How do four privileged teenagers survive growing up in the world’s most powerful city, where even the kids are pawns in the adults’ political games? That’s what authors Marilyn (Maz) Rauber and Amy Reingold (on the left) wanted to know. So they wrote a new Young Adult trilogy taking readers through the White House family quarters, Georgetown mansions and secret back corridors of Congress. The first book in the series, Capital Girls, published by St. Martin’s Griffin, hits stores today and their launch party is tonight at a private home in Washington’s Spring Valley neighborhood. In it, four young women serve as the main characters — one dies in a mysterious accident, their bond is shaken, yada yada…the book release comes as the 2012 presidential race shifts into high gear.
The remaining two books, Secrets and Lies and Truth or Dare will be published in November 2012 and April 2013 respectively.
FYI, their husbands have been in the media business. Maz’s husband, Charley Keyes, was a senior national security producer at CNN (he retired earlier this year) and Amy’s husband, Richard Reingold, is former GM at WUSA and former news director at WRC.
1. Did you have any specific people in mind when creating the characters? Chelsea Clinton, Jenna Bush? Were they inspired by women either of you grew up with? AMY: Each of us has raised teenagers in DC … We drew on stories we heard from our own teens as well as stories that Maz covered for the New York Post through the years. MAZ: Incidents such as the Bush twins getting caught under-aged drinking in a Texas bar, Bill Clinton’s sex scandals, Chelsea Clinton’s occasional appearance as a public, albeit silent, buffer between her parents. But all the characters are fictitious — exaggerated figments of our imagination.
2. Being a “young adult trilogy” how much sex does the book include? AMY: Nothing graphic. MAZ: But just like real life, the teens think about it a lot, talk about it a lot, and some of them act on it.
3. So, these politically connected parents that you write about, are they people we might know? AMY: Again, they’re composites … the female characters are loosely based on some of the strong female role models we admire, such as Hillary Clinton, Michelle Obama, Madeleine Albright, Nancy Pelosi, Olympia Snowe, Arianna Huffington, Christine Lagarde, Angela Merkel, and Julia Gillard. MAZ: We thought it was about time the President was a woman, along with her chief of staff. The wicked Senator Hampton Griffin, for example, is a composite of southern politicians, dead and alive. Naming no names!
4. How long did it take you to write the books? Did you two go anyplace special or particularly quiet to do your writing? Any writing rituals? AMY: We started writing the first book in mid 2009 and just finished the third book last week. We write side-by-side at Maz’s computer, meeting every weekday for about 6-8 hours. It’s on the 15th floor, with big windows. The shuttle, on its way to the Dulles museum, flew right by the window, as do Canadian geese and hummingbirds. Maz’s dog, Aussie, a nine-year-old border terrier/poodle mix is our lucky mascot. He sits under our legs as we write. MAZ: Sometimes we even write via Skype, when I’m visiting my family in Australia. The 13-hour time difference is miserable, though.
5. Who is your favorite character? AMY: Taylor Cane, because she lives life on her own terms. MAZ: Lettie Velasquez because she’s down-to-earth and determined to make a difference. And I have a secret crush on her boyfriend, Daniel.
Photo credit: Judy Licht.