Jessica Koosed Etting and Alyssa Embree Schwartz dropped by the virtual offices to chat about their Georgetown Academy series. Please give them a warm welcome!
[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you tell us a little about your Georgetown Academy series?
[Jessica and Alyssa] Georgetown Academy follows the lives of four girls at a private prep-school in D.C. where all the most powerful politicians send their children, much like the school that Malia Obama currently attends. As a senator’s daughter and sophomore, Ellie Walker knows it’s a world where one innocent teenage misstep can turn into national scandal faster than you can say CNN and where everyone tries to abide by the most important rule of politics…whatever you do, don’t get caught.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] How did you come up with the concept and the characters for the story?
[Jessica and Alyssa] We have a few friends who grew up in D.C. and went to prep schools similar to Georgetown Academy. Their high school experiences were so unique and interesting (and their stories are ridiculously entertaining) that we both realized it would make a really fun world for a YA series.
Coming up with the characters is one of our favorite parts of the process and for Georgetown Academy, we wanted four very different main girls with very different agendas. We used elements of ourselves, our friends and definitely some famous political families to ultimately create Ellie, Brinley, Taryn and Evan. And the boys were even easier to come up with. They are all versions of guys we wish we had dated in high school!
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three words best describe Evan?
[Jessica and Alyssa] Fair, Ambitious, (major) Worrywart
[Manga Maniac Cafe] If Brinley had a theme song, what would it be?
[Jessica and Alyssa] Ummmm…Heartless by Kanye West? Kidding! Though Brinley can come off a little mean and scary to those she’s not friends with, we think her tenacity is what defines her best…so we’d have to go with Fighter by Christina Aguilera.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] Name one thing Ellie won’t leave the house without.
[Jessica and Alyssa] Her iPhone so she can get her Google News Alerts every time a story about her Senator mother hits the web. Or in case Gabe secretly texts her.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three things will you never find in Gabe’s bedroom?
[Jessica and Alyssa] A hairbrush, an issue of Us Magazine, a Polo shirt.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What is Taryn’s greatest regret?
[Jessica and Alyssa] With Taryn’s boho lifestyle, she tries to live life regret-free and focus on the now (something her mother’s private yoga instructor, Chandini, often reiterates). She doesn’t necessarily have regrets about moving from L.A. to D.C., but she definitely underestimated how different it would be. It’s been a struggle for her, but she’s learning how to adapt to her new surroundings without compromising who she is. She’s not going to stop rocking her faux fur and leopard print just because no one else at Georgetown Academy does.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What are your greatest creative influences for the series?
[Jessica and Alyssa] As far as YA authors go, Ann M. Martin and Francine Pascal have always been huge inspirations for us. They created these contemporary, fun worlds we were both addicted to when we were younger. We still remember everything about all the members of the Babysitters Club and every detail about Jessica and Elizabeth Wakefield. Another author who delves into the Georgetown Academy arena is Curtis Sittenfeld. We loved Prep and American Wife so she’s definitely an influence, as well.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three things do you need in order to write?
[Jessica and Alyssa] Skype (we live across the country from each other), coffee and Twitter for when we want to procrastinate.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What is the last book that you read that knocked your socks off?
[Jessica and Alyssa] The Likeness by Tana French. She creates such a rich, interesting world in this book…and the mystery kept us guessing until the end.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] If you had to pick one book that turned you on to reading, which would it be?
[Jessica and Alyssa] Kristy’s Great Idea, the first book in The Babysitters Club series. Despite growing up in different states and not knowing each other yet, we were both obsessed with this book series when we were younger and it was actually one of the things that brought us together as friends years later!
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?
[Alyssa] Explore D.C. with my husband (we moved here a few months ago and are loving it), read, watch everything on TV from MSNBC to Pretty Little Liars.
[Jessica] My all-time favorite thing to do when I get any time to myself is curl up and read. Bonus points if it’s rainy and I have a cup of hot cocoa in my hand. Unfortunately in L.A., that’s pretty rare! I also adore traveling, am addicted to more reality television series than I’m willing to admit and love hanging out with my family and friends.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] How can readers connect with you?
[Jessica and Alyssa] We’re all over social media! Come find us!
Our Twitter: @GTownAcademy
Website (and home to our blog): http://georgetownacademyseries.com/
[Manga Maniac Cafe] Thank you!
Thanks to Coliloquy, I have 2 digital copies of Georgetown Academy Book 1 to giveaway! Just will out the widget for your chance to win! Extra entries for following.
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Didn’t win? You can purchase Georgetown Academy from your favorite bookseller or by clicking the link below.
About the book:
It’s the beginning of a new political administration. That might not mean much at most high schools, but at Georgetown Academy, Washington D.C.’s most elite prep school, January 20th means new alliances, new flings, and new places to party.
While freshmen—nicknamed “interns” for their willingness to jump into bed with anyone higher on the D.C. totem pole—navigate the not-so-friendly halls of GA searching for Algebra and Bio classes, the school’s lifers have other things on their minds.
For self-proclaimed D.C. royalty Brinley Madison (of those Madisons), the first day of school is all about establishing the social hierarchy and playing the part of perfect political wife to her boyfriend, the outgoing Vice President’s son. Too bad he has a wandering eye that puts Bill Clinton’s to shame. Can she keep him, and her own secret vice, in check?
Ellie Walker, Brinley’s best friend, floats through the halls on the arm of golden boy Hunter McKnight (the JFK of GA). But when her ex-boyfriend, Gabe, returns to town and her Senator mother’s political nemesis is reelected, Ellie’s life starts to snowball out of control.
Shy, quiet Evan Hartnett is more into books than beer, and her closet is full of t-shirts and jeans instead of Jason Wu and Jimmy Choo. No one’s ever really noticed her—but she’s been noticing them. When her star rises as an intern at D.C.’s most-watched political news show, she soon finds the two worlds colliding in ways that make her question what’s secret and what’s fair game.
New girl Taryn Reyes is all laid-back, California cool; with a father who’s in line to be the first Hispanic president, she’s ready to dive into the D.C. scene with an open mind. But when her fellow students turn out to be more interested in spreading rumors than making friends, she realizes that forging a drama-free path might be a lot harder than she thinks.
With so many new friends and former flames in the mix, things are bound to get a little heated. And while diplomatic immunity might keep the cops away, there’s not much it can do about the press.
In a town where one teenage misstep can turn into a national scandal, the students at Georgetown Academy will have to be on their best behavior—or, at least, they’ll have to make the world believe that they are.
Because there’s only one rule: whatever you do, don’t get caught.