Finding that creative spark all alone is hard enough, especially that spark that says, “I can write a *whole* book on this!” But finding that same creative spark with another person is really difficult. It doesn’t usually happen fast and the transition from solo writing to team writing can be a bumpy one.
I wrote my first two book with a cowriter, and I know how hard it can be. Gary Leveille and had our difficult moments—not in how we’d divide up that work, but in getting him to find time to write. You see, I think he had a life. I was pretty much free all the time, working only two days a week at the lab, (two, 17 hour days, but who’s counting?) and with a hubby who worked 14 hour days, five days a week. I had a lot of writing time back then. Gary didn’t.
As a full time writer (even before I was published) the lack of writing time grated on me. I was stupid. I could have started another solo project, but I didn’t. I let someone else’s schedule get to me and control my life. I’m smarter about that now. Now I just take on too much and live with the stress. J
Anyway, once I stopped writing with a partner, I decided I was happy writing alone, until CE Murphy joined us at MW. I don’t really remember how it came about but I *think* that Catie and I decided to do a PR interview between her Joanne Walker character and my Jane Yellowrock character. And it was fun. And the novella is now a profitable history.
Well, something like that might have happened between David B. Coe (D.B.Jackson) and me. Below is the crossover PR piece appearing today on my website, promoting his new release, Thieves’ Quarry. Writing it was so much fun we might turn it into a novella. So, relax and enjoy a bit of fiction from David and me.
Note: Questions and more thoughts at the end of the fiction.
Boston, Province of Massachusetts Bay, July 3, 1768:
The conjuring that Janna has used to send me to this place is unlike any that I have encountered or felt before. I have written a date and location at the top of this entry in my daybook, but the truth is, I am not sure where I am, or perhaps more to the point when. I know only that in the last day, my pursuit of Nicholas Greene has taken an odd and most frightening turn.
Greene was a scoundrel, and worse; he deserves whatever eternal punishment awaits him. But as it turns out, his earthly fate was far darker than I ever imagined possible.
But I am getting ahead of myself.
After murdering Missus Susan Bray, and stealing from her corpse a necklace of great worth, and of equal sentimental value to her family, Greene eluded me for a number of days. By the time I learned where he had been hiding himself, he was gone from Boston. I knew not where to resume my search and despaired of ever finding him or the item he stole. I had but one clue: a blade that he dropped during our lone encounter.
I took this blade to Janna and asked her if she knew a spell that would enable us to locate the fiend. She did. But when she cast the spell, she made a most remarkable discovery. She could locate the man, but not in any place she or I knew, and not in our own time. Even more remarkably, she used a second conjuring, the one to which I referred before, to send me where I am now.
I am in a city called New Orleans, in a nation of which even Samuel Adams himself can still only dream: the United States of America. In spite of my continued loyalty to the Crown, I admit to liking the sound of that.
This city, however, is an odd and disturbing place. It is huge beyond imagining, and filled with miscreants engaged in all manner of licentious behavior. But it contains wonders as well. Lamps that shine without benefit of a flame. Carriages that move without beasts to pull them, that yet belch foul fumes into the air. Objects no larger than a man’s hand that can speak and summon images that dazzle the eye. Enormous craft that soar through the sky, rumbling like thunder. Had I come to this place simply at my leisure, I could have reveled in these marvels. But upon my arrival I remained consumed with my impending confrontation with Greene.
I knew from Janna’s spell what building he was in — a formidable but disreputable looking place on a street that smelled of sour refuse and the aforementioned bitter fumes. I entered, inquired after him with a man at a desk, whose attention was fixed on yet another wonder: a box from which emanated both sound and glowing images. He directed me to a room on the second floor.
I proceeded to the room forthwith and knocked at Greene’s door. My first attempt elicited no response and I pounded at the door a second time. Seconds later, the door opened, revealing Greene.
His appearance had not changed at all; he seemed in the bloom of health. But he wore clothes that looked odd to me, though they were much like those I had seen on others in this alien town. His eyes widened upon seeing me, and after a moment he began to laugh.
