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Wednesday, April 4, 2012

What's it like to Co-Author a Book?

Hello Fellow Writers!
Today one of my favorite authors from Ellora's Cave, Lily Harlem, is guest blogging about her experience co-authoring a book (with Natalie Dae). I've often wondered how writers do it - since for me, writing is such a solitary venture. Well... writing the first draft is solitary. Then the beta readers and the editors come into play... but I've always relished being the one with the final say in how my manuscript turns out. Still, hearing Lily's account makes co-authoring seem like it could be really cool....

Co-Authoring by Lily Harlem

Thanks so much for having me here at the Writer’s Challenge. I am going to chat a little about co-authoring which is something I’ve had the great pleasure of becoming involved in over the last year. My partner in erotic writings is Natalie Dae (also known as Emmy Ellis and Sarah Masters to name a few of her personas).
Natalie Dae and I have our first co-author novel THAT FILTHY BOOK just out at Total-E-Bound.
How did it all start?
Well, we became friends as we have a mutual editor and got chatting on the loop. It wasn’t long before we realised that we lived within a few hours of one another which meant, at a UK writing event, we had the chance to meet up—enormous fun that included plenty of wine, tons of gossip and great entertainment!
By this point we had been beta reading each other’s work (Nat is also a whizz at anything arty so had helped me out with bits and pieces I was completely hopeless at), and we knew one another’s style pretty well.
One day, a month or so after finally meeting face-to-face, she sent me a first chapter. “I’m having a wobble,” she said. “Read this before I go any further and tell me if its complete poo.” I’m sure any authors reading this will know exactly what she meant, I certainly did!
Anyway, I read it and it wasn’t complete poo at all, it was bloody brilliant. Great characters, fab introspection, all in all a really wonderful set-up, but still she scratched her head, unsure of where to go with it, so I said, not wanting to waste any of her lovely words, “How about I write the next chapter?” The reply: “Go for it!”
So I did and it was raw, sexy—in fact, downright filthy! Nat loved it, and not only that, we both felt like we’d just put our characters on the biggest, most thrilling roller-coaster in the world and we were going to have to hang on for the seriously wild ride we’d sent them on.
We were off…
It was then writing together became a complete, chocolate-with-sprinkles indulgence. We would do a chapter length each and pass it on, amazing ourselves at the twists and turns in the plot as we wrote. Of course, we had an idea of where we were going, but it was very loose. But that was the beauty of ‘the book’—it went where our characters wanted it to go.
One thing I found amazing was how we both knew the hero and heroine so well. There was never a time either of us questioned, “Would he/she do/say that?” Everything was seamless, the decisions they made, their actions—even if heart-stoppingly shocking—worked perfectly. Sometimes, at editing, I would read it back and think, “Who wrote that? Me or Nat?” Which must ultimately be a very good sign.
What did I learn?
Writing with someone not only talented but also with a beautiful vibrant use of the English language was wonderful. I learnt a lot as we wrote, experimented too, because it was safe to. Also there was never a ‘writer’s block moment’ or a ‘bugger, now what?’ because Nat knew the novel as well as me so it was only ever a quick question and it was flowing again. We bounced it off one another, quite literally.
That Filthy Book was actually written over just a few weeks; we got into a routine that suited us and the word count romped up. It was then accepted by Total-E-Bound, and Nat, with her other head on as Head of Art at TEB did the amazing cover. I have to say, when she sent it to me I couldn’t stop looking at it. I blew it up to full screen and just stared and stared and stared. I even got up in the middle of the night and stared again!
I knew we had the characters running parallel in our heads, like they were real people we both knew, but when I saw the images she’d created I was staggered by how she’d brought to life what was in my mind’s eye. Everything about Karen and Jacob was right. From their expressions, to their hair colour, physique, and the way Karen is just undoing Jacob’s shirt while they both look shifty. Perfection!!
I feel very privileged not to be only writing with Nat, but also able to call her my friend and confidant. And I hope in years to come, when we have many more co-author titles, we will be able to look back fondly on That Filthy Book and say remember when…
Thanks so much for letting me chatter today. It’s always fun to come and hang out here. Below is a little more information about That Filthy Book.

Lily x

Check out That Filthy Book on Total-E-Bound here.

Lily’s website http://www.lilyharlem.com/index.html
Natalie’s website http://emmyellis.blogspot.com/


  1. Thanks so much for inviting me over today, Shoshanna and for letting me chatter on about my co-author experience.

    I hope readers enjoy the book and all its filthiness :-)

    Lily x

  2. Thanks for being here, Lily! Great post!


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