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Collaborating on Lost Things

A reader says, "I'm really excited (and envious!) that you've written an original novel with Melissa Scott. How did you get her to do it? And how did you decide what you were doing and how did you work it out?"

Well, I fangirled her at a con in a really embarrassing way, the way you're always not supposed to, complete with gushing and explaining how I've been her biggest fan since about early adolescence and always wanted to meet her and just generally making a fool of myself! But despite all evidence to the contrary, she can't have thought I was too much of an idiot as she agreed to do Homecoming with me.

We were working on Homecoming together and it became clear that we worked really well together. We have very similar minds sometimes, and very similar interests in some pretty obscure subjects. We started talking in general about how we loved the feel of the old serial action stories, the stories that Raiders of the Lost Ark is riffing off of, but at the same time we loved writing for a strong team the way we were with Stargate. For some reason or other Melissa brought up the Lake Nemi archaeological dig in 1929 (maybe she saw an article about it?) and I wrote the little scene that is now the prologue to Lost Things. I sent it to her, and she sent back what's now the entire first chapter. So we were off!

We're working on Steel Blues right now, which is our fifth book together (Homecoming, Secrets, Moebius Squared, Lost Things, Steel Blues), and it's absolutely a blast! I think the thing that works so well is that we're both very fast writers who are big history geeks, but we have dissimilar strengths in the actual writing. We compliment each other in terms of the parts of the story that fascinate us. For example, I am utterly in awe of her aerial action scenes and her aviation scenes! Oh my God! I originally loved her space battles and description of space travel in her early books, but I find myself utterly blown away every time by her planes and airships. The airship section in Lost Things is just gorgeous. I can't read it without clutching the edge of my desk.

We also tend to have different favorite characters, though we both love all of the team. She tends to principally write Dr. Jerry Ballard, the archaeologist, and I principally write Mitch Sorley, the pilot. We split Lewis Segura and Alma Gilchrist pretty evenly. Generally she writes the aviation and I write the occult. The sections with the goddess Diana are mostly mine, as are the magical rituals. In Steel Blues we've split it a little more geographically. A native of Little Rock, she's done the Little Rock scenes and I've done New Orleans.

We're planning for this to be a whole series. We've got a bunch of things mapped out, and I've started playing with some bits of the third book, Silver Bullet. It's going to be fun!

Any questions about how we collaborate or handle the mechanics or whatever? I'm happy to answer in depth if you have questions.


( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
May. 18th, 2012 11:37 pm (UTC)
If this is a trilogy (or more), will the whole series have a name? Like "Lost Things: Book 1 of the __________"?
May. 19th, 2012 12:26 am (UTC)
Our publisher asked the same question! We haven't thought of one yet. Any ideas? Everything we thought of was... well, at best uninspired!

So far the book titles are

Lost Things
Steel Blues
Silver Bullet
Wind Raker
Oath Bound
Invisible Wars
May. 20th, 2012 04:02 am (UTC)
Well, does the group have a name, even something someone throws out once that sticks? What about the name of their airship/other form of transportation? Do they have a "secret clubhouse" or meeting place? Or is there One Big Artifact they're going after through all the books? What about something from the Occult that keeps coming up through the books?

Naming things is so hard!
May. 20th, 2012 12:43 pm (UTC)
The name of the group is the Aedificatorii Templi, which is quite a mouthful! We talked about the translation of that, the Builders of the Temple, but it didn't seem to have the right ring? I dunno. The plane is the Terrier. Which makes people think of a small dog, not a secret society. They don't really have a secret clubhouse.

One of the things that's kind of different is that they don't have secret basement chapels in mansions or hidden caves in the woods or so forth. They live in a three bedroom house in Colorado Springs, with neighbors and a Ford pickup! And have jobs. And financial problems. They're sadly lacking in a Westchester County mansion with amazing devices in the basement or a castle on the moors with a secret crypt!

One Big Artifact -- hummm. That has potential, though it's not really one thing.... Wind Raker is the name of the thing they're after in the fourth book....

Something from the occult that keeps coming up.... Yeah, that could be? Diana's Hounds?

Or there's simply The Lodge. Humm.

I'm terrible at naming things, actually. Does this give you any ideas? Any thoughts? It's very helpful of you to ask, actually.

Jul. 23rd, 2012 07:36 pm (UTC)
Something about Gilchrist Aviation? Or... yeah, I like the idea of something from the occult, especially if it's taken from a description or conversation in one of the books themselves.
Jul. 24th, 2012 10:23 am (UTC)
Yeah, I just have no idea....
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )