Friday, July 6, 2012

Charlotte Bennardo & Natalie Zaman Author Interview

Photo Content from Charlotte Bennardo and Natalie Zaman

Lover of sparkly things, Char doesn't have as many shoes as she'd like, but wouldn't have time to wear them anyway with her three boys, husband, cat with issues, demented squirrels and insistent characters all demanding her time. She is represented by Natalie Lakosil of the Bradford Literary Agency and is hoping to get all her characters into print just so they'll be quiet. 

When not playing with pointed objects, NATALIE ZAMAN is usually writing. She lives in central New Jersey with her family and several fine looking chickens. 

Was there a defining moment during your youth when you realized you wanted to be a writer?
Char: My parents had taken us to a drive-in theater (way back when…). My father said, “Close the [car] door, someone will take it off.” I asked him why would someone take it off? He explained that someone pulling into the next spot would take it off. So I asked him again why they would take our door off? “Because they’ll hit it,” he replied. He meant that the door would be in the way of someone pulling into the spot and would get pulled off by the other car. At that moment, I realized how he knew what he meant, but I didn’t because of how he worded the question. After that, I became fascinated with words and reading and writing. I became an avid reader.

Why is storytelling so important for all of us?
Nat: Life is all about the story. Telling stories keep the memories of people you love alive, even long after they’re gone. Thanks to story, my children have “gotten to know” the aunts and uncles who were so much a part of my childhood and meant so much to me. Words breathe life into the past and make it real.

Who hasn’t had an event—big, small, significant or sad, and/or dramatic and funny—that gets spun into a tale to be told later? Or over and over again where it’s turned into a kind of family legend? There are stories that only “some people” can tell properly-- not just because they were a witness, but because of a certain flair and choice of words, and of course, a deadly punch line. Sometimes the person who tells a story best is the one who observes from the sidelines. They might not have *all* the facts, but their perspective makes up for it!

What is the best piece of advice you ever received from another author?
Nat: I was fortunate enough to land Gail Carson Levine as a mentor at the Rutgers University Council On Children’s Literature (this is a conference that pairs writers aspiring to be published with editors, agents or established writers as mentors). Her advice to me was “just say it.” There are some stories where the writer draws out details that lead the reader to a surprise or a turning point. Done properly, the reader is swept away and taken aback, and is like, OMG, I didn’t see THAT coming! Not done properly, it can be annoying—which is what I was doing. I’ve worked hard to hone this skill—and am still working on it (we employed a surprise element in Sirenz Back In Fashion)! It’s not always easy to find *just the right words* but when you do, it’s magic!

In your newest book; Sirenz Back in Fashion, can you tell my Book Nerd community a little about it and why they should read your novel?
Char: There are a lot of dark, dystopian, end-of-world, tragic books out lately. Sirenz goes in the opposite direction; it’s light and funny, with things that shouldn’t go together. I mean, fashion designing spiders? Exercised obsessed Greek gods? Pink bikinis and red high heels? Fish scale dresses? Everyone needs a break from angst and tears and despair. Come on over to the funny side.

Can you tell us when you started Sirenz Back in Fashion, how that came about?
Nat: Char and I were in a critique group together. When Twilight came out, and we read it, we were like, we can do this, and started batting around ideas. One thing we were certain of was that we wanted there to be two characters and that the chapters would go back and forth from each one’s point of view to tell the story. I don’t know why—laziness (It is only half the work—this, BTW, is misleading because of the endless revisions that followed). Then we needed a platform. We started with vampires, but there were LOADS of vampire stories out there. Somehow Xena Warrior Princess entered the conversation. We both loved the way the gods were portrayed in that show—and we started asking questions. What if the gods were *really* good looking and sort of campy, but they lived and functioned in modern day New York City? We liked that. What gods and mythological creatures could we use? Hades seemed so misunderstood. We could make him bad, but in a delicious kind of way. All he needed were minions to take advantage of… Sirens(z)!

What part of Shar did you enjoy writing the most?
Char: The scene where she’s trying to get over the River Styx. It had me giggling. I wish I was that comical in real life, I’d be really popular.

If you could introduce Meg to any character from another book, who would it be and why?
Nat: Any book, any character, eh? I’d totally intro Meg to Pippin Took. I think they’d make a cute couple. They share a sense of adventure, and then there’s the whole height thing (they’re both kinda short). He could lure her into wearing some color with a second breakfast...

