Monday, July 27, 2009

My Wackiest Interview Yet - Angelica Hart and Zi

I recently had the pleasure of interviewing a very talented pair of writers who form the author team of Angelica Hart and Zi. Listen in on their wild and wacky personalities that come out in response to my very normal questions.

CM: From where did you get the idea for your latest release?

Z:  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 being released in September 2009 was one of those card ideas played on one of those pitch days.  It lost to a tango dancing private investigator who had gone under cover in a dance studio as a dancer to solve a mystery.  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 can use her private investigator persona as the hero.  We never did.  Used his name.  Made him F.B.I.  He can't dance. 

A:  You said he was going to dance in the sequel.  We are writing a sequel aren't we?  Zi?

Z:  Sure we are... We're going to title it KILLER DANCING DOLLS...  Next question!

CM: I love the idea of a tango-dancing P.I.! Can't wait to find out what your lamestorming is going to produce next. Now then, tell me a bit about your background and what prompted you to write a book.

Z:  Educated as an engineer.  (Long pause should be placed here...  one pensive sigh... and that look that implies I believe I've answered your question.)  I find myself uncomfortable talking about me, but I shall do my best to respect the question.  Obviously, like most writers I love the play of stories and how well-crafted words can steer reaction.  From age twelve I knew there were stories housed between my rather dapper ears.  At age fifteen, I rewrote the ending of Lord of the Flies.  Let my friends read it, and was applauded.  At age sixteen I wrote a school play.  At age twenty-seven I wrote a community theater play.  By then I was writing, and haven't stopped since.

A:  I'm a control freak. 

Z:  That would be quite the understatement.

A: (I turn, stare, providing my best effort to... control any further outbursts by him.)  As I was saying...  So even as a child when I wrote my first book using construction paper and crayons, I wanted the princess to have the sword and ride the horse.  So I wrote it.

Z: So you self-published?

A: Signed limited editions.

CM: I can relate to that, Angelica! My first book, Mr. Fathead Goes to the Moon, was self-published and released in limited distribution (to the family) at the age of seven, too! With your love of reading and writing in mind, what one book would you take to a deserted island because you could read it over and over again?

A:  I’d bring an e-book reader like the Kimble, that way I could bring about 1500 books.  Seriously, how do you pick just one?  Impossible.  There are the classics like Jane Eyre, more Victoria Holt books than I can count, let’s not forget Piers Anthony and Asmiov, King, Koontz, Cook, and all those authors coming out of Champagne … like YOU, Candace, and Michael W. Davis, and Kimber Chin, and… and… and…   (Starts to hyperventilate and calms down.)  Sorry, books are a passion of mine.

Z:  I'd take the dictionary.  It in itself could inspire my imagination.  The word mohair could inspire a story about big foot.  Stubble makes me think of a planet that all of the corn stalks were cut close to the ground, and I'd wonder why and imagine huge cannons that shot popcorn.  So, captured in that treasury of words could be endless possibilities. 

A:  Never mind ... I'm just taking a cell phone and calling Zi.

Z:  Did you notice neither one of us answered your question?

CM: I did notice that, Zi. As a seasoned interviewer I must admit you guys have got me flummoxed! Let's me move on to a less, um, controversial topic. What is the first book you can remember reading that made you realize a good book is something special?

Z:  Lad A Dog was special because in the privacy of my own read when the copperhead set fang to Lad and brought the dog to the brink of death, I as a lad myself found apt tear, cursed at the book but have held a great respect for the power of the word.

A: (Remembering the story, sniffles and  blows nose, loudly.)  The Velveteen Rabbit… Actually, it was read to me.  I cried and laughed and felt sad when the story was finished.  I missed the characters.  I’d carry the book around after that and hold it out in a demanding fashion to any and every reading-able adult.   I couldn’t wait to learn how to read so I could read every book in the world.  I’d hoard books and comic books like a rabbit and its carrots.  They were my friends.

Z:  Chipmunks horde.  Rabbits they wiggle their noses.  Re-examine your simile.

A:  No...

CM: Oh, I loved The Velveteen Rabbit, too! That is definitely one of the classics. Speaking of hoarding, how do you get yourself into the mood to write? Any special rituals/habits?

Z:  Writer's block.  We define that as time set aside to write.  A definition quite different than most. We think our optimistic approach works.  Except for once in my entire life, I can't remember being without appropriate words or an idea.  How do I prepare?  How do I put myself in the mood?  What are my rituals?  Habits?  Provide me a pencil and a pad, I write.  Provide me a computer, don't even need a chair, I write.  Provide me a tape recorder, I write.  Provide Angelica on the other end of a cell phone, one of us having something to scribe with, and I write.  It seems as natural as a boy chasing a girl...  And she catching him. 

