I’m excited to have Angelica Hart and Zi in the blog house for an interview. To say these two authors combined, have been prolific, is a bit of an understatement. Between them they have thirty seven titles published and over five hundred shorts in various magazines and newspapers. And the awards! EPPIE finalist for three books, Cecil Whig award, Hob-Nob Reader’s Choice Award, Champagne Books Novel of the Year, Champagne Books Author of the Year. They write mystery, suspense, sci-fi, and fantasy and twelve of those books I mentioned mix one of those genres with romance — what fun!
Thanks again for being with us today. I want to get to your upcoming book CHRISTMAS EVE…VIL, but first let’s talk a bit about you both and your work.
A: We’re tickled to be here. (Pulls up a cyber chair, sips her chai latte and looks for the chocolate, loving the no cal zone of cyber land) We adore doing interviews.
Z: What a wonderful summer day to be crawling around the attic, running wire for a new ceiling fan. I am so glad that this interview has availed me the opportunity to stop sweating to the point of you-gotta-be-kiddin’-me. So with grand sincerity, thank you Richard Hacker for allowing me to sit in the air conditioning.
A: Double thanks Zi for taking a shower first! (Looking at the nose clip she had ready just in case)
A writing team, while more the norm in the screenwriting world, is a little more unusual among novelists. How did this partnership begin? And why do you think it works so well?
Z: T’was a gloomy Thursday when a sudden crack of lightning startled me, followed by a maneuver of my black Volvo swerving to avoid an ominous rain puddle. The effort went for naught, and water was forced up the underside of the engine, mist and steam rose and the need to pull the car over was eminent. By some act of divine intervention, I found myself in the parking lot of Borders Books. A big yippee-ki-yay for any book fan. I trudged and dodged through blankets of water — a veritable downpour with hellacious lightning and stomach’s butterflies scared by thunder crackling about me as if the world were about to split apart and I would fall into an abyss. Managing to enter, I paper-toweled myself dry in the men’s room then returned to the sales floor. I noticed a woman manning an area of the cafe, perched on a high stool, touting her art work. She was Angelica Hart. The ensuing conversation went something like this: Hey…hey…nice art…thanks…are you interested in illustrations…yes…give me your card…here…thanks, I’ll call you…Do. There it was. Left the store to a world that was bright and sunny, filled with possibilities. And eight years later, it’s still sunny.
A: The meaning of kismet happened that day.
Z: Furthermore, in the eighties sitting just west of Jackson Hole, Wyoming in the grassy foothills at the base of the Grand Tetons, looking across the Snake River at a bull moose I began to read a piece I had just written in my journal, out loud, for the moose to hear. Yup, did it! I learned the moose was not my audience as he meandered deeper into the high grass but I was not discouraged and continued at the top of my speaking voice. About seven feet from me sat a molting coyote engrossed in my presentation. Its eyes held me as if a pup or its suckling mother and I felt one with that energy. Stunned that it did not run, amazed at its calmness in the face of my presence I continued. When I was done, the canine rose, walked next to me, rubbed its matted fur on my arm, passed, and it was lost to the high grass. It left upon me its musk, telling me I was one of its pack. In the capture of that moment in time, I felt validated as a writer. Years later, sitting over coffee, talking about writing, I felt that same validation again, and that person was Angelica Hart. I understood destiny.
A: Everyone has felt that thing that has been called the click, and the ease at which that happens.
Zi and I purported from first instant was astonishing, there was an immediate synergy that told me that one and one equaled three. I read his work, was moved. We lamestormed which is our practice of presenting ideas and deeming them lame or not. Of twenty ideas, ten from each, not one idea had merit. Our potential partnership stalled before it started. Then in an email, Zi sent me a touching fantasy love story, where a Mage stole a young man’s heart so the woman he loved could soar. He gave it willingly. I cried. I understood destiny.
It can’t be all fun and games, can it? What do you find to be the most challenging thing about being a writing partnership?
A: Yes, it can. Be a fly on our wall. Some readers are when they visit Dawn’s Book Nook on Thursday mornings, our weekly article is titled WRITERS WRITE…WRITING PARTNERS FEUD , and you’ll know we laugh a lot. We battle a lot. Not warrior battle, but the sort of battle to always get the best out of each other. The battles that require water pistols and paper ball hand grenades. It’s always about the story, what will make it better. It’s about the reader, what will they enjoy. And it’s about cookies…. When all else fails, break out the cookies.
Z: One of the first tenets that we put in place before we ever shared creativity was that we would agree to agree. This means we would argue our point of views but the story had to will-out and we would not be so selfish as to pout or sulk.
Having said the afore, Angelica sulks and pouts…far more than any human I have met.
A: Take that back or I’m leaving. (Pouting AND sulking)
Z: Angelica I am so sorry, I was so boldly honest. Please forgive me.
A: That’s better! Where’s the cookies?
Here’s a question I think writers who struggle to find a genre niche and curious readers will want to know more about. You have a number of titles that include mystery, suspense and sci-fi fantasy combined with romance. What is it about romance you find so compelling?
