July 4, 2012

Forbidden Territory Review and Interview With Authors Melissa Pearl and Brenda Howson

It is my great pleasure to welcome Forbidden Territory authors
Melissa Pearl and Brenda Howson
to My Book Chatter today.

Lets Meet The Authors

Melissa Pearl and Brenda Howson have been best friends for about 12 years. Both mothers of two young children, both married to school teachers and both lovers of writing, they have a lot in common. Having spent many vacations away together, they have become as close to sisters as two girls can get. It was on one of these holidays away that the Mica and Lexy Series was born.

Melissa is the author of the Time Spirit Trilogy, which was published at the end of 2011. She is a fully trained elementary teacher, but is lucky enough to stay home and watch her kids grow. She is also spending every spare moment trying to turn writng into a full time career - and loving the process.

Brenda was the one who encouraged Melissa to start writing in the first place. Once Melissa got started, Brenda caught the bug and she has been writing for ten years, in between motherhood and working at a local high school in the computer department. She has won two short story competitions and been runner up in another. Forbidden Territory will be her first published novel.

I have to say a BIG thank you to both Melissa and Brenda who were gracious enough to take the time to answer the following questions :)

1. What are three quirky, interesting, or little known facts you can each tell us about yourselves?
Melissa: Once on holiday we spent about three days playing that game where you give the person two options they have to choose from eg: rice bubbles or cornflakes... you know, really important stuff like that :) I think we chose the same thing for about 90% of the questions. It was getting a little ridiculous :)
Brenda: Although we have a lot in common, we usually have different fashion styles or so I thought. The last few times we’ve been together, we’ve both shown up in the same sort of jeans, boots and same coloured tees. Spooky.
Melissa: We both like to eat really well and encourage each other to aim for the healthy option. We eat high protein, low carbs type food. Once we were away on a girly weekend and really felt like french fries, we did homemade pumpkin fries instead. I think we got through most of the pumpkin and were turning slightly orange by the end of the day :)

2. Who are some of your favourite authors and what books do you have on your ‘to be read’ pile?
Brenda: Melissa Pearl is my favourite author. Seriously. She’s so talented and I am impatiently waiting to be the first to read her next manuscript!! My to read pile is pretty huge, but I’m keen to read the next Simone Elkeles book.
3. What have been the biggest challenges and/or surprises you’ve each faced as writers?
Melissa: Getting yourself out there is the hardest part for me. Marketing is way harder than I thought it would be. I'm having fun as I go, learning some of the tricks of the trade and meeting amazing people along the way, but I'm sure I could be doing better. Writing is the fun part, marketing is the hard work, but you need to do both well to be successful :)
Brenda: I’m super shy around people I don’t know (total introvert) so the writing part is easy but getting out there and marketing (as Melissa has mentioned) scares the heck out of me.

4. What has been the hardest thing about writing Forbidden Territory together?
Melissa: We live an hour's drive apart so that has been a little challenging. We make it work by having writing weekends away or just a day together to chat stuff through. We also use ichat a lot and e-mail each other constantly throughout the day. Good communication is key in co-authoring a book.

5. Did these stories/characters manifest themselves in dreams/daydreams, voices in your head etc, or do you sit down and purposely create them?
Brenda: Lexy started off being purposely created but then I left her with my imagination and she evolved into who she is today. I don’t tend to dream about my characters but as I’m exercising, driving or listening to music, they manifest themselves in my head. It’s extremely fascinating how that happens. And although Mica and Lexy were created independent of each other, they just happened to work out perfectly together as best friends. 

6. How did you pick names for your characters or did they come with their own already?
Melissa: That is such a cool question. I always loved the name Mica for a girl and I had been saving it up for the right character. When my red-haired bombshell with her sassy mouth and punk rock ways walked into my imagination, I knew Mica was the perfect name for her. My other character, Mica's love interest, needed a really strong, masculine name. I thought Eli was perfect.
Brenda: I have a list of names I keep on a document that I LOVE and want to use one day. Lexy was the one that jumped out at me and matched the character I was creating. Lexy is short for Alexandra, which of course, she hates.

