Thursday, July 5, 2012

Interview Special: Authors Jessica Haight and Stephanie Robinson

Today I have a special post-holiday treat for everyone. I was lucky enough to have a chance to chat with authors Jessica Haight and Stephanie Robinson.

A while back, Christian reviewed their wonderful book, The Secret DMS Files of Fairday Morrow. You can check that out here.

They also have a fantastic blog. You can explore it here.

Now, without further ado, let's get the show on the road.

Where did the idea for The Secret DMS Files of Fairday Morrow come from?

Jess: The initial story was partially created by my grandfather. When I was a kid, I stayed with my grandparents for a while and they lived in a spooky house in Ridgefield, CT. Sometimes it sounded like someone was walking around upstairs when there was no one up there, and my grandfather used to tell me it was Ruby Begonia clomping around in her high-heeled sneakers. I spent years trying to catch her, but never did. Ruby’s story took shape through the years as I grew up. When I was in my twenties, I wrote the children’s poem, Ruby Begonia and the High-Heeled Sneakers. One day, I thought how cool it would be to turn the poem into a chapter book and the name, Fairday Morrow popped into my head. I thought to ask my best friend and book buddy, Stephanie Robinson, if she wanted to co-author it with me, and happily she agreed. Stephanie and I both love books; we love to read and talk about the stories. So, we started writing and talking about Fairday and the adventures of the DMS.

Stephanie: After Jess asked me to work with her on changing her poem into a story the ideas began emerging from all over the place. We would meet, talk, brainstorm, and dissect each other’s ideas. Each time one of us shared something we would spark new ideas in the other person. Some of the elements of Fairday’s story have appeared in my dreams and others that have happened in my everyday life.  

Author Jessica Haight
 You wrote this book together. Can you describe your writing process? How did you split up the writing?

Jess: We sort of write off the cuff- it’s the same way we used to put together the pieces of a puzzle. It’s like we get the picture in our head, and then play it out with our words. It’s amazing to work with Stephanie- she is probably the only person in the world that I could connect with in this way. But, we always loved chatting about books and playing games together, so it all just fit!

Stephanie: Jess and I spoke daily about Fairday and her adventures. We flushed out characters, storylines, and everything else both in person and on the phone. Our meetings were always productive and helped us to be on the same page. We used Google Docs, which allowed us to write in one document from anywhere. Usually one of us would start a chapter and the other person would go in and start working their magic- adding, deleting, and crafting the writing until it was a blended expression of both of our ideas. Jess and I agreed early on that we would always be honest with each other and that we wouldn’t take things personally. We wanted to create the best story we could, and we knew that we would need to put our egos aside. Luckily, we have always had a relationship in which we could tell the other person exactly how we felt. It was a blast writing with Jess!
Author Stephanie Robinson

How long did it take you to write the book?

Jess: I would say just about a year.

Stephanie: Well, if we only count talking about it, mapping it out, and beginning to type the story, then I agree it took a little less than a year to write it. Of course, we revised over one hundred times during that year, and since the book has been completed we continue to revise all the time. 

What books did you enjoy most as a child? Who were your favorite authors?

Jess: I loved the Ramona series by Beverly Cleary- and Ellen Tibets was one of my absolute favorite stories. I also really enjoyed fairy tales, preferably Grimms. And, oddly enough, books about space and astronomy.

Stephanie:  I started out in first grade as a struggling reader.  I couldn’t wait to read, and once I got the hang of it I couldn’t get enough! I devoured books growing up and would find an author and read everything I could by them. The authors that stand out the most to me are Beverly Cleary, Judy Blume, and Roald Dahl. I loved fairy tales and Shel Silverstein poems. I read every Nancy Drew book and the Little House series. I wanted to be Nancy and Half-Pint!

Describe your perfect day?

Jess: About 85 degrees and sunny, with fluffy white clouds and low humidity- there would be horses, a lake or river, lots of greenery and flowers, and something delicious to eat- corn on the cob and clams for instance. Anyplace will do under these conditions : )

Stephanie:  I would start my perfect day with sleeping in! I would enjoy the sunshine and warm, dry temperatures. A delicious mug of coffee would accompany some reading as I relaxed on my outdoor patio. It would be a treat to spend the day with my husband eating lobster and laughing.  Any day without pressures or obligations would be peaceful and welcome.

Do you listen to music when you write? What do you like to listen to?

Jess: Yes and no- sometimes, it really depends. The music can range from Madonna to Pink Floyd. I’m all over the board. What can I say, I love a good beat!

Stephanie: I can work in all kinds of conditions, but I usually prefer not to listen to music when I write.  I love to listen to music and like a wide range of music. I am a big fan of The Beatles, Zac Brown Band, The Beastie Boys, and Ray Charles. Different songs and artists appeal to me depending on my mood!

If you had a pair of high heeled sneakers, what would you do with them?

Jess: If they fit, I would be over the moon ; )

Stephanie: Actually, I have a pair ; )

Are you working on a sequel? How is it going?

Jess & Stephanie: We are! The Talking Library will be the second book in the Fairday Morrow series and it’s coming along brilliantly. Fear not the unexpected!

Thanks so much for taking the time to chat with us. I'm looking forward to the next DMS Files adventure!


  1. Is the book on kindle? If so I would love to read it!

    1. Hi Marissa, The Secret DMS Files of Fairday Morrow is not yet available on Kindle, however I would be happy to send you a paperback copy at no charge if you are interested in reading the book. Please email me your request haightjess (at) gmail (dot) com, and I will ship one right out to you. All Stephanie and I ask, is that if you love Fairday's story, you spread the good word! Thanks so much for stopping by! We hope to hear from you. ~ Jess

  2. Hi Greg! Stephanie and I would like to thank you for hosting us on your blog! We truly enjoyed answering your questions : ) Happy Reading and remember, fear not the unexpected!
    ~ Stephanie & Jess

    1. No problem! I really enjoyed your answers. Thanks for making it such a great interview!

  3. Great interview. It was fun to learn more about these authors. I love Roald Dahl too.

  4. Awesome that they are working on a sequel. It is fun to hear about how they work together. I would think it would be hard to write a book with someone else.

  5. Trey-I love Roald Dahl, too. Jess & Stephanie are a lot of fun to talk to.

    Flex--I can't wait for the sequel. It's going to be great. In high school, I worked with some one writing a short story. I would write a couple of paragraphs and then he would, then I would go. We did that back and forth. It was a comedy, so we could be silly.

    To actually write a whole book and blend ideas so that everything is seamless is mind boggling to me!

  6. I love the blog these two authors run! It's incredibly entertaining. I need to get a copy of the book to read with my middle grader. It sounds great. Wonderful interview!


    1. Hi Heather,
      It's a great blog and a great book! Thanks. It was a fun interview to do!

  7. Trey, Flex, and Heather- I tried to comment back to all of you the other day- but it wouldn't let me. No luck today either. So, I am commenting back to you down here. :)

    @Trey-Glad you enjoyed the interview! Roald Dahl is such fun.
    @Flex- I am happy that you are excited for a sequel. I guess writing with someone else could be difficult. I am so lucky that Jess and I have worked out a good system.
    @Heather- Thank you so much for your kind words. It means so much to us that you like our blog so much. I hope your middle grader will enjoy the book. :)
    @Greg- Thanks so much for hosting our interview on your blog. We both love to visit your blog. It is always interesting and the posts are nicely displayed. It means a lot to us that you spotlighted us. :)

    1. It was a pleasure to interview you both! It's the least I could do. Thanks for all your help and support these past months.