Interview with Authors, Kirby Howell!

Wednesday, 5 June 2013
Hey all! Today I have an interview with authors Kirby Howell to share with you all! And, no, it's not a typo, Kirby Howell is a writing partnership. ;) So, without further-a-do, here's the interview! :D

First off, can you tell us a little about yourselves and your book, Autumn in The City of Angels?

We’re actually a writing partnership. Our real names are Dana Melton and Jessica Alexander, but we write under the name Kirby Howell (an amalgamation of both of our maiden names). We’ve been writing together since 2000 when we met as freshman in our first scriptwriting class in college. We got paired together to write a feature script, and enjoyed the process so much that we’ve just kept doing it! We both moved to Los Angeles in 2003 to pursue careers in the entertainment industry, and have continued writing together through all that time.

The books are YA, but they cross over a lot of genres, because, honestly, we write what we love, and we love a lot of different types of books! Whenever we have to classify it, though, we give this basic answer to help narrow it down (some):  Dystopian/Paranormal Romance. Anyone who read The Hunger Games Trilogy, Delirium, Matched, and even Twilight would find these in the same vein.  There are no vampires, werewolves, or wizards in our books, but we do consider them to be 'SciFi Lite' (Science Fiction grounded in reality), as there's a twist in the first novel that heavily determines the direction of the sequels.  Here's a short synopsis of the first book, Autumn in the City of Angels:

A plague of epic proportion sweeps the globe, leaving less than one percent of the world’s population immune. Among the living is Autumn Winters, the teenage daughter of a famous actress. When Autumn’s parents don’t come home and the city is overtaken by a dangerous faction, she goes into hiding with a small group of underground survivors. They’re led by a mysterious young man who harbors an unearthly secret, and with whom Autumn feels a deep connection.

Did you always want to write in the dystopian genre? Or was it more of a spontaneous decision?

Dystopian has always been one of our very favorite genres, and we’ve written a lot of things in this genre for ourselves, and occasionally for pay. One of the things we love most about the dystopian genre applied to YA books is that you get to thrust teenaged characters into roles where they have to make very adult and often world-changing decisions. Most teens feel the weight of the world on their shoulders, even without those kinds of stakes, so in a lot of ways they can relate to these characters and the pressures they face, even if they are somewhat magnified.

The dystopian genre also lets us break a lot of rules. Where these stories are either set off into the future, or in modern day around extraordinary circumstances, you get to let your brain run wild without silly things like “reality” and “rules” confining the stories that you want to tell... and that’s a lot of fun for both of us.

Are either of you like one of your characters? If so, who and why?

It’s funny you ask this, because our main character, Autumn, is pretty much a version of both of us combined. Friends and family will read the books and tell either one of us how much Autumn reminds them of one of us.

With Autumn, we wanted to craft a strong, young female who has to start making a lot of big decisions. We can see how hard that is for her at first, and then, as her character matures, how well she shoulders the decisions she’s making. We like to think that this was the journey we both took, but it’s possible we’re still aspiring to be more like Autumn every day. 

What was it like writing a book together? Did you have a schedule? Any fall outs? Or did everything run smoothly?

We get asked this a lot, just by virtue of being a writing partnership. We like to joke that we’re two women with one shared brain! But the truth is, it’s more like Dana is a left foot, and Jessica is a right foot. When we work together, we can stand up and walk straight. But without the other, we just end up walking in circles, directionless.

We’ve developed our schedule and process over the course of 13 years of writing together, and because of this, we give advice to a lot of other folks out here, working and writing in LA, to tell them how we manage to do it. The short answer is, we keep the channels of communication completely open, at all times. We also meet in person twice a week, Wednesdays after work and all day Sunday, and we keep to our writing schedules (or whatever phase we’re in) during the week and hold each other accountable.

There’s obviously a lot more to it than just that, and we once broke down the process in one of our blogs in much greater detail for other burgeoning writing partnerships to refer to. If you want to know more details on how we work in our own writing partnership click HERE.