“The thieftaker,” he said. “What a surprise.” His tone belied the words; he sounded not the least bit astonished by my presence here. “Come in. Close the door.” He turned away from the door and returned to his bed, where he reclined and leered at me.
“I had no idea that you had been turned, too.” He regarded me head to toe, a frown furrowing his brow. “You been dressing like that for two and a half centuries, or is this for my benefit?”
“My clothes are not your concern, Greene. I have come seeking justice for Susan Bray and her family.”
He sat up, his expression sharpening, like a wolf when it catches the scent of prey. “You haven’t been turned. You’re human. I can smell you.”
Faster than I would have thought possible, Greene was on his feet and then on me. He was unnaturally strong, like some villain from the great myths of Greece. In the span of a single breath, he lifted me off my feet and slammed me against the wall. His face distorted horribly: his eyes red around enormous black pupils, his teeth like the fangs of a wild beast. . . Once more I was reminded of a wolf. I struggled to free myself. I bit down hard on the inside of my cheek, drawing blood, and silently recited a scalding spell.
Greene snarled, recoiled, and I dropped to the floor, stunned but free for the moment.
He glared at me, rubbing his hand where I had burned him with my conjuring. “What the hell are you?”
Before I could answer, the door flew open and in stepped the most striking woman I have ever seen. She was tall and lean, with raven black hair that she wore in something akin to a bun and yet nothing like one at all. She wore breeches and a jacket of black leather. Around her neck she bore an odd silver necklace that put me in mind of ancient chain mail. She carried a firearm, much like a flintlock pistol, in one hand and a wooden stake in the other.
Seeing her, Greene snarled once again and launched himself at her, moving faster than my eye could follow. I lurched to protect the woman, but my injured leg gave way. Before Greene had covered half the distance, she leveled her small pistol at him and fired. The report was deafening; her aim true. The shot tore through his chest, dropping him to the floor. I pushed myself upright to see blood pooling around him. Such a wound would have proved fatal to any normal man. But Greene struggled to his feet once more and staggered toward her. Calm now, her face oddly impassive, her eyes burning a bright gold, the steely light of the warrior, the woman stepped toward him, ducked under a blow that might have rendered a lesser fighter senseless, and stabbed him in the chest with her stake.
A low grunt escaped Greene. He collapsed to the floor and moved no more.
“I didn’t want him dead,” I said. “I had questions for him.”
The woman looked at me, seeming to realize only now that I was there. She regarded me much as Greene had, a crooked smile on her full lips.
“You in a show?” she asked.
“I know not what you mean. I came here looking for Greene, seeking justice for a crime he committed long ago.”
“Yeah, well, he would have ripped your throat out before you got your justice. You should be thanking me.”
“He would have found ripping my throat out more difficult than you might imagine.”
She cocked her brows and studied me from my hat to my feet, seeming most interested in my footwear. Staring at them, she leaned toward me and sniffed, as if she were an animal taking my scent. “That right? You ever staked a vamp before?”
I laughed. How could I not? “Do you take me for a fool? Vampires are the stuff of legend.”
“Well, that legend would have had you for lunch if I hadn’t shown up when I did. Come here.” She stepped to the far side of the body and, using another wooden stake, pried open my quarry’s mouth. The animal teeth I had seen for a moment as he attacked me were indeed fangs, but these . . these were attached upon small bony apparatus, like hinges. The woman pushed them back into his mouth and they made a small snick of sound, one that I only now remembered hearing as Green attacked me.
The woman cleaned the stake on the man’s strange clothing and placed it in a sheath in her breeches. Green’s head rolled to the side. She lifted his hands to display two inch long talons at the tips of his fingers. I touched one. It was real, not some paste or plaster-made toy for a drama upon the stage.
I did not understand all that I was seeing, but I had to admit there appeared to be more to the legends than I had credited. I should not have been surprised. After all, how many people in Boston thought that conjurers were not real, or worse, that we were witches who deserved to be hanged or burned at the stake?
