Working as two: what it's like to co-author by Tara Lyons

Though these women look quite pleased with themselves,
I must admit, it's not myself and Mel
This time last year, I would never have believed that I could say I am a self-published author. If I was also told I’d be embarking on a new crime series with New York Times Bestselling Author, M.A Comley, I’d say you were pulling my leg. But look at me, it’s happened and it’s a dream come true.

     After speaking to a variety of authors online, I’ve come to realise co-writing isn’t for everyone. Some even say it would be their worst nightmare. And I can totally understand that. Having someone grill your work, edit it and not agree with your ideas could be frustrating. But look at it from a different perspective and it could mean that person is enhancing what you’ve written and enriching your ideas.

     I find myself in a lucky position. I am working with an experienced author who has published over 35 books in five years and definitely knows her craft. Mel works with a passion and drive that is inspirational. It also helps that I think her many series of books are fantastic. For Mel, she says she saw something in my writing that she hadn’t really seen in any other newcomer’s work. But, we also get along as friends first and I think that’s important. We have similar tastes, expectations and ideas, we’re both Geminis and enjoy crime TV programmes and we’ve been known to sing along to Lionel Ritchie on a road trip. You have to trust and respect the person you’re going to co-author with.

The Caller was published on June 16th
     The Caller is our first book in an Organised Crime Team series. Before we even began writing we did a lot of research into the Metropolitan Police, its set-up and its divisions. We talked about what we wanted from this series and who we wanted our characters to be. I think that was one of our difficulties; Mel obviously has a variety of characters, so ensuring we developed new personalities and identities took us a while. But we have them now. Once we were both happy with our new detective team, we began brainstorming. It started with just one small idea (because we have also planned future books) and then it grew and grew and grew. Something I said sparked a new image and plot for Mel and vice-versa, and we continued to do that until we had an interesting story. I think it’s an exciting way to work, especially as we’ve both written alone, it’s a refreshing change to bounce those thoughts off someone else.

     The Caller was created by each of us writing chunks of the book and editing each other’s work as we went. Hopefully it reads as a seamless story, but you also hear both of us as authors in there too. Obviously it’s not all smelling of roses, and during the editing process myself and Mel went back and forth on how we thought a certain scene or dialogue should unfold. Sometimes we had different ideas. But, we worked together to devise the best from both our ideas and we hope that’s reflected when you read The Caller. Mel and I live over three hours apart so we don’t get to see each other often. But we do talk everyday – sometimes about our books and sometimes about life in general – and open communication is definitely the key.

     Even if you think co-writing isn’t for you, I would definitely encourage you to have a writing “buddy.” An author friend you can talk to – again about books or life in general – who is honest and trustworthy. Writing can be a lonely job, so it’s great to have that shoulder, even a virtual one, to lean on, share with and occasionally have a complete rant to.

If you're interested in finding out more about The Caller, here are the links:

Amazon UK

Amazon US


Barnes and Noble

Google Play


Chris Longmuir said…
I always wondered how 2 authors worked together to produce a story that flows. It's something I don't think I could ever do, I'm too much of a control freak. But it evidently works for you, so more power to your elbow (cliche alert). I hope the books are a success and, looking into my crystal ball, you might be the first of our AE authors to be admitted to the Million Club.
Wendy H. Jones said…
Congratulations. I had wondered how this worked. I think you would have to be fairly flexible for this to work. Thanks for the info
Bill Kirton said…
Great stuff, Tara. Good luck with the book. It certainly sounds as if you had an interesting time writing it. I've co-written fiction twice and non-fiction once. I expected the non-fiction to be easy - teaming up with an excellent teacher for an essay-writing book for students - and it was. I was intrigued by the thought of trying it with fiction and that proved even more satisfying. We alternated sections and, rather than inhibiting, it was liberating to have characters sent in different directions and having to accommodate their changes when my turn came round again. I loved it.
Unknown said…
Thank you all for your comments. It's definitely an experience, and no it wasn't all fine and dandy. There were a few bumps, but I hope, that in the end, it made the story stronger.

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