It's a great pleasure to welcome author T.C Archer who, is actually two writers collaborating under one penname. Welcome Evan Trevane and Shawn M. Casey to the blog today. We've had the pleasure to review some of your books already and there will be a review soon of your latest book Chain Reaction.
I'm intrigued by a writing partnership. How long have the two of you been writing together? What made you consider writing as a team?
Thanks so much for having us, Fashionta! We’re thrilled to be here at Booked Up.
We’ve been writing together for nine years. Our collaborative career began on a lark. It’s a very funny story. (Or so we think!) I (Shawn), was talking to our critique partner Kim and we got to joking about a junk email she received with the subject heading ‘My Little Friend.’ The email was for male enhancements. Heh heh. Not surprising, the conversation turned to pickles, and I coined the phrase ‘The Pickle My Little Friend,’ and commented that the title needed a story. A couple weeks later, we were in a class with Kim and she brought up that phrase. Everyone wanted to know where it came from and she told the story. Again, I commented that the title needed a story. Evan said to write it, I told him to write it, he told her to write it… Well, you get the idea. We had a really nice Abbott and Costello routine going on. Kim stepped in and said “Why don’t you write it together?”
We both thought it was a nice joke, and did write the story for fun. We ended up selling it, and it’s now part of our backlist. We now have two full length novels published, a third slated for publication with Etopia Press June 2012, two more in progress as part of our Phenom League series, another paranormal suspense completed with a second in the works as part of that series, and several novellas. We’re published with Etopia Press, Silver Publishing and Loose Id, and have self-published as well. Not bad for a lark, eh?
How do you communicate and make sure that your work flows seamlessly? I guess what I'm asking here is about writing process. A collaboration is not a typical approach to storytelling. Does one of you write an outline and the other colors the detail in or do you collaborate back and forth till each book is a single vision embodying both your styles? Does one of you have strengths in specific areas like dialog or painting believable backdrops and how do you utilize each others strengths as you compose your storylines?
We do have a bit of an unusual collaborative process. Most collaborations are done one of two ways; Each partner writes every other chapter, or they write only certain characters. For example, in romance, Evan would write the hero’s POV and I would write the heroine’s POV. However, in our case, we discovered (rather by accident with that first story), that if we pass the book back and forth and each just keep layering on, that we end up with a much more seamless story. Even people who are familiar with our individual styles can’t tell who wrote what. As a result, our collaborative books are very unique from our individual works.
As for individual strengths, yes. Evan writes hard sci fi and has a PhD. So he is the science and technical officer. He keeps trying to make me the romance officer, but he’s written too many good romantic scenes to pull that off. I have studied religion and mythology, so I tend to flesh out those areas. We have found that when we pass the book back and forth, we really play well of one another’s energy. We’ve been told we have a unique chemistry.
What is the hardest part of writing for each of you?
Shawn: Gosh, that’s a tough question. First draft is tough because I always worry the written story won’t be as good as the original idea. (Maybe it’s my ideas that are the problem!)
Evan: I have the biggest problem with final edits. By that time, I’m so sick of the work, so sure the story isn’t worth telling, and the characters are too well known, that I struggle to read without skipping over parts.
Could you each tell us what your inspirations are, who you read, how you have managed to create such terrific works of suspense?
Shawn: Wow, my inspiration really is the world around me. I find inspiration at every turn. So many stories, so many interesting people and things to write about, and so little time! How have we managed to create our different worlds of suspense? ROFL. I think it’s a highly choreographed process. You start with a seed, then research, put each piece off the puzzle together very carefully, and we’re constantly revising as we discover new elements that are vital to the story. When you envision a story as it should be when it’s finished, the process can feel daunting at the onset. We approach the story on a step-by-step process, knowing we will be making loads of changes along the way.
Evan: I’m inspired by other people in what they say, what they remember, and in what ideas they trigger in me. I read the classics and works from the golden age of science fiction. I also read may other genres, from young adult to cyberpunk. Some of the suspense aspects of my writing come from watching a lot of TV when I was a kid. There was Mission Impossible, Hawaii 5O, Mannix, The Rockford Files, and a bunch more. All the plot types can be found there.
What kind of research goes into setting up your stories? Do you outline the story from the start, examining where it will go beginning to end or does each story develop over the course of being written with tangents that are improvisational to your effort?
As we said earlier, Evan has a background in science and technical elements, so he has a huge leg up there. Otherwise, we do tremendous amounts of research. Depending on the story length and complexity, we might plot. The longer and more complex the story, the more the need for an outline. For those more complex stories, we might start with a couple scenes to see how we feel about the idea, then draft a rough outline. But those outlines can get very long and detailed. When writing suspense or any kind of mystery, what the clues are and how they unfold is paramount to making the story work. We have to be sure we’re on the same page as each of us layers on the story, so we do a huge amount of brainstorming and plotting.
What inspired you to write the books in a female voice? Has this posed any challenges for you?
Ahh, that’s right, you’ve read Sasha’s Calling and For His Eyes Only. In For His Eyes Only, which was written before Sasha’s Calling, we took a cue from Alfred Hitchcock in keeping the reader/viewer from being inside the head of anyone but one protagonist in order to keep everyone in suspense as to who the real bad guy was. We have had comments from readers that they didn’t know until the end which man in Jesse’s life would betray her. We’ve also had plenty of comments complimenting the twists and turns in that book. We feel we achieved that by the reader knowing only what Jesse knew.
As for Sasha’s Calling, this is a shorter book and we wanted to really focus on the woman’s experience in the romance, and maybe keep the reader guessing just a little about the hero’s motivations.
If you like books written in third person from the heroine’s POV, then you might like our most recent release from Loose Id, who published Sasha’s Calling, Trouble at the Hotel Baba Ghanoush. Like Sasha’s Calling, this book is written strictly from the heroine’s POV, and is on the quirky side.
Chain Reaction is the first in your new series, Phantom League. Will this series only involve vampires or will there be other paranormal creatures in subsequent books?
Oh no! Our Phenom League is filled with many types of paranormal creatures. The next book in the series, Desert Fox, is about a mummy guarding his pharaoh when Rommel marches across Egypt. Desert Fox is quite different from Chain Reaction in tone. This book is much more a poignant love story.
Shawn and Evan have kindly offered to give away one copy of their latest book Chain Reaction to one lucky winner of our drawing. We will give away one digital copy of
Chain Reaction to a commenter. Any and all comments are welcome!
To read more about these award winning authors, you can go to their website at http://www.tcarcher.com.