We fell in love with the amazing parallel worlds in new release Tandem. The first book in the Many-Worlds Trilogy, Tandem is a story of love and betrayal set in parallel universes in which nothing—and no one—is what it seems. So we had to catch up with author Anna Jarzab to get the inside scoop on what inspired the book, the fashion, and of course, the romance.
Q: Your previous novels, All Unquiet Things and The Opposite of Hallelujah, are both realistic fiction, while Tandem is a totally different kind of story—about parallel universes! What inspired you to write in a new genre?
Well, in a way, Tandem was inspired by The Opposite of Hallelujah because the main character in that book is sort of a physics nerd, so I was reading a lot of popular science books while I was writing it. I kept coming across all these theories about parallel universes, which I thought were interesting. I’d always wanted to write a big epic adventure with high stakes and romance, and the more research I did about parallel universes, the more I realized that was the perfect setting for a story on that scale.
Q: When the main character of Tandem, Sasha, ends up in a parallel universe, she is completely out of her element. What would your reaction be? Do you believe parallel universes exist?
I don’t know, probably lose my mind. If you think about it, what Sasha is experiencing is so crazy and terrifying, but she’s got this open mind and fierce spirit that allow her to adapt and survive. Not sure I can say the same about myself! I do believe in parallel universes, although I’m not sure we’ll ever be able to travel between them, or even if we should. That’s one of the conversations in Tandem—are we violating some kind of metaphysical law in crossing into other universes? In the later books, this becomes an even bigger issue, because you start realizing some of the consequences and dangers of what these people are doing.
Q: Which character in Tandem was the most fun to write?
One of the fun things in general about writing Tandem was getting to switch characters, but if I have to choose, I’ll say Thomas. The book didn’t really gel for me until I started writing chapters from his point of view. I find his struggles really interesting, and his issues with living up to expectations and trying so hard to be what other people want him to be is something I identify with. I think all teacher’s pet types will see a little of themselves in Thomas.
Q: Without giving away any spoilers, can you tell us a brief description of your favorite scene in Tandem?
It actually occurs pretty early in the book, around page 50 or so—I love the scene with Sasha and Thomas on the beach. I like it because it plays with, in a subtle way, the question of what lying really is. You’re reading it from Sasha’s point of view, so you have no idea what’s going on in Thomas’s head, but you know he’s not who he says he is, and yet . . . you believe him. You know that the feelings he’s expressing are sincere.
Q: The characters in Tandem, especially the girls, wear some great outfits. How did you come up with the characters’ fashion choices?
Most of the clothes in Tandem were actually designed/styled by my best friend, who has a degree in design from Parson’s and works in the fashion industry. The clothes are important because Sasha wears them, but they don’t belong to her, and she doesn’t choose them. So if you pay close attention, the clothes tell their own story—they give you a peek into Juliana’s psyche, and they chart Sasha’s evolution in Aurora. (We love that!)
Q: How is Sasha different from her double in the parallel world, Juliana—aside from the fact that Juliana is a princess? Are you more similar to Sasha or Juliana?
I think Thomas has it right when he compares the two of them in Tandem—Juliana, because of the way she was raised and all the pressure that’s been placed on her, is really guarded and closed-off and cynical, where Sasha is the opposite—open and trusting. She’s also got this secret adventurous streak, and she’s more empathetic, whereas Juliana is just out for herself in this book. This makes her something of a villain in Tandem, but I’ve got a lot of sympathy for her, and I know she’s more complex than she appears. If I’m to be totally honest, I’m kind of a blend. I’ve got some of Juliana’s insecurities and rigidness, and some of Sasha’s hope in me.
Q: What did you like to read when you were a teenager? Any favorite books?
I read everything as a kid—I would just come home from the library with armfuls of books. I devoured Nancy Drew and Sweet Valley High, and when I got a little bit older I read every Stephen King and Mary Higgins Clark book I could get my hands on. Agatha Christie, too—I’ve always loved mysteries. But my three favorite books from when I was younger have to be The Phantom Tollbooth, A Wrinkle in Time, and The Little White Horse.
Q: Aside from writing, what do you like to do in your spare time?
Read! Seriously, I work in publishing so my life basically revolves around books. But I also like to spend time with my friends, and I live in New York City, so there’s always something fun and different going on.
And more . . .
Q: Describe your book in five words:
Fun, romance, intrigue, parallel universes
Q: Who would play the following characters in a movie version of Tandem:
a. Sasha/Juliana—There’s this actress I saw on an episode of Elementary, Melissa Farman, who I think looks a lot like I imagine the girls.
b. Thomas/Grant—Colton Haynes from Teen Wolf and Arrow. I don’t watch either show, but maybe I should!
c. Callum—Callan McAuliffe. Their names are even similar!
d. Lucas—In my head, James McAvoy, even though he’s probably too old.
e. Gloria—Zoe Saldana
Q: Your guiltiest pleasure:
Trader Joe’s Cookie Butter
Q: The one person in history you’d like to go to dinner with:
Nancy Mitford, who was this woman that grew up in a really eccentric upper crust English family and went on to be a devastatingly funny novelist. I feel like she and I would just gossip for hours and hours.
Click the book cover to read more about Tandem and click on Anna Jarzab’s picture to read our interview!