In one day, our 13th book will be published. If someone told us that four years ago we'd be on our thirteenth book and jump-starting a new series, I'd have just laughed. Because four years ago, we were 21--about to turn 22--and we'd just finished writing a book about a female sex addict and an alcoholic. Something that sounds like a bad start to a romance, but it had touched our hearts in ways that we'd hoped would resonate with others. I was sleeping on an air mattress in Becca's dorm room, and everything felt so up in the air. We'd chosen to put our energy and time in a path that had no guarantees or future in sight. It's still an unstable, erratic path. But goddamn...it's a dream. And for all the lows over the years, there have been plenty more highs.
20 years ago, today, a book was published that changed our lives. You may already know this--but it's the 20th anniversary of Harry Potter. We were 6 when we were introduced to the magical lives of Harry, Ron, and Hermione. I can still vividly remember the woman who came to our first grade class and read aloud a chapter. Her last words in a deep, thundering Hagrid voice were, "you're a wizard, Harry." Mishearing her, I turned to Becca and asked, "He's a lizard?" 20 years later, I remember most everything about what I felt reading those books. I know Becca does, too. We'd even fight over the cassette tapes with our older brother, and every chapter was like being transported into another world. Something bigger and greater than ourselves. Like many, Harry Potter was the start of our love for reading and creating. We'd dream up worlds in our heads and take adventures like the ones we'd read about.
14 years ago, we were 12 years old. We'd just discovered Arcade Fire, indie movies, and our passion. We fell in love with art that entertained, but look deeper and it was saying something. Commentary coated in fun. We fell in love with characters that had depths that we could relate to. That spoke to us because they were flawed and complex and not every ending was wrapped in pretty bows. (But we do love our HEAs.) Being so young and watching Stand By Me, Now & Then, and Dead Poets Society for the first time, it was life changing. The world felt so small, yet so vast at the same time. It was a feeling we both wanted to capture in a bottle.
Our original desire was to be screenwriters--to have the worlds and characters in our heads laid out visually in film or TV. These were little girl dreams, the kind that get crushed by harsh realities. But we still dreamed. And we dreamed of being a dynamic duo like the Coen Brothers. Only we'd be the Ritchie Sisters. We quickly realized screenwriting is so far out of your own hands. It's a tossup, and you need a boatload of luck to sail that ship. So we moved on. We fell into the art that we were confident enough to create and to maybe (when we were good enough) let out into the world.
So we started writing at 12. Becca charged down that path first. I soon followed.
I would sit next to her while she typed, chairs side-by-side, and I'd chastise her when I felt like she was typing too slow. I was literally reading as sentences were being created. When I grew impatient at her speed (and when she rightfully kicked me out for the nagging!) I would try my own hand at writing. This was a far better system. Every few chapters, we'd take a pause to switch and read each other's work. It was the best of both worlds. And we would continue like that for the rest of our lives.
Four years ago, we started Addicted to You. It wasn't the first book we'd ever written together. But it was the first one we were writing that we knew would be published. We didn't query it. Didn't try to get an agent for it. We wrote it, knowing this little thing would be in the world by our own hands. Sink or swim, it was all on us. And it's the most terrifying feeling in the world. That fear doesn't really go away, but now it's a very different kind of fear. A mutated version of it. Addicted to You wasn't an instant success. It didn't sell millions of copies. It didn't make us much money. And look--we'd be lying to say that we were okay. Because we had no other jobs. No other goals. No other prospects. We most literally took a leap off a cliff, and hoped and prayed that we'd just land in water.
Three books later, the Addicted series finally took off. We'd go on to write a spin-off with the Calloway Sisters. Then we'd dive into our love of acrobatic circus with the Aerial Ethereal Universe. We'd spend 4 years living and breathing our dream--and asking "how did we get so lucky?"..."why us?"
Next, we would start planning and creating the world for the Like Us series.
And so we're back to the beginning.
The thirteenth book. Damaged Like Us.
We put our hearts and souls into every book we write, but this one took our life-force -- and we gave every ounce of who we are and what we have to find the version we'd been dreaming up for years. We've been thinking back to those feelings of listening to art that changed us, music and movies, and Damaged Like Us is the feel-good rom-com with layers of meaning dug beneath -- it's the feeling we always try to capture in a bottle and keep close. We wanted to write this for you, to do you proud, but we realized that we had to do ourselves proud first. We have -- and only time will tell if your heart speaks to what our heart speaks to, if you love what we love.
We're feeling so many things at once. Overwhelming joy for still being here. Gratefulness to all the readers who still support us so fully. Lucky to have new readers find our books and fall in love with them. Scared, terrified that someday this may all end because sometimes it feels like it might. Hopeful that it won't. Worried that you all will hate the books or worse...hate us. Determined not to care what people think. But ultimately, knowing we so very care. Sometimes, maybe, we care too much. Vulnerable. Because every time we release a new book, it's a little chunk of ourselves off into the world. We're bare and exposed, and we just hope that our armor is stronger than the day before.
But mostly, we're emotional. Because this isn't just our 13th book. This is the start of a new chapter in our lives. Everything seems to happen in fours. 4 years of high school. 4 years of college. 4 years after college--the Addicted years. These next few years are a bigger unknown, but we're ready to take the leap. We hope you'll jump with us. This journey is far from over.
And if you're reading this right now, just know I'm overly sappy and nostalgic, but Damaged Like Us is a fun book. Full of banter and good times. It's the perfect pick-me-up.
The perfect start to something new.
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