Thanks to today’s special guest contributors, co-authors Victoria Christopher Murray and ReShonda Tate Billingsley for today’s post on writing as a duo!
Whomever said writing is a solo art, never met us. After building successful solo careers, we were presented with the idea of writing a book together by Louise Burke (the publisher at Gallery Books and ReShonda’s publisher). As friends, and fans of each other’s work, we thought it was a great idea and decided to bring together our most popular characters (First Ladies Jasmine Cox Larson Bush and Rachel Jackson Adams). But then Touchstone Books (Victoria’s publisher) wanted us to write a book with them as well. That’s how we came up with Sinners and Saints and Friends and Foes.
The story plots have come pretty easy to us. Put two scandalous First Ladies together who will do anything to get their husband to win the top Christian position in the country and you have Sinners and Saints. Then, add a little murder mystery to the Jasmine/Rachel mix and we came up with Friends and Foes.
We’re back again with Fortune and Fame, and this one is about the phenomenon of reality TV. In this novel, Rachel gets her own reality show and because the two are so competitive, Jasmine will not let Rachel have a show without her. At first it looks like the two will be battling each other for fame, but then two women from their pasts show up causing all kinds of havoc in Rachel and Jasmine’s lives. Now, the two have to join together to battle their nemeses.
In our first book, the characters spent their time trying to one-up the other (talk about being fun to write!) We didn’t want to revisit the same type of story in the second book, so we had them work together. The same thing with the third book, we brought in additional characters to keep it fresh. One thing we never want to do is deliver to the readers, the same ol’ story.
That’s why our writing partnership works. We both appreciate and respect the craft of writing. And even during the writing process, we continue to challenge each other creatively. And best of all, writing together has been so much fun for both of us. While many may find it difficult to write together, it’s very easy for us. One of us writes a chapter and then the other follows with her chapter. We feed off each other and though we have a general idea of where the story is going, we really allow the story to unfold organically — as if it were happening in real time. This has totally worked for us; in the three books that we’ve written together, we’ve never changed one word the other has written! That’s because we stay true to the characters. Sometimes, people will even ask, ‘Which of you wrote this scene’ and we have to pause and think about it. That’s how seamless our writing is. That’s what we love about writing together.
If there is such a thing as a writing soul mate, we’ve found her. We call ourselves writing twins, knowing what the other is going to write and say before she even says it. Throw in the awesome time we have touring together and a writer couldn’t ask for a better partner!