The Happy Writer with Marissa Meyer

Guests: Sarvenaz Tash & Sarah Skilton

May 25, 2020 Marissa Meyer Season 2020 Episode 16
The Happy Writer with Marissa Meyer
Guests: Sarvenaz Tash & Sarah Skilton
Chapters
The Happy Writer with Marissa Meyer
Guests: Sarvenaz Tash & Sarah Skilton
May 25, 2020 Season 2020 Episode 16
Marissa Meyer
Transcript
Speaker 1:

Yeah

Speaker 2:

[inaudible]

Speaker 1:

hello and welcome to the happy writer. This is a podcast that aims to bring readers more books to enjoy and to help authors find more joy in their writing. I am your host, Marissa Meyer. Thank you so much for joining me today. One thing that is making me happy today, uh, since this is going to be a little bit of a romantic comedy themed episode, uh, I want to talk about some of my favorite romantic comedies because I have been using a lot of hours during my time in quarantine to go back and rewatch some personal favorites. So in the last week I've seen 12 things I hate about you, which just makes my heart expand. Even just thinking about Heath ledger, dancing on those stairs, um, and also leap year and I am dying to rewatch when a date what's had Hamilton. Um, if I can find it on any streaming services, that is my next one.

Speaker 1:

Um, so romantic comedies always make me very, very happy. Um, which is just one reason why I'm super excited to talk to you. Today's guests. Uh, we have not one but two authors joining us today. Between the two of them. They have authored eight books for middle grade, young adult and adult audiences, and their first co-written novel titled ghosting a love story comes out this week on may 26 please welcome seven as Tosh and Sarah Skilton. Hello. Hi there. How are you guys doing today? We're good. Uh, you know, it's uh, another week in Groundhog day, but it totally is a Groundhog day feel. Yeah. But nobody learns anything and it's just the same every day. It's a town. The story, Eric. Yeah, we're both homeschooling, so that's been seven weeks of just complete insanity and newfound respect for our teachers. Right. Solidarity. I hear you 100%.

Speaker 1:

How old are your kids? I have an eight year old boy, Sarah, by the way. Yeah, this is our, uh, mine are two and four. Oh, just little. Yeah. How was it? Um, Sarah, how was it homeschooling an eight year old? You know, he has a lot of trouble focusing on the computer and so we usually need screen time, like a treat for him like Nintendo switch or watching a TV show or movie. So to have all this online schooling has been tough just because we don't want to actually double and triple his screen time. We want screen time to be reserved as like treats that he earns. So we actually asked his teacher to just give us all the workbooks. So we've been kind of uh, doing it old school style for the most part we've been kind of ignoring a lot of the online aspect of it cause that's just what works for us.

Speaker 1:

That was through trial and error and pulling out our hair and not wanting to completely destroy our relationship with our child. We want to keep things good. We want him to look back on this time and remember it with some fondness and you know, yes, a crazy time, but he's only eight. So I'm sure he doesn't really wrap his mind around what the viruses, he just remember that he was stuck at home with mommy and daddy and that we had a good laugh and that we learned about each other and that we tried our best. He laughs at our attempts to teach him and we laughed too. And that's about all we can do. Oh, and for daddy school, it's a lot of watching planet earth. I'll just be honest. So he's been learning a lot from that. I love planet earth. We've been watching a lot of that too.

Speaker 1:

Sort of relaxing in a weird way. No, the narrator is fantastic. No, I totally agree. I think when we first started, you know, with the homeschooling, I was super gung ho and like had, was putting together lesson plans and was all excited. And uh, that novelty wore off a while ago. So at this point, I'm like, if you've practiced your letters in the last week, then I feel like we're winning. There you go. Absolutely. Um, so ghosting a love story coming out this week. I loved this book. I laughed the whole way through. It was absolutely hysterical. Um, please tell listeners what is ghosting about. So ghosting is about, um, two ghost writers, um, who go straight for dating profiles and uh, in real life they know each other from the cafe they both work out of and they, um, are basically enemies. Um, but online what they don't know is that they're ghost writing for, uh, pro profiles that have matched up so they don't know that they're actually flirting with each other online.

Speaker 1:

Um, so it was kind of like a Serono meets hating gay meets, you've got male kind of vibe, um, that we came up with because we kind of stumbled upon the premise and realized that it's like the perfect romcom premise. It feels like a classic rom-com movie. Like I can just picture myself watching it and with old school, uh, Meg Ryan, and that's the dream for sure. So you say you just stumbled onto the premise. What do, what do you mean by that? How did this come about? Oh, so I was looking for some extra freelance work. This was, gosh, like two summers ago I think. And all these, you know, websites that sort of have lists of different online jobs you could do all from home. And one of them was that they were looking for ghost writers for like a matchmaking site for, you know, a match.com or one of those.

