In January of 2011, I had an important decision to make–what to write next? The Opposite of Hallelujah was ready to go to my editor (the fact that The Opposite of Hallelujah was released October 9, 2012 should show you how slow publishing can be sometimes), and the project I was currently toiling away on just wasn’t working right, as projects sometimes do. I’d decided to abandon it, and, for the first time in a long time, come up with a totally fresh idea, instead of returning to an old project and completely rewriting it, as I’d done with both All Unquiet Things and The Opposite of Hallelujah. There was one thing I knew: I wanted to go on a cool adventure, and I wanted to take readers with me on that journey. Oh, and I wanted to write a romance, because if you know me at all you know that’s my favorite part of any book–the kissing. I’m the opposite of Fred Savage from Princess Bride in that way.
For years now, I’ve been a fan of popular science books (like the works of Brian Greene or Michio Kaku), and I read a lot of that kind of stuff when I was writing The Opposite of Hallelujah. One thing had caught my imagination: parallel universes. So, the thing about parallel universe stories is that they fall roughly into two categories: Sliding Doors or Sliders. The Sliding Doors stories are about one life, but two different versions, hinging on one seemingly insignificant moment where two opposite choices create entirely disparate results. The Sliders stories are the ones where you’re bopping around a bunch of different universes, encountering many versions of the same people whose lives are altered depending on the circumstances of their universe. I would consider Fringe a Sliders type story, even though they only ever go to one other universe (like, the Olivia Dunham of the second universe is obviously different than the Olivia Dunham from “our” universe, but she’s still named Olivia Dunham, etc.).
I like both type of stories, and there are certainly some awesome examples in YA and adult fiction (and TV and film), but I wanted to write something a little bit outside of those paradigms. Thus, the Many-Worlds Trilogy was born. See, in Tandem, the other universe that the main character, Sasha, visits, is so different from her own that while her double, Juliana, looks exactly like her, they have almost nothing in common otherwise. Juliana obviously has a different name, and different parents, and is the princess of a North American monarchy on a planet that is identical to Earth but which is called Aurora (for reasons you find out in the novel itself). Sasha, on the other hand, is just a normal teenager from our world. Nevertheless, the girls are connected, in a way that seems capable of bringing the entire multiverse down around their ears. But I won’t go further, lest I spoil it for you. 🙂 Suffice it to say that it’s a thrilling, twisty story with, yes, some kissing, but also fighting and espionage and daring escapes, with an ending that will only leave you wanting more.
Tandem, the first book in the Many-Worlds Trilogy, is available for pre-order! Purchase from:
“Clever and exhilarating–each page is a pleasure. I loved the romance and adventure of Sasha’s story, and I can’t wait for the sequel.” – Ally Condie, #1 New York Times bestselling author of the MATCHED Trilogy
“A fascinating world of parallel universes, sexy doppelgangers, and breathtaking action. Such a fun and addictive read!” – Marie Lu, New York Times bestselling author of the LEGEND Trilogy
“Jarzab succeeds with a parallel-world concept that is also an entertaining read.” – Kirkus
Frequently Asked Questions:
What kind of bird is that on the cover of Tandem?
It is a starling. The reason should be fairly evident about 20% intoTandem. About 50% into Tandem, you should be able to figure out what bird is on the cover of book 2 (and which character). As for book 3, well…you’ll find out in book 2.
Where did you get the idea for Tandem/The Many-Worlds Trilogy?
