Labors of an Epic Punk Interview

What made you want to write this book?

The better question might be what made us want to KEEP writing this book.  We both have so many unfinished—or even un-started—writing projects in our pasts. But we saw this one through to the end, mostly because we wrote it together. It was our thing. It was something we created together. And even though there were many months at a time that we didn’t
work on it, that we put the book way, way on the backburner, we never let the flame die completely. At one point, we realized we invested so much time and energy into it, we had to finish it. We didn’t want to let each other down.

Where do you get your storylines from?

Obviously, our book was inspired by Homer’s Odyssey, the first four books of which is devoted to Telemachus, the son of the great Trojan War hero Odysseus. (In fact, we don’t actually meet Odysseus until Book V.) Telemachus is nineteen at the time of The Odyssey, and he’s a pretty stand-up, respectful guy, despite the fact that he’s been living in a palace overrun with these disgusting, opportunistic suitors who want to marry his mother. But other than those details, Homer doesn’t really give us much about this character. So, we started wondering: what could be the backstory of Telemachus? What’s it like growing up under these circumstances—having to fend off all of your mom’s suitors, never knowing if your dad is ever going to return, or even if he’s alive? And how could he not resent his dad, who prioritized fighting the Trojan War over raising his son? So we decided to jump on the “prequel” train and tell a story about what could have happened to Telemachus before the events of the Odyssey.

Was this book easier to write than others? Why?

Well, this is our first book, so who’s to say? But this book definitely wasn’t easy, for a bunch of reasons. We both have full-time jobs, so we really had to make time for writing. And the fact that we were writing this together probably added time to the process, because every decision required a discussion. Also, because this was our first attempt at novel writing, we were figuring out everything as we went along—and we made some mistakes. For example, in the first two chapters of our first draft, we had four flashbacks—including flashbacks within flashbacks. It took us a bit to realize we shouldn’t do that.  

But probably the biggest hurdle was our own tendency to get discouraged. We’d get rejected by an agent, say, and instead of using that as an impetus to work harder, we wouldn’t write for months. And as a writer, that’s the worst thing you can do. It took a while to realize we couldn’t let others determine our worth. All in all, this book took eight years, from initial inspiration to finished product. Hopefully, the sequel will be much quicker!

Do you only write one genre?

MARK: Our book is young adult, mythology-based fiction, but we don’t exclusively write in that genre. For example, I write columns about 1980s music for a pop-culture site called I’ve also written many non-fiction articles for print and online journals; of course, now that I think about it, many of those articles are about adolescents, so I guess I do lean toward that audience/subject matter.   
SHERI: For the past four years I’ve been writing reflections and poems on faith and spirituality for my blog called Hearing God’s Whisper. ( I’ve found that there’s a lovely audience of people who lead busy and stressful lives and want (or need) to take time out and reflect on the deeper meaning of life.

Do you have a specific place or setting where you write?

MARK: In front of our computer screen. It’s not a particularly sexy answer, but it’s the truth. After all, you know what folks say is the best advice for writing? BIC. Butt in Chair. (I will say, however, for a good chunk of the process, I did not follow that advice, because I STOOD in front of my computer. I put a box on my desk and wrote standing up. Sheri called it my Uhura station, after the Star Trek character. Can’t say for sure if it made a difference, but I do think standing helped to get those creative juices flowing.)

SHERI: My answer is exactly the same as Mark (minus the standing!) We have a library in our house where my desk and computer are. I do all my writing there. But Mark and I have lots of places we go to talk about our books (the car, the beach, coffee shops, restaurants.) Going out and discussing plot ideas for our book made for the best date nights ever!

Describe what made you want to be a writer?

MARK:  I have been an English teacher for over 22 years now, and I think all English teachers secretly want to be writers. Personally, I’ve always loved stories. I think it came from my Irish grandmother, who was a great storyteller. As I got older, I started to appreciate how artists put stories together, or how artists can use language to create a feeling. I wanted to take the “tricks of the trade” I witnessed other authors do and apply them to a story of our own.

Plus, since I work with teens, I get to see how passionate teens can get about certain books. After all, no one is more passionate than teens about art—be it fiction or TV or especially music. How awesome would it be to create a work of art that spoke to teens like that?

SHERI: I’ve always been an avid reader. It was early on that I fell in love with the world of fiction and the amazing fact that authors could create imaginative stories out of thin air that people would read and love and relate to and talk about. I was in 8th grade when I first tried my hand at writing something of my own. I joined a club called The Young Authors Club. That’s when I wrote my first book which I called The Garden Party. My story was pretty short and borrowed more than a little from my favorite childhood books, The Secret Garden and The Lion, the Witch, and The Wardrobe. But it was a completed book and it was mine. I’ve been writing (in one form or another) ever since.

Check out all the other Tour Stops:

May 2: Long and Short Reviews YA
May 9: BooksChatter
May 16: Fabulous and Brunette
May 23: Kit 'N Kabookle - review
May 23: Laurie's Thoughts and Reviews
May 30: Archaeolibrarian - I Dig Good Books!
June 6: The Reading Addict
June 6: The Avid Reader
June 13: Edgar's Books
June 20: Hope. Dreams. Life... Love
June 20: Andi's Young Adult Books
June 27: T's Stuff
July 11: Just Books
July 18: Author C.A.Milson
July 25: Nickie's Views and Interviews
August 1: Let me tell you a story
August 1: Books in the Hall
August 8: Jazzy Book Reviews - review only
August 8: Mixed Book Bag
August 15: Bookaholic
August 22: Locks, Hooks and Books - review only
August 22: Readeropolis

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