Tom Wilinsky and Jen Sternick authors of Snowsisters.
Tom and Jen: Duet, the young adult imprint at Interlude Press, will release our debut novel, Snowsisters, on February 15, 2018. High school students from different worlds are thrown together as roommates at a week-long writing conference. As Soph, who attends private school in Manhattan, and Tess, a public school student who lives on a dairy farm in New Hampshire—get to know each other and the other young women, each discovers unexpected truths about friendship, their craft, and how to hold fast to their convictions while opening their hearts to love.
Tom: People ask us all the time how we write together and how we began. I live in New York and Jen lives in Rhode Island, but I travel regularly to Massachusetts to attend to my elderly mother, so we arranged to meet for brunch on a rainy Sunday in June, 2015 and talk about writing our first novel. I don’t remember who suggested it first, but we wanted to each take a character and write that character’s voice in the first person.
Jen: Ideas for scenes and story directions pop into my head all the time. Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night with a good one or a nagging concern. Often, I text Tom from the grocery store, something like: “a high schooler who wants to be a drag queen wins a guest appearance on his favorite show!” Or I’ll just write a scene and send it to him with no warning. He’ll ask where it fits and I will have no idea. Tom’s pretty good at letting me run. Tom and I email multiple times daily about our work. We also talk by phone weekly for at least an hour-and-a-half.
Tom: Once we have a general outline, we decide who is going to write what and when. I usually write on weekends, when I can spend several hours at a keyboard. We talk on Saturdays or Sundays–both when we’re really trying to get something out. We do our scenes and chapters on Google Docs and share with each other once we’re ready. When we’re working on drafts, we use “suggested” for editing so that it’s clear what is new and who is inserting or removing text.
Jen: We split the voices, but by the time we are done editing and revising, it’s often hard to tell who wrote what. And sometimes I’ll have an idea that I want to write down that needs to be told from Tom’s character’s voice. But I always ask him to edit the voice to read the way he wants it to, and we each get final veto on edits to the voice we are assigned.
Tom and Jen: We love the back-and-forth of collaborating. Early on, we made a decision not to let writing differences get in the way of our friendship. Both of us are good at communicating when something is important to us and at letting go when it isn’t. And we have a commitment to the work. If we have a deadline, whether external or internal, we both know that the other will do what it takes to meet it.
We also balance each other out in terms of managing anxiety and stress. If one of us is worried about attending an event, or how a chapter will be received, the other one is usually able to calm fears. Getting a book published takes a lot of courage, a lot of persistence and a lot of time. Sharing all of that makes it much easier.
Tom and Jen: Snowsisters is available now for for pre-order at Amazon, bandn.com and Interlude Press, and will be in bookstores on February 15. We want to caution prospective readers that triggering warnings are posted on the Interlude Press website based on some of the content. We can’t wait for you to read it!
About the authors
Tom and Jen met in high school in Massachusetts in the early 1980’s and started a conversation which, years later is ongoing. Tom is gay, partnered and lives in New York. Jen is straight and lives with her husband and two children in Rhode Island. Tom and Jen follow all kinds of popular media, especially those with an LGTBTQ youth theme and are voracious readers. Both work as attorneys in their real lives. They write fanfiction together online. Snowsisters is their debut novel.