December 2015's Featured Novel Writers: Stephanie Taylor and Holland Burris

 photo cred: Rozane Clediere via Unsplash

Hello, December!

Here on She’s Novel, a new month means a new featured novel writer—or in this month’s case, a featured novel team! Today, I am proud to host authors Stephanie Taylor and Holland Burris on the blog.

If you haven’t dropped by She’s Novel before, here’s the scoop: every month I choose one writer (or writing team!) to feature in a fun, behind-the-scenes interview. There aren’t any requirements for these featured writers. I simply choose an individual whose creativity and commitment to their craft inspire me each and every day.

Stephanie and Holland are no exception.

This mother-daughter writing team reached out to me through email a few months back, and I instantly fell in love with their writing journey. Together, they are the authors behind the fantastic self-published children’s book series, The American Dream, which features the stories of young girls braving new experiences as they move with their families to America.

How awesome is that?

Without any further ado, allow me to introduce you to Stephanie Taylor and Holland Burris! Catch our fun interview below…

Tell us a bit about yourselves and your writing. What genre and age market do you write for?

Holland is a sixth-grader this year, and Stephanie is a high-school English teacher. We’re a mother-daughter writing team who started working together about a year and a half ago, and our focus is on middle grade contemporary fiction.

Congratulations on your success! Why don’t you tell us a bit more about your novels?

Holland had a great idea for a series of books about girls who move to America from other countries, so we decided our first book would be about a girl named Iris from Holland (Mom’s idea of being funny there—we had to choose Holland as our first country for obvious reasons!)

Our second book is about a girl named Mai from Japan, and her family moves to Oahu. All of our main characters fall in the 11-14 age range.

Do you have any works-in-progress?

We do. We’ve been working on Mai (the young lady who moved from Japan to Oahu) since this summer, and are hoping to have it done by January. We’ve also got our third book planned out, but we don’t want to get too far ahead of ourselves…it’s easy to get really excited about planning a new book, and then forget about finishing the one we’re working on!

Writing together sounds like a lot of fun! What does your process look like? How do you work together to bring a novel to life?

Holland brings out the big ideas, and Stephanie is the fast typer (although Holland is in typing class this year at school, so she’s planning on picking up the slack here soon).

After we come up with the big picture for a novel (for instance, that Iris would have divorced parents and that her beloved grandmother would accompany the family to California, or that Mai would have lost an arm to cancer and would learn to surf as a way of overcoming her anger and her physical limitations), we customize them, decide which ideas will work and which won’t, and then start fleshing out our main character and her life.

As far as the actual writing, we sit together, side-by-side, and Stephanie types while Holland reads along and offers suggestions and opinions. Depending on the season, this either happens on a hotel patio while on vacation, on our back deck, or indoors in a cozy spot with pillows and blankets!

Tell us a bit about your publishing journey.

We first sent out a bunch of agent queries and then waited patiently. After a few months of waiting and reading up on self-publishing, Stephanie decided that it might be more fun—and provide more control over the whole process—to try the indie route.

At about the time we decided to self-publish, we got a request from an agent…and actually turned her down. Which might have been the craziest thing ever to do, but it felt right at the time. We published Iris at the beginning of the summer and got to work on self-promotion (which is actually a huge job of its own!)

What is your best advice for writers looking to collaborate on a project? What have you learned from working together?

Holland says, “Let one person be the typer. It has to be a good combination of one person having the ideas and reading along, and the other person writing it all out.” Stephanie’s advice would be to prioritize your time and just keep at it. From working together, we’ve learned that it’s hard for both of us to be inspired at the same time.

If you could only read one novel (or novel series) for the rest of your life, which would it be and why?

Holland—any of the Rick Riordan novels! Stephanie—time travel novels are the best: Replay by Ken Grimwood; The Impossible Lives of Greta Wells by Andrew Sean Greer; 11/22/63 by Stephen King.


Let's Chat!

I can’t thank Stephanie and Holland enough for participating in this month’s feature interview. It has been such a pleasure to have you here today, ladies. I can’t wait to see where your incredible series takes you!

If you’d like to learn more about Stephanie and Holland, as well as The American Dream Series, make sure to check out their blog, Redbirds and Rabbits. You can also find them on FacebookTwitterInstagram, and Goodreads.