Fast Five With … Charlotte Bennardo and Natalie Zaman
By Christine Duval
Charlotte Bennardo and Natalie Zaman are best friends and pen partners who have written three successful books together. From the same small town in New Jersey, these two have truly mastered the art of collaboration. Their latest novel, Blonde Ops, is a fun, action-packed romp through the hallways of a fashion magazine and the cobblestone streets of Rome. Out now with Macmillan. ♥
1) What is the most difficult thing you’ve ever written?
Charlotte: The obituary for my father. I had to talk to the family for dates, places, names. It was very hard emotionally. If I can write that, I can write anything.
Natalie: A few years back I wrote an article about race, religion and cultural appropriation. It was somewhat scholarly and somewhat controversial and I had to interview people and ask questions that threw me completely out of my comfort zone. It was one of those projects I had to take on even though it scared me, and now I’m so glad I did.
2) If you could collaborate with another author on a project, who would it be and why?
Char: Geez, there are sooo many authors, and after having successfully worked with Nat, it would have to be someone who has talents that I lack, has a sense of humor, and writes in a genre I’m comfortable with, so I’m going to be very presumptuous and say George Lucas, because I’m such a Star Wars freak.
Nat: Not Char? I dunno… Would being a resource count? I think I would really like to be used as a resource for another writer and get a mention in his or her acknowledgements.
3) What do you like most about being an author?
Char: I love ‘living’ the writing life – writing, talking about writing, helping inspire new authors doing book signings.
Nat: The creative process is awesome — especially when you have a project in some state of “doneness”! But I love the whole writing process —I’ve met so many cool people and traveled to tons of crazy places because of my research. I also love the revision process, getting it “just right” — or as right as you can before deadline!
4) How do you motivate yourself to write?
Char: Motivation to write is not a problem for me, I’m almost always ready to write. It’s the revisions/editing that I need to motivate myself for – I hate doing multiple revisions.
Nat: First drafts are my bugbear, but having a deadline motivates me — even if it’s self imposed.
5) What do you feel are the top three qualities one must possess to make it as an author today?
Char: Persistence, consistence, and experience. You have to keep trying, finish projects, and learn from other authors, editors, classes. What good is natural talent if you don’t sit down to write? What good is doing tons of writing without learning from your mistakes?
Nat: Definitely persistence, an open mind and a thick skin. If you’re going to write (or practice any art form, really) you CANNOT QUIT. You have to keep trying, improving your craft, and exploring new ideas. You also need to be open to feedback and be able to tolerate and process criticism and turn all of it into a positive. Sometimes it won’t be easy, but really, criticism is what helps you become a better writer.