Speaker 1:

And I thought that feels kind of strange to me. Like you're sort of not catfishing but you're kind of maybe misrepresenting. But it really was just that they wanted ghost writers to help people be able to flirt better. So it was like you would come up with a cute opening line or an email or something. And then I guess the person who hired you with like approve it or not. And I was like, this is crazy. I can't believe this exists. And I think I forwarded the job listing to [inaudible] just as a joke and she was like, this is completely a romcom. If two ghost writers started, you know, emailing each other, not realizing and it just sort of, I mean, I don't want to say it wrote itself because it was hard work, but it was also so much fun because it kind of came to us in a flash.

Speaker 1:

It was like, of course, this is absolutely a romcom with the miscommunication and the hating each other in real life and sort of the freelancers who kind of camp out at the cafe all day because they don't want to be working from home. So they turn the cafe into their office. There's only one good table where their laptop and their bag and their coffee would fit. So they're fighting every morning to get there early and steal the big table from each other. And they don't like each other at all. But online, they're like way into each other on realizing, of course, I am baffled at the idea that this was actually based on a real job listing for sure. Because I mean the way that you write it, you can see it. You can see the possibility of someone who you know is on a dating website and maybe, you know, they don't have great grammar skills or they're worried about, you know, they haven't had luck coming across the right way and so they would hire someone.

Speaker 1:

But on the other hand it's like such a nutty idea. Yeah. I mean I think when Sarah afforded me to thing, I think there was actually like a quiz you had to take. Right? Sarah? I had to, I felt weird about it the whole time. I was like, well I just want to find out more about this. Like I didn't want the job, but I was like, I have to, I have to grasp this. Like this is too weird. So I did try to start the test and you had to come up with like quippy flirty little things. They would give you a scenario like this person went on a date last night and they saw a concert. So what would you say the next day? And I'm like, I don't know. I don't know who these people are. I don't know their interests. I don't know what style of like word usage they are.

Speaker 1:

I don't know how friendly they are with each other. So I bailed on the test pretty quick, but I kind of just needled around in there out of curiosity and just to see what that would be like if you have this job. I quickly discovered it was not for me, but I thought, you know, that is kind of a nice idea to have someone kind of like a trusted buddy or like a sister or brother go through your profile and fix the grammar, make sure you don't come across inaccurately, that type of thing. Just help you shine so that you could just get to that first date. Cause I think once the people meet up in person or once things are going well, the ghost writer I guess like backs off and goes on to the next person who needs help. So you're not like tricking them after they've met up, you know, it was just sort of get your foot in the door just to get that first date out of the way, kind of.

Speaker 1:

At least that's how I perceived it. Um, and from there we just made up what we thought it might be. Like the two main characters are working for rival companies and the presidents of their rival companies used to be married. So there's like a couple of different levels of different relationships going on, um, throughout the book. And we thought it would be funny if the two bosses hated each other now. Um, and uh, so we just had fun kind of showing what it might actually be like if this was a real thing and if there were multiple companies doing this. Yeah, we mostly made it up. I mean, after, after the initial like idea, I think like the rest of the week we made it up. Right, right. Which is your prerogative obviously. And I don't think I could even find this job listing if I tried. Like if I tried to recreate how I stumbled upon it and what, like little rabbit hole I went down to find it. I don't think I could probably my emails somewhere. There you go. Email could be bonus material. Right. Um, I also, I love that like you felt like you weren't capable of doing this ghost writing job because you were like too much of a writer. Like, I don't know this character enough yet. I really need to get into there.

Speaker 1:

Well, one thing that I have just loved about this book and you kind of touched on it, is it, it does play with a lot of very beloved archetypical tropes that exist in the romantic genre. You have the love to hate story, you have the, you know, competing, uh, job's story. There's kind of a matchmaker element. There's a mistaken identity element and like all of these things that I love that are just like candy for me. Um, what are some of your guys's personal favorite tropes or what were some of your favorite tropes to include in this story? Um, well, uh, hate you. Love is definitely my favorite trope. Um, I think since I read like pride and prejudice, you know, just feel like that book is perfect. And Bridget Jones and you know, which is, which is pride and prejudice. Um, so it was a, it was a trip I'd always really loved and had never, um, felt confident to try cause I loved it so much.

Speaker 1:

Um, but then when this like idea came and I was like, Oh, we can write it together. It just kind of, I think like Sarah said, it just kind of, um, it, it was one of the easiest things I've written because it just kind of like spilled out of both of us. Um, and when the ideas we came up with like just kind of worked because I think we were also working, um, under, you know, we were paying homage to Nora Ephron's and like classic like nineties romcoms we loved. And also Carrie Fisher. And that kind of helped too because we just had this like beautiful structure to work with. Um, and just like, you know, pay homage to and exploring. Um, the, the wonderful thing about tropes is it's like, I mean it's kind of a blessing and a curse, but I think it's, you know, if you, it's all about how you execute it.

