I absolutely loved From What I Remember so I’m really glad to be a part of its UK blog tour and welcome Stacy and Valerie to the blog!
We are both extremely regulated about our writing. We treat our writing as a nine to six job since we have kids (though we continue on after we put the kids to bed when we’re on deadline). It’s less about when the mood strikes and more about getting down the bones since time can be limited. Sadly, the mood doesn’t always strike during the day so some days are about writing crap that will just be rewritten the next day. Hopefully, finding a diamond somewhere in the mess of stones. Sometimes, there are just stones, all of which need to get thrown into the quarry so we can begin again (sorry, did I take that metaphor a bit too far?? I can do that sometimes, just slap me when that happens…). We both write in our offices, which are in our homes. However, our best writing can occur anywhere since our computers accompany us wherever we go. Which means, sometimes, the gems (there I go, back with the metaphors) can come in bed when we’re writing late at night, or on the beach or on an airplane. No telling when inspiration will strike, which is why it’s our policy to have the MacBook Air with us at all times….
2. Who were your favourite authors as a teenager? Who are your favourites now?
STACY: I loved reading as a kid and would pretty much read anything I could get my hands on. But some of my favorites were Judy Blume, S.E. Hinton and J.D. Salinger (all of whom I reread repeatedly (and still do sometimes and, amazingly, they all hold up exceptionally well). As for some of my favorites now, that’s a toughie. I read constantly so there are far too many to name but a few recent faves that come to mind (and this includes both YA and adult genre) are (in no particular order): Junot Diaz, Edward St. Aubyn, Lauren Groff, John Irving, Jonathon Tropper, Jennifer Egan, John Greene, David Levithan, Peter Cameron, J.D. Salinger, Evelyn Waugh, Ernest Hemmingway, Victor Hugo (all oldies but goodies). Is that enough for now?
VALERIE: Like Stacy I loved Judy Bloom, but as a younger reader I loved books like THE RATS OF NIHM and the Narnia Chronicle. I also loved every book by E. L. Konigsburg (The Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler), and classics like SOUNDER and WHERE THE RED FERN GROWS. As for my reading now, I am all over the map. I read a lot of non-fiction and fiction, both YA and adult. My most recent favourite books are THE FAULT IN OUR STARS, BEHIND THE BEAUTIFUL FOREVERS, WILD, WONDER, and THE IMMORTAL HENRIETTA LACKS.
3. If you were only allowed to take three books to a desert island, what would they be?
STACY: Only three? Seriously? That seems cruel and inhumane but, okay, here goes…Number one: I’m going to take REMEMBERANCE OF THINGS PAST by Marcel Proust. I’ve been struggling to get through this for a while and a desert island is the perfect place to tackle it. Number two: A DANCE TO THE MUSIC OF TIME by Anthony Powell, this is a series of twelve books so it’s a bit of a cheat but, c’mon, a desert island? I’m a fast reader. How long am I going to be there and is there WIFI? Can I download more books while I’m there? Can I even bring an iPad? Finally, Number Three: I’m going to have to say THIS IS WHERE I LEAVE YOU by Jonathon Tropper. I find the book endlessly amusing and poignant. I like humorous books and, oddly, there’s not a lot of funny books out there. And let’s face it, if I’m on a desert island, I’m going to need a good laugh or two.
VALERIE: It is indeed a cruel question…I would probably take something that makes me laugh, like THE WHITE TIGER by Aravand Adiga, something that makes me cry, like ATONEMENT by Ian McEwan, and something that makes me think, like a volume of poetry by T.S. Elliot. This may be cheating, but I think I’d bring a blank book and a pen so that I could write something of my own before I brought someone else’s book.
4. Do you think that your experience in film helped in writing From What I Remember?
Absolutely! We both had years of training in film, as executives, producers and screenwriters. Screenwriting, more than books, follows a very circumscribed structure. It’s extremely specific, things must happen at certain times in the story and the action and plot must be constantly moving forward. Studio movies (as in movies that are made by companies like Paramount Pictures, Universal Pictures, etc.) have a seven act construction where every fifteen pages, the story must turn. As a result of that training, we like to plot out our books like movies so that we’re constantly turning the story in different directions, hopefully, surprising people as the plot twists and turns unexpectedly. Sometimes, we can get a bit too immersed in plot and we need to step back and allow our characters and story to breathe a bit. But we’ve found novel writing to be especially fun when applying a bit of a filmic structure to things. It gives us the ability to tell a fast paced story and the freedom to have fun with it. Novels allow a lot more flexibility than the enormous restrictions imposed by movies.
5. How did you share the writing between the two of you? Did you each write certain character’s perspectives?
Since we’ve written screenplays together (our last one was for Twentieth Century Fox) before writing our YA novels, we were used to working very closely together, actually in the same room, working off the same screen much of the time. So when we transferred our process to novel writing, we applied many of the same principles that worked for us in screenwriting. Namely, we work out the entire story together, either in the same room or on the phone, or through iChat. And then one of us takes the first chapter and begins to write while the other one follows, rewriting everything. Once we’re done with a first draft, we rinse and repeat, rinse and repeat, rinse and repeat, rewriting each other endlessly until the voices (hopefully), feel seamless. We have been close friends for years, have very similar taste in music, reading, pov’s on life, etc. so our voice tends to feel like one, rather than two. It’s a wonderful and rare gift to have found a partner, with whom we’re so in sync. We feel extremely lucky as we rarely disagree on content. We’re like two heads on the same body (well, sort of, we actually have separate bodies).
6. I loved the film quotes at the beginning of each chapter. Do you have one favourite quote from a film?
We’re both huge filmophiles. Stacy studied film at university and we’ve both seen millions and millions of movies (or at least that’s what it feels like having travelled to film festivals for years as part of our jobs). It would be impossible to choose just one quote but we’ve put many of our favorites in the book like:
“Everything I found out, I want to forget,” THE BOURNE IDENTITY
“I am not under any orders to make the world a better place,” REALITY BITES
“Do you prefer fashion victim or ensemblely challenged?” CLUELESS
“You are hanging on by a very thin thread and I dig that about you.” JERRY MAGUIRE
“I’m sorry I farted in your purse.” BABY MAMA
we could go on but we won’t…you get the picture…
7. Which of the character’s perspectives did you enjoy writing the most?
While we love all our characters, especially Kylie (who will forever hold a special place in our hearts) we both LOVED writing Will. He was a huge amount of fun to have around and, if it were at all possible, we’d love to hang out with him for a night or two.
8. What are you working on at the moment? Can you share anything?
We’ll let you in on a little secret, but please, keep it to yourselves. We’ve just finished TWO (yes, that’s right, TWO!!) new YA books. So brace yourself for what will hopefully be an upcoming Kramer/Thomas reading marathon. One book is a thriller called SURFACE BURN. It’s a bit of a deviation for us as we’ve mostly written comedy but we’re really excited about this one. It takes place in Berlin, in the world of uranium smuggling but that’s pretty much all we can tell you right now. And the second book is a romantic comedy called FAKER, more along the lines of FROM WHAT I REMEMBER. We can’t tell you much more about it right now but, stay tuned…
Thanks so much for the interview! Great questions. Glad you enjoyed the book and we can’t wait to hear what everyone else in the U.K. thinks when the book comes out!
Thank you so much ladies!
You can read my review of From What I Remember here and then hop on over to Amazon UK, Waterstone’s, The Book Depository or even a traditional book shop to grab a copy. You won’t regret it!