Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Guest Bloggers Anah Crow and Dianne Fox - Opposites Attract

Thanks to the Nine Naughty Novelists for having us here today!

We write a number of genres and themes: science fiction, contemporary, urban fantasy, interracial, May/December, friends-to-lovers, and anything else that catches our fancy. One thing we come back to, no matter how we dress it up, is opposites attracting.

There's nothing better than taking two characters who seem--on the surface--to have nothing in common, and shaking up their world until their reasons to fall in love can't be denied any longer. We're opposites in our own way, so it's something into which we have a little insight.

Dianne is American, Anah is Canadian. Dianne uses Macs, Anah likes PCs. Dianne came to the pairing writing romance novels and urban fantasy; Anah wrote cyberpunk and science fiction, when she wasn't writing literary fiction. So, we know how awesome it can be when opposites make it work together.

In one of our recent novellas from Amber Allure, Driven to Distraction, we had the chance to be completely unsubtle about opposites attracting. Jess is a single father of two who was outed by his ex-girlfriend when she "done run off", so everyone in his small town knows he's queer. Jess makes a pretty good life for himself running his garage, and that's how he meets Ben, a single, out college professor with a PhD and a collection of vintage cars.

Every difference between them gave us another ready-made conflict without it seeming strained or contrived. We got the job of showing that under all their differences, Ben and Jess are two guys with everything in common--lonely, looking to love and be loved, putting family first, willing to work hard for what they want even when it hurts. Peeling back the differences like that lets us write about basic human conditions, things we can all relate to.

We have another “opposites attract” story coming out in January from Carina Press. One Real Thing has so many of our very favorite themes, we could hardly contain ourselves. It's fulfilling to entertain the idea that two complete opposites are a perfect match, and to be proven correct when all the cards are on the table. It's one of the things we want to believe about Love--that Love sees through a person's masks to the true self within, and won't be denied.

We didn't go into One Real Thing intending to set up polar opposites at every turn, it just happened when each of us took a character and developed them in response to, or as a challenge to, the other's character. Nick is trying not to make his father's mistakes, Holly's trying not to inherit his mother's madness. Nick is a straight-laced political journalist, dedicated to the truth, Holly is a hard-partying PR hack, dedicated to the spin. Nick's a married man, Holly hasn't even mastered serial monogamy. Nick makes all the right choices, Holly makes all the wrong moves.

At times, we weren't sure we were going to make it all work, but they certainly seemed dedicated to each other! The longer we worked, the more we found all the ways that they fit together, how their failings and wounds and cravings matched up to make for a relationship so right, there was no imagining them with anyone else. Love stories against the odds are always romantic, sometimes even more so when what’s at odds are the lovers themselves.

Sometimes, the person you don’t think you have anything in common with is your perfect match.

“Opposites attract” is a theme that resonates with us because of our own opposite natures. Is there anyone in your life--a friend, a partner, a lover--who seems like your complete opposite, but fits you perfectly? Are there characters who are special to you because their love comes from, and overcomes, their differences?

Anah Crow and Dianne Fox have been writing together for years, in a variety of genres. You can find them at www.anahcrow.com, www.foxwrites.com, as well as http://anahcrow.livejournal.com and http://diannefox.livejournal.com. You can also find them on Twitter as @anahcrow and @diannefox.


Meg Benjamin said...

Hi ladies--welcome to the Naughty Nine. That's a neat insight into your working process. Do you usually each take a character and write each story separately?

Dianne said...

Hi, Meg! Thanks for having us.

We do usually split up the main characters between us. We develop them separately but in cooperation with each other, so there are plenty of conflicts and neither of us is tempted to make things 'too easy' on them.

Once the characters and a story outline are settled, including decisions about point-of-view, we'll sit down to write. We usually pass a scene back and forth to get responses and actions from both characters, in the appropriate POV for the scene.

We find that helps us keep the responses feeling more 'authentic' and realistic, because when Anah writes a particular character's question, she doesn't know what the answer will be, and vice versa.

It works for us. :)

Skylar Kade said...

Anah and Dianne, thanks for blogging today and sharing your fascinating writing process! I love stories of opposites attracting because there's so much internal conflict--just like a real relationship.

Talk about character-driven plots! I'll be adding your books to my TBR :D

Anah said...

Hi, Skylar!

Dianne and I both love reading about opposites attract as much as we love writing it. Character-driven definitely describes a lot of our work... you can probably thank Dianne for that because I'm the one who always wants to blow something up or release a plague. *g*


Debra St. John said...


It sounds like you have a wonderful thing going here. I am always amazed how two authors can work so easily together and come up with one story. Looks like you have the process down pat.

Kelly Jamieson said...

Welcome to the Naughty Nine, it's great to have you here and to hear about your writing process and your stories (which sound fabulous BTW!). I think that's so cool how you work together!

Dianne said...

Debra and Kelly,

Thank you both. :)

Our writing process isn't always easy, but it does work for us, and we've had lots of practice with it. We're always tweaking and adjusting to make things more efficient and fun.

We're always on the lookout for new tools and routines to help us -- chatrooms that allow RTF formatting, for example, were a big improvement for our rough drafts.

And we've learned through trial and error that the best way for us to come up with story outlines is in person, during one of my bi-monthly trips to Anah's house. Failing that, videochatting seems to work nearly as well. Our outlining process includes a lot of handwaving and "so then he--" and if we can't see each other, a lot of what we're trying to convey gets lost in translation.

We have a great time with it, though, the outlining and the actual writing both. :)

Sarah S. G. Frantz said...

So...who wrote Nick, who wrote Holly? ;) Just curious.

Having read it already, I have to say I loved it. I'm wondering what you think readers' reactions are going to be to the TPE? It's a fascinating story, but I couldn't separate my enjoyment of it from a pretty constant refrain of "OMG, what are people going to think?"