Would you call yourself a born writer?
LP: I’d definitely call myself a born writer, but that doesn’t mean I’m great at it. I just know that I yearn for it and it makes me happy, so I know I’m meant to do it some way, shape, or form.
LF: I’d call myself a born imaginer, not a born writer. I kept diaries and journals growing up, but I was never very good about writing consistently. But, I’ve always had extremely vivid and outlandish dreams, and I’ve always been an avid reader of fantastical fiction. It wasn’t until about four years ago that I started writing my imaginings down. After that, I couldn’t stop. It just feels right.
What was your inspiration for After The Ending?
LF: I’m not really sure. LP and I were driving home from a book conference–this was while we still worked at Copperfield’s Books together–and we started talking about a story idea. I’d been thinking about writing something entirely epistolary that chronicled an adult woman’s post-apocalyptic experience. During the two-hour drive we toyed with the premise, tossing ideas back and forth, and by the time we arrived at LP’s house, we had characters, a rough backstory, and a very general outline.
LP: An interesting fact about this project is that we actually started this as a blog. It was still about two friends who survived the apocalypse, but their story was solely conveyed through emails. As we wrote, we realized the characters and their stories were too one-dimensional. We wanted to give ourselves the space to explore our characters, to show the audience who they were outside of their quirky and oftentimes melodramatic emails. We wanted more, and it turned into the nearly 500 page book with first person narrative and a few straggling emails.
What themes do you like to explore in your writing?
LF: Hmmm…for The Ending series, we really tried to focus on the idea that the apocalypse doesn’t have to be entirely about death and sadness. That’s not to say that those things aren’t present in After The Ending–I think Dani and Zoe have emotional and mental breakdowns nearly every other chapter–but we really wanted to highlight the undeniable power of hope, love, and friendship. For Dani and Zoe, a life without those things would have been only a half-life.
LP: In After The Ending we explored humanity in general. What would happen if the world ended? How would regular people react? Who would survive? Realistically, I can’t see Zoe and Dani picking up shotguns and blowing Crazies to smithereens without a second thought or without some sort of transformation along the way. They are young (mid-twenties), and there’s an emotional process behind learning how to survive. That’s one theme we focused on.
How long did it take you to complete the novel?
LF: From conception to publication, I think it took about a year and a half, which is pretty good considering the massive indie publishing learning curve. Book two, Into The Fire, will have a shorter turn-around time, about a year. Speed definitely comes with confidence and know-how, but we’d never rush the process for the sake of publishing faster. Writing the rough manuscript really only takes us a few months. It’s the revising and editing that eats up most of the time, and those things can’t be rushed if we want to put out a good quality story.
Are you disciplined? Describe a typical writing day.
LP: Disciplined? When I have time to write, yes. Aside from writing, I work part time and also write for the local historical society. That being said, I rarely have days I can just sit and dedicate to my chapters or other writing projects. However, in a perfect world where I have the entire day to be inspired and conjure up the next hurdle poor Zoe has to overcome, I would: wake up, read a little from whatever book I can’t put down to get my gears turning, sit down to write for a few hours, breaking for some exercise, food and ice tea, move outside to work in the sunshine and to be serenaded by the sound of the waterfall in my backyard before it’s time to meander back inside to make dinner and spend time with my man. Until I have the space and opportunity to work that way, I write down all my ideas and observations in notebooks to access later on when I’m in the mood or have the time to sit down and write.
LF: I’ve been lucky enough to work on writing full-time (thanks to my wonderful husband!), so I would say my typical writing day–which is pretty much everyday–looks like this: I wake up and make tea, check email, book sales, and reviews, read or watch a show for about an hour while I wait for my brain to catch up with the fact that it’s awake, and then I start writing. I usually write a chapter from start to finish (generally between 3,000 and 5,000 words), then get off my butt and work in the garden or go for a walk or a bike ride while I listen to an audio book, make dinner, still listening to the audio book, then have a glass of wine while I do something relaxing. Sprinkle a generous amount of hanging out with my crazy cats, and your looking at my typical day.
What did you find most challenging about writing this book?
LP: Remembering I have my own writing style and to stay true to it. I think keeping a unique voice gets tricky when two writers are working so closely together, especially after hours of editing each other’s chapters. It’s only going to get more difficult as all of our characters become more integrated and LF’s characters are in my chapters and mine are in hers. Sometimes the lines get blurred and I really want to be conscious and prevent that.
LF: Learning which feedback to incorporate into revisions and which to throw out. One thing I really battle with in my writing is remembering what the “Average Joe/Jane” knows and what might be unfamiliar to them. For example, when setting a scene, I have to remind myself that just because I can see it in my head doesn’t mean readers can see it. During revisions I have to read, visualizing only what the written words tell me, and then add a hefty amount of description to flesh out the setting and characters.
What do you love most about being an author?
LP: I definitely think that developing characters and writing a storyline that so many people love and appreciate as much as we do is truly the most gratifying feeling. It validates all that we’ve worked so hard for, and it’s truly an indescribable feeling.
LF: When I hear from a reader or read a review that mentions an emotional connection to the world and characters we’ve created, it puts an uncontainable smile on my face. Knowing that my words have made someone laugh, cry, or stay up late to find out what happens, is one of the greatest feeling in the whole world.
Where can we find you on the web?
We can be found on facebook (www.facebook.com/AfterTheEnding), Goodreads (www.goodreads.com/book/show/16075905-after-the-ending), and twitter (@TheEndingSeries).