Pen Friends ~ When these lovely authors shared their blurb and cover with me, I loved the concept and was eager to share it! Who doesn’t love a good hero-villain story? Come meet co-authors, Hope Bolinger and Alyssa Roat, as they share about DEAR HERO releasing September 28th.
SP: Hello Ladies, so happy to have you on the Spinning Pen! So, how did this story, DEAR HERO, come about? How did you decide to co-author it?
H: Most of that summer was pretty fuzzy, so I don’t know if I can remember the exact circumstances. But it all started when Alyssa and I created parody YA twitter accounts to make fun of YA tropes. She was a cliche YA villain, I, a cliche YA hero. My friend back home was also on a lot of dating apps, and I’d read a novel that was a series of letters between two people dating. The idea sort of all just clicked: what if there was an app, like Tinder, that matched you with your nemesis in the superhero world? We took the idea and ran from there.
A: Once we had the idea, co-authoring was a no-brainer. We’ve co-written shorter pieces and articles before, so we knew we work together well.
SP: Co-authoring must be an interesting process–can you tell us a bit about your process? How long did it take you to write DEAR HERO as a team? Any obstacles?
H: So yeah, we didn’t do the typical co-authoring process with this. Basically, we hopped on a Google doc and each took on the personality of different characters. I was the hero, she was the villain (and we playacted other characters who later pop up like an 80-year-old henchman who is a dragon and a theatre-nerd/frat boy sidekick). We’d spot-check each other as we went for consistencies and had a skeletal outline we were following in terms of plot. The “obstacles” if we could call them that were that we never expected what the other person would write. We had to roll with the punches to get to our plot destination points whilst balancing two different visions for the book. But I think we worked together really well.
A: Confession time: we wrote the first draft in nine days. We were having so much fun we just couldn’t stop. (A lot of edits came afterward, don’t worry.) Basically, it was nine days of fingers flying, grinning in a room by myself at Hope’s quips, and trying to remember that oh yeah, I do have jobs to do as well.
SP: What was your favorite part about writing this book? Which character surprised you most?
H: I think what surprised me was how fun it was to write. I kept saying, “We shouldn’t be allowed to have this much fun writing.” I think the speed of writing the book in 9 days (don’t worry, we edited it a TON afterwards) caught me by surprise. We’d originally planned to write the thing in 60 days.
A: My favorite part was waiting to see what hilarious thing Hope would come up with next. We had a loose outline, but lots of room for imagination. Honestly, all of the characters surprised me—I didn’t expect to fall in love with them so much! I knew the book was going to be funny, but I didn’t expect how much I would feel for the characters and how much we would watch them grow. And of course, there’s that plot twist that neither one of us saw coming!
SP: Writing tips–how do you stay focused? What is your revision process?
H: I usually don’t personally have a problem with focus. I often call a version of myself “beast Hope” where I’ll forget to eat or sleep because I’m so absorbed with the project. As for the revision process, it did look a little different for this project. Alyssa and I edited each other as we went and edited the document after numerous times. We had some betas give it a read and give their thoughts. The publisher and us also went back and forth a lot to make sure we caught lots of typos and inconsistencies.
A: The problem is UN-focusing, haha! Hyper-focused Alyssa comes out with big projects like this and forgets to do important things like eat food. As for revising, it was really nice having someone clean up behind me in real time as I typed, and I did the same thing for Hope. Then we did broad revisions and a couple copy edits. I’m the nitpicky one to a fault, so I did a couple rounds of proofreading as well.
SP: Who is one author that influenced your writing?
H: I’ve been told John Green, which I think is high praise. His snark but also ability to pull no punches does often seep into my writing.
A: For this book, I think Rick Riordan had a lot of influence on tone. Plenty of snark and silliness, but with deeper character emotions and themes as well.
SP: Launching during COVID 19 must be an interesting experience- in which ways have you seen positive things come of it?
H: It’s opened up a lot of opportunities for online events. I usually do about 20 speaking engagements per year, but because of COVID, that has doubled for 2020. I do miss in-person events because they’re so personal, however.
A: It definitely turned a lot of my marketing plans on their head, but in some ways it’s given us more opportunities. Since I have dysautonomia/POTS, traveling and speaking puts a lot of strain on my body. Being able to attend conferences and events from home has meant I’m able to do much more without any fainting adventures!
SP: Now, to lighten things up!
Are Hope and Alyssa…
H: This is actually funny because we’re complete opposites. I’m a plotter. I remember telling Alyssa, “This is the most pantsing I’ve done for a manuscript.” And she said, “This is the most plotting I’ve done,” when we talked about Dear Hero.
A: Poor Hope. My writing style gives her secondhand stress. I pants everything and usually have no idea what’s going to happen next.
Last book you devoured ?
H: The Thing about Jellyfish. I’m getting into middle grade now. Absolutely beautiful book.
A: I just finished A Conjuring of Light, the final book in V. E. Schwab’s Shades of Magic, a series I really should have read a long time ago. Can you see how the two of us ended up writing a contemporary speculative novel? I devour anything spec fic/ fantasy, and Hope loves her contemporary fiction.
Current dream vacation spot?
H: Probably a secluded forest or some obscure national park. I’m convinced I’m half-fairy. Alyssa will probably agree.
A: If Hope is a fairy, I’m the kooky old lady who lives in the woods. I’d like to be in a secluded cottage where I can write to my heart’s content. But barring that, I’m always down for a trip to London.
Something always in your fridge?
H: Cookie dough. Always.
Would you rather be a professional: Space-X Rocket Scientist? Spy? Food Critic? Paleontologist? OR?
H: PALEONTOLOGIST! I’ve been obsessed with dinosaurs since I was four. I once corrected a docent at a museum, when I was six, when she got her Dino facts wrong.
A: Maybe this is why Hope and I are such good friends. I was obsessed with dinos as a kid, and I may have missed my calling as a paleontologist.
Any recent fictional crushes?
H: Oh gosh, LOL, I always go for the bad boys: Loki, Bullseye from Netflix’s Daredevil (not so much in the comics … he’s a little more psychopathic in those) and Zuko. And can I really be honest if I don’t put Darcy in here? Again, I’m like a cinnamon roll, so I’m not sure why I’m going for these dudes.
A: My biggest crush will always be Captain America. Always.
Favorite childhood book?
H: You know, it just depends. For a while it was Harry Potter, but I think I’m edging more toward Percy Jackson now.
A: This is a cruel question. I thought I was supposed to be the villain. I can’t even pick a favorite childhood genre. I loved everything from Hattie Big Sky to Redwall to A Wrinkle in Time.
SP: Thanks so much for sharing with us, ladies! Congratulations on your book!
Be sure to connect with Hope and Alyssa:
You can find Hope on most social media @hopebolinger
And Alyssa is @alyssawrote:
Nova McBee, author of Calculated & 2020 PitchWars Mentor!