LIVE Blog: Co-Authoring Books
This event is a “live blog,” which means Audrey Coulthurst and Paula Garner will be on the post during the hour it goes live to answer any and all of your questions in the comments.
Hello, writers! We are Audrey Coulthurst and Paula Garner, authors of the upcoming YA contemporary novel Starworld. We’re here to talk about co-authoring books. We’ll tell you a little bit about how the book came to be, then answer any questions in the comments below.
Paula: Like a lot of things Audrey and I do, our decision to write a book together was unplanned, half-cocked, and probably ill-advised. We have always loved cajoling each other into doing things that are stupid, unwise, or entertaining (to the other), and that dynamic was, in large part, what led to Starworld.
When Audrey and I met (on Twitter!), we hit it off so fast and hard that our friendship quickly sprawled to email, messaging, and real life. In addition to writing, we both love food, cooking, and cocktail-crafting, so there was never any shortage of things to bond over. Perhaps the most noteworthy thing about our friendship, though, is how much we made each other laugh. Like, falling down/peeing/crying/unable-to-breathe laughing. It was one of the things Audrey did that made me laugh that way that paved the way to Starworld.
Audrey: Fortunately, it wasn’t the time Paula tricked me into drinking part of a bottle of hot sauce. In the early days of our friendship, I would often goof off by narrating my own actions, making them very dramatic and silly. This is an example, copied from actual messages sent to Paula years ago in response to having to re-read my own work for the millionth time:
*stabs self in eyeholes*
*stuffs cotton wadding into empty eyesockets*
*reaches for you, fumbling*
*faceplants under your chair*
My antics amused Paula so much that she insisted I write an entire book narrated that way. Then the conversation went something like this:
Audrey: I can’t!
Paula: You can!
Audrey: It wouldn’t make any sense!
Paula: Make it make sense!
Audrey: Fine. But only if you do it with me.
Paula: What? I can’t!
Audrey: *emails CHAPTER ONE with the message: Tag. You’re it.*
Paula: Like every wacky thing Audrey does, I was unable to resist participating; I wrote a chapter in response, and sent it back to her. And so it began!
As the book took shape, what started out as a forum for us to have even more hilarium ultimately turned into a long therapy session in which we delicately probed painful things from our adolescent years. The project that began as something to make us laugh turned into something that brought many, MANY tears. And that leads me to the core of why our co-authoring relationship worked so well: trust.
Audrey: It helped that we’d been critique partners before writing together—we already loved each other’s work and trusted each other to be constructive, funny, and motivating in our feedback. Trust gave Starworld its depth as we revisited hard things from our own histories and used them to inform the story we were telling. Having a co-author to lean on was what made it possible to face painful memories and reshape parts of them into fiction that felt real and true.
So that’s the story of how our co-authoring relationship and Starworld came to be. Please feel free to ask us anything you’d like to know about co-writing in the comments!