Like most ideas, the idea for Tandem/The Many-Worlds Trilogy had many origin points, but while I was working on The Opposite of Hallelujah I read a TON of popular science books (by Brian Greene and Michio Kaku, among others), and there’s a lot of stuff in them about parallel worlds and are they real and what’s the theory and how can we tell, etc. And I was like, well, parallel universes are interesting–how would I tell a parallel worlds story? Hence, Tandem. I will say that I got the word “analog” from one of my all-time favorite novels, Hey Nostradamus! by Douglas Coupland, although later I found it it’d been used in the parallel universe context before so, you know, not as original gangster as I thought I was. That’s okay though! Nothing new under the sun. But the very very first idea I had with regards to how I would tell a parallel universes story was that analogs–doubles from different worlds–couldn’t touch. First it was that they couldn’t come within 30 feet of each other, but…that proved to be more difficult to execute, and it was arbitrary anyway. It’s the only thing from that very first treatment that remained, except for, of all things, Thomas and Grant’s names. After that, the story just built and built and built, gaining layers of intricacy and detail as I wrote and rewrote it (many times; many many many times). By the time I finally finished the version of Tandem that will be published, I basically knew the whole arc of the trilogy, although I continue to surprise myself.
When will the sequels be out?
Book 2 will be published in June of 2014, and Book 3 is scheduled for April 2015.
What does the title mean?
Well, when you say that something happens “in tandem” it means that it’s happening in parallel–take, for instance, tandem diving. So it’s a nod to the parallel universes thing. The novel was originally called Aurora, which is the name of the second universe in Tandem, but not long after starting the book I came up with Tandem and thought it sounded better, so I actually wrote it into the book. In the book, the “cosmic veil”, an invisible membrane that “separates” all the universes from each other, is called the “tandem.” This is a term I made up and attributed to one of my characters, a physicist who invented the technology to move between worlds. Each book is named after the thing which causes most of the trouble in that book. If you’ve gotten your hands on an ARC of Tandem, then you know what the title for book 2 is. Otherwise…I’m sure I’ll be telling you soon. It won’t stay a secret for long.
Is anything in Tandem based on your life?
Authors get this question a lot, and you’d think in this case my answer would be “absolutely NOT” because (and this may shock you) I’ve never been to a parallel universe. But Hyde Park, which is a neighborhood on the South Side of Chicago and the setting of the non-Aurora parts of the story, is a real place that is really exactly like I describe it. 57th Street Books is a real bookstore in Hyde Park (a really awesome one at that), the University of Chicago Lab Schools that Sasha and Grant attend is a real school (the Obama girls went there before their dad became Prez), and the beach where Sasha is taken by her prom date after the dance (Oak Street Beach) is a real beach on Chicago’s North Side. I set it there because I went to the University of Chicago and I love Hyde Park. It’s small and quaint and has all these cute local shops and restaurants and this lovely architecture, Victorian and Neo-Gothic. The house that Sasha shares with her grandfather is just down the street from the apartment building I lived in when I was at school. Setting the book in Hyde Park was also a little bit of a send-up to Proof, one of my favorite movies.
What is Thomas’s real last name?
You’ll find out in book 2. You’ll actually find out quite a bit more than you know now about both his and Sasha’s families in book 2.
Are toggles real?
Not to my knowledge. When I “invented” them, I was like, there is just no way I thought up a candy nobody’s ever made before. And to be fair you can get chocolate covered gummy bears and things like that, which are sort of close to toggles, but I imagine toggles to be like chocolate-covered Gushers. So far, Googling has produced no identical items. If you come across some, let me know!
Juliana’s clothes sound really cool–did you make them up, or did you describe things that actually exist?
When I wrote the first, oh, twenty drafts of Tandem (exaggeration), I just described some nice dresses I saw online and let that be that. Then when I was revising Tandem for my editor (actually, I think I did this in the copy edits stage), I realized that wasn’t going to cut it, so I asked my best friend, Cambria, who has a degree in fashion and works at a clothing company you’ve probably heard of and is also very fashion forward and stylish, to design some stuff for Sasha to wear as Juliana. I thought she’d just make some nice clothes, but she turned out this brilliant wardrobe with its own color story and narrative. So if you haven’t read Tandem yet, pay extra special attention to the clothes. Cambria created sketches which I then described in the book; I will probably be posting these somewhere at some point, as they’re truly awesome. I’m lucky to have such talented friends.
Who is Dr. March, really? Does he even exist?
You’ll find out in book 2.
What does the map mean?
You’ll find out in book 2.