A:  (Takes a breath, thinks, blurts.)  Tea… tea… and more tea.

Z:  That's Tea-rffic.  (Wasn't that punny?)

CM: Very punny, Zi, and it sounds like you enjoy a never-ending supply of ideas. But still... What do you do when you hit a point in your book where you don’t know where to go next?

Z:  Never happens.  This is not intended to be dismissive but completely honest.  Because we work together, we have wonderful sessions where we outline.  We texture locations and pre-define characters.  It is rare that on the fly do we ever vamp in a new direction.  That would be unfair considering we share the geneses and development of every project.  Oops, you just saw the engineer, a vision becomes reality within a certain set of guidelines.

A:  However, when we are in the midst of creating the outline we sometimes want to go in different directions, that makes for some interesting bantering.

CM: Having co-authored a book with Michael Davis, I know what you mean Angelica. I love getting those honest reactions fueld by personal and gender differences. Of course we all have to base our characters on those we've encountered during our lives. Do you include people you know disguised as characters in your book(s)?

Z:  Not a single one yet everyone.  Characters are the cross-culmination of varying personalities.  Circumstance draws upon traits of every person and every experience that life has granted, then magnified, embellished, and altered with nuance to meet the plot's need.

A: (Winks.)  Nary a soul is safe.

CM: Hmm, I'll keep that in mind! Note to self: do not get too up close and personal with these people. What do your family and friends think about your occupation as a writer?

Z:  They say they're proud but by definition because they are family and friends, they have to be.  We have never had the fire squad moment where its live or die, like me or not.  That's obviously a tad morose so I'll just believe them. 

A:  They're my cheerleaders, and you should see their pom-poms.

Z:  Lean to the left... lean to the write... stand up... sit down... write, write, write!  Go Angelica!  Go!

CM: Zi, that cheerleader outfit has to go. I'm reminded of that Saturday Night Live skit... not pretty. Do you get support from your family when writing and upon publication of your books?

Z:  Abso-frackin'lutely!

A:  Can we say that?  If so, what he said.

CM: Maybe you should write the dictionary instead of bringing it to the deserted island, Zi! What’s one thing that most readers would be really surprised to learn about you?

Z: That I had to file an accident report for a company car where a buffalo sat on the front hood.  That explained the crater-like dent.  The accident report did not include the very simple fact that this mammoth creature shat on that same hood and that material was so viscous and was expelled with such force that it covered the entirety of the windshield, hood and side panels and I could not put a claim in for the five hours of lost time bucketing water from a stream just so I could see to drive to a place where I could wash it. 

A: That I drive Zi crazy 'caaaauuuussseee  I'm sometimes allergic to logic, and engineers live by logic.

CM: I can sympathize, Angelica, as Michael Davis is much the same. And Zi, I'll never look at a New York football player the same way again. When you sit down to write a book, are you two plotters (laying out all the plot points ahead of time) or pantsters (plotting by the seat of your pants)?

Z:  (Nice wordsmithing.) Duh!  I'm a plotter's plotter.  I pre-plot the plot.

A:  Plot... plot... plot... running off... Zi  grabs me by the seat of my pants (metaphorically) and sets me down ... and then we plot... plot... plot...

CM: (Fanning self) Whew, you had me going there for a minute imaginging all sorts of S&M... Remember this a G-rated blog, kids. Which of the characters you’ve written is your favorite and why?

Z:  wRen from SNAKE DANCE, being released February 2010.  She's a blossom, a steel blossom. 

A: Vench and Vilgal from KILLER DOLLS.  They're just so nasty.  What fun to dive into that villainy.

CM: Now you've really got me worried, Angelica. Who says their favorite character is a villain? I can only imagine what whips and chains are in your closet! Now I know you don't write erotica, but what genre is your favorite to write?

Z: Contemporary thriller with the sub-text of growing romance.  All wrapped in the banana peel of quirky.

A: Fantasy and thrillers and sci-fi and...  Oh shoot, the more apt question would be, what genre don't I like to write...  non-fiction.

CM: I can only imagine just how quirky your books are! Okay, finally, the most important question: chocolate or vanilla?

Z: Strawberry.

A: Vanilla with chocolate fudge syrup.  We were talking ice cream, right?  Oh, and don't forget the M & Ms.  I speak for both of us, this has been great!  Thank you for having us.

Angelica Hart and Zi
Killer Dolls  ~  September 2009
Snake Dance  ~  February 2010
Champagne Books



CM: It's been a real pleasure and quite the wild ride, Angelica and Zi. Thanks for taking time out of your busy writing schedule to talk to me.

