Students Want to Know: Charlotte Bennardo & Natalie Zaman

Found this cute pic @ Midnyte Reader

Charlotte Bennardo and Natalie Zaman are the talented debut authors of Sirenz which debuts on June 8th!  My students and I were lucky enough to read a copy early–we love it!  If you enjoy fashion, mythology, or just a fun story, you should get yourself a copy pronto 🙂  Thank you, Char and Nat, for doing this!!

Summary of Sirenz (From Goodreads): Bickering frenemies Meg and Shar are doing some serious damage at a midnight sample sale when they find themselves arguing over a pair of shoes—with fatal consequences. One innocent bystander later, the girls are suddenly at the mercy of Hades—the god of the underworld—himself. To make them atone for what they’ve done, Hades forces the teens to become special-assignment Sirens, luring to the Underworld any individual whose unholy contract is up.

But just because they have an otherworldly part-time job now doesn’t mean Meg and Shar can ignore life’s drudgeries (work) or pleasures (fashion!). Finding that delicate balance between their old and new responsibilities turns out to be harder than they expected, especially when an entire pantheon of Greek deities decides to get involved. Then there’s the matter of the fine print in their contracts . . .

** Natalie’s Blog **
** Charlotte’s Blog **
** Add Sirenz on Goodreads **
** Pick up a copy of Sirenz on June 8th **

Sara C:

  • Did having two authors influence your decision to include two points of view?
    Hi Sara! Yes, it did! Whenever an author writes a story, they always bring a bit of themselves to it. In our case, there’s a bit of ourselves in Meg (Nat) and Shar (Char). We’re very different people and this is reflected in the girls—Shar is spontaneous and funny while Meg is more contemplative with a drier sense of humor—they foil each other well (at least we think so!).  This also influenced the way we worked on the book: We’d plot out the story together,  go back and forth drafting chapters individually  (though we’ve each written scenes for the other’s chapter—it’s hard to remember who did what at this point exactly!) , then come together again to edit and polish them.
  • What happens to Jeremy after they are finished?
    Ooooo—you’ll see when SIRENZ BACK IN FASHION comes out! We could tell you now, but then we’d have to wipe your memory. >:)
  • Why did you choose Shar to be strong-willed and refuse Hades’ offers?
    Hades, for all his fabulousness, is still, at heart, a villain (although he’s one we kinda like!). Shar deserves better than him. Once we got our editorial letter (the first round of revisions that an editor wants an author to make to a book) it was determined that Meg was going to end up with Jeremy. We didn’t want Shar to have no one, and it seemed a natural fit for Hades to try and go after her *BUT* Shar doesn’t date married men. Hades is married to Persephone, and he’s attracted to Shar because not only is she similar in looks to Persephone, but she’s also no push over. Hades loves a challenge! And her dealings with him show that even though she’s into material things, they don’t own her.
  • Why did you have them fight over shoes?
    Shoes are awesome! Seriously though, when you look at fashion in general, there are certain pieces of clothing that anyone can incorporate into their wardrobe, no matter what their personal style is.  *BUT* not all girls are built the same way. Shoes are one of those things that transcend height, shape and size.  A short curvy dark haired girl can rock a pair of gladiator sandals just as well as a tall blonde girl can. Meg and Shar might be built differently—but their shoe size is the same (or pretty close!), so when a lone pair of Vivienne Westwoods in a size 10 that they both covet comes up for grabs… (A note on Vivienne Westwood: she is an AMAZING British designer with a really unique eye. She bases many of her designs on historical patterning, and her collections feature conservative and classic pieces as well as funky ones, so she would definitely have produced something that both Meg and Shar would want.). Meg and Shar find out that they do have other things in common besides shoe size—but this is where it begins. We probably could have done the same thing with a purse, but the shoe thing gave us more to play with, especially when the girls start to take on their siren forms—a big bird can hold a bag without that much trouble. Poor  Shar literally runs out of options when the use of her Siren power attacks her feet, and those are the first things to go for her. How cruel!

Rachel G:

  • Does your story accurately resemble Greek myth?
    Hi Rachel! We tried to stay true to the mythology but added our own twists to it.  An example of this can be seen in what we did with Persephone. In the myth everyone knows she’s abducted by Hades, but there are some more obscure stories—like the one about the nymph Menthe (one of Hades’ conquests) that shows a darker side to Persephone’s personality. According to the story, Hades is just like his little brother Zeus in that he likes to cheat on his wife. When Persephone found out that Hades was cheating with Menthe, she turned her into a mint plant, then trampled it into the dirt (ouch!). This got us thinking that Persephone probably wasn’t as helpless and innocent as she’s usually made out to be, and it’s reflected in our vision of her.
  •  Did you have to do a lot of research for this book?
    We had to look at so many shoes! That was the fun part, and we did research the mythology. We wanted to explore some different myths—see the story of Menthe, above. We also tried to incorporate some other, lesser known tidbits—such as the fact that Zeus is the king of the pantheon, but he’s Hades’ younger brother. Technically, Hades should be in charge—this is something that will come into play in SIRENZ BACK IN FASHION. Field trips were a form of research that we REALLY liked to do. We made several trips into New York City (we’re lucky that we live so close) to get the details right and to find interesting places for the girls to go, and shop.
  • Are Meg and Shar real sirens who are seductive and dangerous like the Greek myth?
    Wouldn’t that be cool! Meg and Shar are two regular girls who find themselves at the mercy of Hades. BUT… there is more to their story which you’ll find out in the next two (possibly three!) books. We could tell you now but… >:) The only danger Meg and Shar pose is to the national debt and each other!  And really, how seductive can you be with bird feet and feathers? But maybe that changes over the series. We won’t tell!
  • Where did you get the idea to combine two totally separate themes like Greek myth and fashion?
    When we had our first brainstorming session, we talked about a bunch of different themes—vampires included. But everyone was doing vampires. We knew we wanted to do something funny and started talking about Xena Warrior Princess and how we liked it because it was campy and fun and the gods were nice to look at—that settled the mythology part. Then we talked about putting it into a modern setting. We had our girls, and we had our bad boy, Hades, and we started batting around how those would go together—what could he offer them? Fashion is a bit of a hobby for me (Nat).  I’ve been to the Alexander McQueen exhibit over at the Met three times so far! And I, (Char!) describe myself as a moderate shoe freak—and we both thought it would be a fun element to include. At first both the girls were total  fashionistas, but after we got our editorial letter we rewrote part of Meg’s character to go in a different direction. Fashion is still a big part of this story because they do a stint as interns at House of Romanov, and Meg does have her unique style (think black +retro + thrift store—she’d also be a big fan of Hot Topic). It’ll be an important element—in a different way—in the next books.



  1. Great interview! I am really looking forward to reading Sirenz. One of my first jobs was working in an outlet store, and I once saw 2 women come to blows over a purse they both wanted. So, Sirenz sounds totally believable!

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