- Guest Post by Gina Buonaguro & Janice Kirk
“You wrote a novel together – how does that work?”
It’s the number one question we receive from readers and editors alike. As this year we are celebrating 10 years of working together with four books behind us and two more on the go, we can only answer “very well.”
We met in a French class in Kingston, Ontario, and, upon discovering we both were already writing, formed our own mini-authors group. After many months of reading and critiquing each other’s individual work, we decided to officially become coauthors.
So how does it work? Co-authoring for us doesn’t mean sitting side-by-side in front of the computer screen. What we do is telephone, email, skype, use google docs, and meet in each other’s kitchens, in cafés, and on patios – A LOT. We then assign each other tasks and deadlines. We research, we plot, and of course we write. We then exchange these drafts for comments and edits before returning to them for a rewrite or two – or twenty. We discuss – and sometimes politely duel over – literally every single word in all our novels. Through this process, this constant back and forth, we somehow have found our collective “voice.”
While writing our first novel, The Sidewalk Artist, fearful of offending the other, we were diplomatic to a fault. If Janice wrote something Gina didn't like, it was up to Janice to gently convince Gina of its magnificence or out it went. Some of these discussions would last for days and dozens of emails, only to have the winner concede the point on the next read with a sheepish "You were right." In the end, we realized it's not whether the idea or the sentence is one or the other’s – it's whether it's the right one. This epiphany led us to change our approach in Ciao Bella. Confident in our process and each other, we threw our careful diplomacy to the wind. It was if our individual egos had been subsumed by our collective ego. "This sentence is shit! Who wrote that?" was much more in keeping with the tone. That we laughed it off shows we'll survive our next books together too.
We’ve come to realize we’re in this together for the long haul and are now working to make writing our careers. This has meant thinking in a more entrepreneurial way, and one of the ways we’re doing this is by turning to self-publishing as a way to supplement our incomes.
Falling for Rain was a romance Janice began long before she even met Gina. It’s a story that in many ways is closest to her heart. The rural Ontario setting is the romantic landscape of forests and lakes in which she grew up and loves. Writing Falling for Rain was as much a going-home story for her as for the heroine Emily. Its themes – forgiveness and redemption, that all is not lost, that life gives us second chances should we choose to take them – are ones that resonate through all our collective novels. Not to mention we’re in love with all the heroes of our books: Raphael in The Sidewalk Artist, Frank and Ugo in Ciao Bella, and Francesco in the forthcoming The Wolves of St. Peter’s. Rain in Falling for Rain is no exception. As one Amazon reviewer wrote: “We all need a little Rain in our lives.”
With the decision to self-publish, Gina gave the novel a professional edit and learned all the tricks of formatting, posting, and marketing ebooks, while Janice enlisted her graphic designer son to design the cover. We put it out there, and now Falling for Rain is gathering an audience that loves it as much as we do.
It has taken us ten years to come to the stage where we can envision being full-time writers – and the support and encouragement we’ve given each other has been an essential part of that process. As Janice once signed off on an email after a particularly brutal rejection letter: “Coauthors in sickness and in health.” Between the plotting and writing, revising and editing, marketing and publicizing, managing expenses and interacting with agents and editors, writing as a career is no easy task for one individual to pull off. So when people ask us how we write together, we respond by saying, “How do people write alone?"
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Genre - Contemporary Romance
Rating - PG