Carolyn Fruzzetti and Meghan Pearsall are a collaborative writing team from Alexandria, Virginia. Basic questions are answered below and more information is available at www.pureenergybooks.com
Why did you write this book?
CFF: “I had a one-and-half-year-old and a two-month-old daughters at the time and I was staying home to take care of them. All I remember was Meghan called me up and said, “Hey, why don’t we write a book?” I think I was so sleep-deprived I wasn’t thinking straight and I so I said ‘sure.’ I had no idea the enormity of what we were undertaking. That was probably a good thing. You never know what you are capable of until you just do it.”
MIP: “We started the book in 2009. A friend of ours from our high school field hockey team had just died of a rare cancer. It seemed so wrong to us that she was gone. For me, 2009 had a lot of loss in it. Starting the book became a lifeline that I thought Carolyn and I could use. We have always had the motto to “go big or go home” so when we started the book, I knew from the beginning I wanted it to be huge and to connect to a lot of readers.”
Did you know the book would end up like this?
CFF: “No. We joke this is our third book. We wrote a lot of drafts and scrapped a lot of material. We knew we wanted to deal with high concept and compelling issues in a tough environment. The setting of our high school fit the bill. If you’ve seen Sixteen Candles that gives you a taste of what our school was like on the weekends. We really did have two sororities and a very organized social scene. There was a lot going on and it was never dull. College was almost boring in comparison. That said, we knew we had a dynamic point of reference to launch our characters on an exciting adventure.”
MIP: “When I would tell my friends some of the topics I was researching for the book, they would look at me like I was insane. They were dubious how it would all tie together–string theory, concentration camps, albinism, a love story–the list goes on. But it works because the book and its characters have a life of their own. I had no idea at the beginning we would combine action and adventure, romance and science fiction into one plot. The only thing I knew for sure was that I wanted a strong and intelligent teenage girl. There are not enough books that feature girls who make smart choices–there will never be enough of those books, in my opinion!”
How did you think of using food allergy in a survival storyline?
MIP: “My daughter has a very severe peanut allergy. As a result, I became involved at her school and with the county school system to improve her safety. I am extremely grateful to Cindy Patterson, her principal, and Dr. Pat Kinlaw and Jessica Dawson of our public school administration. I was also lucky to meet another parent, Katie Morgan, who joined me in asking for changes since her son also has a food allergy.
Together, we made a lot of big changes in food allergy safety in a short period of time and then transformed those efforts into a grant that won a national award for improving food allergy safety in schools. Needless to say, it was something I thought about a lot.
Food allergy safety is important to me but so was creating social awareness and understanding. Other parents would often ask me why I thought so many kids had food allergies these days. I jokingly started answering that they were part of a super race just to see their reaction. I liked putting a positive spin on something that no one really understands at this point. That’s when I started to reframe the food allergy to my daughter as not a burden but as an enhanced skill set. I thought others with food allergy could benefit from that as well. I’m waiting for more companies to recognize this issue in food products and lifestyle products.”
CFF: “My kids don’t have food allergies but I am definitely aware of them — every parent in this day and age is aware of them. We just wanted to incorporate the issue in a fun and adventurous way that would give teen readers their own cast of characters to relate to.”
Is another book in the works?
MIP: “Yes. The characters are not done growing and developing yet. For instance, Blair and Patrick need a chance to get some more page time. We plan to address that in the second book and to answer outstanding questions about Karen Eubanks. A lot more adventures are coming their way. ”
CFF: “We are having too much fun to stop now. When we started we thought it would be a trilogy. Now we can say that the series will have AT LEAST three books. We have a lot of ideas still brewing for our characters and the storyline. It seems like we’re coming up with new ideas everyday.”