Monday, March 18, 2013

The Long-Distance Series

Tomorrow, Kelly Jamieson’s Jilted kicks off a four-book series, the Promise Harbor Wedding, written by four different authors. Four authors—Kelly Jamieson, me, Sydney Somers, and Erin Nicholas—living in places far removed from each other: Winnipeg, Denver, the Maritime, and Iowa. All four books begin with the same wedding ceremony that doesn’t work out as planned. But how did we go about putting this series together? Joint outlines? That might work, except not everybody in the group uses outlines. One benevolent dictator telling the other three how to write? Not with romance writers, thank you very much.

So how did we do it? A lot of trial and error, a lot of emailing, a lot of aspirin, and a lot of fun as it turns out.

The idea for the four-book series came originally from Lindsey Faber, the editor for three of us (Erin, Sydney, and Meg). We first tossed some ideas around in 2010, but nothing much came of it—brainstorming at the Romantic Times Booklovers Convention is sort of a losing proposition.

We started thinking about the possibilities again last year, trying to come up with a basic situation that could serve as a jumping off point for four books, trying a couple of possibilities that didn’t ultimately work out. Of course the fact that we were in three different time zones didn’t help much—poor Syd was up in the wee hours when I was just finishing dinner. Thankfully the chat room we were using was one where we could save the discussion for future reference.

I’m not sure who exactly suggested a wedding, but I think it was either Kelly or Erin. Once that possibility had been raised, ideas began to flow. It would be a wedding that didn’t come off, a wedding-that-wasn’t. And all the stories would grow out of that initial disaster. Somehow we managed to browbeat Kelly into going first, so she decided she wanted to do the groom’s story. Erin agreed to be last and took the bride for Hitched. That left Syd and me to grab a couple of the supporting players—the best man in Syd’s case and the matron of honor in mine.

We decided that all four books would include the wedding as the first scene, but in each case it would be seen through a different character’s point of view. This meant we had to have a wedding scene to work with, and Kelly and Erin obliged. Syd and I contributed our own versions from different POV’s and the game was on.

From that point forward, nobody could make any changes to the wedding scene without telling everybody else what they’d done since the slightest detail could make a difference in somebody else’s description. In addition, we used each other’s characters, which meant making sure the dialogue and actions we came up with were okay. When I borrowed Syd’s heroine (a cop) to fill out a missing persons report in Bolted, I had to make sure I wasn’t having her do anything that would interfere with her activities in Busted.

It was hectic and sometimes frustrating, but at the same time it was loads of fun. Having three other authors to bounce ideas off and to complain to when your muse goes on a brief vacation was a wonderful experience. And the finished products had bits of all of us, incidents and ideas we’d all contributed.

So to the inevitable questions “Can the books be read on their own?” I can only answer, “Why would you want to?” Believe me, four authors are so much more fun than one.


Cynthia D'Alba said...

Sounds like quite the challenge! But I think working with other authors on projects is so much fun, not to mention, it keeps me on my toes!

flchen1 said...

Ooh, this sounds fabulous! I love connected stories, and the four of you have taken that to a whole new level! Can't wait to nab all four and see what you've done with this wedding-that-wasn't! Congrats!

Meg Benjamin said...

Thanks guys. I should have added that Bolted comes out April 2, Busted on April 16 and Hitched on April 30

Stella Ex Libris said...

Thanks for sharing some of the behind the scenes info, I'm always curious to know how the books came to be :-D

When you say you "borrowed" each others' characters, does that mean that once you wrote a scene with that character you asked the other author to take a look to make sure he/she wasn't acting out of character compared to the character's "main" book/story?

So excited to read this series of yours, looks and sounds terrific! :-D

Kelly Jamieson said...

Stella, yes, that did happen! In Erin's book Hitched, my heroine Devon makes an appearance, so Erin had me read over the scene so we could make sure Devon acted and talked the way she did in Jilted.

Kim B said...

I am giddy - GIDDY with excitement over the release!! I bet by tomorrow night people are going to be screaming for Bolted! So excited for you guys!! Congrats on the release Kelly and Meg you are right around the corner!! Everyone is going to LOVE this!

Meg Benjamin said...

Thank, Kim! We couldn't have done it without your help.