A/Z: F. Scott Fitzgerald said, "The reason one writes isn't the fact he wants to say something. He writes because he has something to say." And, in fact, we both believe this. The two genres we mostly write in, romantic contemporary and romantic sci/fi fantasy, are because we have something to say whether it is about the mindset of a terrorist as in KILLER DOLLS or the love that braves death in the colorful and conflicted world of SNAKE DANCE. Additionally, we find we produce pieces of humor because we feel joy by being given the privilege of being authors, and share who we are within the context of humor.
Z: Did you just write the afore?
Z: Love braves death?
A: Uh huh!
Z: And that's why we write those genres?
A: Uh huh!
Z: Thank you for making me aware of our motivation.
A: You are most certainly welcome. (Smugly)
NG: Wow! I'm sure you two share a lot of laughs when creating a story! When did you both realize you wanted to become authors?
A: Stories were the foundation of my childhood, whether telling them, writing them out in crayon, or having someone read to me. There actually was no defining line that told me I wanted to be a writer, it was something that was always there, I was always writing, going from crayons and paper to a typewriter with two missing L-s (Ha Ha) and finally to my baby, a new Dell with Vista and a seventeen inch monitor. (Taking a moment to do the whoo hoo dance) As for getting published, my first time. self-published, was when I placed pages of scribblings, literally, between two pieces of construction paper, drew a cover, and stapled it all together, called it MY BOOK, and sold it to my imaginary friend, Stevie, for two imaginary cents.
Z: What a tricky question. I can take it from the point of view from being serious and speak of high school and college or I can add the twist that makes perfect sense. Have any of you seen, Paul Blart, Mall Cop? He states in there something, and I'll paraphrase, I generally pen personal sentiments rather than having a cell phone or the like. Bingo! I must have been the model for Blart. From as far back as I can remember I penned notes, letters, and such. But here is where it gets interesting with a capital IN. I discovered that my perceived charm, wit, personality, and sentimentality found its way into my notes, and those notes found themselves into the hands of females. Quickly I learned that what I wrote altered my love life. That was my bingo moment. When was I first published? I was subsequently hired by friends to woo their girls. Following the romantics Cyrano de Bergerac and C. D. "Charlie" Bales (Roxanne) I found that words empowered emotions. Hustler? Not at all. This provided something of which I feel pride, see, ultimately, my friends grew as complicated men.
NG: Tell me how long have you guys been writing and how you became published authors.
A/Z: We'll answer the second question first. For Zi his first piece was professional and industry related and was published right out of college. Angelica's first published work was one score and five years ago, a short story in a small press magazine. As writing partners, our first success was five years ago, and it oddly happened to be our first submission together. So, to answer the first question last. We have been writing over thirty-five years each and have been a partnership for almost six.
NG: That's incredible! Can you share a little about your writing process as a team?
A/Z: The first rule that we as partners agreed to was we agreed to agree. That probably sounds confusing but it is far from it. We know that the genesis of creative direction is always individual. Therefore, we must take whatever time necessary to find the homogenization of ideas. The agreeing to agree means that if we don't agree it doesn't get on the page, and the page, the story is more important than either of our egos. So, we fight for the story not for our individual creations. Is this easy? Not at all!! We bicker and argue but the story wills out.
A: As a footnote: I win more often than he does.
Z: She only thinks she does.
NG: *g* I love the camaraderie that shine through with you guys! How do you both deal with the challenges we face as writers?
A/Z: Set-backs are simply opportunities to improve, for as you improve, editors start giving you feed back, which allows you to improve even more until that one magical and mystical day when all the stars are aligned just right and the bear cubs are safely tucked away in hibernation, and you finally get that magical letter or email that says, we like what you have to say.
Having conveyed that, initially publishers didn't like the color of my prose. Do I give up? Great question, no, just applied whatever bit of critique they sent, educated myself, wrote, re-wrote, submitted, again, and again, extended my vocabulary, tried to create levels of complexity, examined other styles to see what worked, and then wrote, re-wrote, submitted, again, and again. And then, finally bit by bit pieces were accepted.
So who's path was this, Angelica's or Zi's? Another astute question. Both. Yes, we both pretty much traveled the same boreen (country road). When we met, we discovered a new journey awaited, and we have embarked with our bags packed with ideas, carry-on stuffed with plots as well as previously honed skills. Zi believes, "Be the best you can be by growing every day."
NG: What advice would you share with aspiring authors?
Z: Buy our books! Read and re-read! Ok... ok... ok... They don't have to be ours, but they should, but read and understand your genre, your market, and enjoy.
A: I cannot help but quote from one of my favorite movies, Galaxy Quest, "Never give up never surrender." Trite, but oh so very true.
Z: And buy our books, and never give up, and never surrender! 'kay?
A: Pushy and brazen?
Z: Proud and honest!
NG: And hilarious! Let's talk about your recent release Killer Dolls. What's this romantic suspense story about?
A/Z: An unknown wrote, "It is a fearful thing to love what death can touch." Our story is about fear on many levels spliced with the sensuality of a woman seeking passion, commitment and love, in conjunction with a man snared by the lure, lust and emotional drawl of that woman complicated by duty to career. What brings the hero and heroine together, however, could just as succinctly rip them apart. The question arises how can either passion or love survive when embroiled in deceit and threatened by death?
