I’m excited to share an interview with Sofía Lapuente and Jarrod Shusterman today—a writing duo as well as a real life couple! Their novel, Retro, releases tomorrow from Simon & Schuster.
Q&A with Sofía Lapuente and Jarrod Shusterman
Tell us about Retro What inspired the story?
Jarrod: Hi there! So RETRO is a fun thriller, inspired by a single thought we had: can we survive without our smart technology? Well, in our book our characters are offered a mega scholarship if they can make it a year, effectively going ‘Retro’ where they can only listen to throwback music, shop for vintage clothes, party like it would never be posted, and fall in love like they were living in a Retro movie! Every chapter title is a song, so the index is a playlist, with a QR code that leads to Spotify, Youtube, or itunes, so you can listen while you read!
Sofi: I’m Hispanic, so including my culture was really important to me : ) And that inspired our protagonist. Luna, is sweet as pie, dragon fiery, strong Hispanic seventeen-year-old who takes the Retro Challenge—only when students start disappearing, it will be up to Luna and her friends to figure out who is sabotaging the challenge, or maybe they’re next! We’d tell you more but you’ll have to read the book to figure out what happens.
What is your co-writing process like?
Jarrod: So we write everything together. Both of our fingerprints are on every single line. We’ve learned to create a hybrid voice, based on both of our writing styles—and sometimes it takes a few extra passes to get it right, but we write in a way that could never exist without the other person. And we both defer to each others’ strengths. I’ll handle pacing, and how to make it feel like a cinematic scene, where Sofi brings character, culture and a ton of twists. Plus She’s really funny, so a lot of the snarky characters’ commentary is totally coming from her. When it comes to plot we plan EVERYTHING long before the book is written, so we can write in a cohesive manner.
Each chapter of Retro is a title of a song on Luna’s playlist. Which is your favorite song and which is your favorite chapter?
Sofi: What a great question! My favorite song in the book is ‘Isla Bonita’ by Madonna because it just brings me back to my upbringing and my world in Spain. And let’s face it, for everything Madonna has done, she should be inducted in the pantheon of the gods. And then when it comes to favorite chapter, I would have to say the one that starts with ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’, by Nirvana, because that’s when this story turns from fun challenge/thriller to total chaos and rebellion. And what the characters pull of in the climax totally fits the anti-system vibe of that song!
Jarrod: As for my song, I love ‘Sweet Dreams are made of this’, because it’s one of those scenes that makes you fall in love even more with the book boyfriend, Axel. Who is more representative of me. (If you can’t tell, in some ways I’m Axel and Sofi is Luna) But that makes sense because I fell for a Hispanic girl and am loving every minute of it <3 I would have to say that my favorite chapter is the final one: ‘Heaven is a Place on Earth’ because everything wraps up in a way that should feel totally satisfying with the goal of bringing some warm-hearted tears to your eyes!
Finally, let’s play a quick game of “this or that” to get to know you both better!
Coffee or tea?
Morning or night?
Pantser or plotter?
Jarrod & Sofi: (in unison) PLOTTER
Salty or sweet snacks?
Jarrod: Chocolate covered Pretzels. So both!
Sofi: That’s why I’m with him : )
Hardcover or paperback?
Jarrod: Hardcovers for sure.
Sofi: SAME. Unless it’s an advanced reader copy ; )
TikTok or Instagram?
Sofi: IG . . . but in reality, BOTH! You can follow us on IG and TikTok @sofiandjarrod for fun behind the scenes author life content. Promise you’ll be entertained, and we’re always doing giveaways, contests where we name characters after fans—and if you DM us with a question about the book, or want to say hello, we’ll usually always respond! <3
Release Date: January 24, 2023
Find it: Goodreads, Bookshop, Barnes & Noble, Amazon
What starts off as a lighthearted competition to live without modern technology for a year turns into a fight for survival in this unputdownable young adult thriller by New York Times bestselling author Jarrod Shusterman and debut author Sofía Lapuente.
It was never meant to happen this way.
Things were never supposed to get this out of hand.
After a cyberbullying incident at her school goes viral, Luna Iglesias finds herself at the heart of a brewing controversy. When the social media company Limbo—who are also implicated in the scandal—sweeps in with an offer that sounds like an opportunity to turn over a new leaf and receive a scholarship to the college of her dreams, she’s happy to jump on the new trend. It’s called the Retro Challenge, where contestants live without modern technology, wear vintage clothes, party as if the future weren’t already written, and fall in love as if they were living in a movie.
At first, the challenge is fun. But then things get dangerous. Kids start disappearing, including Luna’s friends. There are voices in the woods. Bloodred markings on the trees. And Luna increasingly begins to wonder if all these strange happenings are connected with the Retro Challenge.
Secrets. Lies. Betrayal. The weight of her family on her shoulders. There’s so much on the line for Luna, not to mention she’s falling in love with the last guy she expected. Unless she can figure out the truth behind who’s sabotaging the challenge, the next person to disappear may be Luna herself.
Sofía Lapuente is an author, screenwriter, and avid world traveler who immigrated from Spain to the United States to realize her dream of storytelling. Since then, she has received a master’s degree in fine arts at UCLA, worked as a producer and casting director on an Emmy nominated show, and received coauthor credits in Gleanings, the New York Times bestselling fourth installment of the Arc of a Scythe series, with her partner, Jarrod Shusterman. Together, the couple writes and produces film and television under their production company Dos Lobos Entertainment.
Jarrod Shusterman is the New York Times bestselling coauthor of novel Dry, which he is adapting for a major Hollywood film studio with Neal Shusterman. He is also the coauthor of the accoladed novel Roxy. His books have all received critical acclaim and multiple starred reviews. Sofí Lapuente and Jarrod are partners in every sense of the word, with love and multiculturalism as an ethos—living between Madrid, Spain, and Los Angeles, California. If they are not working, it means they’re eating. For behind-the-scenes author content and stupidly funny videos, follow them on Instagram and TikTok @SofiandJarrod.
Mona AlvaradoFraziersays:January 23, 2023 at 9:36 AM
Love the premise of this novel! And an accompanying playlist via a QR code is ingenious. For sure, it’s on my TBR list.