L. M. du Preez
L. M. lives in Canada. She writes novels in her hometown of Vancouver.
L. M. is the writer for Poppy's character throughout the Synth series.
Z. lives in South Africa. She writes, dreams, lives and works. Her endless globetrotting for work requires her to balance on a fine line between her dreams and reality.
Z. is the writer for Mila's character throughout the Synth series.
PART ONE: Synth SEVERED
PART TWO: Synth DIVIDED
Q: How did you guys manage to write a book together on opposite sides of the world?
L: It wasn’t easy. Late nights, early mornings and Skype. I even flew to South Africa for our first full read-thru. Working via Skype had its pros and cons. A pro was that we could refer back to our ideas when we forgot or got confused. A con was not being able to be conversational—my brain works quicker than my fingers do on a keyboard. Plus Skype has so many distracting emoticons and Mojis that we’d get off topic most of the time.
Z: To be honest we ask ourselves this question all the time. I’m not really sure – I think there’s a certain amount of dedication that goes into a project like this, and self-discipline that needs to be exercised. It wasn’t all work on skype – Laura and I are two of the most easily distracted human beings alive, so staying on topic was definitely challenging for us at times.
Q: Why did you separate the characters into two different stories?
Z: I think writing a novel from two different countries made it an easy choice to separate the characters stories a little. We needed a base story line but we also needed our own identities in the book. It made more sense as we are two completely different people, and trying to squeeze two personalities into one story, writing on the same pages wouldn’t have worked. We also had to accommodate the distance between us – and our writing paces.
L: It made sense. We’re two separate writers with two different writing styles, so why not take advantage of the collaboration? I love stories that really dive into a character’s thoughts and emotions, and by doing first-person perspective for our main characters, Poppy and Mila, we were able to explore two sides of the story. I think it illuminates how important communication is and how quickly a rumor or lie can change the course of actions and reactions.
Q: Do you two ever disagree on the storyline?
L: …All the time. Haha, seriously. I question absolutely every intention and scenario—I’m certain I’ve irritated Z on many occasions with my incessant questions.
I’ve studied acting and one of first things you do for getting into character is question everything—who are they, how do others perceive them, where did they grow up, what do they want, what are their intentions, what are their actions/reactions and, most importantly, why are those their actions/reactions?—so I’ve brought that acting mentality into my writing.
Z: Haha this is a funny question – because L and I really get along, and we’ve never really argued about anything until we started writing Synth. Obviously we are two strong personalities and pushing that into one book takes a lot of conceding and a lot of effort from both sides. We wanted different things for the characters and we saw a lot of the story line different – but we work well together in finding middle ground and making a scene or character work for both of us.
Q: When is the next book in The Synth Series coming out?
Z: We are currently working on the next book.
L: We’re currently working on it. As soon as humanly possible.
Q: What was your favorite scene to write?
L: I love writing scenes between Poppy and Mackson. They’re the most vivid and emotional moments for me.
Z: Shower scenes, haha no honestly I think my favorite scene to write was Mila and River, only because River is really lighthearted and he brings a sense of comfort-ability to the story.
Q: What was your least favorite scene to write?
Z: Oh man, I don’t want to give anything away – but there are definitely some scenes in the book with Mila, where I had to take moments and just sit down and really think about it, scenes that are really open and show a lot of emotion. Its not easy writing something destructive to a character that you grow to love.
L: Scenes with a lot of negativity, self-deprecation and weakness. It’s important to the story and the character development, but I dislike writing about a character domineering over another and that other character not to stand tall or fight back. It goes against my nature.
Q: If you got presented the chance to take part in the ritual, would you?
L: Now, not a chance in hell. When I was 19/20, yes. I would've been dumb enough to check it out, especially if my crush was involved.
Z: No I don’t think I would be sold on something like this.
Q: Do you relate to any of the characters and why?
Z: To be honest, there are definitely some characteristic traits that I share with Mila, I think its impossible to not put some of yourself into a character that you end up creating and writing for. But I also see some of myself in Poppy – it’s easy to relate to some of the things that the characters do or say.
L: I think it’s natural for me to relate to Poppy since I created her—I’ve subconsciously given her some of my traits and reactions. Even though she ends up being in these crazy situations I understand her reasoning, even in the most intense or unlikely scenarios.
Q: Where did the name Synth come from?
L: This was all Z!
Z: It was honestly a name that came to me a while back – it was just something that sounded like a perfect club, and I was obsessed with it for a while, but never got to use it until this opportunity presented itself.
Q: Do you have favorite and least favorite characters?
Z: Hmmm, I think right now I’m equally in love or equally in hate with some of the things the characters do, and I’m not giving away any details on this right now.
L: No, I love all of our characters, even the corrupt and evil ones. There wouldn’t be a story without each and every one of them.
Q: What would you compare Synth to?
L: It’s difficult to say because we’ve created a brand new sub-genre—it doesn’t fall into a vampire or a dystopian series, for example. The Synth Series is an uncharted, reality-escaping adventure.