7. Favorite movie and/or TV show?
Melissa: That question is WAY too hard. I have so many!!! How about I take TV shows and Brenda can do movies. We like all the same stuff anyway :)
TV Shows: Friends, Big Bang Theory and Rookie Blue
Brenda: Awwww Melissa… You know I have like a MILLION faves. Hmmmmm favourite movie of all time, if I have to narrow it down, is Dirty Dancing. Other movies that I can watch over and over and over again are: 10 Things I Hate About You, Never Been Kissed, She’s the Man and last but not at all least, all of the Twilight movies.

8. Favorite actor and/or actress?
Melissa: Leonardo DiCaprio is amazing. I think he's a really talented actor - and let's face it, he's gorgeous!
Brenda: I have a little thing for Rob Pattenson, but I actually prefer him when he has his own English accent. Super sexy (I created Tom so you can see I have a thing for Brits). I don’t miss a movie with Sandra Bullock and I also really REALLY love Lauren Graham, but she’s mostly in TV series rather than movies.

9. Who is your ultimate swoon worthy man? (Other than your hubby!)
Melissa: Brenda is going to read this and totally crack up. She knows my answer already... Paul Walker. Happy sigh!!!
Brenda: I TOTALLY could have answered that for her as she could about mine: Jason Behr (watch ‘Roswell’ and you’ll understand!)
(Ohh yes very yummy!!)
10. What is the most daring thing you have ever done or hope to do?
Melissa: I am afraid of heights so the most daring thing I've ever done is the Big Swoop in Rotorua. Basically you get strapped into a really strong sleeping bag, hooked onto a wire and pulled about 10 storeys into the air. I hung there like a petrified Superman then my hubby who was strapped beside me pulled the cord and well fell. After that initial drop, and I swallowed my heart back down, I had the best time swooping through the air. It was awesome!!
Brenda: On my bucket list is to do the 10 BEST roller coasters in the world (finances willing of course), I LOVE anything speedy and fast like that. One of these days I’ll do a bungy jump too. Love, love, love that stuff. But ask me to crawl through caves – NO WAY!

Thanks again Melissa and Brenda.
Its been great getting to know you both better and I wish you lots of success with Forbidden Territory and all future Mica & Lexy books :)

Here's their book and my review...

Title: Forbidden Territory: A Mica & Lexy Book
Author: Melissa Pearl and Brenda Howson
Release Date: July 1st 2012
Publisher: Self published
Source: Received from the authors for an honest review

Mica and Lexy have been best friends and next door neighbours since they were eight years old. They share everything and have no secrets from each other until... Tom arrives on Mica's doorstep - a gorgeous exchange student from England. And Lexy is smitten.

Suddenly both girls are keeping secrets. Mica is hiding news about Tom's English girlfriend and Lexy hasn't got the heart to tell her best friend that her brother Eli, the guy Mica is mad on, thinks of her as only a friend.

After a massive fight, the girls decide the best way to mend their friendship is to spend some quality time together. And what better way than to go camping away from their parents and why not invite along the guys they are crushing on.

So the four teenagers embark on a geo-caching expedition into New Zealand's native bush expecting a long weekend filled with flirtatious fun; instead secrets are exposed as they stumble across a hidden marijuana crop and its gun-wielding watchmen. Forced apart they spend the next forty-eight hours racing blindly in opposite directions as they fight to find each other before the hunters do.

My Thoughts

Forbidden Territory is the story of a group of average teenagers doing what average teenagers do.
Being good students, falling in love/lust, and finding secret armed compounds of large marijuana crops out in the bush!!

While seemingly average in every way, this group of teenagers are soon put to a test of physical and mental endurance, in a bid to outrun and outsmart a blood hungry group of no-nonsense criminals.

This book has everything...vivid story telling, a great cast of characters, intricate twists and turns with action galore and a little teenage angst thrown in too.

While written in differing points-of-view, by not one but two authors; Forbidden Territory is a coherant and well structured story you will find hard to put down.

Forbidden Territory is one of those books that immediately sweeps you up and carries you away on a spectacular journey, and I think anyone who has grown up in New Zealand will be carried away by childhood memories that this story invokes of adventurous games played in our many reserves and bushblocks - I know I have.

An exciting and adventurous 4 Star read ;]

Check out the tour schedule and giveaway here.


  1. Thanks so much, Cathy!! Brenda

  2. Your welcome, and reading Forbidden Territory was my absolute pleasure...cant wait for book 2!!


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