Q: I’d love to write with my mom/friend/coworker/daughter/etcetera. How do you and Kristin do it?

A: Well, first you should understand that Kristin and I had a decade of practice before we actually co-authored anything. Kristin was my awesome teen voice editor for the HOUSE OF NIGHT. No, she didn’t actually write the books with me. She helped me with pop culture references and she was my frontline editor for the series. So, before we tried to do any writing together, we had many years of establishing a working relationship wherein we respected each other and valued each other’s opinions. I believe that is a very important starting step. 

The first book that we truly co-authored was THE SCENT OF SALT AND SAND, a novella set in Kristin’s world of THE ESCAPED SERIES. We began by brainstorming together and writing an outline of the plot of the book. We came up with the main characters and wrote character sketches of our hero and heroine. We decided that I would write the chapters where our hero took a predominate role, and Kristin would write the chapters where our heroine was in charge. Then we wrote a much more detailed outline – chapter-by-chapter. This is really important because we passed the manuscript back and forth. It was a little like tag team wrestling! So, Kristin would write her chapter, then she would send the manuscript to me. In the manuscript after her chapter would be the outline I needed to follow for the action in my chapter. I’d write my chapter, and then I’d send it back to Kristin, etc., etc. We did fudge on this a little. Kristin has a completely different writing style than mine. I write chronologically and she does not. Kristin writes scenes as they come to her, and then links them together. Obviously, writing out of chronological order won’t work when she’s writing with a partner, so sometimes I filled in some small holes in a scene she’d written – not because she couldn’t go back and do it, but because I knew she trusted me to do it. And sometimes I’d write a scene that needed to be from her character’s point of view, and I trusted her to rewrite it/change it/add to it.

Sometimes I would “go rogue” (Kristin’s words) because how I write is very organic and tends to grow and evolve as the characters become more fully realized. That could have been the death of our writing team, but Kristin was absolutely awesome about it! She trusted me to not go too rogue, and told me she knew whatever craziness I came up with would make the story better (my daughter is awesomesauce!). I mention this because Kristin’s trust in me is a big part of why we can write successfully together. 

On my part, I learned to respect Kristin’s editorial eye years ago, so when it came time to do our rewrite with our editor’s notes, I was able to blindly let Kristin take charge. I knew if she needed to cut something, it would make our book better. I knew if she needed to shift point of view and change some of my scenes to “her” scenes, it would make our book better. And it did! 

Did we “fight” about our characters or the plot or whatever? No. But, again, Kristin and I have the experience of a decade of working together. We enjoy it, and we’re successful at it. We respect each other. (And we don’t really fight anyway!)

As we team up to write our first co-authored series, THE DYSASTERS (release dates beginning spring and summer of 2018), we’ve already outlined and are in the process of major research so that we can begin to fill in the chapter plots – and then we’ll start writing!