Upcoming Agent Spotlight Interviews & Guest Posts

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  • Erica McGrath Agent Spotlight Interview and Query Critique Giveaway on 8/12/2024

Agent Spotlight & Agent Spotlight Updates

  • Agent Spotlights & Interviews have been updated through the letter "K" as of 3/28/2024 and many have been reviewed by the agents. Look for more information as I find the time to update more agent spotlights.


First I'm going to announce the winner of AUDITION. The winner is:


Congrats! E-mail me your address so I can send you your book.

Today I’m excited to interview Adam Jay Epstein and Andrew Jacobson about their second book in THE FAMILIARS series SECRETS OF THE CROWN. Remember how I confessed about a month ago that I don’t really like stories with animals as main characters? Well, SECRETS OF THE CROWN proved me wrong again. I loved Aldwyn (a favorite name of mine), the telekinetic cat, Skylar, a blue jay who can create illusions, and Gilbert, an insecure tree frog that can see visions in water.

Here’s a description from Goodreads:

A curse befalls Vastia, eliminating human magic. Only animals are able to cast sp
ells, and it is up to Aldwyn, Skylar, and Gilbert to save the queendom from the evil threatening it. In addition, Aldwyn discovers the truth about his past, embarking on a journey that brings him closer to the father he never knew.

Hi Adam & Andrew. Thanks so much for joining us.

1. Tell us a little bit about yourself and how you became friends. I’m dying to know how you became friends from reading how you met on the book jacket.

Everyone knows how we met... it's written on the back flap of our book... we were both living in the same apartment building and started chatting in the parking lot. What people don't know is that we didn't really become friends until the next year, when we lived in temporary housing up in the Hollywood Hills. We spent our days writing and our nights hanging out at the pool with Hillary Duff, Frankie Muniz, and Megan Fox.

2. I just knew that you met in the parking lot. That is amazing how you connected again and then became friends and writing partners. How did you decide on Aldwyn’s, Skylar’s, and Gilbert’s magical powers and the whole mythology about the creation of Vastia and change of who governed it?

Aldwyn's power of telekinesis was chosen because we needed a power that Aldwyn could fake while he was pretending to be magical...Skyar's power was something incredible that wouldn't be too powerful and make them too easy to succeed. (We always wanted to maintain the idea that our familiars were the underdogs.) As for Gilbert, we needed a character who could tell the future so that the Grey Hair Witch storyline could come to pass.

The world itself was created with a secret history that would later empower the animal heroes of our story. It is revealed that animals first ruled this land before humans took control. This conflict plays out through the whole series.

3. So interesting how the plot dictated their magical abilities. Tell us a bit about Aldwyn and Skylar’s secret longing about their families that drives some of their character development throughout SECRETS OF THE CROWN. How did you plot this out?

We're always striving to have strong emotional arcs in our books and there's no better way to conjure that than with family. We really made sure that Aldwyn, Skylar, and Gilbert had familial journeys that played out in the first two books. It continues through book three and will through every Familiars book that we write.

4. I could never figure out which one of you wrote what parts of the story. Tell us about your writing process and how you make the story seem like it is told by only one author.

(Andrew's) mom wonders the same thing. She always wants to know which lines (Andrew) writes. And he tells her the same thing we're going to tell you. We don't know. That's because we sit in a room from 9:30 am to 5:00 pm across from each other and write every paragraph, sentence, and word together. Because of our process, the singularity of voice remains constant.

5. Ha! That's so mom-like to want to know. You must be incredibly good friends to be able to sit in a room with each other everyday. I hadn’t read the first book in your series but I could totally understand what was going on by the bits of backstory you fed us throughout the book. What are your tips for creating a series and figuring out how much backstory to share in the second book of the series?

We were really figuring this out ourselves, and continue to figure it out in subsequent books. It's a very fine balance. The bits of backstory we put in are more like reminders for people who read the first book than trying to acclimate a reader to the series mid-stream.

6. I’ve read that you also write for television and film together. Can you tell us a little bit about that and how that’s helped in your writing a novel?

Writing for film has definitely helped us be visual storytellers... using language to show action. There are very few scenes of characters just sitting around talking without something else going on to keep the scene exciting and a reader engaged. Pacing is another tool from our screenwriting kit that we're able to bring to our novels.

7. Yes, it's so easy to make the mistake of having characters just sit around and talk in a book. But you're right, it's better to weave it in with action. Tell us about how you got your agent at Regal Literary and your road to publication.