I met the woman’s gaze once more. “I have only seen one woman fight as you did. Have you heard of Sephira Pryce?”
“Nope. Should I have?”
“Where I come from, she is renowned. She does not deserve the adulation she receives, but she can handle herself with a blade or with her fists. She would want to meet you.”
“I’ll take that as a compliment.” She glanced around the room. “I have orders to leave him for the Master of the City. But we should go. I don’t want you here when the cops show — too many questions.”
I didn’t know what she meant by “cops,” but I followed her out into the corridor and waited as she shut the door.
“So where do you come from?” she asked, as we walked toward the stairway leading back to the ground floor.
“You would not believe me if I told you.”
I halted, faced her. “I live in Boston. And I come from the year 1768.”
Her face betrayed not a hint of surprise, though a grin curved her lips again. “Well, I guess that explains the hat and the shoes.” She lifted a hand and touched the pistol at my side. “And the flintlock. Good oogly moogly. You went up against a vamp with a flintlock and a steel blade. How did you get here? You a witch?”
“I most certainly am not! I am a conjurer!”
“Witch, conjurer. It’s all the same mojo, isn’t it?”
I bristled, but tried not to let my ire show. I did not sense that the woman meant to offend. “Here perhaps. Where I come from ministers rail against witchcraft in their sermons, and men and women are still hanged as witches.”
She nodded. “Yeah, I get that. All right, conjurer it is.” She proffered a hand. “Jane Yellowrock.”
After a moment’s hesitation, I gripped her hand, which was as smooth as I would expect a woman’s hand to be, but as powerful as that of any man. “I am Ethan Kaille.”
We began to walk again.
“Yellowrock,” I said. “What manner of name is that?”
“You’re a savage?”
“A what?” she asked, her laugh not quite concealing a note of warning.
“A savage. An Indian.”
By this time we were on the stairs. She halted again and put a hand on my chest, forcing me to stop as well. Her smile dropped away. “I’m Cherokee, and if you call me a savage one more time, my calling you a witch is going to be the least of your worries.”
“Forgive me,” I said. “I meant no offense.”
“You thought that by calling me a savage you were flattering me?”
“To be honest, I did not give much thought to what I was saying. It is . . .what people of my time and place call such as you. I won’t use the word again.”
She nodded, considering me through narrowed eyes. “Fair enough,” she said at last, descending the stairway once more. “Though in your time I would have been called War Woman by my own people.”
“And apt title, to be sure, and well deserved.”
“So what can you do with that mojo of yours?”
“I can do a good deal. What is it you have in mind?”
“Well,” she said. “Your friend Nick Greene isn’t the only rogue-vamp I’m hunting right now. And it might be handy to have a wi–” She flashed a smile. “A conjurer watching my back.”
I have never hunted for vampires; until a few moments before, I had not even believed they existed. But this woman and her grim task intrigued me in ways I could not quite explain, either to myself or to my friends back in Boston. That last thought gave me pause, as I knew not how I might return to them. I would have to trust in my conjuring skills, and Janna back in my own time, and perhaps in a bit of good fortune.
I returned her smile. “I think I might enjoy that as well.”
I followed her back along the city street, with its peculiar sights, smells, and sounds, and as I did my hand strayed to the hilt of my blade. At least that felt familiar. Upon touching it, I felt reassured, though that was, perhaps, foolishness on my part.
She looked me over again. “The first thing we’re going to have to do, though, is get you a shower and a shave. And it might be a good idea to find you some new clothes. I can hear your boots a mile away.”
(To be continued . . .)
I hope you can see how much fun this possible novella could be. And how difficult. I’d either have to write Jane from a third person POV or we’d have to figure out the two-character, first person POV. David would have to work with me. LOL. But it’s a possibility.
Have any of the rest of you written with another person? (I know a few have.) What did you have to do differently from writing alone? What were the pros and cons? And do any of you who have never co-written, want to try it? Why?