20 comments:

  1. Stacey CoverstoneJuly 27, 2009 at 5:53 AM

    Great interview. It's cool to get to know you two better!
    Stacey

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  2. OMG, I seriously am addicted to reading what you guys blog about. It's first thing in the morning and I am already laughing so I KNOW that today is going to be a good one! I loved the lametastic remark and OMG the car and the insurance claim had me rolling. Excellent answer about bringing an ebook reader! Really, how can anyone read just one book? lol Great blog guys! YOU MUST LET ME KNOW WHEN YOU BLOG AGAIN! I will be your blog groupie! OUTSTANDING!

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  3. Love the play between you two. Great interview and a great way to wake up in the morning. Loved the chuckle I got out of reading your post.

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  4. Great interview. I, like Val, laughed myself silly with the buffalo bit. Being married to an engineer myself, I wonder Angelica, how you can stand the logic. But they do make tremendous editors.....

    Allison

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  5. Got to love A&Z they are funny, witty and funny! Hold on, didn't I just say that? You guys are great! I love following you around and hearing all you have to say! Never boring and never the same thing twice!

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  6. You guys are so fun. I've burned up 100 calories laughing about the buffalo scene.
    Great interview guys.
    Linda

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  7. Angelica Hart and ZiJuly 27, 2009 at 5:17 PM

    You are so kind, Stacey. We agree, it is just as much fun getting to know you, and your work. You must be so excited, DELANEY'S CROSSING, will be coming out in August. Time travels are so intriguing.

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  8. Angelica Hart and ZiJuly 27, 2009 at 5:40 PM

    Val, you are a tonic to the spirit and you bring a blush to the cheek. If we managed to make you smile, choke and spurt, laugh as if ribs have been tickled pink, then we'll be YOUR groupie, forever ready to tweek your funny bone. We will certainly let you know when and where we blog, and as always we are gratful for your comment, and look forward to and enjoy any future ones.

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  9. Angelica Hart and ZiJuly 27, 2009 at 5:49 PM

    Doris Lessing said, "Laughter is by definition healthy." We hope the chuckle was as good as a vatamin C. And speaking of definition. We define ON THE SILVER EDGE OF TIME, your upcoming release, truly a temptation for every TBR list. Thank you for your generous words and for taking the time to stop by.

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  10. Hey I am wearing my Ang and Zi fan ribbed tank top - I had to shorten your
    name to fit on it - I have my Mardi gras beads and my #1 fan foam finger in
    pink! Looking forward to the next blog!

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  11. Angelica Hart and ZiJuly 27, 2009 at 6:04 PM

    Allison, Your words were so generous, thank you. We are honored to have entertained you with laughter. As for the logic, according to Oliver Wendell Holmes, "Logic is logic. That's all I say." It cannot be ignored, crushed, dismissed or, when it comes to Angelica, duplicated. However, that what makes us work. Zi's logic and Angelica's immunity to it.

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  12. Angelica Hart and ZiJuly 27, 2009 at 6:15 PM

    Aw, geeze, Tami, thank you, but you are the one who's great, always encouraging, always with a wonderful compliment and consistently supportive with a ra-ra cheer to boot. We are lucky to have you follow us around, and will do our best to always tweak a twitter.

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  13. Angelica Hart and ZiJuly 27, 2009 at 6:27 PM

    Hey Linda, that's us no trans-fat, sugar free, calorie reducers. Seriously, thank you for your flattering comment. Coming from you, the author of so many wonderful books, including your newest release WHEN THE OCOTILLO BLOOM, is indeed a compliment.

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  14. Can't help it....it's cause I love you guys. You are the cream in my very good coffee! :) I want more! Gimme!

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  15. Angelica Hart and ZiJuly 27, 2009 at 6:35 PM

    Now you have us laughing, Val. You are a gem!

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  16. Angelica Hart and ZiJuly 27, 2009 at 6:39 PM

    Have to ask... Is this Allison Knight, author of A TREASURE FOR SARA? I heard it has been released and that it is excellent.

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  17. Angelica Hart and ZiJuly 27, 2009 at 6:43 PM

    Get the coffee ready, and, hopefully, we'll start pouring out the really rich cream. And as we mentioned to Linda, we're calorie free.

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  18. I can't believe you are very calorie free. Zi happens to be very rich in taste! LOL!

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  19. I have to thank Angelica and Zi for being here today and providing such lively fodder for comments! And thanks to everyone who dropped by and left a comment.
    We'll definitely have to do this again, Angelica and Zi. You're a blast to host!

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  20. Angelica Hart and ZiJuly 27, 2009 at 7:10 PM

    Candace, We are the ones who want to thank you. What fun! We had cheers and dears, laughter and giggles and I think Val did a bit of a swiggle or was that Tami? Any who, thank you so much for having us. We certainly would adore doing it again.

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