Friday, October 1, 2010

Interview with Adam Epstein & Andrew Jacobson (authors of The Familiars, Harper Collins September 7, 2010)

By D.M. Cunningham

Can you give us a little of your backgrounds and what brought you guys to writing for children?

Adam grew up in New York and  Andrew in Wisconsin. We met in Los Angeles a little over ten years ago and started writing for film and television. Our first break was writing the screenplay for the movie,
Not Another Teen Movie. We went on to write for the MTV Movie Awards for six years. Then a few years ago we decided to make a change. We had always dreamed of writing the kinds of projects we grew up loving -- adventure, fantasy, magic. It made perfect sense for us to write a story targeted to the middle years! 

What was the genesis for The Familiars? How long did it take you to write it and get it into the right hands?

One day Adam asked Andrew, "Are you familiar with what a familiar is?" Andrew replied, "No." But from that simple question, the two of us quickly realized that
The Familiars would make a wonderful book and tell a somewhat familiar hero's journey fantasy story from a fresh and unique perspective. We spent several months writing the original first draft of the manuscript, then several more months rewriting it with our literary agent, Markus Hoffmann at Regal Literary. Within a year, the book went out to publishers and was picked up by Harper Collins.

Can you talk to us about your writing process as a team (how you handle pages, etc)?

The two of us actually write every word, sentence, and page together, in a room, sitting across from each other. Andrew is the typist. Adam sits in a big comfy chair, usually with a bowl of snacks at his side, occasionally staring out the window. But over the course of a 9-5 workday, we talk, write and create our stories.

Why do you think writing as a team is beneficial (as opposed to writing solo)?

Well, one of the most difficult parts of writing is having the discipline to sit in a chair and just write. Having a writing partner with set hours prevents avoiding the chair from happening. It forces discipline and efficiency. And it's a lot more fun to write with a friend!

Can you tell those of us that don't know; what is a high concept story and why are they so enticing to movie studios?

A high concept story is one whose idea is succinct enough that you could relay it to someone in a single sentence, or just by looking at the cover of the book ,or the movie poster. These are enticing to publishers and movie studios because they're easier to market to a mass audience.

Now that the book has been released, what is the next step for you guys in making sure the book gets attention?

This is one of the great hidden truths behind being an author. Not only do you have to write an amazing and fantastic book, but then the really hard part begins: trying to convince people to read and discover it. It's like making a giant snowball. You have to start by rolling it yourself, and only then can it pick up speed and start to take on a mass of its own and roll down the hill. We were lucky enough to go out on a national book tour and visit elementary schools and bookstores. In addition, we have come to rely on social networks like Twitter and Goodreads to spread the word. We're even on Warriors chat boards role playing.

Can you give us a sneak peak of what is next for you guys?

We have been adapting the book into a screenplay for the 3D animated movie that is in production now. We recently completed book two of
The Familiars series, (The Familiars: Secrets of the Crown). And we are noodling a brand new series.

If you guys were stuck with having to read only one book forever, what would it be, and why?

The Illustrated Man by Ray Bradbury. It's a collection of many stories all told from the tattoos on a man's body. It would keep me from getting bored by just one.

The Old Testament. Not even for its religious aspects, but for all the fantastic stories told within it.

Thanks so much!! 


The second book in The Familiars series, The Familiars: Secrets of the Crown, will be coming out in September of 2011.

You can learn more at 

Author Websites:

Exciting news everyone! "The Familiars," which is being adapted into a 3D animated movie, has found a director. Academy Award nominated Pixar director Doug Sweetland, who created the short film PRESTO, which appeared before WALL-E, has been hired by Sony Animation to helm "The Familiars."  


  1. Great interview. I'm looking forward to reading the book once I get some down time. But from what I've seen . . . I think this will be an awesome movie.

  2. Great Interview! I loved the YouTube Video!

    The book was wonderful and magical! I can't wait to find out what happens next!



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