Speaker 1:

Cause obviously like the trope is a trope because that's, it goes a certain way and you know how it's going to go. And you know, it's not like anyone's going to be shocked at the ending of this book or any romcom really. But I think that you have so much room to play. Um, it's, and, and make it really funny and like find the humor, like mind the humor and that's like very comforting. It's comforting to read, I think. And it was comforting to write cause it was like, okay, this is the trope we're doing now. Like this is the thing we're doing, but how do we make it ours? How do we make it unique? Um, it sort of gives you the framework and then you get to play around with it and bring in these new characters and plop them in these situations that are a little bit larger than life.

Speaker 1:

But like Sarah said, they're familiar and they're kind of comforting and then you still get to add surprises within it. And that's kind of the fun part, right? Yeah. No, it definitely has a very comforting feel. Um, and I, I mean, I love this and I'm a big fan of tropes and you know, using them to kind of establish that familiarity. Um, but then like you say, you, you bring your own spin to it and you can kind of take the story and you know, the direction that you want to take it as the writer. Um, were you guys worried at all about, about readdressing some of these tropes that um, you know, we have seen so many times I was actually relieved to have that framework in place because every book I've written prior to this, I've written for young adults and I've also written for adults.

Speaker 1:

I've written mysteries and I've written Roadtrip and I've written a little bit of coming of age, but they were still just very much their own weird little quirky story and having a direction I've really enjoyed because sometimes I would just sort of get lost in my other books and they didn't really have genres that they could be neatly slotted into. And this was actually a joy to have that specific genre. Um, other tropes that I love are forced proximity where people who maybe don't necessarily want to be spending time together have to be, and then they learn about each other and they fall in love. And this one also includes that a little bit since they're at this same cafe every day. So to be able to tick off the list of things that I've always had a love for and be able to combine them all in one story was actually sort of a relief for me to have that specific genre.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, no, I loved it. I think you guys did such a great job, um, because it, you're like, we've already touched on it very much feels like you are paying homage to some of those classic rom-coms but at the same time you've brought it into the, you know, 21st century, 2020 and it feel, it felt very fresh and modern and I maybe not 2020 maybe, maybe 2021 when you can actually go to a cafe. I know, I know the point. We've actually, the vast majority of like kind words that people have said in their review. So have all been like, what a great escape or the agony of this year or this was great to visit because the world is horrible.

Speaker 1:

Come out at the right time in a weird way for people who just really wanted something that was not imaginary but took place in the before times like that took place like a couple months ago or like 2019. Yeah. This is the book you didn't know you needed right now. There you go. Um, I love that you guys just somewhere, I don't remember which one of you will, one of you just mentioned Carrie Fisher and I was hoping that the character Mary was based on Carrie Fisher, but I didn't know for sure. So is that a true true, is that in my head? No, that's true.

Speaker 1:

So I'll let Sara, I love Carrie Fisher Fisher. You know, it's funny because I had seen star Wars as a kid, but it wasn't like my big fandom or anything like that. What drew me to her was when I was about, I want to say 17, I read her first book, postcards from yet I was absolutely blown away just by her use of language and her wit and her just absolute command of this outrageous character voice, which was sort of just availed version of her. Like a lot of her books are either literal memoirs or they're lightly fictionalized versions of her and she's been pretty open about that being the case. Um, so I've read all her books. I got to see her one woman show with my husband ages ago out here in LA and loved it. And I just really found her to be so inspiring just in terms of her sense of humor with all the things that life threw at her.

Speaker 1:

Um, with her being diagnosed as bipolar with her addictions that she's also been very open about. Um, and just sort of the situations she's found her in. You know, when she got married, she didn't know. Of course, I don't think her husband knew either. And this is, you know, out there, I'm not blowing the lid off of anything that her husband was gay, so she just had all these situations and she always saw the humor in it and she always found a way to turn it into something that she could laugh about. And I admire that a lot. So this is definitely, Mary is definitely an homage to Carrie Fisher and I am nowhere near as witty as Carrie Fisher, but it was really fun to research and read tons of her old interviews and just see how she did her word play and try to sort of give Mary sort of a similar vibe to her and as a, as a reader.

Speaker 1:

Cause um, basically Sarah, Zoe chapters are the miles chapters I write anytime like Mary was in the chapter, I was like, yes, have a good day. No, she was great. And I think that you really captured, um, the, the wit element. I mean, I got Carrie Fisher vibe so strongly. Um, not just from the fact that she's this, you know, Mary is this character that, uh, was in a cult classic action adventure movie years ago. Um, but just in the way that she speaks and the way that she carries herself throughout the story was phenomenal. She's definitely, uh, one of the books highlights for me.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, no, it was, she was really fun to read. Um, and I also, I mean I love Zoe and miles, but one of my favorite little characteristic quirks is that you've given miles this. Um, he's like a total romantic and he loves rom-coms. Um, which you don't see very often a male character who like willingly admits that he is so into rom-coms. Um, that's actually based on a friend of mine, um, who, uh, is a straight guy and he loves romcoms. And I always found that so endearing about him as a character trait. And I think a lot of people have been so happy to see a male lead with those traits. Like, I think I did read a review at one point where they're like, it was so refreshing not to have like a wall street guy. Like it was like, no, this is a guy who's a romantic and he's wonderful.

