Andrew Landis and Julia Swift on the set of Smallville.
Hi everyone! We are so happy to be visiting Little Lovely Books! We are Julia Swift and Andrew Landis, and we have released our first book, Bold. We are happy to answer a few questions from Dana.
What was the inspiration for Bold?
We came up with the idea for Bold from a conversation we were having one day about how society looks at things that are appropriate/inappropriate for boys versus girls. Crying came up as something that is more acceptable for girls to do in public, but for boys, it shows weakness. Then we realized that if we witnessed a boy crying, it would make us want to know more about him — it was proof he had a sensitive soul. So we thought what if a girl saw a guy crying, assumed that meant he had a sweet side, but then later found out he was faking crying. But by then he had become more sensitive just because that’s what she expected/allowed him to be. So we used that situation as a springboard for how two unlikely characters meet and then their relationship ends up changing each other’s lives.
How did you decide to write together instead of separately?
We decided to write together when we were both at U.S.C. Film School taking a class on writing one-hour dramas for television. After reading each other’s scripts and giving notes, we realized immediately the other person’s comments took our individual stories to the next level. So many times we would receive feedback from students who didn’t understand the story that we wanted to tell and would try and change it to how they thought it should be. But with us, we instantly knew that the other person understood what we were trying to say and knew how to make it even better, deeper, more emotional. We had “the talk” about how committed are we to working together and have been a team for more than a decade now.
Your blog tagline is a "celebration of the shy, awkward, nerdy underdog in all of us". I love that. Can you tell me more about writing about the underdog and loving yourself for yourself?
We were both shy, awkward kids growing up so creating a blog that celebrates the good in an underdog seemed like a natural fit for us. Andrew was born in South Korea, but he was adopted and grew up the son of a minister in a small, Pennsylvania town where he stood out like a sore thumb. Julia’s childhood was filled with chaos in Los Angeles and Vegas so disappearing into books created a safe haven for her. When we write, we remember what it was like to have been that outsider or loner who watched from afar, and we try to depict stories where our characters overcome an emotional challenge facing them by changing who they are, accepting it or learning to celebrate that uniqueness in a positive way.
Is there any chance for a continuation of Will and Sasha? Or maybe a companion novel about her brother?
We love that idea about a companion novel about her brother, and yes we are definitely going to see Will and Sasha again. But first we are finishing up our second novel about a 17-year-old girl, Mya, who grew up in a mob family and has plans to go to college to escape from that world. She was never like her family, she always followed the rules and worked hard for everything. When her whole world comes tumbling down right before she’s to leave for college and her brother and sister need her, Mya must decide whether she’ll start the new life in a new city that she’s always dreamt about, or if she’ll let herself be sucked back into the life she always hated. And then next year, we will release a follow-up to Bold.
Bold tackles some tough issues but they are handled with grace. What is the biggest thing you hope readers take away from the book?
All of us always imagine everyone else is judging us, but what if instead we could imagine everyone else is rooting for us? What would we do differently? What chances would we take? Our dream is that a shy kid somewhere will read this and realize they are not alone and try to open themselves up more to life. In the long run, people don’t regret embarrassing things they’ve done, they only regret what they were too scared to do.