Join us as Ashlyn Kane and Morgan James share with us the secrets of their co-writing process!
by Ashlyn Kane & Morgan James
Gabe Martin has a simple life plan: get into the NHL and win the Stanley Cup. It doesn’t include being the first out hockey player or, worse, getting involved with one of his teammates. But things change.
Dante Baltierra is Gabe’s polar opposite—careless, reckless… shameless. But his dedication to the sport is impressive, and Gabe can overlook a lot of young-and-stupid in the name of great hockey. And Dante has a superlative ass in a sport filled with superlative asses.
Before Gabe can figure out how to deal, a tabloid throws him out of his comfortable closet into a brand-new world. Amid the emotional turmoil of invasive questions, nasty speculation, and on- and off-ice homophobia, his game suffers.
Surprisingly, it’s Dante who drags him out of it—and then drags him into something else. Nothing good can come of secretly sleeping with a teammate, especially one Gabe has feelings for. But with their captain out with an injury, a rookie in perpetual need of a hug, and the race to make the playoffs for the first time since 1995, Gabe has a lot on his plate.
He can’t be blamed for forgetting that nothing stays secret forever.
While Morgan and Ashlyn where here, we asked them about the cowriting process…
The Cowriting Process
Morgan: I used to wonder how two people could write a book together. The idea was ridiculous—it’s not as if they can both hold the pen. But now that Ashlyn and I have published four books together, I find it difficult to imagine a day when I won’t want to write with her.
Ashlyn: Awww, ditto. It’s nice to be loved.
Morgan: Our plots have always been collaborative ventures. We talk about where we want the story to go in broad terms and who we imagine our cast of characters to be, but we also linger over details. For our first two books, we went away and wrote whole sections or chapters solo (for our first novel, we each picked a character and wrote all the content from their point of view), but after we got about 30,000 words through our third novel (as yet unpublished because self-editing is hard) and stalled out for several months, we changed our process.
Ashlyn: Self-editing is hard, and so are superhero novels. Contemporary romance rolls off the fingers a little easier!
Morgan: These days we tag-team. We wrote Hard Feelings in six weeks by writing a thousand words at a time (give or take, depending on how talkative our muses were). Not only is it faster for us, but it’s a heck of a lot more fun.
Ashlyn: There’s nothing quite like the instant gratification of having someone squee over what you wrote five minutes after you wrote it. It’s motivating.
Morgan: When it comes to reading and writing, Ashlyn and I have very similar tastes. We seldom disagree about what’s good and what isn’t. We are, dare I say it, totally drift compatible.
We spend a lot of time on instant message chats and in e-mails flailing at each other about plot. Madly typing out our next ideas, often forgetting punctuation, sometimes employing all caps. Or ranting about how the characters just won’t do what we want!
Winging It was written in this style. I wrote a thousand words, then Ashlyn wrote a thousand, and so on. Each of us edits the other’s work as we go—adding things in, deleting things, fine tuning—and then once the first draft is done, we each take a turn editing, once again adding, deleting, tweaking.
Ashlyn: I’ll be the first to admit I’m a tweaker. I’m very picky, so I’m lucky Morgan puts up with it, really. But I think the constant on-the-go editing of each other’s work is what helps us write books that feel seamless.
Sometimes the unthinkable happens and one of us accidentally writes the other into a corner. Then we talk about the problems, and sometimes a few hundred words get deleted to make way for the plot to move forward. Sometimes it goes back to whoever originally wrote it so they can solve the problem. It really depends.
Morgan: By the time we have a manuscript ready to send to the publisher, it’s difficult even for us to remember who wrote what. I remember once reading a piece from Neil Gaiman about Good Omens, in which he said that there were passages he and Terry Pratchett both insisted they’d written, and passages that both swore they hadn’t. I believe there was even the suggestion that parts of the novel wrote themselves. I’ll probably never again feel such kinship with him. I think that describes our process quite well.
Ashlyn: There have been a few times where I’ve said to Morgan while we’re proofreading a galley, “Good job, nice line!” or “I’m so pleased with myself for this one” only to have Morgan say, “Um, I didn’t write that” or “That was me.” It’s embarrassing, so in the future I think I’ll just stick to quoting the line and saying “high five.”