Welcome! Melanie and Christy here. “Have you ever wondered if there was more to life, other than being really, really, ridiculously good looking?”–Derek Zoolander. This question plagues us everyday.
As serious as this query may be, apparently there are a few other questions plaguing our tens of readers out there. You’ve sent us your questions and here, we’ve finally answered:
- What is one book you can read again and again?
Melanie: There are many: Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment, Dante’s The Divine Comedy, Kafka’s The Metamorphosis to name a few. I like reading different translations and am endlessly frustrated knowing that I’m not reading their actual words. Though Crane’s Maggie is right up there, too. (Yeah, as if I could pick just one!)
Christy: Well, the book I find myself reading over and over lately is One fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish. It’s my 16 month old daughter’s current favorite. But seriously, it’s so hard to choose just one! I’m going to have to go with The English Patient. The depth of Ondaatje’s characters and his surreal storytelling style never fail to inspire me. Close seconds would be Notes from the Underground (Dostoevsky) and To Kill a Mockingbird (Lee).
2. You have on day to live. Briefly describe your ideal breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
Melanie: For breakfast—lots of coffee and pumpkin pancakes. Lunch—maybe a falafel gyro. Dinner— Definitely a Margherita pizza and glass of good red wine. Desert would either be a super gooey snicker doodle cookie the size of my head or homemade pumpkin bars.
Christy: Breakfast— Bagel Egg Sandwich prepared by my mother-in-law, Peggy, followed by a custard-filled donut with chocolate frosting from Dunkin Donuts. Coffee with half and half cream. Lunch—Mediterranean Veggie sandwich from Panera, Jay’s Barbecue Potato Chips, side of Mac’n’Cheese, and a Giant Chocolate Chip Cookie. Ah, what the heck, how about a large, fountain coke too. Dinner— Caesar Salad, spicy pasta arrabiata , fresh-baked bread, plenty of red wine, and an ooey, gooey brownie with vanilla ice cream and hot fudge. *Note* Melanie, I’m disappointed in your lack of desserts!
3. How did you become so passionate about books? What were your favorites growing up?
Melanie: My mom has always been a book lover and I have no doubt her excitement for literature was a huge influence on me. Growing up, I can still remember when the scholastic order catalogues came around in school; I was so excited to load up on new books. Back then, my obsessions were Sweet Valley Twins (I loved Elizabeth!), The Babysitters’ Club, Nancy Drew, and The Boxcar Kids.
Christy: For me, it came from Grandma Mroczek. She always had a book to read. Though we always wanted her to read our favorite picture books, she would often start with a chapter book with no pictures, encouraging us to “imagine the pictures in our minds.” We always grumbled at first, but it wasn’t long before we were nestled in her lap enraptured in the story. Except for The Boxcar Kids, I was into all of the above books on Melanie’s list, especially The Nancy Drew Case Files. I also loved Little Women and the ghost stories by Mary Downing Hahn like Wait till Helen Comes.
4. Favorite food to serve Dinner Guests
Melanie: Well, I do make a mean perogie! I always prefer a dish that I can prep in advance and that can easily make a vegetarian version of for me, so something like lasagna or enchiladas. I also think it’s fun to do “build your own pizzas” with homemade dough. Either way, I usually put more effort into the side dishes and desserts.
Christy: Probably Coq au Vin, loaded with mushrooms, served over homemade noodles.
5. The two of you have written a manuscript, BOUND, a work of Young Adult fiction. How did the idea come about?
Melanie: Christy and I both knew the other was interested in writing a novel. After an afternoon of shopping, we stopped for chips, guac and margaritas at one of our favorite Mexican restaurants. A conversation about the shoes I’d bought somehow led to an awesome idea: we could write a novel together. Why not?
We immediately started brainstorming and it was strangely organic. We asked our server for some extra ordering tickets and that’s where we furiously scribbled our notes. Sitting in La Hacienda in Bluffton, SC the basic plot structure and major characters of BOUND were born (admittedly, and as expected, both have evolved since).
It seems like a co-writing partnership could be tricky. How is yours successful?
Christy: When we started this partnership, we lived only miles apart. Now that Melanie is in Miami and I’m still in South Carolina, we’ve adapted our communication to rely on technology more. There’s so many ways to stay connected, and we use them all. Google docs is a lifesaver for drafting.
Though occasionally we have our disagreements, Melanie and I have always drawn on each other’s strengths, which, I think, is what makes it work. For example, most of the time, I’m better at first drafts—I wouldn’t necessarily write the whole draft, but I might spark an initial concept. Melanie takes that concept, changes it and perfects it. Then, I jump back in and add my voice. Of course, this isn’t always the system; we tend to take turns writing different chapters. It’s easy to stay on the same page (pun not intended) because we like to map out an entire concept for each novel by writing an outline first and then quick summaries of each chapter. This allows us to take turns drafting and editing, and we can jump into the text at various points. Sometimes our characters take us off the plan, and when that happens, we do some texting/instant messaging/phone calling/emailing to update each other on the new turn of events.