Speaker 1:

And I think every woman who reads it will fall in love with miles for sure. I know I did. He's so charming and endearing is a perfect word. Um, and, and I think it's great cause like my husband, um, you know, whenever we were dating and Christmas would come around every year and that's like my time to sit and watch hallmark holiday movies. Um, and the first couple of years he would just roll his eyes and be like, Oh, hallmark holiday movie season is back. Um, but now he's like, as into them as I am. I can't wait for hallmark holiday movie season. Um, so I, I was fun for me to read it in miles character. Um, okay. I want to talk about writing. This is a writing podcast. Um, so, so you got the idea to, to write this story about these two relationship ghost writers.

Speaker 1:

Um, and then how did you guys proceed from there? Had either of you ever co-written anything before this? So, no, I don't think we had, um, we kind of, I dunno, we were like, I think I called her and was like, this is a wrong column. Like we should write it together. And then we were just kind of, we mean we just had the idea in the back of our heads. And then, so the same year that Sarah sent me that thing, I actually had gotten laid off from my job while I was six months pregnant. This is actually good for the happy writer up very like, what do I do now? Um, and I hadn't, I had had my, my first son and he was 15 months old. Uh, yeah, he was 15 months old and I got pregnant. Um, so he was, he was like a year and a half old and I, you know, I was like, okay.

Speaker 1:

I, and I hadn't been writing at all since I had my first son, um, because I was working full. So I was like, um, I guess I'm just going to, I'm going to write, I guess I'll see what happens the next few months and just try to write and try to finish a book. I had started for NaNoWriMo, um, the previous year and I met up with my agent who happens, we have the same agents that are, and I, and I was just kind of like, can you like go? Like, what should I write? Like, what should I write next? It's just like, can you guide me on my career? So we had this whole long lunch with a Cisco session at the very end. I said, by the way, Sarah and I had this like idea. It's like, like, you know, Sarah don't mean the hating game about these two ghost writers who like fall in love unwittingly.

Speaker 1:

And she about fell off her chair. Like, I don't think I've ever pitched anything in my life to anybody who was that excited about it. And she was like, I need this on my desk. Like yesterday, I was like, okay. She's like, I can sell this and like three weeks. And I'm like, um, all right. So then I like called Sarah and I was like, uh, so like Victoria thinks she can like sell this really quickly and I dunno, like should we do it? She's like, yeah. And it was, I think it was the quickest. It was one of the quickest I've ever written anything. I think it might be the quickest. Both of us have written anything at a hundred pages in like three weeks. It was nonsense that, and I think we handed it to her in like five or six weeks. Oh wow.

Speaker 1:

I'm partial. I think we did. I just didn't her like talking to you on the phone about it and like the ideas were just coming and coming and coming to us. And then, sorry, started it. Bless her heart because I don't know if I ever would have known how to start it. So she wrote the first chapter and it was like, Oh my gosh, we're really doing this and this is fun. And I could wake up and there'd be a new chapter. I didn't have to write it. I just got to read it and enjoy it and then like had to, it kind of almost like the same charge you get from like fan fiction cause it's like these are characters that we both came up with. But like I get to run with what she came up with. Like she has a joke and this one, Oh I could build on that in mind and vice versa.

Speaker 1:

And it just was so organic and like fresh and fast. It just, it felt amazing. Like we were both kind of like, is this, is this really this great? Like we're enjoying it. It's making us laugh. Will it make everyone else laugh too? But hopefully it will. But even if it doesn't, like at least we're getting a lot of enjoyment out of it. Yeah. We use Google docs. Um, that's how we did it. But yeah, I think our main objective was to make each other laugh. So it was like, no matter what happened, it was like, as long as I made her laugh or she made me laugh, I was like, Oh, we already succeeded. So like how about, you know, it's fine. So it was like, it wasn't really joyful process I think because our objective was so pure and didn't have anything to do with outside factors really.

Speaker 1:

We were just kind of in our bubble for the first, for the first hundred or 200 pages of it. Well you definitely made me laugh. My husband is going to be giving me, giving me weird looks all week. I've been cracking up as I read this. Um, so did you, so you wrote it so quickly. Did you go into it with a plan or were you guys just write a chapter and then see where it goes? The first a hundred pages that way? Write a chapter, see where it goes. Then after that, cause we, we submitted as a partial so then after that we like sat down and we brainstorm the whole thing and we outlined it really well and like detail outlined. Um, I think we're both generally outline type of writers. I mean, I know I definitely am. Yeah. Yeah. I like to know at least a couple chapters ahead of where I am.

