When Gwen Cole and Sarah Glenn Marsh first met, they were both in the early stages of publication for their debut novels, Cold Summer and Fear the Drowning Deep, both with Sky Pony Press. Finding out over Twitter that they lived just five minutes away from each other was life-changing, because nothing beats having a friend to share the highs and lows of author life. Today, they’re asking each other some big—and silly—questions about their careers so far!
What was your favorite part of the debut experience?
GC: Definitely meeting other authors and writers that are going through the same experiences as me. The writing world can sometimes feel very lonely and depressing and it’s awesome reminder to know you’re aren’t alone.
SGM: Gwen, you stole my answer! Community is easily the best part. However, another wonderful aspect of the debut experience was simply knowing that the world and characters I dreamed up in my head would finally be shared with other people. That’s a joy and a privilege.
What are the perks to having an author friend who lives so close by?
GC: Too many to count! We swap books, plan lunch dates, carpool to writing events, and even spend hours writing next each other in total silence. Also the cake balls. Sarah makes the best cake balls.
SGM: Everything Gwen said! But also: we both understand the insecurities, hopes, challenges, and pitfalls of a writing career- as well as the significance of accomplishments- so we’re able to properly cheer each other on and pick each other up in a way that other non-writer friends can’t quite grasp.
Having a fellow author so close also means we get a lot of insight into each other’s writing processes. What are Gwen’s greatest strengths as an author?
SGM: Gwen writes the best action scenes. They’re so clear and crisp, I feel like I’m watching a movie as they unfold. Just saying, I’d love to see Ride On play out on the big screen. She also writes really nuanced characters and rocks a realistic teen male POV, which is something I’d love to learn from her!
What are Sarah’s greatest strengths as an author?
GC: I’d say her worldbuilding. As soon as you start reading one of her books, you’re instantly transported to this world that feels like it could be real and not just fiction. There’s all these hidden details and history we never even see on the page, but they’re there, making that world so much stronger. I’ve definitely learned so much from her already.
How was the writing process different for you when you wrote your next book?
GC: I definitely have to focus more on what I want the story to be and try to block out all those other voices of expectation and doubt. I used to be able to pump out words and books super fast and I feel like my old ways don’t work anymore, so I’ve had change them for what works now.
SGM: When I wrote Reign of the Fallen, I didn’t have publication in mind. I was feeling a bit burnt out at the thought of writing something deemed ‘marketable,’ and instead, wrote a book I would want to read. A book I needed. A book with a heroine who shares my identity as bisexual and isn’t ashamed of it or criticized for it. It was such a cathartic experience, writing like no one was watching. When I did decide to share it with a few crit partners, I was surprised that they connected to the material, and at their encouragement I went on to share the story with several teen beta readers- another first for me, but something I will definitely do again, because writing for teens means respecting their voices and what they want to see in the stories we’re giving them!
Sarah’s second book comes out in late January. Without giving us too many spoilers, tell us a little about Reign of the Fallen and its sequel?
SGM: You know how I love spoilers, but I’ll try to refrain. Reign is a duology about life, death, and all sorts of love. It follows teen necromancer Odessa, nicknamed Sparrow, who’s been helping keep her Dead king in power for over two hundred years. But when someone begins murdering necromancers, Odessa will have to decide whether it’s time for a change, and what part she’ll play in that. Also, there’s a pet grizzly bear. His name is Lysander. The end.
Gwen’s second book comes out in May. What can you tell us about Ride On?
GC: Ride On is a western set in the near future where a teen outlaw crosses paths with a girl whose brother has been taken by the Lawmen gang. When a long-buried secret is revealed, her rescue mission becomes his quest for revenge.
What’s in the works for you now?
GC: Finishing up edits for Ride On and then also finishing writing a sci-fi set in space!
SGM: Finishing up sequel edits (that’s right—Reign of the Fallen #2 will be coming at you in 2019!), and then working on a couple new, fantastical things to show my editor!
SGM: The End of the F***ing World, and it’s incredible. Do yourself a favor and watch it this weekend! It went to places I wasn’t expecting, and punched me in the heart a few times along the way.
When you’re not writing together, what do you like to do?
GC: Get massages!
SGM: Like Gwen said, spa days! We’ve done everything from massages to sitting for an hour in a room full of pink salt, which sort of felt like being in a prison on Mars. Oh, and Gwen drives. Trust me, it’s much safer this way.
Favorite writing snack?
GC: My best writing time is in the morning so—breakfast bagel from Wawa!
SGM: Kit Kat bars—the healthy choice of authors everywhere!
Most anticipated movie as of January ’18?
GC: Ready Player One—looooved the book
SGM: Black Panther—it’s going to be epic!
Any advice for aspiring authors?
GC: Don’t compare yourself to anyone else—you have a unique voice of all your own, so stick to that.
SGM: Offer to critique for others as much as you can, even outside your genre(s). You’ll be amazed at how much you learn that you can apply to your own writing. Also: seek community. Writing is a solitary business, and finding author friends, online or in person, is life-changing.