Wednesday, June 19, 2013

BEA Chatter: Authors Talk About Co-Writing

When I was at BEA a few weeks ago I met a lot of co-authors. I am impressed with anyone who writes a book on their own, and even more so when it's co-written. Perhaps sharing the process makes a book easier to write? But to me, managing the personality and creative styles of a whole other person, sounds like it would make writing a book even more complicated. Maybe that just makes me a control freak?

Awesome Asheley and I at BEA. LOVE her!*
I collected all the little nuggets of information that the co-authors I met mentioned in their talks or at parties or signings, and I wanted to share them with you. 

The first thing I learned is that not all co-authors write books the same way. This isn't really a surprise, because individual authors write very differently as well. However, there are still similarities to co-writing, like the fact that alternating chapters seems to be the most common way to co-write a book. As in one author writes one chapter, then the second author writes the second, then the first author writes the third etc. etc. 

Specific authors I met:

1) I saw David Levitham at the Teen Author Carnival on Wednesday evening. Levitham has co-written a lot of books with various authors, his most recent being Invisibility with Andrea Cremer.  Levitham said that he and his other writer usually don't plot ahead as they write, so when he gets his co-author's next chapter, he doesn't know where the story is headed.

I've honestly never read a Levitham co-authored book, so I cannot comment on how well this works, except that he's still finding co-writers and selling books. But it always makes me nervous when authors don't plot their stories in advance, even more when it's coming from the mind of two different people. I need to read one of his books to find out, though. Anyone have an opinion on this?


2) Suzanne Young and Cat Patrick, authors of Just Like Fate, were also at the Teen Author Carnival. When asked about how they unite their different voices when writing a book together, Young and Patrick said that they edited each others chapters so much that it became hard for them to tell what each other had written. Their book also has two alternate realities, so each could choose a reality (and a guy) to focus on. 

Although I really liked Suzanne Young and Cat Patrick, I'm not a huge fan of alternate reality stories, possibly for the same reason I don't like love triangles. But I do have a copy of this one and plan to give it a try. 


3) I met Emma McLaughlin at the Atria party at Simon and Schuster Thursday evening. She and her co-author Nicola Kraus have written 8 books together, including The Nanny Diaries. I read it ages ago when it first came out, though I had no idea it was co-written (I didn't pay a whole lot of attention to those details pre-blogging). McLaughlin said that she and Kraus have been writing together so long that it's almost like a marriage, and they are very familiar with each other's styles. They also completely outline their stories, and because of that and the fact that they know each other so well, it doesn't matter who writes which chapter. 

Their upcoming book is The First Affair, about a relationship between an intern and the President (but it's not a retelling of the Clinton affair). I'm a little nervous about this topic, but do have a copy and will be reading it soon. 


4) Amie Kaufman and Megan Spooner are authors of the upcoming These Broken Stars. Out of all the books on this list, I'm the most EXCITED about reading this one, especially because it's the first in "a series of timeless, standalone love stories that span galaxies - and are linked by their shared worlds and one mysterious enemy." Yes! I love companion series. A new couple in each book and no middle book syndrome, or unnecessary drama to keep the tension high between the couple.

For These Broken Stars, Kaufman and Spooner wrote alternating chapters and split them by each character's voice. One wrote the male character one the female. Amie, who wrote the male POV said that she wrote Tarver as the kind of guy that Megan would like, and Megan said she wrote Lilac to be like herself, so that she could enjoy Tarver herself. They mentioned this at their signing, and were incredibly sweet - also it's possible that I switched who wrote what. (I apologize if so!)

I haven't read a lot of co-written books, and I couldn't even think of one that I've read in the past year. But that is going to change this year. 


Talk to me!

Do you remember the co-authored books you've read? If so, what has your experience been like? 

Can you even tell the difference between a book written by one person or two? 

If you could co-author a book with one person, who would it be? Or, who would you pair up to co-write your perfect book?


*This picture doesn't have anything to do with this post, except that Asheley was one of the people that I was MOST excited to meet at BEA and I think she's pretty spectacular. Maybe you'll be seeing a book published by us one day? HAHA. Probably not. 

26 comments:

  1. 1. I have an opinion on the fabulous David Levithan. *holding for hyperventilation* Okay I'm back. WILL GRAYSON, WILL GRAYSON. I know, I know. Everyone will say that, but it's the best place to start to get comfortable with the way he writes in this way and the way he bounces off of John Green is amazing. Great in print, bonus if you want a great audiobook and I'm sure your library must have it. It's laugh-out-loud hilarious and my favorite reader, Nick Podehl, reads part of it. (That's more info than you wanted.)

