Sarah and Victoria run the writing help blog Keyboard Smash Writers on both Tumblr and Blogspot and are the authors of the YA urban fantasy “Marionettes of Myth” and NA “Monsters of Myth” companion series.
The two became friends through the early days of AOL chat rooms and Sailor Moon roleplay. They only officially met when
came down from Victoria to attend Sarah’s high school graduation in 2006, which was when the two crashed together upon first meeting in the airport and fell to the floor for everyone to see. Suffice to say Sarah and Pennsylvania ’s faces were very red. Victoria
Sharing two halves of the same mind has made writing together easier than writing separately, and when characters do things that ruin the lives of the authors, the sympathetic shoulder to cry on helps. Sort of.
Sarah and Victoria have a penchant for characters that supersede gender roles and expectations, and also characters of diverse backgrounds and cultures. Mythology of the world is a guaranteed way to get their salivation glands going.
Their ultimate dream is to make readers suffer as they have at the hands of their characters.
1. How do you feel being interviewed?
Sarah: I could talk ENDLESSLY about these characters, hours upon hours (and we have!). I pretty much vibrate with excitement – but interviews in real life is a guaranteed way to turn my face bright red!
Victoria: I don’t think I’ve ever been interviewed before the book came out! This is really strange, because it makes me feel like I’m important, but like Sarah said, we love to talk about our characters.
2. How did writing ‘Dance in Shadow and Whisper’ come about?
Sarah: The initial idea came to me when I was a sophomore in high school and trying my hardest not to pay attention during class. I was a huge fan of Amelia Atwater-Rhodes at the time and I’d been writing nothing but high fantasy. I decided to write my first urban fantasy and switch up a lot of my usual tropes and play around with character types that I’d never touched before, and by junior year, I finished the first version of what was then a trilogy. Two years later, I rewrote it and added another book. Five years later, I started writing it again, and Victoria and I are making it even bigger.
Victoria: Originally the “Monsters” and “Marionettes” series were two completely separate stories with different ideas. Their combination wasn’t really something intentional at first, just cameos of one another’s characters that we slipped into the stories for giggles. And then it spiraled completely out of control, which made DiSaW and everything else completely different.
3. The characters in this book had really unique and interesting names, any reasons why?
Sarah: In expanding Pittsburgh into a supernatural metropolis, we took inspiration from the big cultural melting pots like New York and Los Angeles. My home base is LA, and one of the most defining characteristics of where I grew up is how I could walk down the pathway of my high school during lunch and every table would be speaking another language. We took this concept and merged it with the cultures from other species in the story, and because of that, the name of every character is theirs for a very specific reason!
4. Do any of the characters remind you of yourself?
Sarah: The characters that Victoria and I play definitely boast little facets of our personalities. Yuuhi’s gender fluidity, Jason’s introversion, and, heck, even Toivo’s marked city driver tendencies.
Victoria: Yeah, it’s not so easy to say that there is one specific character in the stories that reflect us. They have pieces of us, and I think that we identify with all of them in one way or another.
5. When do you think the next book will be released? Any clues or hints as to what awaits us? (hehehe really excited)
Sarah: Oh man, we’re really excited too, and we’ve been working as fast as we can. The whole thing is already finished, and so far, I’ve revised the first draft. Victoria’s in the midst of her read-through so we can revise again, and then it’s off to our critique partners. The new cover is already about 80% done already! So, we’re aiming for August, September at the latest.
Victoria: You won’t get any spoilers out of us, but suffice to say you’re going to get a lot more laughs and tears, because I’m still crying and giggling as I’m rereading the second book.
6. I read that both of you designed that spectacular cover, which by the way looks totally professional and amazing :) How long did you spend on designing the cover?
Sarah: I’m so glad, thank you! The initial concept of the cover came to me in pieces. I wanted to utilize my strengths, so I focused on what I could do best (like way vibrant colors – I love me some bright colors).
We were lucky in that we had a trip planned for Pittsburgh, so I took my camera and we got some awesome shots of the city (and outside the city) to use for future covers as well. We were also lucky because stormy weather gave us some of the coolest cloud formations. All in all, I’d say the cover took a few days of tweaking and fixing. The most agonizing part was drawing out the letters, which I’ve had to do for the second cover as well. Ugh! It’s such a trial of patience!
Victoria: Yeah, the covers, the poster art, the bookmarks, they are all Sarah’s babies, birthed into this world by her sweat. She’s the artist, and we’re so lucky to have that, because look at that freaking cover. It’s fantastic.
Sarah: (Psst, Victoria’s biased.)
7. Do you have any favorite books or authors? What books are you reading now?
Sarah: I owe a lot of where I am today as a writer to Suzanne Collins, Veronica Roth, Jonathan Stroud, Amelia Atwater-Rhodes, Tolkien, Margaret Peterson, and Gary Paulsen (the first book I actually asked to read was “The Hatchet”).
One book I have is called “End the Silence”, given to me by my grandmother, which is a story about a concentration camp that the Japanese military had in Indonesia during WWII. My grandmother’s story is very much the same to this one. Other books I’ve been waffling on are “The Glass Throne”, “The Fifth Wave”, and “Etiquette and Espionage” (Gail Carriger is one of Victoria’s faves).
Victoria: I do love me some Gail Carriger. Her Parasol Protectorate series, the characters give me so many feels, and I gush to Sarah all the time. She’s basically read the books, just because I tell her every detail. Patricia Briggs’ Mercy Thompson series, I can’t go a month without checking when the next book will be out. The hardest part is working in a bookstore! Oh my gosh, I can see them in our big receiving room and I cannot has until the release date, even if it’s only an hour before midnight of the official day.
My TBR list gets bigger every day, but I’m also working on “Etiquette and Espionage” as well as “The Ocean at the End of the Lane”, “Daughter of Blood”, and “Johannes Cabal the Detective”.
8. What was the hardest part of writing the book?
Sarah: Ah! It’s a spoiler! Readers will definitely know what the hardest part was, though. I still get teary-eyed when I reread. Guh, it was so hard!
Victoria: Every time I randomly open the book, it’s guaranteed I’ll open to that part! Not to mention Sarah has written this book so many times, and I’ve read it so many times, and we love it to pieces. Sprucing it up for other eyes is like releasing a child into the wilderness. It’s scary!
9. Do you prefer ebooks, paperbacks or hardcovers when reading?
Sarah: I’m definitely a visual person, which means I love to cradle physical books to my bosom and inspect the details in the art – but I read ebooks way faster, and I’m a pacing fiend, so my favorite books are the ones I can gobble up. I treasure my ereader and I’d never go back.
Victoria: I agree, I love my ereader. As nice as it is to have the actual books, and I still buy hardcovers for my absolute favorites, I’d much rather buy the ebook. Last year Sarah and I took an environmental science class, and now all I can think about is how many trees are saved by ebooks. It’s a problem.
Sarah: It’s a real problem.
10. Describe ‘Dance in Shadow and Whisper’ in 3 words.
Sarah: Secrets. Sacrifice. Savior.
Victoria: I can’t possibly do any better than that!
Sarah: Uh! Copout!
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