aka YA Literature

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Author Interview: Yvonne Collins and Sandy Rideout

Since I recently read, reviewed and loved Yvonne Collins and Sandy Rideout's new book The Black Sheep, I decided to write the authors and ask them to answer a few questions. Here's what the ladies had to say about The Black Sheep, writing together, and their future plans!

Where'd you get the idea for "The Black Sheep"?
Basically, it occurred to us that every teenage girl has moments of wanting to trade in her family and try someone else’s on for size. A reality TV show seemed to offer the perfect opportunity to do that. Besides, thanks to Yvonne’s work on movies, we know that the film business offers a never ending source of comic relief!

Like many YA authors, you began writing for adults. How do you feel your writing is different when you're writing for teens rather than adults?
Actually, our first book was for teens: Totally Me: The Teenage Girl’s Survival Guide. It’s non-fiction, but we enjoyed writing the fictional scenarios in it and decided to give fiction a try. Our first novel, Speechless, was inspired by Sandy’s experiences as a speech writer. After that, we wrote our first teen novel: Introducing Vivien Leigh Reid: Daughter of the Diva. Then we wrote another book for adults, then another for teens. Check our desk drawers and you might even find an abandoned screenplay. Obviously we didn’t settle on a blueprint for our career! Still we keep coming back to young adult projects and since we met at13 and 15, we don’t have any trouble tapping into our shared teenage experience. Our voice, style and themes are pretty similar whether we’re writing for teens or adults, but the situations are more mature in the adult books.

How did you two begin writing together? How does the process work for you (since you write as a pair)?
We met as teens while working part-time in a public library, but it wasn’t until 20 years later that we decided to write a book together. Yvonne’s teenage niece was asking a lot of questions and Yvonne couldn’t find a book that answered them. So we wrote a proposal for Totally Me. Neither of us took it that seriously—until we sold it and found we had about three months to write it! At first, Yvonne insisted that we sit side by side and write everyword together—a notion that didn’t survive our sample chapter. Our schedules are just too different. We quickly developed a way of working on projects independently that has carried us through eight books. First, we get together in person to brainstorm and create the chapter outline. Then, Yvonne generally takes a crack at the first draft of a chapter, and Sandy does next draft. Once Sandy has the full manuscript in shape, Yvonne reviews and makes minor revisions. Then Sandy fine-tunes and it’s off to the editor. We rarely see each other when we’re actually writing, but we rely on e-mail and occasional desperate voicemail messages to resolve unforeseen glitches.

You both seem to live very typical work lives (corp. communications and in television)…how does your writing career fit into your "normal"life?
Sandy works in corporate communications, which often means spending9-5 in cubicle. Yvonne works as a camera assistant, which often means spending 18 hours a day on a film set—say in a muddy field in the pouring rain. We work as freelancers, so our work fluctuates, with Sandy’s downtime being the summer and Yvonne’s the winter.It doesn’t sound conducive to writing novels as a team, but we make itwork. One advantage of teen novels is that they’re a little shorter,and fit more easily into the gaps in our schedules. Regardless, the writing always gets done—but not without a fair bit of whining an done-upmanship about our various scheduling conflicts. Needless to say, the people around us are very tolerant!

Are you currently working on any future YA books?
We’re putting the finishing touches on our next book for Hyperion, which will be published in May 2008. Although we’re planning to take a break for a few months, good ideas are already coming to mind, so who knows?

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