    Will Grayson, Will Grayson for David L.

    2. If I'm not mistaken (which is possible) Suzanne Young and Cat Patrick said at the S&S thing that when they handed in Just Like Fate, their editor couldn't tell which parts were written by which author, which I thought was really really cool and interesting - to be so in tune with each other that you basically sound almost equal. I loved that and in fact, it makes me want to read this book a little more even though it sounds like some that are already out.

    4. CAN'T WAIT FOR THESE BROKEN STARS. Everything about it seems neat, plus the fact that one wrote the female/one wrote the male.

    I LOVE co-written books and never pay attention to if they're coauthored or not. If I want to read it, I pick it up. Great, great post L and I love that picture! I didn't snag one of us!

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    1. Oh, haha, I just caught the "book published by us one day" - love triangle or not? Hmmm, that's hilarious!

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    2. YES! WIll Grayson, Will Grayson is on my list to read. And I like what you said here about co-authors being able to bounce ideas off of each other. Having someone to share the creative process, and collaborate with, could really make a story AMAZING. I like both David L and John G, so I'd really like to see the magic they create together.

      I LOVE that Young and Patrick were able to write one girl's voice so seamlessly. That's a great co-authorship in action.

      I think I need to notice co-authoring more. It sounds like it could be a real asset to a story! I'm glad there's more of them out there.

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  2. I haven't read all that many co-authored novels -- only one (Dash & Lily's Book of Dares) springs to mind -- so I don't have much experience with them. Though, I believe that if a book is going to contain dual POVs, it would probably benefit from being co-authored so that each voice sounded unique. That's a hard thing to accomplish for some authors on their own. I've been itching to get to my copy of These Broken Stars. Maybe I'll have more to add to the conversation after that. :)

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    1. I didn't even realize that Dash and Lily was co-authored, but it's been on my list for ages so I need to read it! Though doesn't it take place around Christmas? If so, I want to hold off and read it during winter. Love what you said about co-authoring being an advantage to dual povs such an insightful statement but true. There's nothing worse than reading a book with 2 perspectives and forgetting whose mind your in, because they'e so similar. Great points!

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  3. This is such an awesome discussion, Lauren! I think it must be such a challenge for authors to co-write a book, especially when they write so differently. Two authors I've seen do it really, really well are the sister duo, Lisa & Laura Roecker. They manage to seamlessly write their book, alternating chapters without losing the voice at all. It's so awesome!

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    1. I'll have to look up the Roecker sisters. But I bet they really know each other's styles since they've grown up together. Though I don't think my sister and I would be a very good writing team! But this is high praise, and being able to have the consistency of one voice is very important. Thanks for commenting!

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  4. I haven't read a lot of co-written books, the only I can remember is Dash and Lily's book of Dares and it was pretty enjoyably. It didn't feel any different that other books, but I guess that's what the author are going for. I can't wait to read These broke Stars! I thought it was a series, but I love it even more now that it's a companion. I don't like waiting for sequel. Great post, Lauren!

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    1. AHHH I keep trying to wait to read THESE BROKEN STARS, but I know I'm going to break down and start it soon. Also, I had no idea Dash and Lily was co-authored, but I bet it helps b/c it's 2 voices. I'll definitely check that out this year.

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  5. This is so interesting Lauren, thanks so sharing! I have read Invisibility, and knowing they didn't really plot ahead as they wrote kind of makes sense. The story did shift plot-wise after the insta-love happened, focusing instead on the magic and the boy's curse without really developing the relationship any further romantically after the I love you was said. I'm super excited for These Broken Stars though, that's definitely the one I'm looking forward to the most!

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    1. Yeah, I've heard that about Invisibly, which is why I've avoided it so far. I know that Levitham has had great success with co-authoring, but perhaps his vision and Cremer's didn't' mesh well in this story. Can't wait for THESE BROKEN STARS either!!

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  6. Oh my goodness, I LOVE this topic and am so glad you made note of all those different authors and their methods for co-authoring a book.

    I have read two of David Levithan's books written with Rachel Cohn, 'Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist' & 'Dash and Lily's Book of Dares.' I have also read Levithan and John Green's Will Grayson, Will Grayson (TINY COOPER!!) But I think I loved Dash and Lily the very most, which was actually the first one that I read. I like the way Levitahn writes with his co-author's, it seems the most organic. And having read those 3 I can tell you they are seamless and flow beautifully. I loved Levithan's Dash and Nick and Will but I EQUALLY loved Cohn's Lily & Norah and Green's Will. None of the characters overpowered the other and their voices were distinct and authentic. I would definitely recommend reading some of his work asap. I think you would like Dash and Lily the most, L. And Leviathan has an awesome sense of humor too. All of those books have some hilarious parts written in:)

    And oh, my goodness. Adding The First Affair to my tbr list NOW because WHOA. Gotta read that one...;)

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    1. I keep hearing about TINY COOPER from you and others. I gotta read Will Grayson, Will Grayson! And Dash and Lily has been on my list for a while now. How did I not know that was co-authored by Levitham? I totally miss these things sometimes. Everything you said here - writing two strong voices and a seamless story are essential to a successful co-authoring. Great points!

