Wednesday, November 5, 2014

You write WHAT with your mother? EEEEWWWWW!

Between writer’s conferences and blog tours, we get that kind of question a lot. “How could you write sex scenes that your daughter’s going to read?” or “My mother would wash my mouth out with soap if I wrote that for her. How can you do that?”  People simply can’t imagine how a mother/daughter team can write steamy romance together.  The answer is, “Pretty damn easily.” We trust each other, and that’s all it really takes to make this work. Who better to trust that much, since I’ve known her literally all her life.

Successful co-writing is all about trust. You have to trust your partner’s skill, her work ethic, her judgment,  and her morals.  You have to trust that she’ll do what she says she’ll do, share the load and the spotlight and that she’ll judge your words on the merits of the work, not on some weird pre-conceived notion of what “normal people” (read “anyone except us") would do.

I’m not sure I even know what “Normal” is.  My own mother is a little woman with snow-white hair who looks like everyone’s grandmother, makes lovely quilts and crocheted hats in her spare time, and has a rap-sheet for civil disobedience and political activism a mile long. (Give ‘em Hell, Grandma!) My daughter, while barely old enough to drink in our state, is a purple-haired bi-sexual who writes hot gay and straight romance when she’s not taking on the establishment as an award winning journalist.  I may look like a mild-mannered accountant/soccer mom on the surface but only to people who don’t really know me.  Screw Normal. It’s over-rated.

When Shannen and I first decided to write a book together, we did have a few awkward moments.  Neither one of us had ever written romance, and the first sex scenes that each of us wrote were a little traumatic.  Those pages underwent a lot of revisions before the final product that you see in Healer. The point is that we trusted each other to think of the work first and foremost, and to judge the words only on how they contributed to the book. Any weirdness passed quickly and now we can trade our pages back and forth without any squikiness at all.  I can let her know, without blushes, when she needs to slow down and give us more details, because we’re writing a love story, not a journalistic exposé.  And she doesn’t hesitate to lay it out for me when my mild-mannered alter ego gets the upper hand for a moment (“No, Mom, a guy living in an apartment over his mom’s garage is NOT sexy. Ever!)

We felt a little bit notorious at the Emerald City conference last month as other writers marveled that we could do this sort of thing together. People we’d never met introduced themselves and couldn’t wait to hear how we do it, comparing it to their own family relationships and just shaking their heads.  All I could tell them is that it does work.  My co-author is smart, talented and driven and we’ve been working together on one project or another all her life. We know each other’s strengths and weaknesses and there’s no one I trust more.  That’s everything.  That’s how it works.

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