We love this Belinda meme from a reader!
A radio interviewer asked Alistair Cross and me how we write together and that was one of the most eye-opening questions we’ve ever had. She was amazed when we told her our method and said she’d never heard of anyone writing like that before. Evidently, many writers split things up with one brainstorming and the other writing. Neither of us can even imagine having any fun doing our job this way. To not be allowed to brainstorm would be horrible! And to not write would be just as bad! We can each imagine this working in non-fiction, but in fiction, if you don’t love both sides – creating and writing – where does that leave you? How can you imagine ideas for your plot and characters without being able to set them down as well, and vice versa? Can a good writer write without his or her imagination taking off and soaring to the heavens? It sounds absolutely horrible to us.
Our collaborations are a 50/50 effort. We plot together, we develop characters together, and we even transcribe together by getting on Skype, opening the Cloud, and working side by side. Sometimes Tamara takes the lead, sometimes Alistair does – but nothing is written without both of us present. We each have our own individual strengths and weaknesses, and we each are aware of the other’s. Luckily for us – as we learned early on – our weaknesses and strengths balance out; where one of us has difficulty, the other is at ease.
One very important part of our process that we stress very much when asked about it, is the personal side of our relationship. Writing is a job, a business, and although we are business partners, we are also friends. We may share the same vision, the same sensibilities, and even similar writing styles, but all of this is pointless without three very important elements: respect, honesty, and loyalty.
Respect comes first. We are aware of each other’s time. We meet every day, six days a week, and work anywhere from 8 to 10 hours. But if something comes up or one of us is running late, we are okay with that.
As for honesty… honesty is something you have to be comfortable with if you intend to write with another person. If one of us hates what the other is writing – though it hasn’t really happened – we’d say so… but kindly. If one of us isn’t feeling the same vibe as the other and thinks the story needs to go a different direction, we discuss it openly.
No drama. We are similar in that we both avoid drama – and the people who spew it – so one of us getting drawn into the chaos of the other one’s personal life issues is never a problem for us. This zero tolerance for drama, in fact, is probably the glue that holds this whole thing together. (Sure, we each tell the other what’s going on in our lives – we’re friends and that’s what friends do – but we don’t dwell. We go to work.)
So kindness, honesty, and a no drama policy is what makes up the respect facet of this deal. Then there is loyalty.
Loyalty comes into play because we are given a lot of advice by outside forces, and sometimes, the advice is not good. We’ve made a firm pact that no decisions will be made without the consent of the other one. No one is allowed to call one of us and discuss changes behind the other’s back. We are business partners, and we operate as such, no exceptions.
With loyalty comes trust, which could easily be the fourth part of the sum. We trust each other with the characters, the storyline, and on a personal level as well, but this trust is built on the foundation of the respect, honesty, and loyalty to which we adhere.
And now that the personal elements of our collaboration have been covered, we come to the creative part of the process.
Each day we spend an hour or two in the morning warming up. We chat, we do our PR and marketing work, whether it’s writing a blog, posting to Facebook, or answering interview questions. We spend a little time studying some aspect of our business most mornings as well, whether that’s going through a lot of covers or promotional posters and talking about what we like and dislike, discussing articles we’ve just read on traditional vs indie publishing, or anything else writing-oriented. We tell some jokes. We laugh a lot.
And then we get down to writing. If we’re having trouble getting going, we get silly, each sneaking in outrageous dialogue or descriptions for the other to laugh at. That’s actually one of the best tricks we’ve found for getting a scene moving. We’ll add on to the silliness, each of us, and suddenly the scene comes to life and, when we’re done, we remove the goofy stuff.
We each enjoy following certain characters and take the lead on our favorites, but we are also careful to switch off so that we each know every character well. To us, familiarity with our characters – all of them – is vital to the story.
While, individually, we both do a lot of world-building in order to get to know our characters and their locale, together, we probably spend twice as much time doing this. When you are collaborating, the littlest details become important and are (usually) best figured out beforehand because both of us must know whether a character has dimples or drives a beat-up old Chevy or hates seafood. Otherwise, incongruities can get past us, unnoticed.
The characters’ voices, however, evolve during writing and whoever creates the voice sets the tone the other follows for that character. For example, a character in one of our upcoming novels has a unique way of swearing that Alistair made up. We both love voicing her and work together to get the most insane profanities out of her as we write, always following Alistair’s original style.
While we occasionally write two scenes in tandem – this usually happens when we are writing one scene together and one of us is inspired by something the other writes – we still consider ourselves to be writing together; after all, via Skype, we have instant access to one another. After that, we go over both scenes together and make sure everything is in synch and do a light edit. Mostly, though, we quite literally write together. One of us may write most of a scene with the other trailing along fixing things, or simply taking in the tale as it evolves. Sometimes we take turns in the same scene. Tamara often takes over descriptions of locale because she really enjoys it. Alistair enjoys writing certain situations and takes those. We think the main reason one or the other of us takes the lead, though, is character. We each have our favorites.