NG: Hmmm...sounds very intriguing indeed! What inspired this sexy tale?
A: Great query. We'd adore telling you that we were inspired by the characters searing our brains with their lusty tale, demanding to be released onto the screen to steam up our glasses both those on our face and those holding our iced tea. However, writing is less romantic than that. Sometimes, the creation of hot and blazing begins cold and needs lots of sparks and embers to heat it up. Thus, I am a romantic pyro-maniac!
Z: Great query. I actually wrote it first. You stole my great query!
The cultivation of ideas has great import. To do this we participate in what we call lamestorming sessions. About twice a year Angelica and I pitch stories and plots. It is a set aside day in which we each bring twenty ideas and participate in a game of war similar to that of the card game. I'll play one flaming arrow princess love story which would then be triumphed by one biological plant that trans-morphs into a man who becomes horny. If it's lame it goes. This single elimination tournament then leaves us with the four semi-finalists which we then consider as possible projects.
Bombastic... Imbecilic... Improbable are coupled with social relevance, entertainment value, and fortunetelling when we each privately create our pitch points. Then the fracas begins. At the conception point of ideas, we allow ourselves the freedom of being without boundaries because once the idea is set into our queue natural boundaries will restrict it.
KILLER DOLLS released in September 2009 was one of those card ideas played on one of those pitch days. My idea! It lost to a tango dancing private investigator who had gone under cover in a dance studio as a dancer to solve a mystery. Yup, lost! His peril included Spanish dance shoes with loosen heels. Angelica pitched that winner. I was being nice and let it slip through. We never wrote it, claiming I knew nothing about dance, and re-offered KILLER DOLLS insisting we could use her private investigator persona as the hero. We never did. Used his name. Made him F.B.I. He can't dance.
NG: Uh ok . . . moving on! There seems to be an increased interest and popularity in romance novels and erotica. Why do you think readers are drawn to these types of books?
Z: Why? Could it be Oprah? No, but she symbolizes a change in the sensibility of our nation. Naughty is nice! We are at a time and place when feelings matter to both men and women, men becoming more open and women encouraging that openness. Naughty is real nice! Famous ball players appear on soap operas giving cred to romantic draaaama. Naughty is profitable and nice! And we cannot forget the naughty Internet... is real... nice!
A: Your question is so apt and on target with what is happening in the market. I am certain many emotions and even stresses of life contribute to the lure of romance. Could be simply escapism, or a stimuli for fun. In the end, only the readers can answer that question, and I think each response would be as faceted and diverse as the color of people's eyes.
NG: Great answers! Angelica what do you think is sexy?
A: Diamonds are pretty sexy, don'tja think? Seriously, caring, in my humble opinion is sexy. When someone deeply cares about you and shows it, what can be more sensual and wonderful than that? And it doesn't have to be someone you've known forever, it could be someone you just met, but you know that they have the type of personality that takes another person into consideration. Too serious, eh? Okay, going back to my first response. Chocolate.
Z: You said diamonds.
A: Err, both!
NG: lol. Zi, tell me what's sexy to you.
Z: What's sexy? The back of a woman's knee, familiar perfume that you notice and know whose it is, a sigh, the drift of a snow flake caught upon a tongue bringing spontaneous laughter witnessed from afar, the sail of hair brought to motion on a lonely sandy beach, or that kiss that just misses dead center on your lips but is felt as if it echoes through every fabric in your being.
NG: Mmmm...very nice, Zi! Of course, I agree, diamonds and chocolate are nice too! I want to thank you both for coming on Simply Sexy Stories! It's been enlightening and fun! I wish you both continued success in 2010!
A/Z: Thank you so much for the opportunity to share our eclectic sense of humor and point of view. It is our succinct privilege to be authors.
We'd love to hear from anyone interested in what we do. Anyone who writes us at firstname.lastname@example.org and leaves an s-mail address, we will send you a gift and add you to any future mailings.
Their combined accomplishments include book publications in print and/or electronic versions of twenty-four titles, fifteen romance specific, ten manuscripts pending, EPPIE finalist for three books, Cecil Whig award, Hob-Nob Reader's Choice Award, written over 500 shorts with numerous published in both nationwide and small press magazines, articles published in various local, city and statewide newspapers, including four as a Guest Columnist in addition to trade articles. Both are members of various writing groups.
Caution! Suspense-filled Blurb Below!
After bio-terrorists use ricin to kill a man, they plan to attack innocent children by using ricin filled handcrafted dolls created by Letti Noel. After years of building her business, Letti now longs for romance and commitment, and thinks she might have found it in Taut Johnson. Only unbeknownst to her he is an FBI agent working undercover to find the terrorist. He knows he can't allow a relationship to develop until the case is over, yet finds that he is unwittingly falling for Letti, and now she is in danger, bringing back the past and a fear that he cannot protect those he loves.
Meanwhile, children are in increasing danger.
Meanwhile, there is another death.
Meanwhile, Taut's deceit threatens their growing love even as the stalking terrorists threaten their lives.
NG: Find out more about Angelica and Zi at: http://www.angelicahartandzi.com/ and http://coldcoffee.ning.com/profile/AngelicaHartandZi
Pick up your copy of Killer Dolls, available now with Champagne Books, here!