1. Well hello there, Madison. We’ll start off this game of 20 Questions with an easy one: How much of you is in Max, your protagonist in the Ember series?
MD: Probably about 50% me, 50% rock star superhero. Ember and the character of Max were the first things I created in literary form (back in 2008), and at the time, I was told to “write what you know...” Well, that’s what I did. And all I really KNOW is 80’s movies, comic books, music and the awkwardness of teenage angst. Ha.
SD: I can totally picture you as Nicolas Cage in that 80’s cinematic masterpiece, Valley Girl ;) Hahaha, I hope our readers look up the cover! (kidding, kidding)
2. How about you, Sophie? How much of yourself goes into the stories you create?
SD: Talia, the main character in Talented has some similarities, both physical and in personality. But I have other characters that have a lot more of me in them, and some with a lot of my closest friends.
3. I know that Max has trouble choosing between the two female characters in Ember; how much of a ladies man were you in high school?
MD: Hmmm...tough question. There were two versions of me back in school, the easy-going, soft-spoken, front-man to my local rock band AND then there was the shy, awkward, hopeless romantic, that just wanted to connect with that “one” special person. Let me put it this way, I looked like the kind of boy your father would hate for you to bring home, but was actually the exact kind of young man your parents always told you to look for. Basically, a ‘good boy’ in a ‘bad boys’ body.
SD: Haha, so a wolf in sheep’s clothing? Nice. Sounds like my kind of guy now, though back in those days I would have gone for the straight-up wolf.
4. All right, describe your teenage experience in 10 words or less...GO. :)
SD: Fun, embarrassing, bad decision making, some of my favorite years!
5. Tell us about your first girlfriend.
MD: Enlightening, artistic, challenging and smelled like strawberries. That’s all you’re getting...hehehe.
SD: Strawberries… now why does that sounds familiar? Ohhh, right, that’s Samantha from Ember’s scent…you heard it here first ladies- we found Madison’s kryptonite!
6. Tell us about your LAST relationship. BOOM.
SD: It’s a tragic tale of love, Madison. We first met in college, where we bonded over dirty dishes and pickles – we worked at a sandwich place. I fell in love with his long hair and angry attitude, not sure what he saw in me, but I did wait tables in some very short shorts. While it was obvious we both pined for the other, we never professed our love. I left our small college town for D.C., while he headed south to warmer weather – Miami to be exact. He married a Brazilian supermodel. I got a Master’s degree. He divorced the Brazilian supermodel. I got a law degree. And then if finally seemed like the right time to get together. Unfortunately, our mutual attraction only existed in theory. In reality, we had nothing in common. So after a year of flying back and forth between DC and Miami, we parted ways. Since then, only one boy sleeps in my bed, my Benji look-alike, Humphrey.
7. Who were you most nervous to have read your first book?
MD: He hasn’t read it yet. So, I can’t answer that question just yet. BUT it’s always nerve-racking to show your words to your family.
8. What was the most surprising reaction you received after showing your work to the ones closest to you, good or bad?
SD: My uncle called my mother to tell her how funny the first book was. He said I must have a terrific sense of humor. The only problem is, the book wasn’t supposed to be funny…
9. Do you have a writing outfit? Do you get dressed every day when you’re working on a novel, or are you the ratty bathrobe, holey boxers type?
MD: I’m definitely a jeans and T-shirts kind of guy. Casual, yet proper. Nothing feels as good as a nicely worn, old pair of jeans.
10. Your perfect location to work, write, and play...the beach? Or the park?
SD: The beach. I recently went to a destination wedding in St. Croix and I spent the majority of my time sitting on the beach with my HUGE laptop, writing. It was the best week of my life.
11. What was it like writing from the perspective of a teenage girl?
MD: I love it. I’ve only done it a little bit, in the Ember series. BUT I’m actually working on an all new series from the perspective of a teenage girl. Honestly, I think boys and girls are fundamentally made up of all the same ingredients. Fear, love, acceptance and the joy of discovering something new. We just process those ideas a little differently, that’s all.
