Today I am taking part in a blog tour for the first book in a new YA series about best friends, Mica & Lexy. I had the pleasure of interviewing the authors – Melissa and Brenda – about the ins and outs of writing a novel collaboratively.
So how long have you two known each other, and at what point did you decide that you’d like to collaborate on a project?
Melissa: Brenda and I met about twelve years ago. I started dating her husband’s best friend – that’s how we met. It took a few months to get to know each other, but once we started chatting, it didn’t take long to figure out we had nearly everything in common 🙂 Lucky for us, that guy I was dating became my husband a couple of years later, so the four of us always have a blast together 🙂
We were on a geo-caching trip with our hubbies – I think it was about 2005 – when the idea of writing together came to us. As we were hunting around the bush for this cache, one of us said (I can’t remember who), “This would make a really cool story.” That one little sentence caused an explosion of ideas and by the end of the day we had come up with two characters each and were plotting out a storyline. It was a very natural progression from there.
I’m really intrigued by the idea of working with someone like this – how did you go about figuring out characters and plot lines? Did you create a character each, or work together on all of them?
Brenda: Lexy is my character and so Melissa could get to know her, I wrote diary entries from Lexy and Melissa wrote Mica’s diary entries. It was really fun actually. Originally we were going to leave the diary entries in the book, but seriously our original book was 120,000 words, so it was FAR too long. Melissa and I surf the same brain waves so coming up with plot lines just happened. We would get together for a chat and we’d both come up with ideas then piggy-back off each others and suddenly a story evolved. The whole process was so much fun and
never hard work.
Melissa: The thing I love most about the diary entries is it helped give our characters their real voices. I got to know Mica so well as I created this world for her. You don’t tend to hide anything when you’re writing a personal diary, so I felt like I got to know both the girls really well through the process. I should try it sometime with my solo projects – might be a good eye opener into my characters 🙂
Can you tell us a little about the process for the actual writing? For example, did you write the chapters together, or did you each stick to your own characters pov?
Brenda: We mostly wrote our chapters separately, chapter by chapter. I would write Lexy (and Melissa wrote Mica’s). We would write in chapter order and send each chapter through when we were finished and mention anything we’d like the other to add into their next chapter. We’ve edited this book to death and cut out of a lot of cool stuff, but hopefully that will go into future books. Obviously we have to write about each other’s characters sometimes, and because we know both girls so well, it’s pretty easy.
Melissa: We also edit each other’s work and highlight any changes in red so the other person can see what we’re suggesting. Honesty and not getting offended is key to working like this. Thankfully both of us are secure enough in our relationship that we can be really honest. We are both about producing readable, enjoyable stories, so we know we need to be open to suggestions and improvements.
What would you say is the biggest challenge when working with someone else on a novel?
Brenda: Distance. We live an hour’s drive away, but we email constantly throughout the day and because we are besties and think the same, it’s really not too hard.
For others looking to collaborate, what advice would you give them?
Melissa: Be honest with each other. Get together and talk until your brains are ready to come oozing out your ears 🙂 Work with someone that knows and understands you. It’s so easy for Brenda and I to piggy- back our ideas off each other because we like the same sorts of stories. It’s easy to jump on board with an idea when you’d do the same thing if you were writing it.
I have seen that you are gearing up to work on a second Lexy and Mica novel—have you got plans for a whole series, or are you taking it book by book and seeing where the characters take you?
Brenda: We have sooooooo much material for Mica and Lexy. We’ve actually written almost 3 massive books worth of stuff already. But most of what we’ve written is much further in the future for them. We aim to write a book a year. Each one will be a stand alone novel so you don’t have to read them in any order. We’re very excited about these girls and what’s in store for them.
Finally, what else is on the cards? Will you be working together with other series, and what is up next for you individually?
Brenda: We don’t have plans for another series together as we both have so many of our own books we’d like to write. But never say never. When I get time (after we’ve finished Forbidden Territory, looking after my kidlets, sewing and other odd jobs I do) I’m hoping to work more on my next book called ‘Black Rain.’ In a nutshell, it’s a YA drama about Becky and her best friend Ryan. They have just discovered their feelings for each other when Ryan gets drunk and dies in a car crash.
Considering Ryan was in SADD (Students Against Drunk Driving) something doesn’t add up, so Becky goes on a crusade to find out what really happened. Jay, a new student at school and reformed bad boy, befriends Becky and helps her in her quest but he’s also keeping a secret…
Melissa: Eeeeppp!!! So can’t wait to read that book, Breeze. Write it! Write it!!
For me, I am 75% of the way through my first draft of Betwixt, a YA Romance about a girl who is hit by a car. As she lies dying in the woods, her mind leaves her body in search of someone who can help her.
Unfortunately the only person who can is a boy at school that has no time for her dramatic ways. With the clock ticking, she must convince him to set aside his feelings and help find her before she never wakes up again.
They both sound like exciting books! We’ll look forward to seeing them in the future.
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.