I am very, very excited about today’s Q&A with writing team Andrew Landis and Julia Swift, a duo who has worked on shows like Smallville and The Book of Daniel. Trading scripts for novels, Landis and Swift recently released Bold, a young adult novel about living life to the fullest and falling in love. Today, this smash writing team discusses their writing careers and the new novel. Take a look!
If you had to describe Bold in five words, how would you describe it?
Five words to describe Bold: shy, romance, taking chances, strong.
You both have written for major TV networks. How did your experiences writing scripts influence your process for Bold?
We love writing for television, but there are a lot of rules we have to follow for TV. The networks always want to appeal to the greatest possible audience, which, unfortunately often means simplifying scripts and emotions. Nowadays, studios assume anyone watching TV is also surfing the Internet and looking at their phone. But with books, the reader is really paying attention. So we can go deeper into the characters. Plus, we don’t have to appeal to everyone all over the world in every age range. We were able to write a book that we would want to read, that speaks directly to people who struggle with insecurities and fears. We really feel like if we had just discovered and read this book, it would inspire us to be stronger in our own lives.
Since you’ve worked on shows aimed at teens and Bold is a YA novel, what do you think teens are drawn to the most in books, movies, and TV?
Most teens feel like no one understands what they are going through, that they are all alone in the world. Teens like to see themselves on screen and on the pages of books. They want some characters who represent them now, and some who are just like they wish they could be. Some writers concentrate solely on the wish fulfillment element. We write as much truth as we can. We show the pain and anguish of being a teen, but we always want to end with our character stronger than they started. We really fall in love with our characters. Even when we finish a project, we still think about them, where they would be now, who they would be with.
What do you hope readers gain by reading Bold?
We hope that whoever reads this book might be able to look at themselves afterwards and see how many possibilities exist out there if they don’t hold themselves back because they’re afraid of being judged. It’s okay to be scared, but by putting yourself out there even one time, you open yourself up to new experiences, achievements you might never have thought possible and people who can enrich your life in unexpected ways.
Can you tell us a little bit about your writing backgrounds?
Andrew: I started writing professionally for a couple of U.S. Senators on Capital Hill in D.C., but obviously it was a different kind of writing. Over time I found myself parroting what my bosses wanted to say, which in the television world can be invaluable when you have to mimic characters’ voices every week, but I was feeling unfulfilled creatively. So I enrolled in a screenwriting class at Georgetown University and knew immediately that kind of storytelling would feed my soul. My first feature script earned me acceptance to USC Film School where I met Julia.
Julia: I knew from the time I was teenager that I wanted to write, but I didn’t think it was possible to make a living at it. When I was in grad school I sold my first poem for $50 to a literary magazine, after getting lots of rejections, which I just shoved under my bed. When I moved apartments, I remember being shocked at how many letters there were under there, but you have to put them out of your mind to keep pushing forward. At USC, I won tons of writing awards that paid for my full tuition. But more importantly, the awards made me believe I could actually earn money writing. And when I freak out and lose my confidence, Andrew is there to remind me we can do this.
What is it like writing with another person?
It’s amazing to write with another person because you have someone to bounce ideas off whenever you want. That can mean saving time when you’re convinced you have absolutely dreamed up with the best idea ever and your partner stares at you with a blank look and tells you you’re crazy. And it can also mean having a life outside of writing. We both work very hard when we are involved with a project, but it has also taught us that sometimes it is essential we take a break to spend time with our respective families because a lot of the things we write about come from something we have lived through.
What are you working on now?
We are writing a sequel to Bold. Sasha is one of those characters who would not let us ignore her. She wants more of our time and we have learned our best work comes from following where the characters lead us.
What are three to five things your readers may not know about you?
Andrew: One thing readers might now know about me is that I love to run marathons, partly to stay in shape, but also because the training runs provide me with ample time to flesh out story ideas. Two, one of my prized possessions in my home is a Pennsylvania Dutch Crazy Quilt that my great-great-great grandmother sewed in the late 19th Century. Much like Impressionist painters were rebelling against realism, Crazy Quilters were protesting traditional quilting conventions with their
own creative patterns and designs. I like to think of my ancestor as a bit of a rebel. Three, I have been taking Korean language classes so that when I return to South Korea to seek out my biological family, I might actually be able to communicate with them a little in their native tongue.
Julia: I’ll pick up with four, I work out a lot of my story ideas on my dog. She’s my favorite sounding board and I can’t help but tell her all the time how beautiful she is, but I always follow it with the disclaimer that surface beauty doesn’t matter. I don’t want her values to be messed up. But she is beautiful. And five, I am completely addicted to Diet Coke. Like bad. I’ve stopped a few times, but I always go back. When we write on TV shows, we sit in a room with other writers all day and it usually takes about two days before someone notices the empty cans I’m hiding under the table and asks if I really drank them all. Yes, I did. And I will continue to. Life is just better with Diet Coke.
Curious to know more about Bold? Then be sure to purchase your copy through Amazon today!