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Saturday, November 26, 2011

Interview with Sadie & Sophie Cuffee


[Anne] Name one of your favorite books as a child.

[Sadie] “Take Wing” By: Jean Little We had to write to an author in the fifth grade and I chose her. She lived on Woolwich Street and I went to Woolwich Central School. We were a country apart but had a connection. I learned from her the power of humility and kindness in always taking a genuine interest in your readers. I kept her letter (somewhere, I think) and the poem from the front of that novel is still one of my all-time favorites.

[Sophie] "A Wrinkle in Time" - Same fifth grade teacher, same assignment, but I didn't write to Madeleine L'Engle. (Sadie's always been an over-achiever!)

[Anne] Do you have a favorite author?

[Sadie] Robert P. Tristram Coffin.

[Sophie] Madeline Brent

[Anne] Out of all the books you’ve read, which one comes immediately to your mind?

[Sadie] "Ashes in the Wind" by Kathleen Woodiwiss. I read it decades ago but I have a thing for the Civil War Era.

[Sophie] "The Golden Urchin" by Madeline Brent (It appears I'm hooked on authors named Madeline!)

Anne] If there is a favorite scene you remember, please share.

[Sadie] The heroine disguises herself as a spitfire confederate boy and hitches a ride with a Union soldier who turns out to be the hero and doesn’t have a clue. She rubs soot and grease on her face and hair but is drop-dead gorgeous (of course) when she washes it off. You know what would happen to me if I did that!

[Sophie] The heroine is a red-headed white girl raised among aborigines. One of the customs for the tribe is to knock out one of their front teeth, but because she was different, she wasn't allowed to knock hers out. How convenient is that!

[Anne] Your favorite vacation spot (whether you have been there or not)?

[Sadie] New Zealand (future favorite, I hope)

[Sophie] Ireland (future favorite after I visit New Zealand with Sadie)

[Anne] Which would you rather have: A custom closet or a custom kitchen?

[Sadie] Kitchen, way more fun. My closets are junk fests and a customized organized junkfest breaks the disgusting closet rule I’ve lived by my entire life.

[Sophie] Definitely kitchen!

[Anne] It’s Saturday afternoon and you’re home alone. What are you wearing?

[Sadie] Fuzzy socks, old jeans, a long-sleeved t-shirt and a ratty green hooded sweatshirt. Not pretty, but comfy. And yes, you must have clothes on.

[Sophie] old jeans, old socks, my big brother's flannel shirt over a turtleneck, topped with a fleece vest. I like to swim in my clothes, and I agree, you must have clothes on, especially since it never got above 30 degrees today!

[Anne] What’s your favorite dish?

[Sadie] Homemade hot cinnamon raisin pretzels.

[Sophie] Homemade Shredded Wheat Bread.

[Anne] Other than writing, what do you enjoy doing?

[Sadie] Hiking, camping, snowshoeing, farming, sewing, singing with my sisters, reading, road trips,…

[Sophie] everything Sadie said plus music, cooking, knitting, cross-country skiing, playing with the grandkids.

[Anne] You’ve just landed a multi-book contract with a major publisher! Which vehicle would we be more likely to see you driving after you’ve collected your huge advance: a Hummer, RV, truck, muscle car, or BMW?

[Sadie] A truck, either red 4 wheel drive with black interior, or a mint restored 1950’s powder blue pick up.

[Sophie] A peacock blue 4-wheel drive extended cab pickup. You can take the girl off the farm, but you can't take the farm out of the girl!

[Anne] What’s your favorite television show?

[Sadie] old - Remington Steele Current - Burn Notice.

[Sophie] Castle (and I love the reviews by Melanie Atkins and Lee Lofland!

[Anne] Favorite movie?

[Sadie] White Christmas (sisters!)

[Sophie] While You Were Sleeping

[Anne] You’ve won a talent show! What act did you perform?

[Sadie] Singing “Holding out for a Hero” with the sisters (without the tamborine or any other musical instruments in MY hand, or we would’ve gotten the hook.)

[Sophie] I've actually played my accordion in a talent show that landed me on TV at the age of 10 YOUTH CAVELCADE. According to the promo we received yummy milkshakes after the show. The reality was yucky chocolate milk, but it was fun.

