Our heroes!

MaleThe second question we get asked is “how do you come up with your heroes?” When we sat down to write Yesterday’s Shadows, we talked about what we wanted see. Our pet hates in romance novels were a) alphas males who “punish with a kiss” as the hero and b) alpha females as the heroines who turned to mushy girly giggly stammery princesses the second they encountered said alpha males (but more about that next week).

So we wanted a SNAG. Well, maybe not a SNAG exactly – he still had to be hot, sexy and manly. We just also wanted him to be an equal partner, not a dominant one. And so Sam was born. We considered briefly making him a romance novelist, but decided that History Professor (and I’m sure there were only a few Raiders of the Lost Ark thoughts in our heads at the time) would be perfect. He gradually evolved from a tweed and spectacle wearing teacher to a fairly hot and athletic snow boarder.

He had an excellent sense of humour, and although he was pretty confident, he had a deep seated fear that he was always second best. So a SNAG.

Then along came Noah. What a dick. He was alpha male personified. Unreasonable in his opinions, thought he was God’s gift to womankind, quick tempered, judgemental and oh my god, the sexiest thing on two legs!! Before we knew it, he was steaming up the pages snogging Verity at parties, giving her a love bite and trying really hard to take over our story. And you know what? He was actually more interesting than poor old sweet Sam.

This was good in a way, because it made us give Sam a bit more backbone, charisma and interest. And when we came to write Noah and Verity’s story, we decided we wanted to keep the awesome, hot alpha traits, but show that even alpha males can change and grow, especially with the love of a good woman.

Daniel, the hero of our third book, is a good combination of the two, with some extra dimensions thrown in.

I think what we’ve learned is that it’s not so much how alpha the male is, it’s about keeping our heroines consistent and strong. And finding the points of vulnerability in each couple that make them work. Regardless, in our heads at least, they are all extremely hot.

More next week on our heroines!!

Alpha

What we do in The Shadows… (thanks Taika!)

fightingWe often get asked how we manage to write together to produce a seamless narrative. The answer is both simple and complicated. We ourselves are not quite sure how we manage it but we will try explain.

It all starts when one of us has a story idea, e.g. Yesterday’s Shadows started with a ghost child trapped in a Victorian house (yes, in fact it was Alberton – even though, contrary to popular desire, I have yet to be convinced there is anything supernatural lurking in shadows there!). We did some research about supernatural phenomena (EVPs and the like) and went on from there. Once we knew what the paranormal element was going to be, we had many discussions about the hero and heroine. More about that in a later blog.

We nutted out our story arc and went off and wrote bits separately which were then reviewed/edited by the other – usually a word here and there but this, we think, is what gives us a consistent voice. While we are passionate about ‘our’ scenes, we give and take constructive criticism, which always ends up improving the original draft. When we read it back, we often can’t remember who write what ourselves!

I started with a sex scene and Lisa  wrote the prologue. Sadly we later ditched this, along with the entire first chapter but it got us in the swing of things. Neither of us can remember which sex scene it was so that may or may not have made the final cut either 🙂

When we first started, we only ever intended to write one book, for the 2003 Clendon Awards sponsored by Barbara and Peter Clendon of ‘Barbara’s Books’, where authors such as Nalini Singh got their start. However, that cunning plan was derailed somewhat when Noah and Verity kept sticking their noses in, demanding page time. Before we were halfway through Yesterday’s Shadows, we knew we had to write their story in a second book. We started this with the full intention of banging it out for the 2004 Clendon.

Sadly, life got in the way and it wasn’t until Christmas 2008 that Lisa prodded the machine back to life and we wrote the rest of their story in lickety-split time, for the 2009 Clendon. This time the paranormal element came from Lisa and the evil perambulating handbag was named after one of our friends, to her very great amusement.

Our style was a bit different with Dark Embrace as we had a series of recurring dreams that provided a structured framework for us to work around. Lisa hit her sex scene stride with some totally blush-making and brilliant naughty bits. She wrote these with her eyes closed and still hasn’t let her dad read them, much to his annoyance!

Back on topic, before we had finished writing Dark Embrace, Lisa had already written the first chapter of book three. I loved the writing  but HATED  Jaime. That, combined with more life meant that we shelved her story until early this year. I’ve now learned to love her  but it was almost as rocky a road as her and Daniel’s story.

However, that hasn’t stopped us from coming up with several other ideas, all set in our fictional town of Fisherman’s Creek. One of them, Lisa’s idea, or maybe it was mine (we tried to remember as I was writing this and realized it was bits and pieces from both of us…see how we work?) introduced a couple of characters who wouldn’t shut up until I wrote their opening scenes. Although we were trying to concentrate on Jaime’s story, we spent an entire evening discussing these two characters before we could put them to bed, so to speak 🙂

In practical terms, we try and get together in person once a week. We talk and throw ideas around, thrash out problems, update our ‘bible’ and family tree, sometimes we edit, sometimes we do actual writing and always update this blog. Sometimes there is fizzy wine involved, sometimes food and often a cup of tea. Children and animals pop in and out as well. We then go away and write independently, using a combination of email, texts and google drive to keep in touch.

I don’t know how other writing partnerships work, but this works for us and we love it!

– Caro