Our road was not a typical one for most authors. For eight years prior to writing our book, we had a literary agent for film and television. When we decided to write a book, we contacted an agent at our agency in Los Angeles who specialized in selling books to film companies. He helped guide us through writing our initial proposal for The Familiars. Then he passed it along to Joe Regal and Markus Hoffman at Regal Literary in New York, and we were fortunate enough for them to sign us off that proposal. From that point we worked with Markus for nine months before completing a revised proposal. It was then sent out to the major publishing houses and we were lucky enough to have Barbara Lalicki at HarperChildrens read the material and get very excited about it. A book deal was made for a trilogy and then a few weeks later we sold the film rights to Sony Animation!

8. Awesome. We all wish we had those type of connections. I read that THE FAMILIARS is going to be produced for film and that Sam Raimi is the producer. I love his work. How exciting! Tell us how that came about and what your role is in the movie. When is it coming out?

We sold the film rights to Sony Animation and Sam Raimi came aboard as producer. We adapted the book into a screenplay and worked on about a half dozen drafts. We received incredible input from Sam and it was certainly a career highlight for us to collaborate with. Because the film is going to be a 3D animated movie, it is not slated for release until 2014.

9. Can't wait to see it. Most authors don't have the experience like you do to write the screenplay. What are you working on now?

We are finishing up book three of The Familiars, Circle of Heroes. We are working on a screenplay at Paramount with the producer of The Transformers called Lions, Tigers, and Bears. And we are excited to begin a brand new book series (STARBOUNDERS) for the spring of 2013. It is a middle grade sci fi fantasy about regular kids who go to space camp and find out that it is not an ordinary space camp, but one that trains them to save the galaxy.

Good luck with your book and movie. Thanks Adam and Andrew for sharing your advice with us.

You can find Adam and Andrew at their website. Like them on Facebook too.

Adam and Andrew's agent generously offered a copy of SECRETS OF THE CROWN for a giveaway. All you need to do is be a follower (just click the follow button if you’re not a follower) and leave a comment by midnight on November 19th. I’ll announce the winner on November 21st. If your e-mail is not on Blogger, please list it in your comment. International entries are welcome.

If you mention this contest on your blog, Twitter, or Facebook, please let me know in the comments and I’ll give you an extra entry.

Marvelous Middle Grade Mondays was started by Shannon Whitney Messenger to spotlight middle grade authors. Check it out here.

And check out these other Marvelous Monday Middle Grade Reviewers:

Shannon O’Donnell

Joanne Fritz

Sherrie Petersen

Brooke Favero

Myrna Foster

Anita Laydon Miller

Barbara Watson

Just Deb

Kit Lit Frenzy

Michael Gettel-Gilmartin

Pam Torres

Jennifer Rumberger

Here’s what’s coming up the next few weeks. Next Monday I’m interviewing a debut author DJ DeSmyter and giving away a copy of his awesome book HUNTED. The next week I'll be interviewing another teenager who’s also a book blogger for my Ask The Expert series and giving away another book. Then on November 28th, I’m interviewing debut author Scott Tracey and giving away a copy of WITCH EYES.

Hope to see you next Monday!


miki said...

thanks you for this great opportunity, this book is on my wish list and i really want to read it so thanks you for opening this to international followers too

gfc follower: isabelle frisch ( or i'm perhaps listed a smiki sorry i'm not sure)


S.A. Larsenッ said...

Adam & Andrew - so, what exactly did you do with Hilary, Frankie, & Megan?? :) No, seriously, thanks for the insights into your stories. I love how you worked out your choices for the characters magic powers.

Great interview, Natalie!

Kristin Lenz said...

So interesting that you write every sentence, every word together. I hear about writers for TV sitting together to write like this, but so many book authors write in isolation. Thanks for sharing. I'd love to win the book for my daughter.

Joanne R. Fritz said...

Great interview as always, Natalie! Can't imagine that Adam and Andrew spend nearly 8 hours a day writing together. Do they ever argue??

And a film of The Familiars -- how exciting!

Adam and Andrew said...

Hot tubbing aside, Adam and I have a lot of fun writing together. Even though we spend all that time sitting in an office together, we hardly ever argue. What can I say? We love what we do and feel so lucky to be able to do it every day.

Natalie Aguirre said...

I bet you have fun writing together Adam and Andrew. Thanks so much for letting me interview you.

