Swoon Authors Tarun Shanker and Kelly Zekas Ask Each Other Very Specific, Leading Questions About Pub Week

Hi everyone! We are incredibly happy about our first week as published authors, but we are also feeling completely, totally, 100% drained. Who knew?

A big part of that was being featured on a number of wonderful blogs and participating in fun Q&A’s all about These Vicious Masks and our writing experiences. So we figured we’d finish up our pub week by asking each other a final round of questions before returning to our writing cave.

Kelly, how many pictures (round to the nearest thousand) did you take when you first found our book in stores?


Tarun, how many pictures did you take?

Five. I was trying to play it cool and not to weird the teenagers out. That probably drew more attention, now that I think about it.

Kelly, how badly do you feel for bookstore employees having to deal with us and our enthusiastic friends?

Medium-bad? My friends are taking very enthusiastic selfies in-store and one delightful friend screamed in a bookstore cafe that I wrote the book she is holding.

Tarun, you're the one who worked at a Blockbuster in high school, so I imagine you feel worse?

Yeah, I still have a compulsion from my retail days to fix small, messy things I see in stores. So when our friends started sending us pictures or telling us about how they moved our book to prominent display tables, I was very flattered, but also very worried that bookstore employees are going to hate us.

Kelly, how did it feel having your friends throw you a reading party?

It was totally surreal and embarrassing and wonderful. We ate cake and drank mimosas and tea. My actor friends read aloud with perfect British accents. It was one of the most generous things that’s ever been done for me.

Tarun, how angry were you that your friends threw you a surprise party for your birthday and the book?

Pretty angry, but it was very nice of them so it was hard to stay mad. I’d insisted on doing nothing because I don’t like being the center of attention (it’s too overwhelming!), but they went ahead and did it anyway, and then, off your suggestion, gave me this cake with a very appropriate line from These Vicious Masks.

tarun's bday cake

Kelly, what was the most overwhelming part of pub week?

Well, the amazing Anna Banks hosted a Twitter chat for us the night before the release. It was simultaneously the best hour of my life and the most exhausting. I actually lost it a little bit. I was having trouble thinking and speaking. I don’t think I have ever concentrated so hard in my life. I slept for about 12 hours right after. But you didn’t—you went straight to bar trivia!

Tarun, how badly did you do in bar trivia after the Twitter chat?

Pretty sure I lost the game for our team. I don’t want to talk about it. The next day made up for it though.

Kelly, was our pub day everything you’d expected?

It was so intense! I felt so loved, all day. My friends were sending me tracking updates from e-tailers and pictures with their books. And Twitter—Twitter was hard to keep up with! I definitely did not expect so many people to wish us a happy pub day. Then I went to Books of Wonder to sign some books and had dinner with two of my favorite people.

Tarun, on a scale of 1-10, how stressful do you find signing books to be?

I’ve been practicing my signature, so I thought it’d be about a 2, but when I was actually confronted with a book to sign, it rocketed up to a 9. I got flashbacks to high school yearbooks and trying to come up with brilliant, timeless notes in ten seconds. I really hope I didn’t sign any copies of TVM with ‘Enjoy your summer!’

Kelly, does it feel ridiculous to sign your name under my beautiful signature?

I don’t need your sass, Tarun.

tvm signatures

Tarun, do you feel ridiculous every time you break your vow to avoid reviews?

...Maybe. But this time it’s for real! It’s not just going to be for a few days until I “accidentally” check, find one with complaints, and have a mini-existential crisis.

Kelly, what’s the meaning of life?

I am the wrong person to ask.

Tarun, how many times a day do you pet your copies of the book? I probably do it about 5 times a day.

OK, fine, you win. I only pet it every couple of days. And you took more pictures with it. You officially love our first book more than I do. But the real question is...

Kelly, do you even CARE about Book 2 as much as I do?

I like to think that we care equally. But Book 2 is a little … daunting right now.

Tarun, are you feeling daunted by Book 2?

No, everything about it feels perfect and amazing. I’m obviously in the honeymoon phase though.

Kelly, shouldn’t we get back to writing Book 2?

I guess you’re right. I mean I know that’s important. But…

Tarun, aren’t you going to miss Book 1 a little bit?

Well, I already talked about it last week while you were camping out at the bookstore. It’s time to let go. For everyone else though...

Kelly, what would you recommend to all our lovely readers who need more historical fiction in their lives, while waiting for Book 2?

The Gemma Doyle trilogy by Libba Bray, Indiscretion, An Accomplished Woman or A Little Folly by Jude Morgan, Gail Carriger’s Parasol Protectorate series, and of COURSE: Love, Lies & Spies!

Author spotlight

Tarun Shanker & Kelly Zekas

Tarun and Kelly met in a freshman year writing class at NYU and started writing These Vicious Masks a few …

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