12. What’s your favorite character emotion to write about in your stories?
SD: Hmmmm. Hard one. Oddly I’m going to say anger. I think about every time the parking attendants ticket my car at 7:01 (it has to be moved at 7:00am for street cleaning), just as I am running outside in my pajamas to move it, and I put all of that frustration at the parking people into my characters.
13. How have you found the transition from writing songs to writing out whole novels? Did any of your books start as songs, but then you realized that the story needed to be told in depth?
MD: They’re quite different. There is a similarity in the layout and structure building though. My song writing is usually based around the song title or the groove or hook of the song AND I’ve found that my stories come to me the same way. Either a title sets me in the direction of the story I am writing or the main plot twist or hook decides the path I choose. Great question!
14. Any favorite bands? Songs? Music inspiration?
SD: Definitely the Foo Fighters; I even traveled across the pond last fall just to see them play at the Reading Festival! They played a three-hour set and I was in heaven. I’ve also been known to rap Biggie Smalls in some of my finer moments. In general, though, I listen to a lot of different music for inspiration when I write. I have playlists for books, scenes, characters, you name it.
15. What are the worst song lyrics you’ve ever written?
MD: Ha. Probably something to do with “big butts.” Just kidding. :)
SD: Those other brothers can’t deny…
16. Any literary crushes? Favorite authors or books?
SD: I don’t think I have any literary crushes right now- that special place in my heart reserved for character crushes is all Agent Derrick Morgan from Criminal Minds. Favorite authors, hmm, there are a lot. Stephen King, Dean Koontz, and Mary Higgins Clark are my old standbys. I read just about any new book they put out, regardless of whether it sounds good.
17. What is your biggest quirk?
MD: I’m a bit of a gadget whore. I’m always chasing after the newest electronics. I think it has something to do with all the pretty lights! I’m also addicted to eye drops. The stronger the better. Not too weird, I hope.
SD: Me too! My best friend and I always crack up about the ridiculous number of chargers we have to pack every time we take a trip. It’s a far cry from when we backpacked around Europe, carrying around paperbacks and –gasp- sans cell phones. As for the eye drops… yeeeah, totally normal…
18. What’s the nicest thing you’ve ever done for a complete stranger?
SD: Wow, really making me dig deep for this one. I guess the nicest thing I’ve ever done for a complete stranger is pay for difference when she didn’t have enough money for the bill at Target.
19. If you had a helicopter, what would you name it?
MD: Easy! “THE REAPER!” Why? Because when someone says they’re scared to fly in my chopper I can jump up and scream... “DON’T FEAR THE REAPER!” That would rock! No? Okay then, how about “Hank.” Yah, I like Hank. Come fly the friendly skies with me and Hank. Word.
SD: Best. Answer. Ever. Definitely stick with the first one- more cowbell, anyone?
20. If I offered to fly you anywhere in my helicopter, where would you like to go the most?
SD: Can you take a helicopter from here to Switzerland? My favorite place in the world is Interlaken, Switzerland. You can run off the top of an Alp with a parachute and spend 10 minutes just floating down. You can also be pushed off of one in a big rubber ball- it’s called Zorbing- but I drew the line at that.
Sophie, I just wanted to take a second to thank you for sharing your thoughts with me and our readers. This interview was a blast! You’ve been fantastic to get to know. I see great and epic things ahead for you. I’m sure your fans think the same. Let’s do this again! Write on! Rock on!
Thanks Madison! And thank you for taking the time to answer my questions; we’ll definitely have to do it again. I wish you continued success with your books and music!
I’d also like to give a shout out to Derinda Love over at YATR- she made it possible to get this out to our readers on all of these amazing blogs, and she donated the gorgeous charms bracelets with our book covers (made by Cassie Chavez over at Cassie’s Crafty Creations!)
Now let’s give away some prizes!