Today, I’m excited to share a really fun Q&A I did with Lindsey Leavitt and Robin Mellom, co-authors of the adorable new middle grade book, The Pages Between Us. Thanks for stopping by, ladies!
Robin Mellom (RM): Luckily, we have a similar writing process. We briefly came up with a plot and sketched out characters. But then we both knew that the only way we could find the voices for these girls was to simply start writing. It wasn’t until the big turning point that we both absolutely fell in love with these girls and said, “Okay! Now let’s plot this thing!!” We outlined all the letters and made a path for ourselves.
Lindsey Leavitt (LL): We kind of wrote this in quarters. We got about 25% in and said, “okay, so what’s this book about”? Then we wrote to 50%, stopped and asked… “okay, so what is the goal?” We stopped and revised as we figured this stuff out. The last quarter we wrote rather quickly, in person, because we had set so much of it up with that back and forth.
Also, this was probably the cleanest draft I ever wrote since I had someone checking on me throughout the back and forth.
What was the biggest challenge of co-authoring THE PAGES BETWEEN US? What was the best part?
RM: The hardest part was probably the logistics of having two writers. At the time, we did not know about the wonders of something called “Google Docs.” So we (like goofballs) worked on it one at a time and sent that same Word document back and forth, often renaming it. I probably have a hundred versions of book 1 in a file folder. I HAVE 113 DRAFTS. That was so dumb! But it allowed us the chance to edit each other’s work as we went along which forced us both to write our best. We can now use the “edit each other as we go along” method through the magic of Google Docs and life feels sane. Book 2 was written much quicker and we were able to work on the document at the same time. Often we had a comment box open on the side where we could ask each other questions while we were writing and then we’d freak out about how cooooooooool technology is.
The best part? Before this book, I considered Lindsey a “writer friend.” But now? She is one of my dearest friends. I treasure that girl in every way.
LL: The biggest challenge was having mini-deadlines before the big one. Like, I had to get my work done by a tuesday so Robin could work on Wednesday. I’m a very slow than very fast drafter (read: procrastinator), so the positive peer pressure helped a lot but was tough.
Best part was becoming tight with Robin. She is so so easy to work with and an endless fountain of wisdom and kindness. I love her to death. Working with her was the most delightful writing experience of my career.
I think the challenges that Piper and Olivia face are common for friendships during transitory times in our lives — in this case middle school. But I think these challenges face friendships throughout our lives, even into adulthood. Did you draw on any personal experiences when writing Piper and Olivia’s stories?
RM: I spent several years teaching fifth grade and helped them transition to this strange and scary place called “Middle School.” It was during this time in my life when I would answer their questions about all the changes they were about to face, that I realized this was a topic I wanted to write about.
If we were to see the pages between YOU, what would we find?
RM: Lots of exclamation points and foul language when it wasn’t even necessary. Lindsey and I sent MANY emails and texts to each other and those alone could make another book.
LL: Lots of me saying, “ROBIN, how does life work?” and her explaining it (again, with some languauge and punctuation pep). There would be lots of tape recordings too, since I’m super auditory and talk out plot points/life points way better than I write them. (I know, I’m a WRITEr and not a talker. Alas)
RM: Jaws (what a jerk)
LL: A dead one.
Pen or pencil?
RM: Pens! In lots of colors!
LL: Pen. ballpoint
Favorite piece of clothing?
RM: Is Diet Coke considered clothing? If not, I’d say fuzzy slippers
LL: HAHAHA what robin said. Also, granny nightgowns.
Song you can’t get out of your head right now?
RM: Hello? Adele? It’s me. I was wondering if you could get out of my head now…
LL: When we were younger and free
I’ve forgotten how it felt before the deadlines fell at our feet….
Most recent vacation?
LL: Robin, can you google that word for us?
5 things that are always in your purse
RM: My phone. Target receipts. Lipgloss from Bath & Body Works that smells like pancakes. Gum. Chewed gum smooshed inside Target receipts.
LL: target receipts with red lipstick smeared across it. My daughters’ hair clips. Little shopkins toys. Protein bars. Makeup my kids have destroyed in some fashion
Thanks so much to you both for stopping by today — this was SUCH a fun interview!