We write in similar voices and have similar sensibilities, senses of humor, likes and dislikes, and this, of course, is part of our chemistry. But if you have a collaborator you constantly disagree with, our question is why? If you have nothing in common, how can you enjoy your work – or one another?
We received some great feedback the other day. After reading The New Governess, the first installment of our Gothic Erotica serialized novel, The Erotic Adventures of Belinda, a reader said to us: “Which one of you wrote this? I can’t tell.” To which we happily answered, “We both wrote it.” And we did. Just like we wrote this blog. Together, in the Cloud.
What is Gothic Erotica? It’s what wakes you up in the middle of the night as randy as you are terrified. It’s those things that go bump – and grind – in the night. It’s the sound of footsteps at the foot of your bed that, instead of fading away, draw nearer and, well, get what they want.
When we began The Erotic Adventure of Belinda, we had a clear vision of what we wanted to accomplish. We wanted to frighten our readers while simultaneously seducing them. We wanted to build a world as eerie as it was arousing… we wanted to stir a new set of emotions.
The first installment, titled The New Governess is now available on all formats. If you like your terror titillating, your fright fulfilling, and the kinds of stories that curl your hair with horror and your toes with desire, Belinda is your girl. And she’s available now at: Amazon, Smashwords, Kobo, and Barnes and Noble.
Let the adventures begin…
The Erotic Adventures of Belinda
Coming soon from Tamara Thorne and Alistair Cross
“If you’ve finished all of Sylvia Day’s Bared to You novels and are craving more, look no further. In Belinda: The New Governess, Tamara Thorne and Alistair Cross have created a world that is rich, opulent, and smoldering with the promise of seduction. You’ll be able to feel the slide of the satin sheets, taste the fizz of champagne.” ~ Sylvia Shults, author of Double Double Love and Trouble
Gingernuts of Horror has just published a wonderful and scandalously fact-filled interview with Alistair Cross and me. You’ll find out how we met, how we work, news about our horror novel, Grandma’s Rack, and our erotic serial novel, Belinda. You’ll see news of my Candle Bay sequel, and Alistair’s solo novel, The White Room.
We also give the skinny on how we met, what scares us, what influences us, our favorite brands of breakfast cereal, our preferences in shoelaces, and what makes us fight like cats and… cats.
And at least some of the above is true, we swear it.
The date and time for our upcoming interview is official. Alistair Cross and I will be live at Authors on the Air with Pam Stack on Thursday, April 17th, 2014 at 8:00 pm EST. We’ll be discussing our upcoming projects Grandma’s Rack and Belinda as well as anything else that happens to come up.
Grandma’s Rack is in the last stages of creation and – after we do an extensive edit of our own – the manuscript will head over to the editor. After that, it will go to the publisher who will provide the final finishing touches and get it on its way. We have no idea how long these processes will take so an exact date for release is still unknown.
(Grandma’s Rack – coming in 2014 by Avalerion Books)
Belinda, our paranormally-inclined serialized erotica, is coming along nicely as well. Belinda’s story will be released in a series of installments beginning later this summer, also by Avalerion, and will showcase a few of our favorite personal topics – provocative characters, spooky vibes, and unrelenting sexual exploits.
(A promotional poster for Belinda – coming this summer from Avalerion Books)
It’s an eventful year and we’re looking forward to the release of these projects. As soon as we have release dates, we will post them here on our blogs – along with any interview links and other promotional events – as well as on our websites, which you can visit if you want to learn more about us.
Tamara Thorne: http://www.tamarathorne.com
Alistair Cross: http://www.alistaircross.com
There’s a new coven in town…
War of the Witches
The plague witches have declared war, and ten-year-old Joey is in more trouble than he can even imagine. As the town of Milkwort becomes a battleground of magic and mayhem, the only thing he seems to have on his side is the sweet, soft-spoken woman who cares for him – his grandmother. And Grandma has a secret…
Grandma’s Secret Weapons
When a gruesome murder is committed, the residents of Milkwort suddenly don’t seem to be themselves. Little Joey is going to have to grow up fast if he wants to survive. Can he and Grandma uncover the heinous secrets and unravel the twisted mysteries that lie just beneath the surface of this seemingly quiet, small town?
Thorne & Cross
Grandma’s Rack, the first collaborative novel from Tamara Thorne and Alistair Cross arrives this spring.
Halloween is fast approaching and we have been having a terrible time deciding what to be. We want our costumes to go together to celebrate our upcoming collaborations, but since we’re several states apart, we have to be really creative or people won’t get it. What follows are some conversations we’ve had on the topic as we try to come to the most appropriate (and we use that term very subjectively) decision on our costumes.
