Abi Ketner and Missy Kalicicki are the authors of the booming new novel, Branded. Here is what they have to say on reading, team writing, and books in general.
1) What inspired you to become an author?
It was actually a joke at first. We used to meet up once a month and talk about books that we had read. At that time, we were on a dystopian kick and with every book, there was always something that bothered us. Or something we would have done differently. So joking around I said to Missy, the only way we would be 100% happy with a book, was if we wrote one ourselves. And honestly it still feels weird to the both of us to call ourselves authors.
2) Where did you first get the idea for “Branded”? How did you decide to incorporate the seven deadly sins?
I (Abi) came up with the premise over a month or so of different thoughts. I was running and listening to music and just letting my brain wonder. It was like taking pieces here and there and stirring it in a pot. I thought about the Scarlet Letter and how she was humiliated publicly, just by the “A” she has to wear around her neck. I remember thinking about how awful prison would be without and guards. I was trying to come up with another way to humiliate humans that would be visible to the human race. That’s when I thought about the 7 deadly sins, I googled the deadly sins and colors. And sure enough, they existed. I decided to call the jail without walls “the Hole”. After these few ideas, I wrote the first chapter and sent it to Missy. I was so nervous and I was shocked that she loved it. After that we worked together and correlated the rest of Branded. It started with a few ideas and blew up from there.
3) What are the benefits to team-writing? Are there any drawbacks?
No, we don’t have any drawbacks at all. The most popular question people ask us? What’s it like to write together. And here’s our answer. It’s incredible. We each have ideas, and are comfortable allowing the other person to write them. We never get bored because if one of us has a writer’s block, the other person can pick up and keep writing. We continually sharpen each other’s skills. Sometimes, I read something Abi wrote and I’m blown away. It forces us to be better and to keep pushing the boundaries.
There are times we have to be critical of each other’s writing, but it’s not personal. And we understand that. It’s for our shared dream of being successful. We both want our books to be enjoyed. We both want readers to stay up all night and think about it after it’s finished.
I remember reading an article, early on, about how writing together with another author causes loss of friendship, backbiting, and turmoil. This simply, hasn’t been our experience. I’m very comfortable handing over a scene I’ve written to Abi and allowing her to change all the dialogue. Seeing it from another perspective, helps me gain insight into how my writing might look to another person’s eyes. And sometimes, Abi sends me something she’s written and I change sections of it. It’s all part of the process. We trust each other when it comes to adding and editing things. In the end, our styles mesh. And more importantly, we mesh.
4) You just recently became officially published. How does it feel to have your work recognized by an agent?
Unreal. We still can’t believe this happened to us. Neither of us were authors before we wrote Branded. We are still in complete shock. We will break down when we walk into a book store and see Branded on the shelf. All we can say is believe in yourself and keep fighting. If we can make it, anyone can… if you work hard enough and take advice to help improve yourself and your story.
5) In what ways do you relate to Lexi Hamilton?
In so many ways, Lexi, is a mix between the both of us. We wanted her to be as real and realistic as possible. She has flaws, fears and real life struggles.
6) Do you have any advice for aspiring authors/writers?
Stick with it. Believe in it. Find a good editor. Find reputable bloggers that will give you an honest opinion & believe in your book! Ask other authors for advice when you need it. The indie community is very supportive if you just ASK. It won’t be easy, and it’s definitely a long process, but it’s worth the effort when you can say you wrote a book!!!
7) What are your favorite books and/or authors?
The Fault In Our Stars
The Hunger Games & Catching Fire
Divergent & Insurgent
Twilight, New moon and Eclipse