      I will lend you The First Affair! I'm excited/nervous about that one. But we'll both have to read and discuss it!!

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  7. Will Grayson, Will Grayson is the only co-authored book I've read but I absolutely LOVED it. I was already familiar with John Green's style, but I grew to enjoy David Levithan's as well as since the book was narrated by two narrators, the voices were much more distinct. I know a lot of multiple PoV books fail for me because the voices seem so similar, so co-authored books seem to be a good solution. It does seem REALLY hard, though, and I wonder if all of these will work out well... Great post, Lauren! I'm really looking forward to These Broken Stars, so let's hope co-authoring works out well in these situations.

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    1. This is such a great point - how co-authoring can really be a benefit, when writing a book with 2 voices. Everyone is raving about Will Grayson, Will Grayson so I know I need to read it too. BUt you're right, that there are a lot of challenges to the processes. Although it's a great way to bounce ideas off someone, you definitely have to give up some control of your story to manage it. I really really hope that These Broken Stars lives up to its hype! Fingers crossed.

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  8. I can't think of many off the top of my head, but the one I DID really enjoy was "Beguiled" by Deeanne Gist and J. Mark Bertrand. They did a great job!

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    1. OH! I forgot that one, but you're right! And it was one girl's voice. I could not tell when reading it, which parts were written by which author. I hope they write more together!!

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  9. The only co-authored book I've read that I recall is Beautiful Creatures. I felt like it was seamless - at least, I couldn't tell who was writing what.

    I'm hoping These Broken Stars is fantastic. I've heard enough things about it that I NEED to read it.

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    1. I totally forgot that series was co-authored. And it's 4 books right? That's a lot of material to cover with another person. I'm curious about how they made it work. Is the series told from multiple povs?

      I NEED to read These Broken Stars too and I'm having such trouble waiting until I'm closer to the release.

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  10. Like a lot of other comments say, I've also only read one co-written book, it being Dash and Lily's Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan. Rachel wrote Lily, David wrote Dash, and they both have really different writing styles! I loved it because it made the two characters very distinguishable and different.

    If the world was controlled by me, I'd TOTALLY co-write a book with Veronica Roth because OH MY GOODNESS, that'd be so fantastic. And my dream team would probably be Morgan Matson and Gayle Forman writing a book, because that'd be an AMAZING contemporary! (At least, I think so!)

    Fabulous post, Lauren! :)

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    1. I need to read that book! I love the idea of two authors bringing two distinct voices to one book. The process of fitting it into one story is really cool.

      Also GREAT choices for co-authoring. I cannot wait to see what Veronica Roth writes after Allegiant!! And MM and GF would be quite the powerhouse. I don't think I could handle it.

      Thanks so much for commenting!!

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  11. I know it's off-topic but there was an amazing show called Legend of the Seeker and the fans are trying to bring it back after it got cancelled after just two AMAZING seasons. Unfortunately you can only vote once so please go to SMGO.TV to vote because The more votes that we get, the higher the number that SMGO.TV can relay to ABC*Disney, and the LOTS Producers, at their upcoming meetings so that the campaign can move onto the next phase after producers and networks have hashed it out will be the fundraising phase.

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  12. I have noticed this trend, which seems to be getting bigger. Or perhaps I'm just paying attention to it now. The only book I've recently read that was co-authored was Team Human by Justine Larbalestier and Sarah Rees Brennan. I wasn't really a fan of the book in general, but I couldn't tell who did what part, and I remember reading stuff about it and how the authors mentioned by the time the book was published they weren't even sure who did what part.
    I don't have a problem with reading co-authored books, although I agree with your reasons as to why I'd think it would be challenging personally. What I really want to know is why so many authors seem to be turning to co-authorship of a book. I wonder if there are any concrete reasons or incentives for doing so?

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  13. Try Will Grayson, Will Grayson. It's one of my faves!

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    1. Although I love Naomi & Ely's No Kiss List, too.

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  14. Awesome post about co-authoring. I'm new to the co-authoring, as my co-author and I edit simultaneously, but the content is harmonious! Thank you, again!

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