09 May 2013

Interview: Authors of Georgetown Academy

Earlier this year, I posted a review of the first Georgetown Academy book. As a politics-junky, the series is just my thing. It's Gossip Girl meets The West Wing (if they'd followed Zoey to high school).

Today the authors, Jessica Koosed Etting & Alyssa Embree Schwartz, stopped by to answer a few questions I just had to ask:

Are you fans of D.C. politics? How did Georgetown Academy come about? 

Fan probably isn’t the right word since D.C. politics have been so polarizing lately, but we definitely have a huge interest in it and follow everything very closely. We’re especially invested in women’s roles in politics, which is something we tried to incorporate in the Georgetown Academy series. We love the idea that our younger female readers might be inspired to take an interest in that world, as well.

What initially sparked our idea for the series was hearing the stories of a few of our friends who went to prep schools in D.C. similar to Georgetown Academy where they were surrounded by children of high-ranking politicians (including the President and Vice President’s kids). Their high school stories were so unique and interesting (and entertaining!) and we realized it was an untapped setting and the perfect world for a YA series. The story we heard that really made the light bulb go off for both of us is how everyone at these schools throws parties at the homes of the students whose parents are foreign ambassadors and diplomats because their properties have diplomatic immunity (so the cops can’t legally break the party up). When the foreign heads of state signed that law into effect, they probably weren’t thinking a bunch of high schoolers would figure out a way to exploit it for partying purposes.

Your earlier work is in TV and film. Has writing books been a longtime goal or did it evolve from your script work? 

From an early age we were both voracious readers and harbored fantasies of writing novels. We grew up on different coasts, but we both wrote our own book series in elementary school, filling up several of those black and white notebooks (we still have them by the way and they’re hilarious). We love writing television shows and films, but when we came up with the concept for Georgetown Academy we both knew it was the perfect opportunity for our first YA series, something we had been toying with for years, but kept getting sidetracked from because of other jobs. Halfway into writing it, though, we realized it would make a great TV show, too! But we’re so glad we wrote it in this form first because it’s given us a chance to really get inside our characters’ heads to the point where we feel like we know them inside and out (and sort of want to be them!).

Do you have any tips for aspiring writers, whether in TV, film, or books? 

Our best creative tip is to keep a notebook handy for when ideas and inspiration come your way and always write them down immediately! We get our best ideas in the middle of the night and in the shower! We don’t just jot down big conceptual ideas in these notebooks, but character traits, interesting dialogue we’ve overheard from the table next to us at dinner and whatever’s making us laugh.

Our best business tip is to not be afraid to market yourself. When we were first starting out, we would send our material to anyone and everyone we thought could help us eventually get it across the desk of the right person, from assistants to family friends. It can be excruciating to put yourself out there like that, but you have to hold on to your belief in your work. In our case, our self-promotion led to us getting out first literary agent and selling our first television show.

Who's your favorite club member in The Baby-sitters Club? 

Amazing question!! We love them all, but if we had to pick we’d go with Stacey. First, her look was very trendy (though now we question why we ever thought a blonde perm sounded like the coolest hair-do ever). Second, she was from New York City, which made her super-glam, especially when she would digress into stories about the apartment she lived in there near Central Park. (Her NYC BF Laine both intrigued and intimidated us!) Sure, Stacey would get flaky sometimes, like when she’d go to Sea City with the Pike family and invariably leave Mary Anne with all the babysitting duties so she could go chase guys, but her dating tension with Kristy’s older brother Sam was a favorite story point for us, though it never really panned out for them. (By the way, Claudia is a close second. We definitely hid candy in our room so we could be like her and were annoyed with her older sister Janine on her behalf).


Um, is anyone else obsessed with how detailed their answer to the BSC question is? LOVE. IT. I'd say that enthusiasm paired with Georgetown Academy's interesting take on D.C. politics is enough to give this series a try!

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