Monday, August 9, 2010

WRITING-IN-TANDEM MONDAY: Chatting with GODDESS GIRLS co-authors Suzanne Williams & Joan Holub

Cute swag, huh?
Co-authors Joan Holub and Suzanne Williams are celebrating the upcoming release of Aphrodite the Beauty, the third in their delightful middle-grade Goddess Girls series. And they've stopped by today to share some insights about writing-in-tandem. Don't forget to leave a comment at this post between now and Sunday to be entered to win a fabulous Aphrodite the Beauty Swag Bag (including an autographed book).

SWK: Welcome, Joan and Suzanne. I can't wait to learn about your co-writing process. Let's begin with the question of inspiration. What made you decide to co-write Goddess Girls?

SUZANNE: Joan has always been interested in mythology, and thought a “school-based” series starring tween goddessgirls and godboys would be fun to do. Luckily, she also wanted to try writing a series with another writer and asked me if I’d be interested. Naturally, I said YES!

SWK: What was your process for writing together?

JOAN: We weren’t sure how we were going to collaborate in the beginning! Some writing teams trade off chapters, but that seemed too unwieldy for us.

SUZANNE: So, since we were initially contracted to write four books, we each did rough drafts for two, then traded the stories back and forth for several more drafts...We also made many long phone calls.

SWK: How do you think writing as a team affected working with your editor?

SUZANNE: We’re pretty careful to c.c. each other when replying to our editor, and she makes sure all her emails go to both of us, too...It’s a little extra trouble for her to have to send two copies of copy edits and galleys, but Joan and I usually compile our final changes onto one copy to make things somewhat easier for her.

JOAN: We take it as a vote of confidence in our writing partnership that our publisher, Aladdin, has recently asked us to write two more books for the series.

SWK: What are the best, worst, scariest or funniest moment in the co-writing process?

SUZANNE: I can’t honestly think of any “worst” moments. The best moments for me are when I’m struggling with some aspect of a story...then Joan supplies just the right “fix” or a suggestion that solves the problem.

JOAN: Those little moments Suzanne describes when she likes something I wrote or I especially like something she wrote...We have not had anything close to an argument, and I think that’s because we both do our work on time and try not to let the each other down.

SWK: Is there one particular aspect of the story, or of the writing process, that you feel was better because you wrote as a team?

JOAN: I send my work to friends or other authors for crit from time to time, but it’s different with a co-author. When Suzanne reads a draft I wrote, she doesn’t just suggest that I write something a different way. She writes the change herself. We both “write into” each other’s work... Our goal is a great book, so whatever it takes is fine with us!

SWK: What advice might you give to other writers considering a joint writing project?

SUZANNE & JOAN: Choose the right writing partner!

SWK: Now for the game show questions! Suzanne-You're planning the perfect getaway vacation for Joan. What's the destination and the perfect surprise to tuck into her suitcase?

SUZANNE: The destination for our perfect getaway would have to be Greece, particularly those lovely islands I’ve seen pictures of and heard so much about...The surprise? Hmm. I think matching gold double-G goddessgirl necklaces (like the ones our goddessgirls are wearing on the covers of our books) would be fantastic!

SWK: Now, Joan-You can invite any two authors, living or dead, to Suzanne's house for tea. Who's on the guest list and what favorite Suzanne-snacks are on the silver serving tray?

JOAN: I love this, Stasia! I’d invite Fancy Nancy author Jane O’Connor and Rick Riordan, author of Hyperion’s Percy Jackson series, which also involves Greco-Roman gods, goddesses, and mythical monsters. Jane published my first book at Grosset & Dunlap and she is a smart, funny person I rarely get to see. We could have ‘fancy’ tea, with some of the talking Oracle-O fortune cookies served in Mount Olympus Academy cafeteria. And it would be fascinating to talk gods and goddesses with Rick.

Thanks so much for stopping by today, Joan & Suzanne!

ENTER THE GODDESS GIRLS SWAG BAG giveaway by leaving a comment (about the series, co-writing, or even explaining why you're a goddess!) at this post. USA addresses only. Ends at 11:59 PM Pacific time on August 15. One winner will be randomly chosen and announced here on August 18.


Izzy G. said...

Yay, awesome giveaway! Oh, and I am most definitely a goddess. You can tell from my luxurious blonde girls, my ravishing blue eyes, and my silky smooth skin.

