Friday, February 10, 2012

SANDY RIDEOUT

Interview with SANDY RIDEOUT

Sandy Rideout is the co-author of 11 books with Yvonne Collins.  She lives in Toronto and works by day in corporate communications.  Please visit Yvonne & Sandy at http://collinsrideout.com/

What are you reading right now?

I’m reading DAUGHTER OF SMOKE AND BONE by Laini Taylor, and I absolutely love it.  Before that I read Maureen Thompson’s NAME OF THE STAR. I have been spending far more time reading since I got an e-reader, which surprised this paper-loving author!

What first sparked your interest in writing?

I was obsessed with L.M. Montgomery as a kid. I read every single book she wrote (plus all the journals and biographies). It was EMILY OF NEW MOON that made me want to write. The book literally fell apart from so many re-readings!

What do you love the most about writing? The least?

I love getting into a character’s head and trying to figure out what he or she might do in a situation, as opposed to what I would do. And I really enjoy capturing conflict in dialogue. 

The hard part, still, after 11 books, is conquering the fear of failure. Each time I start something new, I think, “I suck, I suck, I can’t do this.” And at first, it’s true. The first chapter inevitably reeks, but I’ve learned that if I can survive to the fifth, the foul odour clears.   

Of course, the other tough thing is juggling full-time work and other responsibilities with writing. You have to carve the time out somehow, and usually it comes out of the “entertainment” budget. So I am way behind on my favorite TV shows. But I am taking a lesson from my coauthor and putting a TV in the workout room.

Tell us a little about your writing process.

Writing as a team means we need to brainstorm ideas together and develop a solid outline to keep us on track. We don’t have the luxury of writing by the seat of our pants, as some authors do. However, even with an outline, there is room for surprises and we try hard to make each other laugh. I was recently describing what Yvonne did to our poor “Leigh” in the “The New and Improved Vivien Leigh Reid: Diva in Control,” and laughed out loud. 

What are your passions?

Aside from writing, naturally there’s reading, and reading about writing. For pure fun, I love cooking and baking, and subjecting people to my kitchen experiments. (No one has died yet!) 
 
What inspires you?

Gossip sites, scandals, fighting with my guy... Okay, seriously...I get a lot of ideas while working out or driving. Plus, I listen to people, and it leads me to stories that sometimes seem too strange to be true—but aren’t. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve shot down one of Yvonne’s ideas, saying, “But that would never happen.” Then we hear that it has, even more outrageously than we speculated. 

Why young adult?

We met when we were 13 and 15, and that stage of life is still so vivid for us. We remember the constant feeling of excitement over possibilities—for romance, careers, everything—and love to recapture it. For me, there might also be a faint wish for a “do over.” I wasn’t a confident teen, and wish I’d dared to take more chances. Our characters do things Yvonne and I NEVER would have. For example, in LOVE, INC., when a guy mistreats our trio, they strike back! On the other hand, we’ve learned what stands the test of time—friendship, loyalty, humor—and we celebrate it in our books.

How was LOVE, INC born?

Yvonne and I were brainstorming at Starbucks, as usual. We got this idea for a story where friends who get played by a guy, not only get revenge, but start selling it as a service to other teens. We liked that these girls turned lemons into lemonade. And while some of their actions are pretty risky, their hearts are definitely in the right place, and friendship is at the core.

What is it like collaborating on a book?

Coauthoring is like shoving two strange cats into a sack and hoping that something good will emerge a few months later. It’s an exercise in compromise, respect, tact and discipline. But it’s so great to share the ups and downs of writing. And I still get excited when Yvonne sends new chapters. I’m always interested to see where she’s taken the story, and what words she’s put in our characters’ mouths.

One of my favorite aspects of LOVE INC is Zahra’s voice, especially impressive since the book has two authors. How do you create such a strong, unique voice? Is it more challenging to write a young adult voice than an adult one?

After writing 11 books together, non-fiction, adult fiction, and teen fiction, I have to admit that I’m not sure where our “voice” comes from. It seems like it was there from the start, and that’s probably a byproduct of being friends for so long. Our main characters are aspects of our own personalities, and humour is never far from the surface. Even with our new book, TORCH, which is a paranormal romance, we couldn’t shake the humour in the voice.

Of all your published books, do you have a personal favorite?

Well, my favorite book is always the most recent one, which means TORCH. We’ve wanted to try a paranormal romance for a long time and finally got a chance. After so many romantic-comedies, however, we wondered if it was possible to be funny in a book where people die. Oops...Did we give something away?

TORCH is about a girl named Phoenix who discovers she can create fire, although she can’t control her ability. She meets a hot guy who can transform into water, and they team up to tackle a string of arsons that’s threatening the idyllic town of Rosewood. 

Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?

Writing is a tough road, no question. There is rejection at every turn.  To succeed, you have to develop a thick skin. Individually, we haven’t achieved that, but together, we’ve got a leathery hide. And of course, everything depends on discipline. Writing is work, like anything else, and it only happens if you apply fingers to keyboard. 

Is there anything else you would like to tell us about yourself?

We’re really excited to have an opportunity at this stage of our career to venture into e-publishing. It’s giving us a chance to write a variety of books. For example, we’re currently planning to write another novel for adults, after focussing on teens for many years. (Yvonne edits:  We are?  Sandy responds:  We are!  Let’s pretend to be grown-ups again.)

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