Abigail Davies grew up with a passion for words, storytelling, maths, and anything pink. Dreaming up characters—quite literally—and talking to them out loud is a daily occurrence for her. She finds it fascinating how a whole world can be built with words alone, and how everyone reads and interprets a story differently. Now following her dreams of writing, Abigail has found the passion that she always knew was there. When she’s not writing: she’s a mother to two daughters who she encourages to use their imagination as she believes that it’s a magical thing, or getting lost in a good book. If she’s doing neither of those things, you can be sure she’s surfing the web buying new makeup, clothes, or binge watching another show as she becomes one with her sofa.
Danielle Dickson has always dreamed about writing a book. With many stories to tell, she finally pulled her finger out one morning when one story screamed at her louder than the rest. When Danielle’s not writing, she can be found devouring the words of other people’s worlds, painting people’s faces with makeup, or feeding her unhealthy obsession of pink iced doughnuts—seriously, she’s obsessed. A self-confessed weirdo and horror movie fanatic, there’s never a dull moment in her clumsy, fun-filled life. She gets lost in the magic a book immerses you in and hopes to capture that magic for her readers.
1. Please can you tell us about the book you’re working on with another author?
Both: “Etching Our Way” is a second chance love story with ALL THE FEELS! It’s about coping with the hardships of life while trying to keep your head above water when you feel like you’re drowning. We wanted to convey that even after years apart and lives lived separately, that when you have that kind of love that consumes you, it never goes away. It’s showing that even though life may get in the way, that love can overcome all obstacles and still be there, three, five or even ten years later.
2. What made you want to write a book with someone else?
Dan: Abi is my people. She’s my bestie and I don’t think there was ever a second thought given when we jokingly—but not so jokingly—said we should write a book together. Ideas were thrown around and I can still remember the night we were messaging each other, coming up with a story that “felt right.” Our processes are practically the same and we work incredibly well together so I’ve never looked back. And it’s pretty awesome to see your name alongside someone that you admire and you’ve gone through your whole career with.
Abi: As Dan said above, we’re besties! And I don’t mean the, “we’re best friends, awww,” kind; I mean the, we tell each other everything kind and are completely honest about everything, even when it comes to, “Does this make me look fat.” There isn’t anything that I don’t tell Dan! We work so well together, even before this was even a thought—which it was pretty early on—we always bash our own ideas about and discuss them and we have a 100% honesty policy. We never say something is good because we want to walk on eggshells because we both want the other person’s work to be amazing. So, writing a book together was just a natural step for us personally.
3. In what way is the writing process easier when writing with another author?
Dan: For me it keeps me accountable and on track. Writing on your own and keeping up that momentum can be tiring at times, so having someone there that says, “We’re going for 4k today,” —or something along those lines—really helps. Also, having that second set of eyes and brain—even though we call ourselves ONEBRAIN—helps with ideas and plot holes.
Abi: Keeping us accountable, but also you tend to get really excited because you have this other person in this world with you who knows exactly what you’re thinking, so that is easier than having a solo book and doubting the world you’ve created sometimes. I love how we can write together, and by that I mean, literally in the same sentence!
4. In what way is the writing process harder when writing with another author?
Dan: Finding time to be on the document at the same time if we need them to be. Other than that, I can’t really think of anything else.
Abi: Like Dan said above, finding the time to be on the doc at the same time. We both have kids at different stages in their schooling, so it can be difficult. There were some really late nights, but when you’re loving what you’re doing, I don’t think it matters!
5. Do you both have an outline of the whole story first, or do you just go with it and surprise one another?
Dan: For me, I didn’t have an outline as such. We knew where we wanted to go with it all, but we didn’t have an outline. We did however plan around 5 scenes in advance so we knew what we were writing and when, because as I mentioned above, we needed to plan when we both needed to be on the doc at the same time.
Abi: I like to have, at least, a really rough outline. However, it didn’t pan out that way with this, and letting up some of that control of my pre-planning was difficult. But we knew where we wanted to go and most importantly, we were VERY open to changing the story as it evolved which I actually really loved doing.
6. How does the process work with writing the story? I.E Do you each write a chapter until you get to the end? Do you have one character each? Do you write the scenes and the other author adds to it?
Dan: We don’t want to give away all of our secrets, but we did each have a main character to write, but we wrote together on the scenes they were in together.
Abi: *Laughs* The “normal” process is to have a character each and each write that person no matter what. With ours, yes we had that in a way, but we also did lots and lots of other things that allowed us to completely write together. As in, we would literally work on the same sentence at the same time sometimes! It was so much fun!
7. What happens if you don’t agree on a scene / character your co-author has written?
Dan: I’d bite her… Nah, just kidding. This rarely happened, but when it did, we talked it out. Like I said in question 2, we work extremely well together and are very open to suggestions and feedback on characters and/or scenes.
Abi: I’d throw a paddy and stare at the laptop like I was going to throw it haha! Joking! Like Dan said, we’re so open with discussing things. We always do it with our solo books so it’s natural for us to be able to discuss things and work them out. A lot of the time, we were on the same track with things anyway, as Dan said above—ONEBRAIN.
8. Do you find you can write a book more quickly when sharing the task, or does it take longer due to planning / amending / checking with the other author first?
Dan: I can’t really comment on a “normal” time frame because we started the first little bit back in October 2016, but we had our solo books being written at the same time so we decided to concentrate on those first and start again in the new year. It was start and stop for a bit but once we decided to dedicate our time, it was all go from there.
Abi: Hmmm… I think the way we did it was a little more time consuming, but it’s SO worth it because the final product is sooo much better. We both had other things going on when we started to write this particular book.
6. What do’s and don’t would you give to other authors that may wish to write with another author at some point?
Dan: Don’t go into it thinking that you’re right all of the time. Be open to suggestions and constructive feedback. If your co-author doesn’t like something you’ve written, discuss it and listen to them instead of shutting off and taking it as criticism—not every form of feedback is criticism, even if it is something they disliked. Your co-author isn’t against you and you have to remember that although it may be your character, it’s their book too. And… HAVE FUN!! It should be an enjoyable experience writing with someone you really value. Abi and I have shared, laughter, tears, and WTF moments while writing, and it’s been a blast!! I wouldn’t have wanted to do it with anybody else!
Abi: I’d say do it with someone you trust COMPLETELY and are able to have those “awkward” conversations of, “I don’t like that bit.” If you don’t have that rapport with the person already, I’d suggest not to do it. Be open with all of it, whether it’s your character or not. Like Dan said above, the most important thing is to have fun! We had such a good time writing this! We felt every single emotion possible and even after being on the same document for eight hours straight and we were both starting to get a little delirious, we still had a laugh and a half an hour of silly moments! It’s important to enjoy it and relish in the experience, because it makes all the difference.
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