Q. Did your blog help you land your book deal/agent, or did you find that you were at square 1?
H. It definitely helped. Definitely. Ultimately that’s how we found the marvelous Scott Hoffman of Folio Lit. He read GFY. And because the blog was already out there, it was kind of like a vouchsafe — it was a giant writing sample that proved to editors that we COULD put words together, and we could write dialogue (even if it was facetious in nature). So in the end we wrote the first five chapters or so of Spoiled, rather than shopping a complete book, and that plus the blog was enough to convince people they either could or couldn’t see potential in us. Blessedly for us, a few people did, tops among them our current editors at Poppy, who are completely awesome.
J: In addition to those first fifty pages or so, we also put together an outline for the rest of the book — which changed a lot over the course of beginning the proposal process, and actually writing the final words of the book. We were very fortunate, I think, in that GFY had some name recognition so that at least we were able to get our foot (pages?) in the door.
Q. The first thing that popped into my mind was: Why did you call her Brooke BERLIN? Berlin is my favourite city and as a German I feel kind of honoured 😉 But why?
H. I wish I could say it’s because I’ve been there, but so far, my only foray into Germany has been to Munich. It actually came about because of our love of sports. There was a quarterback for the Miami Hurricanes named Brock Berlin, and we and our friends used to joke that he sounded like a soap opera character — like, Dr. Brock Berlin of the Berlin Institute For Organ Cloning and Head Reattachment, or something. Try saying it out loud without intoning it in a deep voice. It’s impossible. So we couldn’t resist adapting the magic for Spoiled; hence, Brick and Brooke Berlin. It’s kind of a shout-out to that inside joke from our group.
J: Plus, who doesn’t love alliteration?
Q. Does your daily writing format for GFY make it harder to shift gears to a longer format, or does it not make a difference?
H: For me… frankly, I find that sometimes I write a bit long-format on GFY, too, whether I should or not. But honestly, I find it’s less about the format than it is the fact that GFY is based on source material. We’re mining photos for humor. Whereas with Spoiled, we’re creating from whole cloth. The only source material is what’s in our heads. On GFY, even if you don’t think the entry is funny, at least you can look at the picture and laugh or groan or cry. Spoiled is more personal just because it starts and stops with us. So for me there was a bit more pressure.
J: Yeah, with the blog, you write something and hopefully it’s funny, but if it’s not, you get another chance the next day to be funny. So it was a bit challenging to wrap my head around the idea that I don’t get to take another crack at XYZ in the book if I whiff it the first time. That being said, in terms of actual writerly logistics, I didn’t really have a problem transitioning from “hey, I’m writing about these dumb pants,” to “hey, I’m writing this chapter about Brooke throwing someone down a well (note: this does not happen in the book).” I will never forgot that once, years ago, someone asked me about my “process” — like, do I have to have a certain mug or whatever in order to write something – and I thought, “if I had a process, I’d never get anything done.” In a sense, I think the fact that we had a lot on our plate while we were writing the book was good — it meant I didn’t have time to think too much about if I was having trouble shifting gears. I just shifted.
Q: how much Diet Coke do you drink each day?
H: I have to tell you, when I was pregnant, giving up booze and certain foods and whatnot was no problem at all, but giving up Diet Coke sucked. I don’t have that many in a day, but I don’t drink much else except water — I’m not a juice person, I don’t like milk or coffee. So it’s the thing that breaks up my liquid monotony. And not having it at my disposal was REALLY hard. Right now I drink two a day, but occasionally I cheat and have three. Although I’m trying to teach myself will power on that one. Not least because if we decide to try and have another kid, it’s going to suck if I’m any more hooked than I am now.
J: I usually have two, tops — unless things have gone off the rails, or we’re in the midst of the Oscars, in which case I make no promises. I also have two cups of coffee in the morning, though, so don’t go thinking I’m not running on a constant stream of caffeine, because I am.