Q. How did you start writing together?
A. Well, we’d worked together in the past and we had a mutual interest in writing. The actual writing together started with us helping each other with criticism of things we’d written; writing buddies in effect. Then, we decided to set ourselves tasks and see what we could make of them. For example, writing sci-fi, which neither of us felt competent at. Having said that Jan’s story was highly commended in Writers’ Forum.
After that we did a writing course and met every week beforehand to have a chat. During one of these coffee chats we decided that we’d have a go at writing together and it all started from there.
Q. But what about the writer’s voice that we hear so much about? With two of you surely there were problems with that.
A. Much to our surprise our writing voices are quite similar and by the time we have edited a million times its hard to tell who has written what. Thankfully, neither of us has great ego over our words. We aren’t precious about any of it and we both want the same thing – to get published. Having said that we are both realistic about the pressures of life and how things can get in the way, so we give each other leeway when life takes over and the writing doesn’t flow as quickly as we want.
Q. So you never argue over things?
A. We wouldn’t say that! Of course, we have disagreements but fundamentally we both want the same thing and that is to produce writing that is worth reading. Quite often we think the same things and finish each other’s sentences as we are very much on the same wavelength. We realise how lucky we are in that respect. If there is a problem with something, a plot line, or a character, for example, we talk it through until we reach a solution. Sometimes we’ve found the characters taking us on a journey we hadn’t expected.
Q. How closely do you plot the story?
A. It all starts with the characters. We spent ages working out the personalities we wanted, their habits, what they looked like, ate, attitudes, ways of speaking and all that until we felt we knew them. Then we sat in the pub for hours working out the story line, bit by bit. We had a vague idea of the story arc but it sort of evolved.
Q. So a long time working on the plot before the writing?
A. Yes. We would spend about two hours getting an outline of about four chapters at a time and then go off and write.
Q. Who did what with the writing? One writing and one editing or what? How does it work?
A. We did alternate chapters. Then we read through, edited together at first and then took a couple of chapters at a time to edit and email back and forth to each other. After that we went through four chapters at a time and did the same. We reckon Elin has been edited about twenty times, at least, and
expect an editor to tell us to make even more changes. After working in the academic field the process of editing and re-doing things is expected and we quite enjoy the tussle.
Q. What plans for the future?
A. The sequel to Elin’s story. We have a few more ideas to explore and more problems for her to solve. Life isn’t going to be easy for her.
Q. And after that?
A. Lots of ideas. We hope to write a crime novel together and we certainly intend to help each other with projects. We are both buzzing with thoughts and plans and it’s very hard to curb the enthusiasm for lots of things. However, we need to focus on getting the second book written first.