Z: Wow, I would compare it to anything in the Young Adult category really, but yet very different. The Story has a great plotline, awesome characters and there’s enough to keep you wanting more, the characters are easy to relate to, and the plot line is around an idealistic notion that we are could all find ourselves in.
Q: How did you find the writing process for book two?
Z: Initially I thought it was going to be super smooth and fast – but then as the writing process progressed I found a lot was changing and unexpected things were happening which through the initial process off a little. But it was great, I think the story has gotten to such a great point and watching the characters grow is incredible.
L: It was a lot trickier. I don't think I was fully prepared for it. I was treating it how I treated book one, stumbling across scenes and ideas in the moment rather than planning for them. It wasn't until we reached the end and I started planning for Poppy's side in book 3, and realizing that all loose ends needed to be tied up, that I started finding major holes and parts that didn't make sense. I'm not going to lie, it wasn't an enjoyable process, but it was a worthwhile lesson to learn.
Q: How does book two, Divided, compare to to book one, Severed?
L: It's a lot darker. I feel like Severed was all about the glamour of a popular night club and the mansions and the idea of being special because the characters had been selected for a ritual to make their dreams come true, and in Divided it all comes crashing to the floor ... and then sinks even lower - for Poppy's side at least! There's nothing dreamy about book 2, it's all about reality and consequences.
Z: I think it’s a lot darker, I think there are moments in the book that you kind of sit back and just breathe for a few seconds with what these girls are going through…
Q: What is the general theme for your character's storyline?
Z: I think Mila is on a journey of discovery, from her internal feelings to just how she truly sees people and the world around her. I think she’s realizing that her world is everything but perfect – and it’s definitely not always easy. I think that change and growing can be really painful.
L: Growing up and leaving behind all the superficial nonsense that Poppy was extremely guilty of in Severed.
Q: How do you feel about your character's journey from book one to book two?
L: I wish it could've happened in a different way, but Poppy is learning what really matters and I'm glad about that. Poppy's character in Severed was immature and made choices based on shallow ideals -- but that was the point. I really think that the teen and new adult ages are some of the most selfish ages we experience. I mean, all of a sudden we have to make really important choices, we're taught to think about ourselves, our future and where we're going in life all while we're experiencing true freedom and the loss of a routine for the first time ever. It's a weird concoction of me-me-me and I can do anything! and it can get warped very easily. Poppy's really overwhelmed and lost in book 1 and she finds things to lose herself in so she doesn't have to deal with the reality of the situation, but in book 2 she can't not deal with the predicament she's in, and she has to do everything she can not only to find her path but also to survive.
Z: Oh it’s been incredible, I think there was a level of superficial planning and perfection that followed Mila throughout Severed, and she now finds herself having to adapt and move around a lot more in new unknown situations. I think she’s finding that life isn’t always easy and how its planned and that things don’t always work out the way we plan it in our head.
Q: What was your favorite scene to write in Divided?
Z: Hmmm without giving too much away….there is a scene with Mila and Reeve where she sees him for the first time in the book, and I think them seeing each other was a great feeling. I think there was something very special in her feeling safe in that moment and just letting her guard down a little…
L: I'm not sure if there was one lol. Hmm ... Definitely the scenes near the end.
Q: What was the biggest challenge you faced writing this book?
L: Figuring out who knows what and who's involved in which parts, and what makes sense, and back stories. We had to come up with pages and pages of history and backstory for all the characters and their relationships. It was intense.
Z: Sometimes we plan to write and plan the book out in a certain way, however the characters and the story develops into a completely different direction, and giving ourselves the creative freedom to really let it play out according to the characters and where they take it, is definitely challenging. because I think it’s hard to realize half way through the book - that there are going to be key factors changing…
Q: Did the characters progress throughout the book like you planned?
Z: Yes definitely, I also think that there were one or two relationships that progressed unexpectedly, they make you sit back and scratch your head going “oh wow, where did that come from”. I think it’s great to see the characters develop and grow the way they have and form new bonds…
L: Not at all. I don't want to give anything away, but one character in particular slumped to depths I didn't foresee. It wasn't until the scenes started to unfold that this character's dark side started seeping out.
Q: What was you least favorite scene to write in Divided?
L: Umm, pretty much all of them. Like I said, things got dark.
Z: There is a major scene near the end of the book – and I found it very emotional and sad ….I won’t give anything else away.
Q: In part one, you both said that you love all the characters and you don't have favorite/least favorite ones. Do you still feel that way?
Z: Ah I think there is definitely a new character in book two that I find myself liking a lot. I also think that the characters are showing really incredible traits, and I find myself smiling a lot more through certain scenes.
L: No lol. I have my favorites and I definitely have characters doing despicable things that need to be held accountable. I no longer have unconditional love for them all.
Q: What is the third book called and when is it coming out?
L: Synth: Changed. We played around with many names and had many moments when we just didn't talk about it because we couldn't agree on anything, but then Z said Changed and it seemed to fit perfectly.
Z: So the third book is called Changed…and hopefully it won’t be long until this book finds its way to the kindle store