Speaker 1:

Like I need to know the trajectory to a degree. Like I am open to things changing as we go. And like certainly the ending can be like, besides the happily ever after, which romance requires, we kind of let it build to whatever it was going to build to. So we had a bunch of Google docs, you know, we'd have like the brainstormed file, the outline file, the actual manuscript file that we could toggle between. So we'd always know basically what was coming next for both of our chapters. Um, I know Steve mentioned we each took a lead, so, sorry, I've had miles. Um, and I had Zoe and each chapter flipped whose POV it was and that actually was a really easy way for us to do it because then we could just worry about one character voice and one POV, um, as well as sort of give each other clues of like, okay, well, you know, miles, cousin looks like this, so that if she appeared in one of my chapters, I'd know big, you know, basically what she looked like and what her personality was.

Speaker 1:

So we kind of give each other like little, you know, character info. Um, so that it would be the same for each. Did you guys go in and mess with each other's chapters at all? So yeah, it's the first, like our first thing was like, cause I'm, this is a little bit weird for me cause I am very much of that closed door first draft like that Stephen King thing. And I was like you can't do that doing like a co-writing. So I was, it was a little bit like, okay like let me like let's write the first first draft and we would go in and comment on each other's things. But the first job we were mostly very positive comments. Like the stuff that made us laugh or if there was something that was like bothering, I was like, Oh maybe this, you know, but we didn't really edit it.

Speaker 1:

Um, then the, then the second round I think we each like went through once and like edit our own chapters. Then we really gave each other like more serious notes on each of those chapters. But I think mostly we were giving each other like track changes notes. Like, I don't think anyone went into the other person's chapter and like actually change stuff. Right. It was all suggestions. Yeah. We kind of left each other's chapters to the other person, um, for awhile because, you know, I had a lot of trouble with the characters of Zoe's parents and I kept rewriting chapters about them and then serve kind of came up with a great fix for them and then everything clicked into place. So it's like if someone was clearly struggling with a certain aspect and the other person had an idea was like, Oh yes, please, yes, let's use your idea.

Speaker 1:

So if that happened just naturally, then that was a great relief and we could run with it. Um, but otherwise I think we, we basically like the first two drafts, we kind of sexual our own chapters and then by the time we were really editing like the nitty gritty, we finally each took a turn with the whole draft and then sent it back and forth. Um, at that point, just on word doc without it being a where we could both edit it. So at a certain point it just became a real document that we would email. Was there ever a point in which one of you wanted to take the story one direction and you had a disagreement about it? I'm trying to, we were mostly on the same wavelength we chose, so we had to change when we edited it for like the final edit, like for our publisher we changed the last third of it. So there was like a, there was like a pretty big change as to like what happens in the last third of the book and it wasn't that we were in disagreement, we had to think about how to do that. And I think Sarah was one of like came up with it. Like she was saying like I was like drawing blanks and she was like this is what happens. I'm like, yes.

Speaker 1:

And she was like, and she like broke it down per chapter and I'm like great. And then it would be a thing where I could say like, well maybe this is what happens in the miles chapter but not this like yours will be better. This is like what I think miles might say, but you actually write it because you're the miles person. So it was like she would take maybe an idea I jotted down in the margin for that chapter and then she would make it more miles. Like I think it's so interesting, um, to listen to you guys talk about it. It's almost like you were wearing both the writer hat for your own chapters and then an editor's hat for the other chapters. I think. Yeah, that's exactly what it was. And I think that's why we actually, I think hand it in, it's probably one of the tightest drafts I've ever handed in because I think it was already edited.

Speaker 1:

We had that extra level for sure. Yeah. You guys just make this sound like a dream come true. I'm feeling like I need to get a co writer, someone to help me solve all my problems. I mean it's good and especially right now because we're working on something else together and right now it's nice because I think, I feel like I only have half a brain working so it's like okay, at least together we have like 75% exactly. Because if one person's kind of like, okay, I need, I need a couple of weeks off to work on something else. Like Sarvis juggling a ton of projects. I'm juggling one other novella that I'm supposed to be due in like June 1st so sometimes we're like, okay, well I'll see you in a month. I'm going to go work on something else. And it's good to sort of recharge and get a little time away from it so that if any new ideas come to us we can integrate them.

Speaker 1:

It gets too far along because I don't, I'm the type of writer where I actually have to take periodic breaks when I'm drafting because if I just go with the first idea that comes into my head, it's never as good. And if I kind of force myself to be like, okay, let's just take a couple of days off and go on some walks and read some other books, usually I'll get a better idea and I'll be so glad that I waited. But it's hard sometimes to build those in because a lot of times we're taught like, okay, just get the first draft out, just write whatever and I definitely need breaks built in or it just won't be as good of a story for me personally. I'm actually the opposite. I actually like, I need to like get the first draft out because I'll abandon a project, but I can't abandon a project when you were kind of like worked out.

