Guest post: A Writing Team by David Coles

Tonight’s guest blog post, on the topic of his writing collaboration, welcomes the return of multi-genre novelist David Coles.

A Writing Team

We, David and Jack, have been writing together for more years than we can easily remember. It started with a humorous tale with the working title of Chunnel BC, it concerned Roman plans for a tunnel beneath the English Channel, because Julius Caesar became seasick outside of the Mediterranean. It never even made it to the publisher but as a first attempt, it was good fun and cemented our friendship.

In the years since then, we have continued the historical theme with a serious novel leading to the disappearance of the Roman Ninth Legion in Britain, a medieval mystery and a WWII story. There have also been fantasy and science fiction novels – built on a shared admiration of Jack Vance’s work – and most recently, a political thriller: 1/1:Jihad-Britain. Work-in-progress includes sequels to a historical fantasy and recently-released The Tourist. Humour seems to creep in whether we will or no, sneaks under the door at night when no one’s looking.

We have written all of these novels as a team. The writing model is one of repeated layers. Typically, after discussing the main sweep of the plot for a new book, Jack might begin writing and pass a week’s work on to David who rewrites it, checking facts in some cases, questioning flights of fancy in others and adding 10% to 20% new material. Once the initial draft is completed, it goes back to Jack, back again to David, a process repeated until we are both satisfied and at each stage, material is added or changed, phrasing is amended.

It works for us. In this case, two people writing together generate far more than twice as much fun.

Our novel: 1/1:Jihad-Britain, began as an idea put forward by David and thought about for some time by Jack. Eventually, David wrote what is now some of the opening prologue and also the road to the radicalisation of Fahkri, a leading character.

The book raised some quite unpleasant questions. How does a young person reach the conviction that killing himself and others is some sort of solution? How do religious organisations come to the absolute conviction that their view of life is the only right view and that violence will change the mind of the rest of the world? Research into these attitudes took us only part way. The fundamental differences seem to be in  attitudes to others: the unimportance of the individual versus the people. Is this born out of the tribal way of life left behind by the West? We have to remember that only some 30%-40% of the World has lived a democratic way of life for any significant time; not so surprising then that societies are content to let minorities or individuals do their thinking for them.

We differed on what we considered important themes. We can both point to parts of the book which are particularly our own work. The difficulties suffered by Brian, a self-employed electrician, was written by Jack and may be more in tune with UK readers than the rest of the world. David wrote of an escape of 40 or so prisoners from St. Kilda – Britain’s answer to Guantanamo Bay – trying to show that Moslems are not somehow a different species from Westerners.

Both these examples of writing were edited by the other author and both passages gave birth to later episodes not envisaged in the original manuscript.

So, perhaps accretion is a better description than layering. Whatever, we enjoy the work; it’s kept us closer than most brothers and both know that it is the readers who make the book a success, not the writers.

Our most recent novel: The Tourist was written principally by Jack while a historical fantasy currently at the publishers, was mainly from David’s imagination. So there is considerable variation in the way a book is initially put together but finishing is always the same process and one rule remains paramount: if either of the team dislike something, it gets pulled.

Currently, there seems to be a new trend in the way we work. We are both working solo on two books and these won’t go to the other author until the originator is satisfied or has run out of ideas… Change, that’s the great constant.

Wow, we’ve had a lot of laughs!

Our output is varied, we’ve yet to figure out what particular genre of ours might be favourite so we can concentrate on a series. Please leave a comment and let us know.

Thank you so much, David. As someone who’s never collaborated in person it’s certainly interesting to hear how it works for you. Oh, and I’ve been writing on and off for six years and don’t have a clue what my genre is… ‘dark and light’ if there’s such a thing. 🙂

David and his co-author Jack both live in Yorkshire but 25+ miles apart, and have been writing together for too many years to remember but still meet weekly. David lives on the outskirts of a big city whereas Jack’s home is more rural. They still enjoy each other’s presence though – if the truth be known – they probably laugh more at the antics of their grandchildren. Their tastes in music differ, David prefers more instrumental works especially acoustic guitars whereas Jack likes good balladeers. David likes walking and exploring foreign climes. Jack also enjoys travelling but on four wheels in preference to Shanks’ pony. They both enjoy a good meal and glass of wine and still like to curl up with a real book despite having eBook readers. David’s websites are www.DavidBColes.co.uk and www.ArchimedesPress.co.uk. You can also go to http://acclaimedbooks.com/wordpress/abcauthors and find…“Everett Coles”.

Jack and David’s books can be seen and purchased at http://www.AcclaimedBooks.com and at Amazon around the world (including Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com). They run the gamut of thriller through historical to fantasy and SF. Details and a directory can be found at http://www.ArchimedesPresse.co.uk.

If you would like to write a writing-related guest post for my blog then feel free to email me with an outline of what you would like to write about. If it’s writing-related then it’s highly likely I’d email back and say “yes please” (while quietly bouncing up and down in my seat with joy!).

The blog interviews return as normal tomorrow morning with historical adventure fantasy author Helen Hollick – the two hundred and eighty-second of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, bloggers, autobiographers and more. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further. And I enjoy hearing from readers of my blog; do either leave a comment on the relevant interview (the interviewees love to hear from you too!) and / or email me. You can also read / download my eBooks and free eShorts at Smashwords.

2 thoughts on “Guest post: A Writing Team by David Coles

  1. Melodie Campbell says:

    So interesting to hear how this successful collaboration evolved and continues. I have participated in one co-written book, which was completed with a different process: I wrote the first chapter and Cindy wrote the next. We continually surprised ourselves with the way the plot progressed. Then, half way through, we explored all possible endings together, and agreed on one. We continued the same alternate chapter process to the end.
    Thanks for this post! Your stunning success with several co-written novels is indeed a model to be emulated.

    Like

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