and Gucci and be a total label snob. And what about the others? We had a great time fitting Demeter and Persephone into a modern setting. Be prepared to meet more mythological characters in the next books!

What's the hardest thing about writing a novel with someone else? How did you split up the writing? Any funny stories to tell us?
Char: The hardest thing about writing together is timing. Writing our parts, editing or outlining while juggling family and book signing schedules is a chore. But Nat & I are dedicated to our writing, whether it's SIRENZ or our own projects, and we MAKE time for it. We don't let anything prevent us from completing our mss. Since SIRENZ is written from 2 POVs, we each wrote from our own—only half the work! We only had one minor disagreement. From the beginning we decided that the friendship was more important than the book, so while we may get annoyed over having the other edit something out, we don't let it fester. Breathe, talk, compromise, move on. The funniest thing was in the first draft, Nat's character Meg ditches expensive pantyhose into a tampon box in the bathroom (her way of rebelling against a Shar fashion dictate). I thought it was too gross and cut it. Nat liked it and put it back in. We went back & forth and finally compromised: if the person who wrote the chapter really wanted it, it stayed in. Only the editor has final say. He cut it (victory! although I try not to gloat.) 
Nat: My tampon box wasn't the only casualty of that revision—he also cut a bunch of Char's beloveds. Of the initial manuscript we sent, we only got to keep the first five chapters—with revisions. We had to rewrite the last three quarters of the book, but it is a MUCH better book because of that revision. I think the hardest thing about writing a novel with someone else (or working on any project as a team) is putting aside pride and ego for the sake of that project—and that's on both sides. You have to accept when something just doesn't work. And on the flip side, you can't be afraid to voice your opinion because you think the other person might be hurt or offended. Giving and taking criticism with grace is something Char and I learned to do together. We're better writers and better friends because of it.

Are you as shopping crazed as the characters? If you were both eyeing a pair of killer red heels, who would win?

Char: In some ways, yes I am as crazy! I love a bargain and never(!) pay full price. No sense risking my soul for something I really want-just wait till it goes on sale! If it came down to a pair of heels, I'd definitely win; I wear heels more often, I'm taller and more intimidating, and she probably wouldn't expect me to do something underhanded like make her laugh so she loses her grip. Luckily, we wear different sizes, although she could wear my 10s, I can't wear her 9s. 
Nat: Sorry babe, I would win the shoe fight (Char is easy to distract: Char: Oooo! Nice shoes! Nat: Isn't that Ian Somerhalder over by that rack on the other side of the store? Char: Where?! At this juncture she takes at least a few steps to see better wherein I snatch shoes and run!) I've always liked shopping and fashion—especially vintage stuff and designer steals (I <3 outlet malls like Woodbury Commons and Century 21).

Can you tell us anything about the sequel?

Char: In SIRENZ BACK IN FASHION we see Meg & Shar--and Hades-- in more individual spotlights. There's shopping, crying, meeting of surprise guests and more doing Hades' dirty work.
Nat: Um, non-disclosure clause...

Describe yourself in 3 words.

Char: Funny, irreverent, determined.
Nat: busy busy busy...

Perfect writing environment?

Char: Anywhere quiet! No music/noise/kids/phone.
Nat: Anywhere I can. I always keep my notebook with me.

Favourite books?

Char: Lord of the Rings, Shakespeare's plays
Nat: At the moment, Lord of the Rings, Sally Lockhart Mysteries, Stardust, Fragile Things, The Daughter of Smoke and Bone, Jane Eyre, The Woman in Black

Favourite author?

Char: JRR Tolkien
Nat: Cant' pick one-ish. JRR Tolkien, Phillip Pullman, Neil Gaiman and Laini Taylor are faves.

Favourite book character?

Char: Kate, from 'Taming of the Shrew"
Nat: Any hobbit.
Favourite TV show?

Char: The Vampire Diaries
Nat: Vampire Diaries >:)

Favourite movie?

Char: The Empire Strikes Back
Nat: Just about anything with Johnny Depp

Favourite food?

Char: hot cookies from the oven- white chocolate chip macadamia nut. Ooooohhhhh
Nat: Carbs.

Guilty pleasure?

Char: Sparkly jewelry--diamonds! sapphires! emeralds!
Nat: Nutella. Straight out of the jar with a spoon.

Favourite leisure activity? 
Char: Going places with Nat. She's so much more worldly.
Nat: Dahlink! You give me way too much credit! Definitely traveling with my buddy Char (we really have to do an exotic trip). And knitting. I like to make things :)

Most embarrassing moment?
Char: Do I have to? There have been so many... Generally speaking-opening my big mouth without thinking, I'm more diplomatic on paper. One incident- bra unhooking, while wearing a white shirt, while in twirling practice, and guys seeing it. High school sucked.
Nat: I would say the time from my eleventh birthday through high school graduation was one LONG embarrassing moment. So many tidbits of woe—I hope there are no photos/recordings, etc.

TAH-DAH! And it's done? Do you miss them yet? :) A big thank you to Charlotte and Natalie for doing a chat with me! Loved your answers!


One winner will receive a copy of Sirenz and a great swag pack! It comes in a neat blue bag and the winner gets...two more things than I did? *pouts* 

This giveaway is open internationally and ends July 31st! You must be a GFC follower and leave a comment telling me your favourite part of the interview, along with your email address! Most interesting and/or creative answer will win :)
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