A: For me, it is because I was brought up on the princess fairy tales, the ultimate romance of the beautiful damsel and the brave, strong knight. Only problem was that the bleepin’ princess was ooohhh, ahhhh, I need to be rescued, and even as a child, I decided to get out my crayons and let the princess shine. She would rescue the prince, slay the dragons, and whip up a mean chocolate Sundae to boot. In the end, though, I adored the struggle, the emotions, the happily-ever-after, and still do.
Z: Romance is an omni-present force in everyone’s life. We all crave it, but from time to time struggle to comprehend it. The reasons we desire another and pine for lust are important. I have been ultimately privileged to read every day another’s sojourn; Angelica can touch a place in humanity that defines those powerful feelings without ever being tawdry. This is amazing. Of course, there are those tactile hands on (ha-ha) moments that we hope that we have crafted, are entertaining. The compelling part is that by considering the import of romance we make our understanding of human nature deeper and more complex. Having said the afore, I adore entertaining women.
It’s always interesting to know what authors read. What are you reading these days? Any favorites?
A: Books are a passion of mine and with the Kindle I fully indulge that passion. I usually have two to three books going at once, one in the form of a CD for the car (currently reading Darkly Dreaming Dexter by Jeff Lindsey) another CD in the house while doing this and that (Son of a Witch by Gregory McQuire)and then there is the reading before bed book (After the Mist by Cathy Coburn and Duaine Neill – A Champagne Book), and the family room book (I, Robot by Isaac Asimov.) Then, of course, there are the mags…Discover, Woman’s World, Writer’s Digest…. Hmmm, think I better stop there. I mean, you might think I’m compulsive or something.
Z: Reading…ahhhh…most recently a wonderful recipe for sweet and sour meatballs, which I made and subsequently amazed my company. My neighbor’s palm insisting that she was going to meet an intriguing gentleman. A series of blogs about the Eagles, 76ers, Flyers, and Phillies. Did I enter comments? Does a fly run into a glass window? A little Stephen King for the humor of it all and emails to and fro to my daughter and son-in-law. That was the last three days.
If you could go anywhere, do anything, where would you go and what would you do?
A: Exactly where I am and what I am doing. We get to laugh and joke and become awed by possibilities, cry at sorrow, experience drama, travel the world and spin magic with words. What is more adventuresome or glorious then that. Besides that, being with my family and being amazed that I am so blessed.
Z: I would buy into Einstein’s understanding of time relativity, and find myself a portal and return to those twenty-seven missed moments of my youth and discover if doing it differently, made a difference. I would have never got caught peeking in the girl’s locker room, I would have kissed Amy who wanted to be kissed, and I would have never jumped up into the go-go dancer’s cage and danced with her. (Note: The last one got me arrested!) Dag.
A: We have taken a bit of time and indulged the whimsy that resides in our quirky little souls, creating a twenty-five book series, titled THE SIN-SIN IN CINDERELLA. If you like feghoots, parody, irreverence and naughty limericks then this cute/sassy series is the way to go. We had a hoot creating it, and it can be found on our website: http//angelicahartandzi.com
Z: The alter egos of Dona Penza Tattle, Esq. and Associate Wrye Balderdash, who also write a column for the Champagne Books Newsletter, Bubbles-n-Bits, are the authors of the afore pieces. Their personalities dance right on the edge of risqué profane. We like that…they’re fun.
CHRISTMAS EVE…VIL, comes out soon. Sounds like a good winter read. Tell us about it.
A: (Clears throat) Anya Petrichona, the guardian of an ancient amulet that permits entry to the supernatural realm, is pursued by an maniacal preacher. While seeking refuge in the New Mexico Mountains, she becomes snowbound with the enticing and gallant Luke Calico.
Z: (Hums a few bars of Jingle Bells) As Christmas Eve approaches, Anya’s and Luke’s ardor sizzles even as the preacher’s malevolence henchmen encroach. Survival depends on Anya outwitting the preacher, bent on abusing her powers, and resistance to a seductive, demonic spirit.
A: Though she does not resist Luke’s seduction.
Z: That’s cause we wrote it that way!
A: Noooo, it was meant-to-be that way. The characters said so.
Z: Of course it was. (Wanting to avoid any lower lip protrusion)
Where can we find your books?
A/Z: At CBG: http://champagnebooks.com/ and/or http://angelicahartandzi.com as well as Amazon.
Thanks for sharing yourselves with us today. Be on the lookout for CHRISTMAS EVE…VIL. Angelica and Zi, may your successful work together continue to grow. Before we finish, is there anything you’d like to add?
A: There is something so splendid in knowing that a reader has been transported to another place, has dipped into the sensual, explored things that do not exist, has found a place to escape. This world has its challenges and sometimes the need to stop the spin and find a haven can be great. If we can create just one special moment, one bit of comfort, balanced with smiles and tears and the belief that they too have been well-loved, then we have done our job.
Z: Also, thank you so much for having us, and we look forward to adding your book, TOXIC RELATIONSHIP to our TBR pile when it comes out in August. Sounds awesome!