[Anne] Would you rather have the power to be invisible or be able to fly, and why?

[Sadie] Fly. I’d like to cruise over the mountains and the islands, wind in my face, able to swoop down the cliff and back up again, riding the wind currents without moving a feather. Soaring without the thudding would be nice.

[Sophie] I love to fly and to have that ability within myself would be the greatest! We have eagles floating around in the skies from time to time and it would be so cool to hang out with them!

[Anne] What was one of the most surprising things you learned during your journey to publication?

[Sadie] People can misinterpret what you write and be incredibly and brutally frank. Critics mostly shoot from the lip, and you have to take what they say to the page but not to heart. Not all comments may be good, but they can be used for good, even if it’s in the negative lesson of "don’t do unto others what they have done unto you."

[Sophie] What you write initially can change tremendously by the time you type the final THE END.

[Anne] What was the most interesting research you did for a book?

[Sadie] Once I asked a prisoner to give me the real scoop on how they use mirrors and notes to pass messages to each other on the inside. Creepy (The inside info, not the prisoner, thank goodness) but I think the most interesting research comes from real people in real situations. It may not always be Wikipedia approved, but it has an edge of humanity, grit and unique oddity so when you use it, it makes the characters in your book have... well, character.

[Sophie] Exchanging Maine lingo for western lingo. An Iowa farm gave us the line, "slicker than cow snot on a doorknob." We countered with "deafer than a haddock." I love local lingo!

[Anne] Where do you go when you need to get inspired to write?

[Sadie] For a walk with Henry, our mostly-Australian shepherd dog, in the woods behind our house.

[Sophie] Seriously, Sadie's always inspired. Whenever we come into the house from chores, or shopping, or bringing in the firewood, she always has to run to her desk and write down notes. I usually go to the sewing machine.

[Anne] Do you have any writing quirks?

[Sadie] Not really, but I scribble notes to myself on old envelopes, ads, letters -- whatever’s on hand. I write upside down, around corners and draw arrows, which drives my writing partner nuts.

[Sophie] This is so true, and while transcribing some of our father's sermon notes, we discovered he did the same thing. I think it's catching, as I find myself jotting things down on napkins, even on my hand when no paper's available. It's great, unless I wash my hands before I write down what's on it!

[Anne]What do you think makes a good story?

[Sadie] Characters with heart that touch my heart. Also I like rural intergenerational characters that reflect real life emotional connections.

[Sophie] I like stories where the hero/heroine are just ordinary people with a sarcastic sense of humor; the kind of people you'd like to hang out with if they were real.

[Anne] What are you working on now?

[Sadie] "Warrior’s Journey," the second book in the Blood Brothers in Christ Series from DBP. I need to finish this week or I’m dead meat. (This is why I don’t write poetry.)

[Sophie] "Warrior's Journey," Sadie's doing the final tweak before I do the final edit. Teamwork!

[Anne] What's one of the more interesting experiences you've had with one of your readers?

[Sadie] An older reader and fan came to my house right before the holidays. I was vacuuming in preparation for family when he knocked on the door. He said I was nothing like he imagined. (And I’m sure I wasn’t – red faced, hair falling down, ratty clothes, etc.) He thought I’d be overweight, older, and live in a decrepit old farmhouse. He asked if he could come in. I said, "no." Can you say "penname" from that day forward?

[Sophie] A friend bought "Arrow That Flies" and said she thought Stellar's Ford (the town) was a car dealership. Now I try to out-think readers and hope I've covered all the bases when naming characters or towns. (Although Sadie DOES have a thing for town names with lots of s's.)

[Anne] Complete this scene: It was raining. The man came out of nowhere, and before I knew it...

[Sadie] he was standing at my door whining about our breakup. I tried to ignore the drip on the welcome mat, but it's hard when all those messy emotions were puddling around his sandals and dribbling on my toes.

[Sophie] he pulled me into his arms and turned my back to the street. He searched the throng of people as he embraced me and whispered in my ear, "Please don't give me away."

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Hey, Anne, Thanks for letting us share the spotlight - it was wicked fun!

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