Three Minute Squiz with…Kasey Edwards and Christopher Scanlon

Married Squizers Christopher Scanlon and Kasey Edwards are journalists and authors (amongst many worthy things we could mention). And intriguingly, the couple are writing together under the nom de plume of Violet Grace. The collaboration has resulted in The Chess Raven Chronicles – a young adult fiction series with a difference. Please welcome Kasey and Christopher to the Three Minute Squiz.

How and where do you Squiz?
Chris: At the gym. I endearingly refer to The Squiz as the 6:07 Report as it seems to unfailingly drop into my Inbox every morning at 6:07 when I’m at the gym. I’ll have a quick squiz (see what I did there?) between sets, but then read properly on the bus — after I shower and dress, of course.

Kasey: I read it in bed. I won’t get up until I’ve finished reading it.

How did you two meet?
Chris: RSVP online dating. I didn’t fill in the field where it asked for religion, which was lucky because Kasey later told me there would have been no first date. She was screening for religion, so if I’d put ‘Catholic’, I would have been added to the blocked list.

Kasey: All I’ll say is that there were 15 men in Melbourne on RSVP who met my criteria at the time I was dating and then a 16th snuck in under false pretences — and then moved in. Bloody Catholics.

Your fiction series, what’s the inspiration behind it?
We have two daughters and we were inspired to write the series as an antidote to the toxic messages young girls receive, and also to pass on some important messages we want our girls to know before they grow into women. Rather than just tell them, we’ve done it through a fun, page-turning story that girls want to read rather than a lecture from their parents.

Give us the storyline elevator pitch.
Chess Raven is a hacker who discovers her mother was Queen of the Fae and her father was a brilliant physicist who can simulate magic. In The Girl Who Fell Chess discovers that she, and she alone has the power to unlock a mysterious vessel in the V&A Museum in London but first she must stop waiting for other people to save her. She is the one she’s been waiting for.

In the second book, The Girl Who Chose, Chess goes to Venice in search of the truth about her family. She meets up with mermaids who swim the canals and she must decipher the true meaning of the Voynich Manuscript — a real manuscript that has never been decoded. Nobody knows who wrote it, what it’s about or even what language it’s written in. In this book, Chess learns what love is. Not just romantic love, but love from friends and family. She learns that real love doesn’t clip your wings, real love encourages you to fly.

Working together, eh… Tricky or tremendous?
Kasey: Tremendous. Writing – particularly writing fiction – requires a combination of stubborn determination and insane optimism for those times when you manage to write yourself into corner. I’m the stubborn one, Chris is always certain it’s going to be bigger than God’s underpants.

Chris: Co-writing is really fun. We love having a joint project that we can dream about and create together. Given it is fantasy, when we don’t agree, the disagreements tend to the surreal. I mean, who knows how Fae magic actually works? (I do, as it happens.)

Tell us about the process of writing together. How does it work?
Kasey is in charge of the dialogue and plot while Chris does the world building, the fight scenes and makes sure that the overall structure is page-turning.

Your first albums?
Chris: Two albums (cassettes), bought from Coles Eastlands, Rosny Park in Tasmania: ABBA’s Super Trouper and Chipmunk Punk by the Chipmunks. Their old stuff is better than their new stuff. Funnily enough, that applies to both ABBA and The Chipmunks.

Kasey: The Chipmunks, so we clearly are on the same level when it comes to taste.

Your favourite books?
Chris: Favourite book Hating Alison Ashley. Barry Hollis still cracks me up. Remainder by Tom McCarthy, probably the most original plot I’ve ever read — and convincingly executed.

Kasey: My favourite book – the first book I fell in love with that made we want to be a writer – was also Hating Alison Ashley. Growing up lower middle class, wishing I could be posh and sophisticated, I really related to Erica Yerkin.*

The best piece of advice your mother/father/good friend gave you?
Chris: First pants THEN trousers. It has served me well to this day.

Kasey: Ask questions. People love talking about themselves.

Most overrated virtue.
Chris: Thoroughness. If I’d been thorough with my RSVP Dating profile, Kasey and I wouldn’t have met.

Kasey: Minimising children’s screen time. It’s just another way to make mothers feel guilty.

What’s your worst and best habit?
Chris: I don’t know about best and worst, but the habit that I wished I had was planning. Some people are very good at mapping out a future and then flawlessly executing it in a methodical fashion. I wish I had the knack of doing that. Although, then again, it might a disaster and I’d just keep ploughing on the way to my goal.

Kasey: I am very good at giving directions authoritatively. However, this is a bad habit, because they are mostly wrong directions. But Chris blindly follows them anyway. After 10 years of marriage, you’d think he would have learned by now.

What would you say is the most currently overlooked news story Australians should know about but don’t?
Chris: West Papua – a sham election, a brutal and ongoing occupation right on our doorstep.

Kasey: The details of Angus Taylor and Barnaby Joyce’s roles in the sale of over-priced water licenses and the flow of money to the Cayman Islands.

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