What are some of your current and future projects that you can share with us?
Char: We have Sirenz Myth Appropriated outlined and ¼ done. Since Flux won’t be publishing it, we’ll go right to ebook. We’ve just made a deal with editor Peter Joseph and assistant editor Kat Brzozowski of Thomas Dunne books to do a comedic novel, Blond Ops, which is ‘Devil Wears Prada’ mashed with ‘James Bond.’ It will debut 2014. For me personally, I have a MG that just died in submission hell, but my agent has a paranormal ghost story she’s reviewing, and I’m working on a medical paranormal.

Nat: For tandem projects, what Char said! For me, I have a Victorian Fantasy out on sub for which I’m plotting another round of revisions, and a Reaper tale that I’m waiting to hear back on from super-agent Natalie Lakosil and my trusty betas ♥

When asked, what’s the one question you always answer with a lie?
Char: How much I eat. I lie mostly to myself: “You haven’t eaten that much today. You can have those cookies. That ice cream. Those chips and guacamole.”

Nat: What, this old thing (after a new purchase—usually shoes or a bag). Hopefully my husband won’t be reading this…

What’s the best advice you can give writers to help them develop their own unique voice and style?
Char: Read so many authors that you see what style you like; I’ve learned humor from Mary Janice Davidson’s “Undead” series, dialogue from Julie Garwood, depth from JRR Tolkien, and horror from Edgar Allen Poe. Then read more so that you get confused on who did a specific style so you can’t copy them. Then write, write, write, and then edit, edit, edit. You will develop your own style through sheer determination.

Nat: Write. Read. Revise. Repeat—until that point that when you’re reading, you get lost, and you feel like you’re eavesdropping on a real being. Now, here’s the painful part. Hand your work over to someone who you respect and would like the kind of thing you’re writing, and see if they believe it. Repeat as necessary.

Who is the first person you call when you have a bad day?
Char: My mom or my sister. I’m close with them and it seems when I need comfort, they do too, so we share miseries and laughs.

Nat: I’m really lucky that my mom lives with me. We’ve always had extended family in the house—and it’s wonderful to have that kind of support.

Who was your first boyfriend?
Char: The first one I actually dated- not like the ‘going out’ in 6th grade where all you did was pass notes and tell everyone you were going out but never went anywhere together? I’d have to say it was Jimmy B. Went to his house and had dinner with his parents, hung out at the park. Got my first ‘real’ kiss. Ah, memories. He was totally sweet, but it only lasted two weeks because I had to go home (was staying at my cousin’s house in the summer).

Nat: I was in 8th Grade when I met Rob F. He didn’t live in the same town as me, so it was far enough away to make things *just* challenging enough to be fun. He was my first real kiss--I was smitten.

What are you most passionate about today?
Char: I’m kind of split- my writing and getting my kids to be independent and on a good path for adult success (SAT prep classes, fencing lessons, community service, etc.) I grab whatever time I can for my writing, working it around the kids’ schedule.

Nat: My family and close friends. At the end of the day, it’s all about connecting with people.♥

What is the one, single food that you would never give up?
Char: Chai tea lattes. No chai, kill me now.

Nat: Nutella. It’s the perfect food ♥

In Sirenz, boarding school roomies Meg and Shar learned the hazards of making a deal with Hades, Lord of the Underworld. The wearing of a Tiffany's diamond ring in Sirenz Back In Fashion reactivates their contract, they find themselves back in his employ as sirens. And things are a little different this time; Shar is whisked off to the Underworld to play hostess as the dark god attempts to win her affections, while Meg is stuck topside, obligated to send spoiled rich girl Paulina Swanson to the Underworld. Hot gods, mere mortals and the Underworld have their secrets. Will Meg and Shar ever ditch Hades, and keep their wardrobes and souls intact? 

Charlotte Bennardo and Natalie Zaman’s Sirenz is an adventurous tale of two girls, Meg and Shar--roommates but not friends, that are confronted by Hades, ruler of the underworld, who offers them a way out of their troubles in exchange to do his bidding. Even though the girls are not friends, they share a room and put up with each other. They have the type of relationship where they cannot stand each other, but under all of that annoyance, they genuinely like each other. When a horrible ordeal occurs due to them fighting over a pair of shoes, Hades places his offer on the table. If they fail, Hades will turn them into sirens. The two girls agree and now must learn to respect and appreciate each other, if they want to avoid becoming sirens.

