I had the opportunity to go and enjoy the afternoon with 2 amazing authors on the 15th of May in Seattle. While there I watched a Q&A, a short reading from their book, and got to interview them after their signing.
I took to Snap Chat - I got some awesome videos and pictures of all the events that took place. I was so excited to be able to go get mine and my friend's books signed. This is a book that we both loved, and therefore we couldn't wait for our personalized signing.
I had never been to this book store, so I was excited to explore new areas. I got there and was immediately in love. There's a cafe, and there's 2 floors of books, and it felt like a nice library that was cozy. I had to ask where the event was because there was a back staircase that led down to the event area. When I got there it was already completely packed! I found a spot and sat down, I then realized that most of the people there were Mindi's family. I knew she was Seattle based but hadn't thought about how most of the people there would be relatives. And I thought that was absolutely sweet. The amount of support she has was amazing to witness in person.
Their set up for the Q&A portion of the event was adorable. I loved their signs with all the locations within the book. It was beautiful. If you notice they also put some clouds on their case of books. I thought that was adorable as well.
They answered many questions, some from Mindi's husband acting as their editor, and some from the crowd. This was where we learned a lot about the book. Michelle was the one who came up with the idea - she had seen a documentary about a boxer who donated his organs and then his wife went and met with the recipients of the organs.
Michelle and Mindi have known each other since 2007 and had always wanted to do a book together, but it took until recently for them to actually do it! And now they plan on doing more together in the future.
They each had their own character to follow in the book. Michelle wrote for Cloudy and Mindi wrote for Kyle. When the other was in the chapter they were working on they'd text one another and ask how their character would react - but by the end of their writing together they basically knew exactly how the characters would react. They would still ask just to make sure, but they knew the other's character very well.
After their Q&A came the signing part of the night. To make the long line seem to go quickly they had road trip snacks and milkshakes waiting for us in the back. There was the Cloudy - Vanilla ice cream with Marshmallows - and the Kyle - Chocolate ice cream with Junior Mint's - I had the Kyle. And it was delicious. There were granola bars, chips, waters, beef jerky, and candy to snack on as well. Everyone was loving it.
After they were done signing it was my turn to interview them. I felt bad because some of the questions I had, had already been asked during the Q&A. But they were gracious and still answered them for me anyways.
OUAT: First off - I loved the book - it was
Michelle & Mindi: Yay!
Michelle: I'm so happy.
OUAT: It was very good. I enjoyed it! I know this is redundant since you just answered this in the Q&A of tonight's event, but what was it like to write with two authors? It seems like a difficult process, like did you take it chapter by chapter or did you just write out your part then send it to the other? What was that like?
Michelle: I think we intended to do that where I'd write one chapter and I'd send it to Mindi and she'd read it and give me notes, and while I was revising it she'd work on the following chapter. But I feel like a lot of the times I would get stuck in the middle of my chapter so I'd probably email, or text her earlier to be like what should I do here? So she would see it before I was actually done with it, a lot of the time.
Mindi: Yea...but I didn't...we..neither of us ever wrote ahead because we did feel that everything depended on each others chapters. So we could never be like 'Okay, so I'm just gonna go write the end of my story, or my character's story. We had to take it a chapter at a time.
With that did you realize that both of your characters arc's were changing based on what the other one was writing?
I feel that...well...I think that Cloudy's arc originally...uhm...it ended up being more right for Kyle.
So...I guess...yea, in a way writing that out...helped us find that part of Kyle's arc, I guess.
Yea. Cause I always knew where I was going with him, but not how it would really look on the page and that was the same thing...and like what you said with Cloudy you didn't necessarily know where you were going, and then you found your way. And you had an arc in mind, and then I stole it for Kyle.
It just wasn't working. It was meant for Kyle and that's why it wasn't working for Cloudy.
Can you explain to me, cause like when you say it didn't work for Cloudy, how do you know it doesn't work for a character? Like what in you is just like 'Oh, I know this is not exactly what she would do'?
I think partly it's just if I'm miserable writing it. If I'm just in bed like "Oh my God, please just let this end!" But if it's a struggle to write it then I know it's just not working, so I have to find different ways. And I think once you get to know the character more you can kind of see how they would react to certain situations, or what they need. That's why it's so hard for me to pinpoint an arc when I first start a story, cuz I hardly know this person. I don't know what they need.
That's probably very tough without knowing the character, is that why you, Mindi, figure out the character's favorite drink first?
I think so! Yea. It's so I know who I'm dealing with up front, I guess. There's so many things to learn all along the way, I do know a lot more up front - typically - about my characters.
I think you go in with a - we're working on something right now, and it's a little different for me; because I feel like my character's arc is clearer at the moment...it might totally explode, but while we try to figure out Mindi's character's arc, she knows like the back story and everything. She comes in fully loaded, she knows a lot about her characters. Which helps! Because if you know where they came from you can kind of find out where they're going, hopefully.
