Today it gives me great pleasure to be welcoming authors Heide Goody and Iain Grant to the blog as part of the tour for their latest creative masterpiece, Snowflake. I have a brilliant guest post of their process for writing as a duo as well as a review of the book. A huge thanks to the pair for taking the time out to join me and for providing an advance copy of the book for review. Here is what it’s all about.
About the Book
Lori Belkin has been dumped. By her parents.
They moved out while she was away on holiday, and now, at the tender age of twenty-five, she’s been cruelly forced to stand on her own two feet.
While she’s getting to grips with basic adulting, Lori magically brings to life the super-sexy man she created from celebrity photos as a teenager.
Lori learns very quickly that having your ideal man is not as satisfying as it ought to be and that being an adult is far harder than it looks.
Snowflake is a story about prehistoric pets, delinquent donkeys and becoming the person you want to be, not the person everyone else expects you to be.
Making a writing partnership work
by Heide Goody & Iain Grant
After seven years of working together, Iain and I have worked out quite a few things about our writing partnership.
How it works, practically.
We never actually write together. We meet when we need to plan something or discuss detail. When we’re planning something new it’s handy to talk face to face and draw giant diagrams on huge pieces of paper (wallpaper lining rolls come in handy for this). Then we divide up the work and Iain will put it into the spreadsheet. It’s worth mentioning here that Iain likes order and structure and Heide favours a little light anarchy. We do both have a very strong work ethic though, so once we commit to doing something by a certain date, we will very rarely fail that deadline.
We work to a synopsis-write-edit cycle for each chapter. That means that typically, we would both go away from a planning meeting and write a synopsis for one of the chapters. We swap over to write the actual chapter and then we swap back to edit it. That means that we’ve both had a chance to change every part of a book, and it smoothes out our styles.
How we use our strengths and weaknesses
We now know a thing or two about our strengths and weaknesses. Iain is an expert at witty dialogue, whereas Heide is fond of ridiculous slapstick. Sometimes, we know a particular piece of the narrative is very much suited to one of those things, so we divide it up to suit.
We take care of other parts of our business in a similar way. Iain has built a spreadsheet that masterminds our accounts, while Heide loves nothing better than getting out the sewing machine and craft something silly to launch a book. For the launch of Snowflake, she plans to make a remote-controlled trilobite (an extinct arthropod – think of a giant woodlouse) because Lori, the main character accidentally re-animates some fossils.
How to play nice with others
We are often asked how we handle disagreements. The truth of the matter is that we very rarely have anything that would count as a noteworthy disagreement. We tend to share views on how our business should be conducted, and we make sure that we spend time talking about how things are going between us as well as practical considerations.
We’ve discovered that some of the things that drive disagreements between us are actually strengths in disguise. For example, Heide brings the ‘idiotic populist’ point of view, while Iain is very much in tune with those who love ‘geeky cleverness’. This is really handy, because there are fans of our work who enjoy both of those things, so we know it’s important to maintain a balance and not to pile too much of either ingredient into the mix.
Why we continue
We haven’t mentioned the sheer joy and productivity that is to be gained from sharing and stretching ideas. We also genuinely believe that we are greater than the sum of our parts, and that the fiction we create together has the best appeal to readers. We’d love to hear from anyone who has thoughts on this or anything else to do with writing partnerships.
Thanks guys. That is a fascinating look at your writing process. As someone who rarely tolerates human contact, I think a distance partnership would probably be my best approach too should I ever try it, although I’m not sure I’d be quite so magnanimous in dealing with disputes ( and with me there would be many …) Perhaps I’ll stick to solo writing for now 😉
So what about the book? Well, I will be honest, this is the first book by the pair that I have read but I think (I know) I’m going to be heading back for more.
If you are looking for a serious examination of what it means to be a twenty-something singleton navigating the murky waters of the journey to adulthood, well quite honestly you have come to the wrong place. If you are looking for a laugh out loud book, in which the typical mistakes we oldies think that the youth of today make (they probably actually do but we do tend to over dramatise things when we reach a certain age) are played out in perfect comedy excellence – well then pick this book up. I don’t think I stopped chuckling all the way through.
Now it is probably remiss of me to admit, but I kind of identify with Lori just a little. Not some of the more, how shall I put this, catastrophic errors that she make like fairly ell totalling her brother’s apartment, but I mean the reluctant progression into the boring world of being a grown up. I’m in my forties and I have to check myself frequently to work out just how I got here, responsible job, utilities bills and all. Now I don’t think I’ve ever been quite as immature as Lori, but I certainly didn’t rush into any of the typical adult responsibilities either. And in that respect our writing team have hit the nail squarely on the head.
Lori is a brilliant character, exactly who we all were and who we’d be again if we could shake off the conventions of modern life. Maybe she is a caricature of the way in which we view the action of youngsters these days (the simple fact I have just referred to them as youngsters shows how out of touch I am with the millennial generation), but like it or not, she is also highly representative of the shift in the generations. There is a hidden socio-political message in this story, cleverly disguised as a bloody good entertaining read but when you have Lori v the uptight Vice Chancellor of the university, then you are basically highlighting the difference between today’s online generation and the four-channels-on-the-TV-only-get-up-to-change-them-over experience of my youth. I loved it.
Now there are some hilarious scenes in this book, often involving some of the more ‘inventive’ characters. Firstly there is Lori’s friend Cookie. I’m never sure if she is Zen, Hippy or just plain bonkers but she is a hoot. Then there is Lori’s perfect man, Ashbert. You really do need to read about him to understand but the man does have a way with sausages (more like twenty actually). You have the slightly more reserved James and his son Theo, both delightful characters and then there are the Trilobites. Yes, actual trilobites. I can’t explain it – you need to read it. Oh and plenty of greek mythology. I actually learned quite a lot from this book.
If you want a high brow, cultured and intellectual debate over the generational gap and a serious review of the very heart of greek mythology … yeah. Go and read an encyclopedia or something. If you want a light hearted, laugh a minute, mad cap story of a character with no common sense but a heart of gold then pick up Snowflake. I’m certainly glad I did.
Snowflake is available now from the following retail links:
About the authors
Heide has been co-writing with Iain for several years now. The Clovenhoof Satan-in-suburbia comedy series goes from strength to strength, check it out! You might also enjoy the Oddjobs series, especially if you’ve ever had a terrible job. Don’t forget to look at the standalone novels too, there are some gems in there.
3 Fun facts about Heide and Iain*:
Heide and Iain are writers in residence of a Warwickshire phone box
Heide and Iain were commissioned to write an Adrian Mole story to celebrate the character’s 50th birthday.
Heide and Iain operate a premium line phone service where they will read stories to your pets when you’re on holiday
* One of these is untrue
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