The Hades aspect of this book is truly unique and sets it apart from most paranormal stories. Although there is a love interest, it is more centered in the theme of girl power and putting differences aside to achieve one common goal. The book is extremely funny and cute. The interaction between the two girls is loaded with sarcasm as they go through crazy adventures avoiding becoming sirens. Other gods appear in the story like Demeter, mother-in-law of Hades, and Hade’s wife Persephone. Even with these gods present in the book, readers will find it a delight of their modernized appeal.

Charlotte and Natalie have made a fun and adorable book. This is a great escape and relief from the heavy books. It is filled with light comedy with adventure and friendship. Sirenz and its mythological chick twist will satisfy readers’ hunger for something fun, fast-paced, and comedic. I certainly hope this is the beginning of a series as I can imagine Meg and Shar sharing more adventures together.

You can purchase Sirenz at the following Retailers:

And now, The Giveaways.
Thank you CHARLOTTE BENNARDO AND NATALIE ZAMAN for making this giveaway possible.
1 Winner will receive diamond ring bookmark/paperweight 
along with a bookmark pin & Choco Coins.


  1. I love the winter because I like the cold and there's nothing better than a good book and a cup of tea, my computer so that I can connect with people from different contries and get book news! and my book collection I guess :P

  2. my book collection, cus i love looking at all the worlds i can read to escape. my book friends, cus they are always there for me when i want to talk. and my cats, they are my children and i love them :)

  3. 1- Books, because I can live in millions of worlds in just a couple of hours!
    2- Sky, because when I watch it I feel relaxed and helps to clear my mind to think about things that are in my head.
    3- My memories, because it's better than cameras to keep something in my head as unforgettable! :)

  4. My books, because I love to read.
    My computer, because I can share my love of books to everyone (I write reviews).
    My MP3 player, because I also love music.

  5. My Family cause i love them, My computer so I can find more great books and my books cause they help me escape.

  6. My books. Can't live without them.
    My iPod. Because I need my music.
    My laptop. To stay connected.

  7. Books because I love reading and being taken away. Family because they're essential and wonderful. And my computer because it allows me to communicate around the world through the internet.

  8. My books. Asking why is stupid. :D
    My ereader, because... Because of books.
    And my coffee. Coffee is amazing.

  9. books- they bring me to another world =)
    trinkets- they're pretty ;)
    comp- to stay connected =)


  10. Koalas because they were given to me by people all over the world

    2.My Christmas bear because it was my grandmothers an she passed away

    3.My Gone With The Wind DVD lol because I absolutely love the movie so much

  11. I love 3 things the most are
    1. Novels or all books- give me a way to live in a fairy tale or a horror movie and even takes my mind off worrying.
    2. Twilight Saga - Coz i had read all books in series even before i knew that they were going to be turned into movie as my friend just gave them to me to read coz she hated it and that i fell in love character of Isabella and Edward
    3. Writing My Own Poems as they r the best and the only method for me to express my true emotions of love , fear , courage , deception etc

  12. Books...
    My kindle
    My bags


  13. oh, that's easy: Anthony, Benjamin and Christopher. They are my three children, so I don't think I need to say more! Thanks for the giveaway!

  14. My books, shoes and my computer! LOL Because I'm obssesed with the first two and I can't live without the last.

  15. The 3 things that I love most are named Macy, Katelyn and Kendall (girl). They are my daughters and mean the world to me. I have given up alot to stay home with them and it has been a wonderful experience :)

    brandyzbooks at gmail dot com

  16. My family, my internet, my social media. <3

  17. My kindle, because without it i wouldn't have space in my house for my many books.
    My phone, because it helps me keep in contact with my family who live far away.
    My camera, as it takes beautiful pictures of my beautiful children.

  18. Jeremy, Jessica, and Dylan. My three kids

  19. books-take me away from reality
    water-feels like i get centered from it
    family-understands me

  20. 1. My books-they're my best friends, they're always there for me.

    2. My notebook-it holds all my precious story ideas, and parts of ,y life.

    3. My photo album-it holds my memories.

    Thanks for the giveaway!