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