Can you tell us a little about yourself and how you got into writing?
I've wanted to write since I was about 8 years old, although initially I studied, got a degree and was a journalist for a while. The pay was so bad that sometimes it came to feed the car or pay the rent. I went back to school to get my paralegal degree, which I used for a number of years--while earning my degree in English. Through that time, I wrote. Not seriously enough, now looking back, but life, family, kids intervened. It took me 10 years to complete my first novel, a ghost story that I'm currently reworking from adult to YA.
You co-write the Sirenz series with Natalie Zaman, can you tell us a little about them?
Sirenz and Sirenz Back In Fashion are based on several of the Greek myths. Most notably (much to the delight of many) is the character of Hades, Lord of the Underworld. What fun is it to have him as a creepy, zombie-looking god. How can THAT tempt you? Put the same villain in haute couture, make him sexy and sophisticated, with devious ulterior motives (and unlimited wealth), and well, it's a lot easier to sell your soul without thinking about the consequences. We used a number of gods from the pantheon because they're like a big, bickering family, always into each other's business, and always tormenting the poor humans, like Meg and Shar.
Where did you get the idea for the series?
Initially, our idea was a vampire story, but EVERYONE was writing vampire stories, so after some trolling through Barnes & Noble bookshelves, we threw around the idea of Greek mythology, Zena Warrior Princess--and the idea of sirens. No one had done sirens at that point. From there, it was just twisting the myths into a more contemporary, but accurate portrayal. Plus, the guys had Rick Riordan; when we wrote Sirenz, there didn't seem to be much for girls at that time.
In Sirenz frenemies Meg and Shar are made special-assignement siren by Hades. What exactly are sirens?
Here's a fun aspect; most people hear 'sirens' and they think of mermaids on the beach,calling to the sailors, causing them to wreck their ships on the rocks. In traditional Greek mythology, sirens were half woman, half bird. Since we stuck with the traditional, Sirenz is not included in the mermaid genre, which surprises many people after they read the books.
What is it like working with Natalie on the series?
Half the work, half the editing (which I am NOT a big fan of after the 3rd time....) and fun. We giggle and make jokes, which comes out in the books since we decided that a humorous book would stand out among all the dystopian and dark books currently in fashion. (Unintentional pun, but let's go with it!) It's nice to have someone to cheer you on, help work through blocks, inspire dialogue. You're never alone, struggling. But, we do have to work through disagreements- we've both wanted to cut something from the other's chapter (the series is written in alternating points of view of Meg and Shar). We had to come up with (sorry to be gross...) the Tampon Box Rule. In the first draft, there was a scene in which Meg stuffs expensive pantyhose in the tampon receptacle in the Ladies Room. I thought it was too gross, but she insisted that was the point. I'd cut it out when I revised, she'd put it back in. Finally, we had to agree that if one couldn't convince the other to scrap it, it stayed in--unless the agent/editor cut it. Their word was final. It's worked well for us.
Can we expect more from the series?
We planned 4 books in the series. The first two are published by Flux, the third will go straight to ebook, unless we get another publisher. The fourth is in limbo, although we have the synopsis written.
Why should we pick up the series in one sentence?
Life is hard enough, so lighten up--and enjoy the guilty pleasures of gal pals, to-die-for fashion, delicious dark gods, and laughing out loud.
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*Note: Independent bookstores, if they don't have the books, will be happy to order it for anyone.*
Stalk author Charlotte:
FB: Charlotte Johnson Bennardo