Hello lovelies and welcome to my stop for Sparked Blog Tour. If you’re new to my blog, welcome to Sincerely Karen Jo. Today I have a very fun guest post from one of the talented authors of this awesome book. Malena Watrous stops by to share what it’s like to co-author a novel with Helena Echlin. So let’s get to it!
We’re Having a Novel!
By Malena Watrous
When Helena and I first met at a mutual friend’s cocktail party, it was one of my first evenings away from my one-year-old son, and she was pregnant with her first child. She looked very glamorous in a long silvery dress, with a snake bracelet coiled around her upper arm. I bring up the fact that I was a new mother and she was about to become one, because in the years that followed, we found that co-authoring a novel is a lot like having a baby together.
Phase 1: Infatuation
We started talking at that party, realized how much we had in common: we loved all of the same novels, we’d both written adult novels, and were itching to try writing YA. We wanted to write a novel with real and memorable characters that also involved magic and mystery. We both felt a isolated writing alone, and thought it would be cool to try writing collaboratively. Also, we naively assumed, two writers meant half the work—right? So with butterflies flitting in our stomachs, we made a follow-up date to talk plot.
Phase 2: Gestation
After I shared an idea I’d been mulling over for a YA novel, Helena immediately figured out where that story could go, and we were off. For the first seven months, ideas poured out of us in a frenzy of inspiration. We’d meet every Monday at a San Francisco coffee shop, making a list of scenes we needed to write, and divide them up, spending rest of the week separately drafting our “assignments.” Then we’d email each other the drafts to edit.
Phase 3: Labor
Months seven to nine required us to finish the first draft, which wasn’t quite as easy as starting it because our plot had gone a little berserk. There was mystery, romance, horror, an ancient prophecy—and pie shakes. It all had to form one coherent book with an ending that wrapped everything up. We powered through, and celebrated with a dinner party that concluded with the same cake that our protagonist eats at her birthday party in one of the book’s final scenes, a carrot and beet cake with cream cheese frosting.
Phase 4: The baby and toddler years
But bringing the baby home is when the real work begins. And with co-writing a book, revising was when we really had to knuckle down. We wrote this novel in a froth of inspiration. Revising it was a more sober process that required making conscious decisions about what wasn’t working and how to fix it. We didn’t always immediately agree on the problem or solution, which anyone who has tried to be a parent with someone else probably can relate to. (“Why do you get up every time he cries? You’re just teaching him not to sleep through the night!”) But we persevered through more drafts than I dare to count and made the book into something we are both proud of.
Phase 5: Starting over?
Now our book has been published, we’re thrilled that it is out in the world, but we have extra time on our hands. And what do you do after your baby grows up enough that you finally have some of your freedom back? You take a deep breath and decide to do it all over again. That’s where we are now. A sequel is brewing in our minds. We are starting up our Monday brainstorming sessions, getting ready to write the sequel. We know that what we learned as a result of collaborating on the first book will help to inform the process of writing the next book. But we also know that there are no real shortcuts to writing a novel. Collaborating is not really half the work, but it’s definitely twice the fun!
Helena Echlin and Malena Watrous
Publication Date: October 3, 2017
Publisher: Geek & Sundry
Add on Goodreads
Fifteen-year-old Laurel Goodwin wakes up to find her older sister Ivy missing from their Airstream trailer in the Oregon redwoods. A recurring nightmare convinces her that Ivy was abducted, but no one takes her dream seriously, including her mom. Laurel, a loner, has to learn to ask for help, and Jasper Blake, a mysterious new kid who shares her love of old books, quickly becomes her ally. Together they find their quiet town holds a deep secret and is the epicenter of a dark prophecy.
Laurel soon learns that her worst enemies, mean girls Peyton Andersen and Mei Rosen, are developing powers that she needs to find and save Ivy. With time running out, Laurel realizes that power doesn’t always take the form that you expect. And once she learns to look beyond her snap judgments, she develops an unexpected gift of her own.
About the Authors
Hello! We are both novelists, but if you’ve ever tried to write anything, you know that writing can be a lonely, angst-filled business. So one night over a cocktail or two, we came up with a solution: write our next book together. Malena already had an idea: a girl’s sister is kidnapped and she has to rely on mean girls with superpowers to get her sister back. We couldn’t resist seeing where that story would take us – a wild ride that includes a loner girl who wants to be a writer and a gorgeous boy who can shoot fire from his eyes but also loves to talk about books. And an ancient Zoroastrian prophecy. And pie shakes. (OK, so maybe we got a little carried away.)
We’ve both published solo novels (check them out here and here) and had no idea how co-writing would work out, but we pounded out the first draft in a white-hot frenzy of inspiration we called “the Vortex.” One of us would write a scene and send it to the other with a note: “My apartment is a pigsty and I haven’t eaten all day. #inthevortex.” We wrote the book we wanted to read as teenagers: a supernatural thriller with healthy doses of horror and humor. Oh, and of course there’s romance. You have to wait a long time for the only kiss in the book, but isn’t that the case with all the best kisses in books?
Two (2) winner will receive a copy of Sparked by Helena Echlin & Malena Watrous (INT)
Thanks for reading. Leave your comments down below.
Sincerely Karen Jo