Speaker 1:

I'm like, well I have to go back to, I know it is cause you know you're not used to like surf said earlier about um, the locked door or the, the sort of Stephen King a dash of like don't let anyone see your first draft. I'm used to that too. And it's a little, it's not scary because we know the other person is going to be kind, you know, no matter what. But it is a little vulnerable because you're like, well I know this isn't my best work. This is just the first draft. Here's what I've written. And neither of us were used to letting somebody see it that early in the process. Usually before we have somebody do a read or a beta read, it's had some time to sit or we've had time to work on it a bit more. So being like, okay, well I literally just wrote this so the character names might even be wrong or, so, you know, the, the timeline, it might be off.

Speaker 1:

I just, I typed it up and I put it on Google docs and now you're looking at it and that's pretty raw. So it, it, it does take a little bit of getting out of our comfort zones I think, and sort of forcing ourselves to be like, okay, well this is a collaboration so we can't just hold back. We have to just put the new pages up as they come to us. Yeah, no, I'm the same way. Like if I didn't have to show anything to another reader for like the first six or seven drafts, then I wouldn't say like, I want to be as perfect as I can. Um, do you feel like it got easier as you were going in? Like sharing the chapters? I think w I think it did sometimes and sometimes there were chapters that felt, so I don't, I always have this, the middle slog, every book I've ever written.

Speaker 1:

So it's like there was a place where I was a middle where I'm like, this, I don't even know what's going on in here. We'll fix it later. Um, you know, so I think some of those steps and then some chapters came like, like I was so excited to show them because I was like, I love this chapter. I think it's really funny. I think it will make you laugh. Um, and those are like, you know, those happened like occasionally. Um, so I think it depended on just what the actual chapter was. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Like anything you go through as a solo writer, you also go through as a duo, like the middle slump for sure. And then you get out of it and then you fix it and then you're like, Oh yeah, this is going to be okay. But when you're in it, it's always a little scary cause you're like, how, how does, how do we get to the ending?

Speaker 1:

Like how are we going to get past this bridge? But you do. Um, so yeah, it's definitely some of the same issues. Like we can't sit here and say, Oh yeah, everyone should, should write with the partner. It's easy. You know, parts of it were fabulous and were super exciting, but parts of it were just as hard as when you work it on your, on your own. And I mean there was some like you don't think about like picking an author photo or like, you know like it's like normally that's like your own solo decision and it's like, Oh wait, now we both have to be like, well I don't like the way I look at this.

Speaker 1:

We both have like shirts that we regretted. It was like we had to find, we had to find an author photo that we were both like fine with like, and you think that would be easy because we took so many photos and the photographer was fabulous. Took us a while to just figure it out where we were both happy, you know, little things like that. That's funny. Yeah. You would never think about the, that aspect of it, the business aspect of it, the decisions you make as you're, as a book as like coming to fruition that you're like, Oh, like it's not just my decision to like consult consulting like every, you know, like copy it. It's, yeah, right. We had to all sign off on every little part of it. And sometimes you think, well you know, I could just go through this at midnight and be done with it.

Speaker 1:

But then it's like, no, I actually really do want the other person's input cause maybe I missed something. So it was, it was also good because you had that extra set of eyes that was like on your side, you know, like the editors on your site as well. But she might not always see things from the same perspective. And so to have the other writer be like, well yeah, we really need it to be this way. It was nice to have like both our voices in the mix to sort of get what we wanted. Yeah, I would definitely say like more pros and cons writing together. Yeah. You know, it, it also had like, like anything has its challenges. Right, right. So what has it been like trying to now do your, your book launch, um, kind of here in the midst of covert 19 should be, it should be listed things that were canceled should, yeah, it was, we were both really excited about getting to do panels together.

Speaker 1:

That was like the thing, we were like, why we wrote a book together. It was so we could have a launch party together and do panels together. So lemon opposite coasts. Exactly. So it wasn't each other. So that was like our excuse for, we're going to be like, and then we could go on tour together and we could like get away from like our families for like a week away from there, from momming and everything. But uh, you know, hopefully with book two, maybe with book two we'll actually get to do all this stuff. Um, depending on when this is all over with, maybe we can still, you know, we were going to do book con and I was going to fly to New York to do like a lunch party. Um, and you know, I was hoping to do something at the ripped bodice. Oh, the rich bodice is if your listeners haven't heard of it.

Speaker 1:

It's a romance book only bookstore. It's an independent store in Culver city. It's fantastic. It's run by two sisters. Um, it's been around for a couple of years and it's a must visit if you love any kind of books, but especially romance. Um, and we, we did partner up with them, which is something that never would have occurred to me, um, outside of this, uh, situation, this pandemic. And if you order it from the bodice, I dropped off a whole bunch of swag that serve and I had put together, um, bookmarks signed book plates, postcards from the UK edition, which has a totally different cover and a totally different title, um, and stickers and all that good stuff. So if anyone is interested in the book and they decide, you know, to preorder it, it is, uh, the best place to go is the ripped bodice.

