Q&A With Christine Pride & Jo Piazza
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Q&A With Christine Pride & Jo Piazza
Today I have the honor of doing my second Q&A with two bestselling authors, editors & journalists Christine Pride & Jo Piazza. In 2021 they released a book titled We Are Not Like Them, & their recent novel You Were Always Mine which came out on June 13th.
Q: How did you two ladies meet each other and decide to write not just one novel together but two novels?
A: We met when Christine was the editor of Jo’s last novel Charlotte Walsh Likes to Win. We loved working together and then did a very quickie book project– a tie-in novel to the TV show Younger called Marriage Vacation. That one was so collaborative, the two of us getting our hands dirty in a Google Doc, that we knew we could write well together and started to think about collaborating on another project, which became our debut novel together, We Are Not Like Them, which is about an interracial friendships upended by a police shooting that hits close to home. When we submitted that book to editors we included our idea for our next book, You Were Always Mine, which is about Black woman who finds an abandoned white baby.
Q: Christine and Jo, would you like to share with the readers of the blog and I, a little bit about your novels We Are Not Like Them &; You Are Always Mine? How did you come up with the concept of both novels?
A: We’re very interested in writing fiction about race in intimate relationships and leveraging our different experiences and perspectives as a white woman and Black woman to create a well-rounded story. For our first book, we centered friendship, which is a passion of ours. And in our second book, we wanted to tackle motherhood. We also want to take “hot-button” issues and offer readers an empathetic, relatable perspective through the lens of our characters– the humanity behind the headlines and hot takes.
Q: During the writing process, did Jo write one chapter and Christine write another chapter and that’s how you wrote both books?
A: A common misconception that readers have is that we split the writing along color lines; Jo writes the white characters and Christine, the Black ones. But that’s not our process, nor would that approach allow us to do justice to our stories, or make the books feel cohesive, as if written by one person.
Our process is to start with creating a detailed outline together so we have a roadmap of where the story will go, though as with all journeys we allow for detours and traffic jams. Then one of us will start to write the first draft of a chapter and pass it to the other person when they’re done drafting and the other person will take a pass at massaging and editing, and back and forth until we’re happy with it and then we move on to the next chapter. Mostly, we communicate within the Google Doc, in comments, but periodically will get on the phone to hash through questions and sticking points.
Q: When did you two realize that you both wanted to be authors, journalists and editors? What advice would you give anyone wanting to pursue those careers as you two did?
A: Jo: I’ve been writing stories since I could write the alphabet. My first one was about three knights (who happened to be fat brown toads) who rescued a princess from a lily pad. It was rough. But I veered in the direction of nonfiction when I went to college and started working as a journalist. I didn’t come back to fiction until about ten years later when I wrote my first novel (I like to call it a practice novel) while on vacation. I made myself write something like 5,000 words a day and when that was finished I got the bug and haven’t stopped writing fiction since.
I tell anyone who wants to write to just start writing. Make yourself sit down and write X number of words a day. Writing is a muscle that you have to develop. It doesn’t always come naturally and you have to work at it and train it.
CP: I came to writing much later than Jo– when we started our book together, actually– but I’d always been passionate about story-telling. I was a kid with an outsized imagination, including a very vivid imaginary friend for a time. (I had real ones, too!) We also overlap in pursuing journalism– I graduated from journalism school thinking I would be a broadcast anchor, but life pulled me towards book publishing instead. Before turning to We Are Not Like Them, I spent almost two decades as a book editor helping writers (including Jo!) create their stories and memoirs and championing those books. I highly recommend a career in publishing– my advice is to meet as many people as possible in the industry and to stay the course, it can take time to break in and to rise up.
Q: What is your advice to those wanting to have a friend or family member Co-author a novel with them?
A: Be patient— it’s harder than you think, so be prepared for friction and have a plan to address. Communicate– you have to be willing to be open about your fears, concerns, annoyances etc. so they don’t pile up. Have a plan– decide who is doing what, what your process will look like, what your goals and timeline are, how you will divide work, etc. Also: Have fun– make a commitment to enjoy the process!
Q: If you two are working on projects now, are you both co-writing another novel together, or working on solo projects or a combination of both?
A: We’re excited to have another book together- I Never Knew You At All, about a Black woman whose life is turned upside down when the grandfather of her white husband is implicated in a decades-old hate crime; exploring questions of justice, forgiveness, and what we can and cannot forgive.
We’re deep into writing it and that will come out in 2025. AND…we both have solo projects in the works as well. Jo has a novel forthcoming in April 2024 called The Sicilian Inheritance. It’s loosely based on the real life murder of her great great grandmother in Sicily. But it is very fictionalized! It’s a dual-narrative book club novel rooted in family history about a long-awaited trip to Sicily, a disputed inheritance, and a family secret that some will kill to protect.
Christine’s writing a rom-com ripped from the headlines of her own life. (But also very fictionalized!) About a woman who finds herself in a love triangle with two men in her twenties and again her forties. It’s about first loves and second chances. Atria will publish To All The Men I’ve Loved Again in 2025.
In Jo’s other life as a podcaster— she has some exciting new projects, including a new one she’s produced, out this summer, called Wilder about the life and times and legacy of Laura Ingalls Wilder. It’s hosted by her best friend Glynnis MacNicol and it is an absolute delight.
Q: I know some of Jo’s solo novels have been optioned by Hollywood. Are the novels We Are Not Like Them & You Are Always Mine that you two wrote together being optioned by Hollywood?
A: Yes! We Are Not Like Them has been optioned by Meynon Media, with us onboard to Executive Produce. We’re excited by the process and the prospect of getting it to a screen soon! We’d love that to be the case for You Were Always Mine too– stay tuned!
Q: Other than each other, who else would you two collaborate and write a book with in the future?
A: We’re committed to writing books with each other, but neither of us has any plans or desires to write books with anyone else at the moment.
Q: Do you two have a favorite spot where you both write and plot your novels?
Christine: I’m all over the place– you’ll find me writing on planes, my living room and in coffee shops. Alas, I don’t have the perfect writing desk that overlooks a field of wildflowers, with inspirational quotes all around. It’s much less glamorous than that: bathrobe, couch, HGTV in the background.
Jo: I write everywhere. I was a newspaper reporter filing on the go for a long time and got very used to opening a computer or typing on a Blackberry in the olden days from any location all over the world. Therefore I’m not precious about where or when I write. I do it everywhere, all the time.