Quick, there's a meteor shower! You need to jump into one of your favourite books! Which ones do you pick and why?

For Dana, that’s a no-brainer. She’d open her Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy omnibus and dive in head over heels to seek refuge on the spaceship, Heart of Gold, during the meteor shower... and she’d remember to take her trusty towel with her!

For Jessica, her hand would hesitate over her well-worn, faded yellow box set of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s The Little House Series. Worried that she might end up in the middle of The Long Winter, (no improvement over a meteor shower!) she’d pick up Roald Dahl’s Danny the Champion of the World instead, because Danny’s father is amazing and can fix anything.

Finally, are you working on any other books that you can tell us a little about?

We are! Thank you for asking! We’re actually working on the third book in the Autumn Series right now, Autumn in the City of Lights. We’ve got a full outline and a rough draft of the first few chapters, and we’re plugging away at getting more words down on paper. Though, if you ask any of our beta readers, we’re not moving nearly fast enough!

We also have a draft of a first book in a new YA series called The Wayfarer. It’s a fantasy series dealing with the foster care system, runaways, and an adventure in a new world. We’re very excited to eventually have that available.

Quick-Fire Questions:

Dana: Favourite Animal? Dogs (of all sizes and fluffiness)
Jessica: Favourite Colour? Green! It’s so calming and it reminds me of my favorite place in the world – Oregon!
Dana: Favourite City? Paris... or Tuscaloosa, AL. Tough call. One has The Louvre, and one has really good southern food & American football.
Jessica: Favourite Activity? I just love a good book – one that stays with you even when you’re not reading it, one that makes you crazy when you have to put it down, one that is easy to slip inside of and feel part of.  A good book is even better when it’s raining. I also enjoy eating what my husband cooks for me and a good long road trip.
Dana: Favourite Book?  It’s a tie between Pride & Prejudice and The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

Happy Reading,
Rachel xoxo

PS: On a sidenote, I've now finished my exams! xD So I'm officially done with 4th year and will be starting 5th next week! *laughs nervously* :3


  1. Hi Rachel! Thank you so much for the fun questions!

    We wanted to let your readers know that the paperback version of the first book in The Autumn Series, Autumn in the City of Angels, is on sale at a discounted rate!

    Good luck in your next year of school! Hope you get some time in there to read a little! (And not your textbooks!)

    (1/2 of Kirby Howell)

  2. I've heard of author collaborations before but not writing partnerships... Sounds quite cool. Great interview!

  3. Thank you again for interviewing us, Rachel! We just loved your questions, especially the quick fire ones.

    We love your site and hope we'll get to do something again with you in the future.

    All the best,

    (1/2 of Kirby Howell)

  4. This is such an interesting interview! I've never read a book from a writing partnership before, but I'll have to give one a go sometime. I love the relationship these two authors describe having. They must be super close! And I really like the sound of Autumn - a strong female that has to make tough choices? Count me in!

    Thank you so much for sharing this awesome interview with us, Rachel. And I'm glad your exams are over - good luck with the 5th year! :)x

  5. How interesting.
    I love dystopian, so im sure ill enjoy this book.

    what i found intriguing is the partnership! i cant imagine writing a book with someone else, but i bet its great (especially after 13 years!)

    Theresa Jones

    Also, feel free to stop by my blog to enter my $100 Giveaway!

  6. Great interview! You ask really interesting questions. :)

  7. Great interview! An individual name as a partnership is such a good idea :) I love the idea of two writers being together for years, it sounds like a lovely experience.

    I'll definitely look out for this book. It sounds like something I'd love. Fans of The Hunger Games Trilogy, Delirium and Matched? Yes please!

    YAY OUR EXAMS ARE OVER! I had my last one yesterday so I am very happy *throws confetti* I'm returning from my blogging break by the way, I'll be posting tomorrow. Yay! :) xx


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