I guess that's true. Like Michelle has, at least with our current project, she knows how her character's current arc is going to unfold. A lot better than I do. But I know what my character's back story is - which is going to help me find the right arc. That was the same thing with Kyle, too. I knew what the back story was so that would help me to...you know...steal Cloudy's arc
Can you describe your book in 5 words?
Boy. Girl. Kitten. Road. Trip.
Road. Trip. Mexican. Food. Cat.
Did you pull anything from your life to put into this story? Or are any of your characters - do they have some tics that people in your life have?
I guess you always kind of pull. Sometimes I could see a little of my sister in Cloudy. Because Cloudy is very stubborn and she doesn't want to show her emotions, and my sister is very much like that - I would never tell my sister that. But I did. I can't say that I modeled Cloudy off of my sister at all, but looking back on it now I can see it. And there's actually a part late in the book where Cloudy mentions her sister throughout a seashell thing. That I got from my sister. She doesn't like having seashells in the house, she thinks they're bad luck.
Yea, so I put that in there.
When I was reading the book I felt that Kyle and Cloudy are suppose to be together. So then that makes you wonder 'Well what if Ashlyn hadn't passed away?' Would she be okay with that? Would she step back or would Kyle and Ashlyn still be together?
I guess I've always felt that no, that was never going to be okay if Ashlyn were still alive. Which is one of the things that made it - it was an uncomfortable thing. We talked about it, Cloudy wanted Kyle and the only way she got that was because her friend died. So it's really tough.
I could totally feel the characters being like "Oh I like this person, but I shouldn't like this person because of that tie between us."
And we did try to make it extra complicated throwing Matty in the mix! Nobodies every going to be okay with this, but I think the circumstances. It made everything change for all of them. I think, like Matty said, that if there is a Heaven and if Ashlyn is there that she would want them to be happy. But if she were still alive I feel like there would be no way.
I think she and Kyle would've stayed together. If she were still alive...do you?
Well I don't know, how far do you carry it out? Were they gonna get married? They were so new really, they had only been together for 6 months when she died. But that's still like...
It's still new. They didn't know a lot about life.
Yea. They had only known each other a short time. I guess I never pictured any kind of big reason why they'd break up.
It happens! But I don't think Cloudy would've went after Kyle, even if they had broken up.
It's the whole friendship code thing.
Yea. Girl Code.
Every time I read it I was like "Should I be rooting for them? Or should I be like no you need to stay awway!"
We're glad that you felt that, that they should be together. Because we were kind of like, people are going to hate this...
I loved it! But at the same time I felt bad! I had complicated feelings when reading this.
That's what we were going for!
Was there a scene that didn't make it into the book that you wish had?
Michelle has one.
I had written a whole first chapter, that is not the first chapter now. It's a completely different first chapter now.
And I loved it so much! I can see why it didn't work. It took place at a pancake breakfast, the cheerleaders were doing a fundraiser. Matty was in it, I don't think Kyle was. There's a scene where before Kyle and Cloudy leave for their road trip they meet Jacob, and he makes a comment about syrup in his hair. In the original first chapter Cloudy dumps syrup in his hair cause he said something rude to one of the cheerleaders.
I wrote that in later, to call back that scene. So that the whole incident did happen, it's just that readers won't know it happened except for that exchange between Cloudy and Jacob. So it's still canon.
It happened, you just don't know about it.
It happened a few days before the book started. So we moved the start to the school day.
Why did you change the start? Did it just flow better?
Our editor wanted...
She wanted fewer characters, she felt it was too busy. And even the pep rally is a really busy scene. But we got down to fewer named characters.
Plus, Cloudy ends up running away from the pep rally and tries to separate from it.
We were showing, you know how Cloudy can be protective and ferocious. That's originally what the first chapter was showing. But what Alex, our editor, wanted to show from the get go was missing her best friend so badly. That was why Michelle had to re-write it. So that she could put Cloudy in a different scene to show that Ashlyn was on her mind and to show that she's not just okay. The original first chapter she was in full Cloudy form.
Wasn't even thinking of Ashlyn at all...
That wasn't what Alex wanted. It wasn't the best introduction to Cloudy. I think it was also because the first time you meet Kyle it's all about Ashlyn. [Alex] wanted Cloudy to have that exact same thing. So that readers would connect with her and what she has lost, as much as what Kyle has lost. That was another reason.
Author's always say that their characters speak to them, in their head. Which character, apart from Cloudy and Kyle, spoke the loudest to you?
This is tough...
I guess Matty for me.
Honestly he's my favorite secondary character.
Yea! He was so fun to write!
Zoe too...some of the kids in Sedona! But let's go with Matty.
Which sentence in the book are you most proud of? And why?
My favorite is in the scene where Cloudy meets Sonia in the bathroom. That last sentence of the..the hug.
Oh! The heartbeat?
(The quote is: "I feel it instantaneously, as if this is what I've been waiting for all along. A steady thumping. A rhythm that is all Ashlyn's. My best friend's heart beating against mine. Again")
That one made me cry.
It made me cry too.
