Today I am excited to have Brian Palmer and Jason Rowe stop by the blog to tell us a bit about co-authoring their book XII: Genesis!Brian: Anyone who has ever sat down to try and write a novel knows of the many pitfalls that await you. Procrastination. Writer's block. Email. Social media. Family. Friends. More procrastination. It seems in fact that from the very moment we decide we want to create this fictional tale that has come sweeping into our minds like a wave onto a warm, tropical island around sunset, there are forces set to oppose us so that we will be prevented from doing the very thing we want to do.
Jason: And it's important to realize that while all of these things can get in the way of your writing, they actually do take priority along the way, especially if you have responsibilities that others are counting on you to fulfill and writing isn't your primary source of income or priority. The key is always going to be a matter of prioritization and time management, so it's not a matter of letting these other obligations discourage you, nor should they invalidate your dream of writing. Depending on your situation, I believe it's simply a matter of making your dream a priority and then if you truly want it, you have to be willing to schedule it in with your other priorities and make the commitment to persevere, even if you don't always want to at a given moment.
Brian: Now imagine having all of these factors (and I am sure there are countless others as well) at play against you, and then add to the equation the reality of trying to write said novel with a second person. Such an addition is every bit as exciting and challenging as it sounds, and while this sort of arrangement is not for everyone, it is not impossible to do this successfully. Jason and I had to work out the kinks for a while before we could complete the first entry in our new series, XII (the first entry is called XII: Genesis), which released on 12-12-12, but we didn't give up despite a number of false starts and wrong turns, and now we have a much better idea of how to continue working together as we prepare to write the next seven books in this series.
Jason: One of the keys to our partnership has been one of mutual respect. I'm always going to be the one who had the story and the one who had a lot of the elements and details in mind before sharing them with Brian. I never relinquished my intellectual or emotional "rights" to ensure that XII becomes all that it is supposed to be in my heart and mind, but without Brian I know that we wouldn't be having this interview today. I may have written the story eventually on my own, but our balanced strengths and mutual respect have allowed us to not only create the foundational elements that make up the XII Saga, but also to encourage, challenge, and push each other to get here - while also improving individually as writers along the way. I also know that because of the strengths that Brian has brought to this partnership, XII is stronger than it ever would have been without him.
Brian: It was interesting for me, working with another person, as I had never tried this before. It's a bit like entering into a marriage, really, because you no longer can go off willy-nilly, doing whatever you please with the story you are creating. You have to take the other person into account, their sensibilities, their schedule and their ideas. You have to figure out which writing style is going to work best for you. Do you outline the project or no? Do you divide and conquer, with each of you writing about certain elements of the novel before rejoining again to discuss, edit, etc.? Is it best to just do the whole thing over Skype, as Jason and I did, that way you two can talk through every point, every scene, every character, every detail and every bit of dialogue all at once?
Jason: Having been married for over 20 years I can say that its very much like having a healthy marriage. Communication, respect, knowing each other's role and being willing to support the other in theirs are all elements that have come into play over the last few years of learning this "dance" together. There has to be equality within the relationship because without that balance, the two sides start working against each other inevitably. Brian and I are very different in our individual writing styles and personalities while sharing a ton of common ground in creative interests and influences. My wife and I are polar opposites but we balance because we're equally committed to our relationship and the same is true with Brian and I. It doesn't mean you ever stop being different or having potential "snags" when you don't see eye-to-eye on something, but inevitably both sides drift to the "center" somewhat and you end up taking on a little more of the other's paradigm as you go along.
Brian: As with most things, there is no one right way to do this, but through trial and error Jason and I were able to establish the best system for us. We live in different states, so we were forced to work via Skype sessions twice a week, but your situation might be entirely different if you are working with another person. Hopefully your partner is a buddy who lives in town and you can get together at each other's homes regularly, or get to a coffee shop or something. Regardless of your situation's dynamics, however, the point is even though writing with a second person brings an added level of difficulty to the process, you still have to treat the writing process as though you are going it alone. You have to be intentional, you have to be focused, you have to set yourself a schedule and deadlines and do your best to stick to them. You have to be motivated to work on this project (having a co-writer definitely helps in this regard!).
Jason: The key is to ensure that you have one voice along the way if you're writing fiction (versus, say, non-fiction or a screenplay). Brian and I have shared our frustration in reading other joint projects by authors we've liked previously that haven't always worked when two great minds and strong voices have "paired up". If both voices are equally strong and saying the same words then it has to be perfectly in sync or it just doesn't work. The alternative reminds me of a duet where one sings melody and the other, harmony. I think Brian and I fall into the latter category and have exchanged parts at various points in the storyline while remaining true to the "lyrics and music" overall.
Brian: Writing with a second person is fun, bizarre, frustrating, therapeutic and absolutely worth it if the opportunity presents itself to you. Jason and I took the time and made the effort to make this partnership work, and while the first entry in this series took four years to create due to a variety of circumstances, we now know exactly how we will be doing things going forward, so the process will go much more smoothly.
Jason: I know some writers have taken a decade to write a story and have found international acclaim almost overnight (Can someone please get a copy of XII: Genesis to Oprah please?) but in our case we had a sprinters mentality from the outset and had to come to terms with the fact that we were actually running long distance. Neither of us will ever be comfortable with being the "tortoise" but being the "hare" is not an option in an eight-part series either. When I consider "four years to write" I shudder to think this was like earning an undergrad degree - but like college - we spent the first two years or so getting the basics and core down, before moving into actually writing the story as it should be written. Moving forward we'll have a much faster turn out because we spent 2-3 years learning how to do so in a way that worked for Brian and I, and for the story overall.
But darkness rises now, mistaken for a mere shadow cast by the bright light of human progress. It is the time of which the ancients foretold. It is the time when all things must end. …It is the time of The Twelve.
Six men and six women representing all creeds and colors are supernaturally gifted, but the unlikeliest of heroes. They are barely adults by the world’s standards, but still they are called.
Only they can stand against the growing darkness – but will they stand together?
XII: Genesis is the first installment of an eight-book series in the Young Adult / New Adult genres. If action excites you, if the supernatural intrigues you, and if love compels you - then you are invited to join The Twelve in their fight against the growing darkness that threatens New Earth!"