You’ve described what it’s like to write as part of a team — how either you or Steve will be the “driver” for the book, and that the driver has a tie-breaking vote concerning the book, and that you role scenes with one another, etc.
What I’m curious about is what happens when you (specifically you, Sharon) are working on a single author title. Does Steve act as a sounding board, do you discuss plot points with him, or are the only voices in your head the ones of the current characters?
Well…the easy answer is that, in my experience, if you have two (or more) writers living in close proximity, each of them is going to have a finger in whatever pie happens to be baking at the time. Even lacking Proximate Writers, it’s not at all unusual for writers to ask other writers for aid — in looking over an awkward scene, or reading a draft to see if it makes sense, or to bounce ideas off of. More on this in a moment.
Now, with the Carousel books and stories, I Very Much Wanted to write about Old Orchard Beach, a resort town in Maine of which I am quite foolishly fond. I also wanted to write about Googin(s) Rock, which exists inside the borders of the town and is Enormously Spooky-Looking and, so, well, magical, that even the sea runs strange around it.
Steve, however, was Very Much Less Interested in writing a story about a magical rock, nor was he Anywhere Near as entranced as I was with the puzzle of fitting a fantasy story into a “real” town; the technical challenge, in essence, of crafting a story that worked on both the mundane level and on the magical level.
(Occasionally, I get Strange Fascinations; I offer as Exhibit A Rool Tiazan and his Good Lady. Steve has learned to just stand aside and wait.)
So, anyway; it was abundantly clear that, if I wanted to write a book about Archers Beach, I was going to have to do it myself. I had by this time already written Barnburner and Gunshy — mysteries based in the fictional Central Maine town of Wimsy, during those ten years when we weren’t able to sell any of our writing to anybody, and I sat down to write about Archers Beach knowing, at least, that I could write a novel “by myself.”
(It is a curiosity that the books I’ve written “by myself” have all been told in first person. Especially considering how much I like to hop heads. But the first voice I heard when I opened up a new file, intending to sketch out the story, was Kate’s, and we never looked back.)
I pitched the concept to Madame the Agent, who. . .shared Steve’s enthusiasm for the project, but I wrote it anyway, because, by that time, I had to.
For me, writing a book involves a lot of wandering around the house and Staring at Nothing. Steve is used to this behavior, so — no change in the household routine, there.
What was a little different was that, at the time Carousel Tides was written — in 2006 — matters with Meisha Merlin were starting to come to a head. We hadn’t been paid for the delivery of Crystal Soldier or Crystal Dragon, or seen the upfront money for the book under contract — Web of the Trident. Our agent had counseled us not to turn in that book until the money had gotten caught up. Steve was valiantly trying to write Web so that it would be ready for delivery when the checks came in.
I started to write Carousel Tides — that’s Steve’s title, by the way– thinking maybe having another, different, book on offer might be a Good Thing, and also — had to, above.
In addition to wandering around the house, staring at nothing, I bounced ideas off of Steve, and when the first draft of the book was done, I asked writer friends to read and critique it for me. After that, I went into revisions, and, sometime after that, I sent the completed manuscript to Madame the Agent, who sent it around all during 2007 and 2008 to unanimous rejection, until it finally came to rest at Baen, in 2009, and was published in 2010.
When it came to writing Carousel Sun and Carousel Seas, Steve continued to act as a sounding board and first reader. He also took up the slack with washing dishes, doing laundry, cooking, and all the rest of the household tasks that are handed off to the non-rolling partner when the other is on a Writing Roll.
How’s that for a Long, Rambling Answer.
Thanks for asking!