You guys have written several adult novels together already. What was it like switching gears for your first YA?
Actually, Sublime was a book we wrote before any of the adult books happened! We wrote it back in late 2011-early 2012 when our first YA (the book with which we signed our agent, Holly Root) was out on submission to editors. That first book went out to a small handful of editors and they enjoyed it, but passed ultimately because it had a lot of mythology, and YA was at the tail end of a trend back in 2012 (the Rick Riordan juggernaut aside). Holly felt that Sublime had better commercial potential, and so we almost immediately went out with that book instead. We had a revise and resubmit offer from Zareen Jaffery at S&S BFYR that we decided to go with. Only a couple weeks later, Beautiful Bastard went out to editors and essentially sold in a matter of hours. It’s simply a difference in the two genres’ publication cycles that had seven adult books out before Sublime was released.
We can say, though, that after writing a couple of the adult books, it was really nice to come back to revise Sublime for Zareen. Different voice, different speed. We think it’s good for writers to stretch all those muscles sometimes. It takes a different kind of creativity to write ghosty spookiness than it does to write sexy adult. It’s great that we can do both.
The adult books are meant to be fun to read—a way to relax and unwind. They’re not meant to be deep or world-altering. Perhaps relatedly, they’re fun to write; we make ourselves laugh and we act like piglets and it’s sort of unreal that we get paid to do it.
Sublime was such a different experience because we felt so tenderly about it. We were earnest and kind of bare here. Being able to go overboard with atmosphere was a blast. Dialing up the tension but having to keep things vague was also a blast. But it’s a darker book, and that was sometimes hard because we generally are pretty goofy people. While writing, we felt a little like we were in the caboose of a train that was hell bent on following a certain path. We told the story that felt the most genuine to us, and it took a lot more out of us. Also? Paranormal is hard. You create the rules—which is fun—but then you have to stick to them—which sometimes sucks. But in the end, it was a wild ride.
Colin and Lucy have a captivating romance. What do you think makes their love story so powerful?
We may be too close to the story to be able to answer this very articulately. This project is a labor of love that has spanned nearly 4 years, and these characters have been in our lives for so long that they’ve begun to feel real, and have depth outside of the pages.
It may be because there’s that yearning there—when we’re teens we feel everything so intensely, and we are also at a point where we enjoy touching (honesty time). Putting those things together creates a sort of blissful torture. It’s the same thing that’s been explored in countless books: I want to touch you, but I can’t. What we wanted to do is flip the trope on its head: what if the boy was the one doing crazy things to try to obtain the girl? Colin is a gentle soul—despite his wild, rugged nature—and that may contribute to the power of the love story: you watch him on this spiral and know there isn’t anything you can do to stop it, really, because he was sort of fated to head there.
Tune in for part 2 of our Q&A tomorrow!