Today I’d like to welcome Tracy Bowen and Jenness Walker to my blog. They’re the authors of Bliss, a novel newly released by Harpstring Books, an imprint of Written World Communications. (See review in the previous post!)
Valerie: Hi, Tracy and Jenness! Congrats on one of the truly funniest books I’ve read in awhile. How did you come up with the idea for Indie Moore’s adventures?
Jenness: The story started with this question: what if a girl was addicted to horoscopes, but every time she followed the advice it ended up in disaster?
Tracy: The original horoscope idea came from the brilliant mind of Jenness. :)Â With that concept there were a million different ways that the book could have gone. After a very long beach walk together we mapped out the rest of the story. Our main goals were to reflectÂ our belief that God is theÂ source of true happiness in our lives, andÂ to haveÂ fun in the process.
Valerie: And how come you wrote it together?
Jenness: I typically write suspense, and my attempts at humor needed refined. Tracy told me she’d like to write a book sometime, and her blog entries always had me in stitches. Between her humor, my experience, and our ideas, it was the perfect match.
Tracy: Once again, Jenness gets the credit for this.:) It truly was a gift.Â She approached me with the idea. I was very excited, and slightly terrified, at theÂ thought of taking on the hard work that is involved in writing a book. The co-authoring experience turned out to be wonderful. She has taught meÂ so much,Â and we have hadÂ a lotÂ fun. We hope to do it again, which must mean that the process went pretty well. 🙂
Valerie: Tell us about the process of cowriting!
Jenness: First we talked out an idea to see if it was something both of us could get excited about. We brainstormed a skeleton of a plot, came up with a co-authoring contract, did someÂ character sketches, and started writing.Â
It took a few tries to figure out what process would work for us, but we settled on Tracy writing a bare bones scene with some brilliantly funny lines woven in, and then I would rewrite the scene, fleshing it out and adding in some of my own ideas. Then I’d send it back and on we would go. When we’d almost reached the finish line, we took off on an editing retreat, read the whole thing together while fixing minor problems and flagging major ones, and wrote the rest.
I think everyone comes up with a different system, but this works well for us. We plan on sticking with it. 🙂
Valerie: What kind of relationship is a good fit for cowriting? Should most people avoid it or embrace it?
Jenness: A lot of writers say they can’t imagine cowriting. I think finding a good fit must have a lot to do with personality–we’re both fairly laid back–and also each of the writers being aware ofÂ their own strengths and weaknesses so that they can work together better as a team.Â
Another thing we did was research quite a bit beforehand to come up with a contract, and even though we never ended up needing to pull it out, it was important. Before we started writing, we knew how decisions would be made, whose name would be first on the cover, how we would divide expenses and royalties, what happened to the manuscript if we decided not to complete it, etc.Â
We really have enjoyed our writing partnership. It’s great having a built-in brainstorming partner who is as invested in the story as you are, someone to help with planning and promotion, an encourager, etc. But there are some nightmare stories out there, so do your homework first. 🙂
Tracy: Honestly, I think this is a definite God-thing. Even we had no idea how well that we were going to mesh in the writing process. Writing is usually a very solitary process, so it is a gift to have such a great relationship with a co-author. And there really is no way to explain how to have a great co-authorship. There are tips that you can offer, but at the end of the day your personalities and writing styles either come together or they don’t.
Valerie: Any plans for another collaboration? What do you (individually/together) have coming up as well?
Jenness: We’re waiting to hear back from a publisher on a group proposal we’re involved in and are excited about. If we get the go-ahead there, we’ll finish writing a romantic comedy with a banker and a professional matchmaker.
Tracy: While we are waiting to see if that works out we have already started another book. We love to work together, and have plans for many future projects.
Jenness: I’m working on a darker women’s fiction. It’s been an off-and-on project for a few years now, and I’m hoping to wrap up the rough draft soon.
Tracy: I am working on a solo non-fiction project.
Valerie: Sounds like you two will be keeping busy! Thanks so much for taking time to hang out, and I wish you both all the best in your future endeavors.