I don’t know if you’ve heard of SIRENZ by Charlotte Bennardo and Natalie Zaman, but that book certainly sounds like it’s swimming in hilarity. It hit shelves in June of this year from the oh-so-cool FLUX.
Anyway, here’s a little Q&A with the authors behind the book. And stay tuned, there’s an international giveaway as well!
IceyBooks: My readers want to know, how did your journey to publication begin?
Char: A long time ago, in a galaxy—oh, wait, my story. Well it seems like a long time ago. I’d been on both high school and college newspapers, then worked as a newspaper reporter/photographer. With marriage and kids, I changed to magazine articles while trying to get my picture books published. After Nat & I linked up in my critique group, we wrote a PB story (no sale), then moved on to write Sirenz.
Nat: I’ve always been writing, even if it was just for myself. About ten years ago I started looking into publishing my work. I wrote articles and poetry for magazines and produced an oracle (Tarot) deck. My first fiction pieces were picture books that were, well, bad. I really wanted to try and write something longer. Char and I were both working on YA novels when we started writing Sirenz—it’s a debut for both of us.
IceyBooks: Was the road to snagging your agent a rocky one? How many rejections and novels did it take to finally land an agent?
Char: I had two previous YA and one MG solo novels, as well as numerous PB stories that didn’t sell.
Nat: And I was in the midst of reworking a YA fantasy that had only made one venture out of the shadows.
C/N: We sold Sirenz—via the slush pile at Flux—without an agent. Before we sold the manuscript, we had interest from two agents at the same time; one sent us the preliminary paperwork so we gracefully declined the other offer. Then the agent changed her mind after looking at our revisions. The second agent was no longer interested in our resubmission. We gave ourselves a day to cry, then went back out to submitting again—and that’s when we connected with Brian Farrey-Latz at Flux. Even with a contract, we had rejections from agents—figure around rejections total, before and after the sale. We kept plugging away until Natalie Lakosil, now with Bradford Literary Agency, saw Sirenz, its sequel and some of our solo work. She is now our agent as co- and solo authors.
IceyBooks: What’s the best thing about being a published author?
Char: The best thing ever is when people tell me they’ve read the book—and laughed. Sirenz isn’t angst, end-of-the-world or issue driven. It’s a fun, relax-and-enjoy-the-escape read.
Nat: I’ve met so many amazing people and made some really good friends on my journey so far. Making connections with people is always the best part of anything for me.
IceyBooks: Did you have any say in how the cover for SIRENZ turned out?
C/N: We were asked for our input on the cover, but the publisher always has the final say. The shoe was an element we all really liked! The cover for Sirenz was originally very dark and dramatic, but in the end it was changed to the brighter, blue cover with the shoe, feather and column. We recently revealed the cover for the sequel, Sirenz Back In Fashion. It’s quite different from book one. Again, our input was asked for but we knew that the girls would be depicted on the cover this time. We gave descriptions from the book to the artist, Annabelle Metayer and she came up with a really cool, really cute depiction of Meg and Shar. It definitely captures the humorous and quirky qualities of the series.
IceyBooks: Aside from writing, what’s your favorite hobby?
Char: Reading! But I love to swim, trawl places with Nat, and play handbells in my church choir.
Nat: I like to make things (got to keep my hands busy). I usually have 3 or 4 knitting projects going on at any given time, something on the stove, and, like, glue and beads and things lying around—watch where you step!
IceyBooks: What are the first three YA books that come to mind when you think of SIRENZ?
C/N: The Goddess Test by Aimee Carter, Hades by Alexandra Adornetto, and Meg Cabot’s Abandon. There’s definitely a common thread in all of our books; Greek mythology with a focus on Hades, and an added romantic element were really popular this year—and they say there’s no collective consciousness! Bonus Book(s): Percy Jackson and The Olympians by Rick Riordan.
IceyBooks: If you could be asked any question, what would that be? What would your answer be?
Char: The question is: What’s up next for Charlotte? And I’d tell you that Sirenz Back in Fashion comes out in Summer, 2012, Sirenz 3 is outlined and ¼ finished, there may be a fourth…, I have a literary MG novel out on submission, a new YA almost finished, and Nat and I have been asked to consider doing an MG series.
Nat: Question: Would you like a cookie? Nat: Yes please. And if you have a brownie (no nuts) I’ll take one of those too :)