Suzanne Williams said...

Thanks for having us here today, Stasia. I've long been an admirer of "Writer on the Side," and I think it's exciting that your YA novel will soon be out. You do so many different things!

Stasia said...

Thanks for stopping by, Izzy. And welcome, Suzanne. Delighted to have you here at the blog!

Debbie said...

What great role models...women working together with the goal of a great book series for girls! I have 3 girls in my household, an 11 yr. old and twins that turn 10 tomorrow. Sounds like a fun series to check out!

Suzanne Williams said...

Thanks, Debbie. Joan and I are having a lot of fun writing the books. I hope your girls will enjoy them. Izzy, you and your girls definitely sound like goddesses!

Joan Holub said...

Stasia! Thank you so much for having us as guests on WotS!

LOL, Izzy. I CAN tell. You are definitely a goddess with some adorable goddess girls. It's all in the attitude!

Hi Suzanne, good to see you, co-author goddess!

Debbie, I love that you're thinking of us as role models in that we work well together. We do! We blundered into it, starting as friends first. Your girls are the perfects ages for Aphrodite the Beauty. Yay! Good luck in the giveaway.

Laura S. said...

I've always found author collaborations fascinating. I imagine it'd be hard, but Joan and Suzanne seem to make it work beautifully! I suppose it's kind of like a marriage: you must choose the right partner you see a long future with through all the ups and downs that will be inevitable! Respect and communication are important, too, I'm sure!

Thanks for this great interview and awesome giveaway!!!

Joan Holub said...

You are so right, Laura. Marriage is a good comparison to co-writing, though the commitment isn't as long. When Suzanne and I were shopping the series, we sent a proposal plus 5 chapters to Aladdin. So by then, we'd written enough words together to know we were a good fit. No arguments so far. Thank goodness for Word Tracking and email. It would be hard to do this otherwise.

Have a beautiful day!

Suzanne Williams said...

Hi Laura. Yes, the technology we have access to makes things so easy when collaborating across a distance. Thank goodness for that! But I must say that I'm really looking forward to seeing Joan--in the flesh--when she flies out from North Carolina in September or October. It's been too long since we actually saw each other.

Good luck in the giveaway, everyone!

Dawn Simon said...

Super interesting interview. How very cool to write books with another author! I'm sure finding the right writing partner, as you said, is key. I hope you ladies get to go on that trip to Greece someday!

Thanks for sharing, Joan and Suzanne. Also, thanks, Stasia, for bringing the interview to us!

Julie V. said...

Stasia - Thank you for your blog and the introduction to the world of writing. I've learned what ARC, YA and MS are all in the last month!! My nightstand is full of your suggested book titles books that and the tower grows everytime I log on. I'm off to add GODDESS GIRLS to my long must-read list! Taping into my inner Goddess sounds like a lovely escape :-)

Joan Holub said...

Hi Dawn,
I enjoyed your Plotting and Scheming blog just now. How fun that you were at SCBWI in L.A. I would love to make it out there sometime. The one in NYC is closer, so I'm hopeful about that one.

The key is definitely finding a compatible writing partner. Sometimes that's not your best friend or your mom. It's more about similar work habits and writing styles I think. Thank you so much for stopping in. It was fun to cyber-meet you.

Joan Holub said...

Julie, hi!

Stasia's blog is very cool and helpful. I hope you're in SCBWI, too. That org was a huge help to me when I was starting out.

I'm glad you're tapping into your inner goddess after reading our Goddess Girls blog. Very cool. I hope you enjoy the books--they're tween-age. I read tons of chapter books myself, both to keep abreast of what's out there, and to amuse myself.

I'd love to be a mix of all four goddesses if I could: beautiful like Aphrodite, brainy like Athena, athletic like Artemis, and, well, Persephone got the hunky guy (Hades) as her best guy friend, so who wouldn't want to be her!

Julie V. said...

OMG.... just read my post and all the typos. Fat fingers coupled with A.D.D. to details makes for an editor's worst nightmare!!! Thank you Joan for your comments. (Off to channel my inner Athena in hopes of sounding intelligent......):-)

throuthehaze said...

I love mythology! This looks like such a cute series :)
throuthehaze at gmail dot com

Suzanne Williams said...

Thank you to everyone for stopping by and leaving comments. Julie, LOL about the fat fingers. I suffer from that malady, too!