-Mindi's looking through The Way Back To You-
Are you looking for your quote?
I don't know that I have ever imagined one. So I'm trying to...a sentence...
Mine was more than one sentence...but they all fit together.
Do we both have to give an answer?
Do the arm-pitiest one! There are so many good sentences for Kyle!
Maybe is there a moment that your proud of for Kyle? That was like the best moment for you to write?
Well this is sort of ridiculous. But. The bedrock city scene when he accidentally has a certain dessert. That was just a really fun scene for me to write.
That's a good chapter.
It was the easiest chapter, I think, in the entire book for me to write. I wouldn't say it's the best, or the one I'm most proud of, but it was the most fun for me to write! Because...well you know why. You read it!
Which character, apart from Cloudy and Kyle, was the easiest to write?
I think Matty.
It's always Matty, yea!
He was just really fun and easy to write. Cause he could just say whatever, and he was so charming that he could get away with any of it.
What is something you hope your readers take from the book?
I would say, that everyone grieves differently. Even though things are never going to be the same after you lose someone, no matter what your beliefs there's still a way for you to find your way back to connecting with who you still have in your life.
I always think of the differences in grieving. I think there's this notion that the person who's not crying and not breaking down is totally well adjusted and handling it okay; and that's so not the case sometimes. I think it's all just to take care of everyone, you know. We all deal with grief differently and we all just have to be there for each other in whatever way we need.
Do you think you're going to do a spin-off of this book? Like maybe a book from the recipients point of view, or from Matty's point of view?
We are talking about doing a companion novel that takes place at one of the locations in the story; but it doesn't really have to do with anything about the organ recipients or any of that story line. So it's...it's the Santa Monica/Hollywood stuff - just to give you a hint - so some of the characters that you see in the Hollywood, that's where we're hoping to go with the story. It'll be a companion that's really loosely tied to this story. We don't know how any of it is going to shape out, but we have an idea. The scene that you see in Santa Monica/Hollywood might actually be in the story.
So then it will sort of tie in.
You might see Cloudy and Kyle, but you won't know what their story is.
I went to school in Flagstaff, Arizona. So I always drove by the Flinstone's park. I always wanted to stop - but my friends grew up there and were like "Bri...it's just a park...we're not stopping there." So that is my favorite scene in the book, when they're at the Flinstone's park! What scene was your guys' favorite?
For location wise...? Or..?
We both loved writing bedrock city. I went there on my honeymoon. I was so excited, I saw the sign for it and was like 'Oh, we HAVE to stop.' And we paid our few dollars and went in and I was like 'What....is this...?' My husband was like 'It's cool, don't you want to start getting some pictures?!' So I sat down in Fred Flinstone's car and he took pictures of me. Then I started getting really into it; just running around like 'Here's me with Fred Flinstone!' So then it got fun. It's sort of horrifying when you first enter this park. It's so run down. There's hardly anybody there, and the people who are there are all looking around like what is this place? And so that was really fun. We found videos on YouTube of people visiting the Flinstone park too.
They were like "What is this...?" It was definitely one of my favorite of the places to write.
Yea, it was fun!
What is your favorite Kyle and Cloudy moment?
*gasps* OOOoooooo. I have a favorite one. It's before they go to bedrock city. And they're split up into the two separate cars. Kyle runs over to where Cloudy is in her car. And he puts his hand over the window and she peels them off.
That's such a cute moment!
It was such a sweet moment. The first time I read it I was like "Awh man!"...yea...that's my favorite. It's such a sweet, sweet moment.
So favorite Kyle and Cloudy moment. Oh okay! This one was actually never in a draft until our very last version. But it's when they're in Hollywood and they're dancing. It's based on, basically, my Husband and I were coworkers for a few years before we ever dated. And girls would talk about 'Oh, he's hot' but I would be like 'I guess'. So we went out for my birthday, and there was this swing band. A whole bunch of coworkers were all there and he wanted to dance. And I remember looking up at him, and all of a sudden I was like 'Oh...he is cute.' So the way I was trying to write it was like, everything's happening so fast and Kyle's mind is sort of swirling when he's looking at her. And so that was one that -
It's where it all clicks for him. That she's a cute girl.
Is there anything you want to tell us about the book, to finish this off? Apart from read it!
Yea! Read it!
And we hope you like it. We like it.
It's good. There's a lot of heart in it and we hope that it shows through. There's a cat on the spine!
We are really excited about that cat on the spine.
Oh! And there's a secret code in the acknowledgements.
There is a secret code. It hints to our potential companion novel...although we already gave you some hints...if you look, you'll be like 'There's something a little bit different about some of these letters'....Just to totally lay it out there for everyone.
Everyone should pick up a copy of The Way Back To You!
If this write up didn't convince you check out Yara's Review here: http://www.onceuponatwilight.com/2016/04/book-review-TWBTY-by-andreani-scott.html
And my review here: http://www.onceuponatwilight.com/2016/05/book-review-way-back-to-you-by-michelle.html