Interview With Debut Twin Authors, Ashley and Leslie Saunders

sister author interview
Today on my blog I am joined by two wonderful new voices in YA literature. Please welcome twins Ashley and Leslie Saunders. They are award-winning filmmakers who honed their love of storytelling at The University of Texas at Austin. Their first co-written novel The Rule of One is definitely not one to be missed. I’m delighted they have taken the time out of their busy schedules to have a chat with me!

rule of one
Synopsis: In their world, telling the truth has become the most dangerous crime of all. In the near-future United States, a one-child policy is ruthlessly enforced. Everyone follows the Rule of One. But Ava Goodwin, daughter of the head of the Texas Family Planning Division, has a secret—one her mother died to keep and her father has helped to hide for her entire life. She has an identical twin sister, Mira. For eighteen years Ava and Mira have lived as one, trading places day after day, maintaining an interchangeable existence down to the most telling detail. But when their charade is exposed, their worst nightmare begins. Now they must leave behind the father they love and fight for their lives. Branded as traitors, hunted as fugitives, and pushed to discover just how far they’ll go in order to stay alive, Ava and Mira rush headlong into a terrifying unknown.
1. Can each of you briefly summarise for those who have not yet read the book what it is about and what it means to you?
The Rule of One is about twin sisters born into a future United States that has adopted a one-child policy. For eighteen years Ava and Mira Goodwin share an identity until they are caught by the governor’s son and are forced to go on the run. Being twins ourselves, we’ve always wanted to tell a story about twins. This book means a great deal to us, as we’ve been working on this story in various forms for almost seven years now.
2. When I first heard about the book the thing that intrigued me was its premise. So how did the idea come about?
We love high-stake adventure stories. Knowing we wanted to have twin protagonists, we asked ourselves what are the highest stakes we can put the sisters in. Using China’s former one-child policy as our inspiration, we built out the world of The Rule of One from there.
3. Was there a character who you really connected to when writing? If so, who?
A really fun fact about The Rule of One is that the story is told through the interchanging POVs’ of the twin sisters. Ashley, the elder twin, wrote all of Ava’s chapters and Leslie took charge of Mira’s chapters, the youngest twin.
4. Considering you’re both filmmakers did you find the book industry much different? How?
Yes, we found the film industry and the publishing industry to be two entirely separate beasts. The Rule of One first started out as a feature screenplay. When we adapted the story into a novel and later as we were trying to get a book deal, we realized that we were going to have to learn a new industry from top to bottom. Luckily for us, Amazon Publishing and Skyscape have been amazing and very supportive throughout the process.
5. Could you describe the process of collaboratively working on a book? Was there ever a situation where you had to compromise on what went in the book?
We heavily outline together. We love to “walk and talk”. When outlining the sequel to The Rule of One, we walked over 250 miles plotting out the story. We’re lucky that we both agree 99.9% on story and characters and are interested in the same themes and plot twists. We’re in the writer’s cave with each other sometimes up to 14 hours a day, constantly editing and pushing each other’s work. It’s amazing, actually, to have each other as writing partners. We’re very close and have shared the same life experiences since we were in the womb– so we’re both just automatically on the same wavelength, living and dreaming up the same worlds in our heads.
6. What was the easiest part of the entire process and what was the hardest?
The easiest part, or at least the most enjoyable for us, is writing the first draft of a manuscript. It’s filled with possibilities and excitement. The hardest was having the book finally published but fully realizing that this means opening yourself up to public opinion and scrutiny.
7. Where do you like to do most of your writing?
We write write at home with our two Boston terriers as our writing partners. We wish we could write in awesome coffee shops, but alas, we are home bodies.
8. When writing music or no music?
No music! We both have to have silence. I mean… you have to be able to hear the characters speaking to you, right?
9. With your book do you consider the plot or the characters to be the most important aspect?
Of course every story has to have a compelling protagonist but we are definitely structure writers who love a great concept. One of our favorite aspects of writing is mapping out the plot. We see it as a puzzle, a game, and get a great thrill when we finally see the entire picture.
10. In five words (or less!) why should someone pick up THE RULE OF ONE as their next read?

Twins writing about twins. Boom.

saundrs sisters
Credit: Shayan Asgharnia
That concludes today’s interview. I cannot thank the sisters enough for their excellent answers. If you want to learn more about the sisters you can visit their website. You can also follow the pair on Instagram @saundersisters.

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