Thursday, August 09, 2007

HOW'D THEY DO THAT?

"How in the world do two people write a book together?"

That's one of the questions readers ask us most often. At first we were really surprised by the question—we hadn’t thought about the “how.” Writing in tandem evolved in a completely organic, but equally inexplicable way from our friendship—so it seemed perfectly natural to us.

Although we met in a profession where we should have been rivals (we were both plus-size models) we realized quickly that we had a lot in common, and we cracked each other up. Before we got around to writing Tryin' to sleep in the Bed You made, we cooked up a number of projects together (a fashion newsletter and a short-lived magazine) and discovered that we work seamlessly, almost like we share halves of the same brain! When the magazine folded we knew that we had to keep working together and we went back to something we each fell in love with as children--fiction.


We had both been English majors in college, but more than that, after years of gobbling books like popcorn, we had strong feelings about how to tell a story. We try to put those feelings to work when we write.


Before we begin a book, we get together and talk--something we do endlessly anyway. Our conversations lead to a plot, and characters we know as well as we know each other. And no--our stories are not autobiographical although we use our own emotions and experience to give the characters reactions that feel real.


In order to make the process work we have to be in the same place. That's how the vibe happens! Sometimes we're side by side at the desktop PC, sharing the keyboard depending on who has the hot hand. Other times one is at the laptop and the other at the desk and we're both writing the same section. We come together, read each other's material and weave them together, a sentence or two at a time. We can also write within the same chapter, one going from the beginning to the middle the other from the middle to the end. Then, we exchange sections, add at least two cents to what the other has done, and finally join them! The crazy part is we never know how it will progress each day—we sometimes use all of these methods in a single session. Our aim is one, coherent voice. People are often sure they will be able to detect a change in style, but so far, nobody has, not even our editor.

Both our personal friendship and our professional relationship hinge on caring, trust and respect. When we write, our egos are checked at the door. It's not about us, it's about the story. And based on the many thousand letters and emails we receive from readers, we know how strongly they relate to the struggles, life lessons and thick-and-thin relationships we give our characters. We know that each of us could write on her own, but it's a special gift to be able to do it together. Besides, it's a lot of fun. We look forward to tag team storytelling for a long time.

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posted by DeBerry and Grant at 10:26 AM

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