1: Describe your book in one sentence.
Fiona: The shapeshifting Splinters that infest Prospero answer Ben and Mina’s resistance with some particularly horrible new tricks.
Matt: Shapeshifters, serial killers, urban legends and the vicious cycle of being a teenager surrounded by lies: this book has it all.
2: What’s your favorite music to listen to while you write?
Fiona: It depends on what I’m writing, Matt and I have a pretty weird, long playlist for The Prospero Chronicles, but mostly I listen to alternative rock along the lines of Rise Against to get me in an epic kind of mood, and emo pop like A Day to Remember to get me to open up with my characters. Plus a few of Mina’s major anthems in my head are P!nk’s “Please Don’t Leave Me,” Kelly Clarkson’s “Behind These Hazel Eyes,” and Adam Lambert’s “Whataya Want From Me?” Oh, and the bad guy of Shards is all “Enter Sandman.”
Matt: Again, as with Fi, it depends on what I’m writing. My last few projects, both with Fiona and on my own have had me listening to an odd mix of disco, one hit wonders, 80’s hair metal, pop from the last 30 years and Marilyn Manson. Eclectic tastes for eclectic stories.
3: Do you like writing heroes or villains more?
Fiona: This is strange to say, considering how much I love reading and watching a good villain, but so far my favorites to write have been the heroes. One of my favorite parts of the process in fact is really getting into the head of the POV character, figuring out what they want, what their limits are, what makes them different. Shards does have my favorite villain I’ve worked on so far, though. I can’t give away his name yet, but he’s uniquely suited to test those heroes’ limits, and the rules for writing him were basically, once he hits the page, he doesn’t leave until he can make me uncomfortable. That was fun.
Matt: I’m going to go with an obvious answer for a less obvious reason and say I enjoy writing villains more. I don’t particularly like writing them because I think evil is just more fun and uninhibited, rather, I enjoy the challenge that villains offer. I can never just write someone who is evil for the sake of evil. I have to get in their head and understand why they’re doing what they’re doing and write them as if they are the heroes of their own story that we’re just not seeing (though, going by my own recent yet-to-be-published projects, you actually will see them). I enjoy the challenge of making the readers uncomfortable, even sympathetic toward following a villainous character, where at the end of the day you may actually find yourself rooting for them if it weren’t for the fact that they kinda want to take over the world... (Click here to read the full interview)
AMM: Welcome Fiona
FJRT: I’m very pleased to be here. Thanks for having me, Ann Marie.
AMM: My pleasure. When you were a child, did you ever dream of being a writer?
FJRT: Not exactly. I dreamed about being an actress, or a mermaid, or Jane Goodall. I just was a writer. Writing was a compulsion long before it was an ambition. I was always writing, diaries, poetry, fanfics, fragments of original ideas, unsent letters, but I wasn't interested in sharing most of it. It felt very personal (and frankly wasn't worth sharing, as anyone who's been through the early years of writing can no doubt imagine). I didn't find the confidence in what I had to say or how well I could say it and set my sights on becoming an author until my mid-teens.
AMM: Well, I’m certainly glad you found the confidence to go after your dream. Tell me, what do you think was your main inspiration for The Prospero Chronicles?
FJRT: Matt and I were looking for a project to do together, and we wanted to bring our adult Horror and Sci-Fi obsessions into a YA story. We wanted to write about a girl and a boy with equal focus, partly because it's something that's not often done and we're both big advocates of equality and breaking down gender barriers, and partly to make the writing easy to share between us. The biggest influences in the beginning were The X-Files, as inspiration for the partnership between Ben and Mina, and The Thing, as inspiration for the Splinters themselves.
AMM: That’s so interesting! I always love to learn what inspires ideas in authors. What’s it like working as a team with your husband?
FJRT: Matt and I are a team even when we're not. We discuss basically everything about our writing and bounce ideas back and forth all the time. When we write together, we hash out a concept and outline over the course of several lunches and evening walks, and then each week we talk out the details of the next two chapters, each write one, and swap them on the weekend and give each other notes so we stay on track with our general idea.
AMM: Love it! Sounds like a true partnership. What are the pros and cons? And do you prefer writing solo or duo?
FJRT: The big pros are that when we pool our efforts into one project, we can finish a manuscript much faster, we both get to throw ourselves completely into the brainstorming process since we're both in the mindset of it being our project, and because our writing strengths are very complementary, it's easier for us to fill out all the important aspects of a story well.
As for cons, of course there's having to agree on a story we're both passionate enough about, and as much as we love each other, our giant artist egos really crave the chance to take sole credit for something every now and then. And sometimes we find ourselves leaning on each other's complementary strengths too much, rather than working on our own weaknesses... (Click here to read the full interview)
On the Fun Challenges of Writing Our Very First Sequel
By Matt Carter
From the very start, Fiona and I knew that we were going to make a series out of Splinters. The world and the number of ideas of what we had to take place in it was too vast and great to just be contained within one book. So with some time and a lot of scribbled-through notebooks we wound up with a rough outline, then a pretty thorough outline of the series as it will be written. It will be big, it will be fun, it will even be heartbreaking (we hope). When we wrote Splinters, we knew we had a solid first act, a book that could stand on its own yet would still leave this door wide open to further adventures of Ben & Mina in their creepy little town of Prospero.
When it came time to jump into the second book in The Prospero Chronicles series, Shards, we were ready, but we knew that there were going to be some new challenges that we would have to face head on.
The first, and biggest problem we wanted to avoid, was preventing the book from being more of the same, which would have been easy to do. At the end of Splinters, protagonists Ben and Mina are trapped in the small town by the titular, shapeshifting aliens who mean to keep a close eye on them. Trapping everyone in a pressure cooker like this with the same characters antagonizing them would have made it easy to fall into the old traps of the first book, so we forced ourselves to go out of our way to give them newer, more difficult problems to have to work through. So we spend most of the first book with the Splinters attacking people physically? Fine, now we’ll have them try to destroy our heroes mentally, or socially; give them some problems that can’t just be fixed with brute force. Our heroes have proven themselves apt at handling and taking down this particular breed of monsters? We’ll introduce some new creepy-crawlies they haven’t seen, forcing them to stay on their toes and have to adapt as the readers no doubt will... (Click here to read the full post)
Thanks again to everyone! Two more days to release :)