Welcome to Up Around the Corner, Debra. Please, tell us a little about yourself and your writing.
Thanks, Terry for inviting me. Like most authors, I still have a day job which means that I have to be more focused and organized with my time. Most of my writing is done on the weekend although I try to schedule in a few early morning sessions as well. There are times though that a scene or an idea just won’t leave me until I write it down.
Anyone who has visited my blog, Two Ends of the Pen, knows that Dave is my brother. Growing up, we always shared the books we read with each other. In 2006, Dave was complaining that he couldn’t find a decent fantasy to read and I quipped, “Well, we should write our own.” That was the beginning of our partnership.
Writing with a co-author means leaving your ego at the door. Now saying you’re going to write a book and actually writing one is at opposite ends of the spectrum. As any author will tell you, they’ve heard that exact same statement from lots of people, but actually following through on it and putting words to paper takes a tremendous amount of time, energy and self-determination.
Our first book was Quest for Nobility, a fantasy based on the distant planet Otharia. Our main characters were royal twins (brother and sister). Surprising, right? Anyway, it made perfect sense for us. We’ve had a loving relationship all our lives and it wasn’t hard to write these characters and how they would react to the conflicts we would throw at them. We had a general outline of the book and initially assigned each other a chapter to write. Now that sounds reasonable, however, it turned out to be a disaster.
We turned out to be pretty similar in our writing styles and that meant we included pretty much all the same information in both chapters. Out came the delete button and thousands of words went into the trash bin. So then we figured that we would write one chapter at a time before we sent it to the other one for edits. That way we both knew what was already in the chapter and could move forward with the next chapter without repeating the same information. Still, it wasn’t all smooth sailing, especially when something was added in that we both didn’t agree on. Our mutual test was “If you can’t justify why something is included, then out it goes.” Yes, you definitely need to leave your ego at the door and keep the big picture in mind. You want to write the best book you can and sometimes that means things got left on the cutting room floor.
So that should have worked, right? Wrong! Do you know what happens when two people are writing a story without a specific outline? It’s not pretty and ¾ into the book, we thought of a fantastic tangent that we had to include. That meant we needed to go back to the beginning chapters again and rework them so that our new tangent made sense. When we finally finished the book, we felt like we’d run a marathon, but we weren’t done yet. After letting it sit for a few weeks, it was back for another round of edits. It’s amazing how much you see that needs to be changed if you step away for a bit. All in all, our first book was probably edited from cover to cover at least 6 or 7 times before it went to our editor for the final edit. That’s a lot of editing, but the book is now something we both are proud to put our names on. This was also the book that nearly landed us an agent in 2008, but in the end, it didn’t work out. The one positive thing we came away with though is that we didn’t suck at writing! We could write an exciting action-packed adventure and that was a huge boost for us.
Because of our experience in writing Quest, we knew that we needed more than a 10,000 foot (high level) outline. In the second book in the "Otharia" series, The Crystal Façade, the writing went much more smoothly. We were getting into our groove and we had a much more extensive outline to work from. That’s not to say that we don’t think of “cool” things to add in along the way, we absolutely do, but at least now when we add in an unexpected twist or another tangent we don’t have to backtrack to the beginning and fix the plot. Even though we both know what the outline says, it’s still exciting to see how it actually turns out especially when we both add in little tidbits as surprises for the other.
Dave and I love writing together. It is a fantastic creative outlet for us, but it may not be for everyone. If you plan to write with a co-author, make sure you have compatible writing styles. When Dave and I look back at our books, we can’t remember who wrote what and that’s a very good thing!
Who are several of your favorite authors and why do you enjoy their works?
My favorite authors run the gamut from George RR Martin and Robert Jordan to Orson Scott Card to Jane Austen. I read a wide variety of books and I believe this helps me in my own writing career.
Can you tell us about some of your published works?
To date, we’ve written 5 novels, QUEST FOR NOBILITY and THE CRYSTAL FAÇADE in the “Rule of Otharia” series; THE SILVER CROSS in the “Vampire Nightlife” series; ASSASSIN’S CURSE and the soon to-be-released WITCH’S CURSE in the “Witch Stone Prophecy” series as well as a number of short stories and novellas in the “Dark Future” series.
If you could invite three individuals to dinner (living or deceased), who would they be, where would you prefer to dine, and what would you hope to discuss?
CleopatraQueen Elizabeth I
Each of these women showed remarkable resolve in getting what they wanted from Cleopatra’s wooing of Julius Caesar and Marc Anthony, to Elizabeth’s brilliant strategy as she moved heads of state and country in her own game of chess to keep herself safe, to the quiet Miss Jane Austen who wanted to write stories and stopped at nothing until she was published even though she had to publish her works anonymously. I would very much like to hear in their own words how they viewed the world especially the bias against strong intelligent women.
What writing project are you working on now and what would you hope to accomplish within the next five years?
As I said in a previous question, WITCH’S CURSE, the exciting conclusion in the “Witch Stone Prophecy,” is nearing completion. We hope to have this book published by early Summer. It’s a complicated story though and it has already surpassed 130,000 words. There are many threads to tie up and we don’t want any loose ends in this book. Both Dave and I are working diligently on our writing with the hopes of it being our next career although we realize that writing full-time might be a little ways off for now.
Is there anything else you’d like to add or say to the readers of Up Around the Corner?
Yes, here’s another fun fact. In addition to writing fantasy and science fiction with my brother, I also write romance under the pen name, Debra Elizabeth. It’s a great way for me to pour my romantic side into the stories. Currently, I’m working on DARE TO LOVE A SPY which is the third book in the “Age of Innocence” series.
Thank you, Debra, for taking the time to answer my questions for visitors here at Up Around the Corner.
Thanks so much for having me, Terry. I appreciate the opportunity to connect with your readers.
For those interested, here are several links where you can learn more about Debra L. Martin and here works:
Facebook Author/Fan Page: http://www.facebook.com/Debra.L.Martin.Author
Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/Debra-L-Martin/e/B003Q1WLXY