Tamara: Phone trick-or-treating is a must. That way, we can both ask for candy simultaneously. I’m going to glue some frizzy red hair and a tiny clown nose to my phone so you have a built-in costume. What are you going to do?
Alistair: I’m going dress up my iPhone with some scars and fake blood to make him into a zombie. He can say, “Argghhhh give me brains!” and scare people. I shall call my phone Tamara, and I shall demand extra candy for your sake. Then, I will eat your candy when no one is looking.
Tamara: Or we could be each other’s imaginary friends. Or ghosts. When we say trick or treat through the phone we’d be all OOOOooooooh Tricccckk orrrrrr Treeaaaat! That might be scary, huh?
Alistair: Yes! The sky is the limit, really. There are lots of things we could go as. A razor and pubic hair for example.
Tamara: Or Little Bo Peep and her missing lamb, which also leads us to the priest and his missing choir boy. Alistair if we do that, you MUST wear underwear.
Alistair: You know I can’t make any promises.
Tamara: In that case, how about the Liberty Bell – you be the crack and I’ll be the bell – our costume will be heard throughout the land.
Alistair: Let freedom ring.
Tamara: Twig and berries? You could be the twig, and I could be the berries?
Alistair: That might work. Except I’m not quite twiggy enough this year to pull it off, I don’t think.
Tamara: Holmes and Watson hunting for each other.
Alistair: Yes! Or Cher and Dead Sonny – I will be Cher because I’m taller and I want to wear the head dress and the see-through gown. (And I won’t be wearing underwear for that!)
Tamara: Just gonna tuck it?
Tamara: Okay. I’ll be Sonny because I really enjoy being a mustache jockey. And we’ll go to each door and sing “I got you, babe,” then panic and yell, respectively, “Cher? Cher? Sonny, you little puissant, where are you? You missed your cue!”
Tamara Thorne: Jimmy Hoffa and a bag of cement!
Alistair: Lizzie Borden and her stepfather. I’ll have an axe coming out of my head, and you wear a bloody dress.
Tamara: Sperm and a tonsil. Or, better yet, sperm and a box of Kleenex. We could make a headdress out of Kleenex.
Alistair: We could always go as Thorne and Cross. You would have to have something pointy atop your glorious head. I would just have to walk around with my arms out and feet close together… which is pretty creepy.
Tamara: I know! We could be two serial killers on the prowl. We could dress as our favorite serial killers from our books. You be Sterling Bronson, I’ll be Jack the Ripper. And we could each show a picture of the other to the houses we visit and say, “Have you seen this killer?” As long as neither of us has to be the helpless victim… Helpless victims are boring.
Alistair: I agree. No victims.
Tamara: Wednesday and Pugsley Addams. Because sometimes being sexy like Morticia and Gomez just gets old, you know?
Alistair: Yes. Let’s not be “sexy” anyone. Yawn.
Tamara: Separated Siamese twins.
Alistair: Annie Wilkes and Paul Sheldon. We will have to do that one when we go trick-or-treating together though, so you could push me around in a wheelchair.
Tamara: Agreed! Danny Torrance and his talking finger.
Alistair: Okay, but I want to be the finger. I hate that little boy’s haircut.
Tamara: George C. Scott and the haunted wheelchair.
Alistair: The Changeling?
Tamara Thorne: Yes! You have to be the wheelchair.
Alistair: I don’t want to be a wheelchair. How does one even “be” a wheelchair for Halloween… let alone a haunted one?!
Tamara: Well, I’m not going as the wheelchair.
Alistair: Fine. Then we’ll go as Damien and his jackal mama.
Tamara: Or Rosemary and her baby – this would work especially well with the phone. We can wrap it in a blanket.
Alistair: And push it around in one of those bassinet-on-wheel things for babies!
Tamara: Yes! Or we could go as Dog Man and Tuxedo Man in The Shining. Or Carrie and Mother.
Alistair: Yes! Or, Carrie before and after!
Tamara: Alistair, you get to be the before because you’re prettier!
Alistair: Well, that’s no fun. I can wear a pink prom dress any time.
Tamara: Children of the Corn. One of us can wear a straw hat and overalls with a checked farm boy shirt and the other one can be a stalk with corn on it.
Alistair: What about Baby Jane and sister Blanche?
Tamara: We will need a silver tray, a dead bird, and a wheelchair.
Alistair: Ugh. Yet again, we’re faced with the wheelchair dilemma.
Tamara: How about we just put on our long black robes and cowls and be Candy Reapers and extort all the candy from the children?
Alistair: I get dibs on anything gummy.
Tamara: Skittles and Starburst for me.
Alistair: Well, now that we’ve settled this dilemma, what should we do for Thanksgiving?
Tamara: Be The Shining twins!