Anonymous said...

Yay on this becoming a movie...congrats, too! I loved Aldwynn from page one of book one on. He's my kind of cat!

Shelli (srjohannes) said...

My daughter loves this series - They are great guys and cant wait for the movie :)

Akoss said...

I am a sucker for pretty cover ^_^ *guilty*
I do follow your blog under my blogger ID "akoss".
I also twitted the giveaway for an extra point.


Now talking about the authors, I have to admit I admire two writers getting together to write a book and get it published. It's one of those things that make me go "Awww".
Thanks for the giveaway and feature.

ank272 (at) live (dot) com

Nicole Zoltack said...

That cover is goregous! I can't imagine writing for 8 hours a day. I would love to but being a stay at home mom to youngings doesn't make that possible!

Unknown said...

This sounds like such a fun read! I'm so glad I caught your blog today to read the interview and see this book.

Barbara Watson said...

I can't imagine writing with a partner! I have enough trouble deciding what to do with a story on my own, let alone involving another person's ideas (for example: when critique partners have differing views = tough decision making). And I've heard such great things about this series! Thank you for sharing.

Shannon O'Donnell said...

Okay, this was just plain awesome! Natalie, your questions really helped us to get a feel for the authors--who they are and how they work together. I haven't read these books yet, but they've been on my wish list for a while! :-)

Myrna Foster said...

I do like books with animal characters, so I think I'd love these. Thanks for the recommendation and the interview!

Lydia Kang said...

How fascinating to see how you guys collaborate on the writing process!

Adam and Andrew said...

It's so interesting that the question we get asked most is how do the two of us write books together. The vast vast majority of authors do it alone, and most all of them say they envy us for having a partner. Writing is such a lonely process, and critique groups, spouses, or friends just can't provide the support that a writing partner can. Now those same people say they could never imagine sitting in a room for 8 hours a day with another person, or collaborating on every word, sentence, and paragraph!

Reading Mind / The Loyal Book said...

ohh, I'd love the book! very interesting and funny interview!

aliasgirl at libero dot it

Ali B said...

I'll be adding THE FAMILIARS to my reading list. And my son's list as well! Thank you, Adam and Andrew, for sharing your collaborative process.

Stina said...

I'd heard of the series, but now that one of my kids is the right age for it, I'll have to check it out. Especially since I love the cover. :D

Anonymous said...

I loved the Familiars. I can't wait to read the next book and see the movie.


bfav said...

I uber love this series. Can't wait for the third book. Loved you interview.

I have the books, so don't count me in the giveaway.

Casey McCormick said...

Wow, I loved learning how you write together. What a process!

Great interview, guys. Your covers are fantastic!

Cathy Ballou Mealey said...

Somehow my daughter heard about this book and asked me to track it down for her - she loves animal protagonists and there are so few good ones in new MG! Would love to surprise her with this ASAP! Thanks for an insight into its creation!

Michael G-G said...

Natalie, at this rate your favorite books are going to be ones with animal protagonists!

Great interview; these guys and their book sound like a blast!

Unknown said...

My students can't get enough fantasy . . . and my daughters love anything with cats . . . and I love books that put pictures in my mind and it sounds like this is a winning combination. Now hoping I'll be the winner to get it!

collkosinski said...

What an interesting story!

Coleen Patrick said...

It sounds great!
I'm a follower (i get your posts via email) and I tweeted your post.

Linda A. said...

Co-writing a novel is so fascinating to hear about. Thanks so much for sharing. Please enter me in the drawing!
Linda A.

Sharon K. Mayhew said...

Great interview, Natalie! It always amazes me when people co-write fiction.

Cassandra @ Book & Movie Dimension a Blog said...

Thanks for the giveaway. Seen a review for the Familiars before and seemed good.

Email: bookandmoviedimensionblogger (at) yahoo (dot) com

TerryLynnJohnson said...

wow, what a cool way to write! Thanks for this, Natalie!

JessWiz said...

Looking forward to reading this one! Thanks for the great interview, Natalie!

Jessica Wisniewski

erica and christy said...

Thanks for the great interview! We've been blog partners for over a year and keep talking about partnering for a book, so thanks also for the ideas of how it works for you guys!

Kim Van Sickler said...

Sounds like a great read. I'm currently editing an MG witch fantasy I wrote with a familiar who's a black cat. I'm very interested in reading a book from The Familiars series.