Mother and daughter writing duo Amie and Bethanie Borst just published their first book in a fractured fairy tale series called Cinderskella. They stopped by the blog to answer a few of my niele questions.
What inspired Cinderskella?
Amie: I would say Bethanie inspired Cinderskella.
Bethanie: Being nearly bored to tears when my school librarian was telling my class about fairy tales and Cinderella retellings.
Amie: Well, that’s probably not the nicest way to put it…. Perhaps it might be best to read the full post about our inspiration at Ann Marie’s blog.
Writing as team can be tough when only one person can type at a time! What are some of the ways you work together to create this amazing series?
Amie: Thankfully we have more than one computer in our house! I use my laptop dedicated to writing while Bethanie is on the family desktop computer. Typically I’ll ask her to write a particular scene, she’ll type it up in an email and then send it to me. I’ll copy and paste that scene it into the manuscript. Other times she’ll sit across from me at the table and I’ll read what we’ve written aloud. She’ll usually stop me mid-sentence, tell me it’s lame and then she fixes it orally while I type the non-lame new stuff into the manuscript.
Bethanie: My mom had me write it up with pen and paper. Then she’d type it up to her liking. Then I’d tell her it’s lame. She should have just done it the way I said.
Amie: When Bethanie was younger – before she could really use a computer or had an email account – she did write it by hand. I’d correct her grammar and punctuation, which sometimes affected the voice. So we’d have to change it to make it sound more authentic. As Bethanie grew, so did our teamwork and writing strategy. Our second book was done mostly via email as I first stated. We also create a story board out of poster board and post it notes – that’s really our sounding board, giving us a starting ground from which to write the story.
Bethanie: Why do they have to be color-coded posted notes?
Amie: So we can see the different parts of our story.
Bethanie: But that’s so boring.
Amie: Would you rather they all be one color? How would you tell the parts of the story apart?
Bethanie: Ah….nah. Nevermind. Can we do it in a collage form so it’ll at least look cool?
Amie: No, we can’t do it in a collage form so it’ll look cool. *shakes head*
If you could change one thing about your writing partner what would it be?
Amie: Nothing. I love her input and suggestions. She really has wild ideas and isn’t afraid to implement them.
Bethanie: I don’t know. I guess I wish she wouldn’t read aloud. I’m not an auditory learner.
Amie: But you’re not learning – we’re reading and writing.
Bethanie: Still, I won’t remember it if you read it aloud.
Amie: (That part is probably true. Bethanie has CAPD and ADD) That’s why I print it off for you to read.
Bethanie: But then I would have to re-read it. For like the fifth time.
Amie: Welcome to the world of being an author.
Bethanie: Ugh. I wish this conversation would stop.
Amie: *Snort* Lehua, look what you’ve gotten us into!
(And nooooo….this NEVER happens when we’re writing! *wink, wink*)
What’s next in the Cinderskella universe?
Bethanie: Little Dead Riding Hood. It’s a book about a vampire. It’s about…*gaze drifts to television*
Amie: Turn off the TV!
Bethanie: No, no, no. It’s not distracting me. I promise.
Amie: *gives ‘I don’t believe you’ evil-eye*
Bethanie: I don’t know what to say. It’s a book. *gaze drifts back to the television*
Amie: Little Dead Riding Hood is Scarlet Small’s story, who just so happens to be a vampire. She enjoys drinking Bloody Tom’s (Tom is short for tomato) and isn’t sure of how to adapt to her new middle-school. You’d think being over one hundred years old, she’d have the “fitting-in” thing boiled down to a science, but Scarlet’s not your average middle-schooler. You see, when you’re the new kid at school it really sucks. But when you’re a new kid and a vampire, well then it just bites!
Connect with Amie & Bethany Borst
Sitting in the dark with the dogs under my feet, kids sleeping upstairs, and husband zonked out on the couch, I take a moment to think about each of my characters in ways that never appear in the novels. How one of them sleeps with a flashlight. How meatloaf reminds another of cat food. The way a character holds a pencil, eats breakfast cereal, or sings along to the radio. More importantly, I think about what each of them desires most, holding fast to the knowledge that for them I can, unlike for my kids upstairs, really make all their dreams come true.
In the middle of the night I want to play fairy godmother and send Cinderella to the ball. She’s had a miserable life, but wait! There’s beauty under the ashes and soot. She dances with the prince, loses a shoe, but in the end he finds her and they live happily ever after in a big palace, dinning on sumptuous calorie-free chocolates with their children who never ever do things like throw up on the carpet or scatter Lego shrapnel down the stairs. Cinderella, eternally blissful in her big poofy sleeved dress, minuscule waist, and tiny glass heels. Sigh. Such a happy, happy life.
Oh, gag. I’m doing it again.
Too often burgeoning authors treat their characters like pampered privileged children, skipping right to the happy ending and bypassing the juicy details of the journey. In these stories dangers lurk in the shadows, something vaguely bad guys in black hats, but it’s all okay; everybody’s wearing a safety helmet and a lifeguard’s on duty; the sharks have teeth, but are vegan and just wanna be friends. These kinds of stories are full of quirky, loveable characters and stirring descriptions of conversations over cups of tea, but usually lack that vital spark called plot.
The real point, Constant Reader, is that as an author I have to love you more and my characters less. I have to find ways to make you fall in love with them and then take you both on a journey that thrills and chills, pausing just long enough to warm you back to your safe zone before plunging you down, down, down to despair and disbelief. Rather than the maudlin fairy godmother paving Cinderella’s path to happiness, I have to be Murphy’s Law, the minefield under the playground, the shark in the idyllic lagoon.
Cup of tea, anyone?