I went to a book launch at Murder by the Book for the dark-fantasy anthology Dark Duets by a renowned group of fiction authors. Each story is collaboration between two or more authors. In the introduction, the editor, Christopher Golden, writes, “Collaboration in general is harder than you’d think. Logic would suggest since you are halving the number of pages that you, yourself, are responsible for, you are halving the work involved. In truth, collaborative fiction is more work than writing something by yourself. But the work, and the relationships that may spring from it, and the magic that sometimes results, are their own rewards.”
The contents of Dark Duets are Trip Trap by Sherrilyn Kenyon & Kevin J. Anderson, Welded by Tom Piccirilli & T. M. Wright, Dark Witness by Charlaine Harris & Rachel Caine, Replacing Max by Stuart MacBride & Allan Guthrie, T. Rhymer by Gregory Frost & Jonathan Maberry, She, Doomed Girl by Sarah Maclean & Carrie Ryan, Hand Job by Chelsea Cain & Lidia Yuknavitch, Hollow Choices by Robert Jackson Bennett & David Liss, Amuse-Bouche by Amber Benson & Jeffrey J. Mariotte, Branches, Curving by Tim Lebbon & Michael Marshall Smith, Blind Love by Kasey Lansdale & Joe R. Lansdale, Trapper Boy by Holly Newstein & Rick Hautala, Steward Of The Blood by Nate Kenyon & James A. Moore, Calculating Route by Michael Koryta & Jeffrey David Geene, Sisters Before Misters by Sarah Rees Brennan, Casandra Clare, & Holly Black, and Sins Like Scarlet by Mark Morris & Rio Youers.
Also the story, Renascene by Rhodi Hawk & F. Paul Wilson, is included. Renascene is a Steampunk piece. E. Paul Wilson is an award-winning New York Time bestselling author of nearly fifty books and many short stories. He’s also written for the stage, screen and interactive media. Rhodi Hawk won the International Thriller Writers Scholarship for her first work of fiction, A Twisted Ladder. Their tale is a fresh take on the intriguing Victorian theme of bringing the dead back to life. It’s set in 19th century New York City with two quirky characters that I loved.
Rhodi Hawk was one of the authors at the Murder By The Book signing. I asked her if it was she or Paul Wilson who initially wanted to write a Steampunk story, and she said, it was Paul. Another interesting tidbit is that to celebrate her Steampunk story, her husband actually bought her a live octopus. It’ll be kept in an aquarium at her house where she keeps a hosts of critters. Having a pet octopus is so steampunk. When asked what she was going to name it, Rhodi said she was thinking of calling him Sigmund after the children’s TV show, Sigmund and the Sea Monsters. I got confused about that, because I was thinking of the old cartoon show, Beany and Cecil. Cecil instead of Sigmund. That was way back in the early 1960’s. I use to watch it so I’m showing my age. I even use to have a stuff toy of Cecil the seasick sea serpent. It was one of my favorite toys. But either way Sigmund and Cecil are both great names for a sea monster, a sea serpent, or an octopus.
The authors at the Dark Duet’s book signing spoke of their thoughts and experiences on collaboration. There is an adrenaline rush from having the opportunity to bounce ideas off another writer and this increases creativity as well. It’s important in a collaboration that both authors understand the other’s creative vision, do an equal share of work, work well together, and keep their own author voice, therefore adding ta unique flair and perspective to the story. Methods writers use for collaborative work vary. Many use a sharing method, one author starts the story off and the other revises that then writes the next pages,which the first author revises them then adds more and so on until the first draft is complete. Then they work it into a cohesive flowing story. I heard a successful husband and wife team, who write romances together, speak at a conference. They developed a pattern of collaborating where she wrote the scenes set in the heroine’s point of view and he wrote those set in the hero’s point of view. It worked wonderful for them, they write under a pseudonym combination of their two names together.
Though collaborations can be frustrating at times they can also be fun and rewarding. Many steampunk fans are strongly familiar with the basic idea and practice of collaboration because it’s followed in role playing games, which are so popular in steampunk. Also Some writing such as screen plays and music is routinely done through the collaboration process.
Feel free to comment below and share your thoughts and experiences on: writing collaboration, fantasy anthologies including at least one steampunk story, having an octopus as a pet, old sea monster children TV shows or anything else you’d like to comment on.
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Maeve Alpin, who also writes as Cornelia Amiri, is the author of 19 books. She creates stories with kilts, corsets, fantasy and happy endings. Her latest Steampunk/Romance is Conquistadors In Outer Space. She lives in Houston Texas with her son, granddaughter, and her cat, Severus.