Jenny Han ("The Summer I Turned Pretty") and Siobhan Vivian ("The List") are authors in their own right, but the BFFs have combined their literary powers for the "Burn for Burn" series, about a trio of friends out for revenge. As they look forward to concluding the series next year with "Ashes to Ashes," the authors reminisce about what it's been like to write together, cheesesteaks included.
Siobhan Vivian: I remember when we first had the idea to write a book together. It was right before I moved away from New York. I remember feeling so excited, because I knew we’d make a good team, but also nervous, because it would mean that we’d become business partners. Did you have any hesitation taking our writing friendship to the next level?
Jenny Han: I was a little nervous because I wanted us to stay friends beyond the writing stuff, and what if we got into a huge fight and never spoke to each other again?!! But I was mostly just excited. Writing a book together has allowed us to stay super-close and connected in a way that we couldn’t have without it. It’s just crazy to me that we started writing "Burn for Burn" so long ago, and now here we are at the end. We’re almost finished writing "Ashes to Ashes." What was your favorite part of writing the series?
Siobhan: I liked the long game—that we had three books to develop characters and let them run wild. I’m going to be so sad when the series ends, because I feel like I know our characters so well. They are like actual people who I’ll miss hanging out with. We’re basically moving off of Jar Island and I hate it!
Aside from the actual writing, I think my favorite part of working with you is that we get to go on tour together. We’ve stayed in lots of hotels together. What are your favorite hotel amenities?
Jenny: I really like a nice robe and slippers you can take home with you. Also good room service, because there were times we’d get back from an event and it would be 10 p.m. and we still hadn’t had dinner! Remember that time you ordered a Caesar salad, shrimp cocktail and a cheesesteak?
Siobhan: Ahem. Yes, I was very hungry in Toronto. And you had macaroni and cheese, fried chicken and chocolate cake. You also knocked on my door in the middle of the night because there was a ghost in your room!
Jenny: Don’t bring up a bad memory! What have been your favorite stops? Mine have been Toronto (minus the ghost), Austin, and Washington, D.C.
Siobhan: Actually, I think my favorite trip with you wasn’t a tour stop, but when we visited Martha’s Vineyard to do research for our series. Remember the time we basically snuck into the high school to talk to real teens about what their lives were like?
Jenny: I love talking to “real teens.” Though saying “real teens” makes us sound like old ladies. I swear we’re not old. My favorite things from when I was a teen are still the same—buying fancy lipstick, reading fashion magazines, making ice cream sundaes—
Siobhan: Leo DiCaprio?
Jenny: You know it. Baby Leo will always be my angel.
Siobhan: My favorite things as a teen were French kissing boys, sneaking out of my house and smoking cigarettes. Which makes me wonder if we would have been friends if we’d gone to the same high school. Do you think?
Jenny: Yes, I think so. I was a goody goody but I had bad friends too.
Siobhan: Wait! I wasn’t a bad girl! I still made honor roll! I can imagine us talking on the phone a lot, gossiping about people.
Jenny: My nickname was Gossip Queen! Did you have a nickname?
Siobhan: Mine was Von. Not exactly cute. But I got voted Most Unique for senior superlatives.
Jenny: I was nominated Most Cheerful but I ended up losing out to some other beotch. For our unofficial senior superlatives, I got Most Likely to Be Offended by this Superlative, Because it is Mean.
Siobhan: HAHAHAHAH. Also, what the hell are unofficial senior superlatives? Was there an actual vote?
Jenny: No, it was a bunch of guys in the computer lab, making a list on AOL Hometowns.
Siobhan: Quit it! That makes us sound like old ladies again! Maybe it’s our writing that keeps us young? Since we’re constantly reliving our high school days?
Jenny: Yes, our writing will keep us forever young, it is our lifeblood and we are the vampires feeding on the youth of today.
Siobhan: I don’t know if that’s the best sales pitch for our series. How about something like... Hey! Buy our book! "Burn for Burn" is in paperback and "Fire with Fire" is out in hardcover! The books have twists, turns, romance and surprises! And they were written with love by two best friends.
Are you reading the "Burn for Burn" series?