Speaker 1:

Um, you can just order it online and you'll get all those extra goodies with it. Oh, awesome. Also, we're doing a virtual book launch on Instagram, so we're gonna, we're going to try it on on I guess May 26th, um, which is launch day. We're gonna do a at 9:00 PM Eastern, 6:00 PM Pacific. We're gonna go on Instagram live and see what happens. And I, and I didn't realize about it is that, um, you know, people who might not otherwise be able to attend like anyone can attend now. Like, so yeah. It's kinda nice though. That was something kind of cool actually because I've lived in LA for 20 years now, but all my high school friends, a lot of them anyway, are still in Chicago and I've never been able to have, you know, invite them to any of these things. This is, this is, um, both of us.

Speaker 1:

It's our fifth book and this is the first time when I could actually invite them to a book thing and say, okay, well it's going to be on Instagram. Maybe you could actually come. And that's been actually sort of exciting. Yeah, no, it is exciting that, that it kind of opens things up to the rest of the world. Um, and you know, speaking of pushing us out of our comfort zones, I feel like all of this virtual, these virtual events, uh, seminars and lunch parties, um, it is, it is pushing us out of our comfort zone, but I think we're all learning some new tech skills at the same time. That's for sure. Okay guys, we're going to wrap this up with our happy writer lightening round. Okay. Hey, so you guys, I don't know if you want to decide like who will answer first or first there.

Speaker 1:

Okay. Alright, I'll go first. Okay. Uh, what book makes you happy? Uh, the dog man books by Dave PillCam. They are for children. My son is obsessed with them and they are hysterical. This is the author who wrote captain underpants and like the early two thousands, um, this is pretending that the boys, George and Harold from the captain underpants books had written their own comics. And so they're graphic novels that he's pretended were written by 10 year old boys. And they're so funny and so like genuinely heartwarming, um, that it sort of boggles my mind. So I'm as, as my eight year old son, when a new one comes out and they make me purely happy. How about you serve? What book makes you happy? Um, let's say Bridget Jones's diary. I feel like I'm always trying to capture that, that voice and that kind of like just the book that makes me laugh out loud pretty much every time I read it. Um, so yeah, that's like the book that always makes me really happy. And it was one of the, um, even though the film was so different from the book, I really loved the movie. And so it just like seeing like that version of it in my head as I read now, it makes me just makes me very happy.

Speaker 1:

Uh, what do you do to celebrate an accomplishment? I usually will get a little champagne or some ice cream, um, and just allow myself a week or three or four days to deliberately not do any work. Like I'll say, okay, you know, what you've achieved, you've unlocked the ability to not put any pressure on yourself for the next whatever days, and you can just read and go on walks and watch movies and just bask in the knowledge that you've turned something in or that you've, you know, finished a draft. Um, for me, I, whenever I sell a book, I buy a piece of jewelry. Um, I really love jewelry and I also like, I kind of use it as like memories, you know, I just love being able to wear something that reminds me of a moment in time. Um, so I always, I have a piece of jewelry.

Speaker 1:

I usually, there used to be this store in Brooklyn called the clay pot. I've had all these independent jewelers that I absolutely adored and they closed down. They don't, now they're only in Manhattan, which I don't go to as frequently. But um, yeah, so I usually, I used to always like pop in there and just like find a piece that kind of, I felt like spoke to me and spoke to the book I had just sold. I have a piece for each, every book I sold that I just kind of, that I can like have and, and you know, always remember like I accomplished that. Like it's a big accomplishment and I should remember that even when things are looking bleak, so great. And I think I knew this about you but I don't think I've ever asked what you bought. If you've done it already for ghosting. I actually have it. And yesterday I was like, I didn't buy anything but ghosting cause I was thinking of this question and I was, I remember like the thing I wanted to buy before we think shut down, but luckily there's an online store. Um, so I think I'm buying these little turquoise earrings. I love it. Very cool. That's the color of the covers. If you get them in time, you'll have to wear them for your Instagram live.

Speaker 1:

Okay. Uh, how do you feel the creative? Well, I love unabashedly wholeheartedly fanfic and there've been years where I don't read or write any. And then other years where I'm like, I just have to do it. I have to read some, I have to write some because it's just writing for the pure love of it and no one in like your real life is ever going to see it or read it. Like, you know, I have my little pseudonym online and then I can just post something on the whim and I'll get feedback within a couple of hours and it just feels great to just get, have that creative outlet. It just makes me so happy. Um, and I'll always sort of enjoy it. You know, it's fan book's been a part of my life, you know, since I was a kid. So every once in a while I return to that source of, of joy.

