One of the questions I'm often asked by readers is how does a collaboration work between two writers living far apart?
I have been extraordinarily lucky that D.J. Manly first contacted me 19 months ago and asked me if I wanted to collaborate. I'd always seen myself as a lone wolf - and so did D.J. - but he had an idea and sent me the first few chapters via email. I loved it.
I've said this before so I am not telling tales out of school, but D.J.'s idea of two romance writers meeting over the Internet and falling in love just grabbed me.
He wrote the chapters from Thomas' point of view and his growing feelings for Marcus.
As I read the pages, I realized I'd be writing from Marcus' POV.
I emailed D.J. saying I couldn't get into the name Marcus, would he mind if I changed it to Matt.
He didn't mind at all and I jumped all over the story that became Black Point. The funny thing is, I've sat in rooms with people and had difficult collaborations, but not this time.
A friend of mine is an author and approached me to write a book with her. She had a wonderful idea but presented me with sloppily-written pages and inserted A.J. - SEX SCENE NEEDED HERE.
I don't write like that. Neither does D.J. Thank God.
The sex scenes must be organic to the work, I think.
She also freaked when I did write the first sex scene - a blow job. She thought it was dirty.
I knew right away we couldn't work together. It saved our friendship and our sanity.
To write in any genre, it's important that you both have a love for it. If one author is squeamish about explicit sex, you are doomed to failure.
Trust me on that.
If one of you has trouble writing and the other keeps pulling the wagon, ditto, as Patrick Swayze was fond of saying in Ghost.
Oh, D.J. and I didn't always agree, but it was one point we argued and D.J. turned out to be right. I think the success of any collaboration lies in trust.
At some point, one of you is gonna jump the shark. So somebody has to be unafraid to paddle the canoe back to the right pool of water. Sometimes it's me, sometimes it's D.J. To be honest, it doesn't happen much with us, because we seem to be so in tune.
I trust D.J.'s heart and his mind. He loves the characters we have created as much as I do. As we wrap up the final work on our 15th book together, Blood Eclipse 4: Apocalypse, I find it hard to do anything except think about Rory, Carden, Dennis and Thiago.
We have become so comfortable writing together now, our styles blend so well even our editor can't tell who wrote what. Neither can many of our readers.
I think this is the sign of a successful series. I've had conversations with other authors about their collaborations and from what I see I am lucky. Some collaborations become volatile and painful. I feel especially lucky because I now also have a fantastic partnership with Stephani Hecht.
We have the same wonderful discussions, nutting out ideas, leaving each other to float and dream and when sharks approach, we yell, "Ahoy!"
As D.J. and I wind up work on Apocalypse, I feel a sense of sadness saying goodbye to our characters. This is our last book in this particular series but D.J. and I have many more lined up. It's just so hard to say goodbye.
I think this is a good sign though, that the characters cling to me, and I to them. We play so nicely together.