Speaker 1:

I mean it's um, movies and TV and reading books. I actually, up until like two days ago, I was having a really hard time reading during this whole pandemic and that had been like throwing me really off because normally books is kind of like the first place I turned to for sure I sleep, I just couldn't focus. Um, but I finally found a book, uh, which was even town by Coriann Haydew, which is this gorgeous middle grade book that like took me out of my slump and I was just so happy. Uh, but yeah, I mean it's, it's reading and books and TV and sometimes I crossed it. That was like my, my like thing where I'm like, Oh, I can just like, like I don't have to think, I can just follow these directions and it'll turn into something. Right. Pretty.

Speaker 1:

I love that it was a middle grade book that got you out of your slump. I sort of had a similar experience I wasn't able to read. And then I got a Brandy culverts, uh, new middle grade that just came out, I want to say in March or April. It's called the only black girls in town. And I had not read middle grades since 2018 when I was reading like hundreds of them for one of the, uh, at the Edgar competition. So I had not read middle grade in years and that was the book that got me out of my slump a couple months ago. So I love that middle grade saved both of us. I love that you both talked about how you went through reading slumps because I feel like that doesn't get talked about much. Um, either. And I like me personally, I was in not so much a slump where I didn't feel like reading, but where the last couple of years with the kids in book deadlines, I've just like, felt like I couldn't take the time to read.

Speaker 1:

I'm like, I would feel guilty. Um, and that was honestly a big motivation for starting this podcast. Cause now I have these author guests and I get to read their books and it feels like I'm being productive while doing so. Good, busy here. It's a great, a great way to feel like, you know, well, I have to read the book because there I'll have to ask them questions and so it kinda makes you do it no matter what else is going on. That's cool. Yeah. No and it's been wonderful getting back into my reading group. Um, let's see. What advice would you give to help someone become a happier writer? I think just give yourself permission to step away. Sometimes I actually do not subscribe to the button chair philosophy or the, you must write a certain amount or for a certain period of time each day.

Speaker 1:

Um, I've tried that in the past and it just made me miserable. And it's not to say only write when you're inspired. That's not going to always happen either. But I think if something's not working, you need to step away and there's no shame in that. Um, go do something you'd like deliberately not work on it because your brain will still be grinding away in the background and it'll come up with something that trying to force it would never have brought you. So I feel like just every once in a while, if it's not working, if you're really just not feeling a certain scene or the day comes and you're just not feeling like it, like writing that day, it's okay. Give yourself permission to just do something else for awhile. Um, because it'll still, it'll still get cranked out. Um, but if you try to force it, it's just going to make you not enjoy it.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, I think that that's actually really good advice cause I also never, um, I try to write every day when I'm writing a project, but I, I never do like word count or time or anything like that cause it just stresses me out more than to be like, let me just write anything and see where it goes. Um, for me, I think this was kind of a hard, harder lesson, um, where I had to realize that, you know, I wanted to get published for so long and then getting published was, you know, getting published. So it, it has, it has a lot of ups and downs and that I want that I should write because I love writing and because I want to tell stories and the other parts of it I really can't control and I need to like let them go and just let it do what it's going to. So even like, you know, like you were talking about like launching a book during a pandemic is like no one's idea.

Speaker 1:

Like, you know, exceptional time to like launch a book. But it's, I've been very like much more Zen about it than I would have guessed if you had told me this is what's going to happen. And I think it's because it's not my debut book. And I know there'll be other books and I also know that whether or not there was a pandemic is so out of my control, has nothing to do with me, has nothing to do with what I work I put into it or how I feel about it or anything. And um, and it's like I love this book. I loved writing. I would Sarah. And like nobody can take that away from me. It doesn't matter. It doesn't really matter like what I need, what reviewers say or people buy it or they don't. Like I had a really great experience writing it and that has been, I think the thing I've been, that I've like learned the most over the past eight years since I published my first book.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, that's really good point. No, that is, it's wonderful. Wonderful to hear. You know, when writers just truly enjoyed writing their book. Um, and I think it really comes across in this book too. How much fun you guys had with it. Giddy. Alright, last question. Where can people find you? Well, we have the most basic, uh, easy website addresses to remember. Um, mine is Sarah skilton.com a S a R a H S K I L T O n.com, and I'm on Instagram under Skilton Graham and I am serving us Tosh S a R V E N E Z T S H a.com. And also all my Twitter, Instagram, Facebook handles are just that. So. Excellent. Well, thank you both so much for joining me and talking to me today about ghosting. I really enjoyed having you. It was lovely. So great. Thanks for having us.

Speaker 1:

Readers definitely check out ghosting a love story which comes out May 26th, uh, and of course if you can, we definitely recommend that you support your local indie bookstore or check out the ripped bodice and get some really great swag. Um, I'm assuming that they ship. Yes. Yes. Okay. Um, and please be sure to subscribe to this podcast. So you will always be in the know about new episodes. You can find me on Instagram at Marissa Meyer, author and at happy writer podcast. Until next time, I hope you guys are staying healthy and cozy out there in your bunkers and whatever life throws at you today. I do hope that now you are feeling a little bit happier.