Thursday, June 29, 2017

Would I collaborate with another author?

Posted by: Angela Korra'ti
So there I am on Facebook, two days before this post on this site is due to go live, and I’m asking folks whether they have a topic they’d like me to post about. My sister chimes in on that post and asks me:
“If you could co-author a novel (or short story) with your favorite living author or two, who would that be and what would be the general plot of the book?”
This is a very good question. The problem with it, though, is that I’m not entirely sure I can answer it in the way my sister intends. So before I try, a few caveats.

One: Some of my favorite living authors write in genres I don’t, and vice versa. For example, any of my favorites that write historical romance, or romantic suspense, or mystery.

Mind you, “not having a genre in common” would not necessarily be a deal breaker if both I and the other author were sufficiently committed to making it work. But it would make things more difficult, just because we wouldn’t necessarily have common experience with genre conventions as authors. (As opposed to common experience with genre conventions as readers, which is not the same thing. If we didn’t have a genre in common as authors but we did as readers, that might inform the type of work we’d create together.)

Two: Nailing down “my favorite living authors” is hard, you guys. Even if I focus on SF/F, since that’s what I write, there are a lot of authors in the genre whose work I have admired at one point or another just because I read a lot.

I can point at a lot of books and go “I loved this book because of how it did its worldbuilding” or “I loved this one because it had an amazing set of characters” or “Jesus H. Hopping Christ on a pogo stick, this book’s command of the language makes me just want to set my keyboard on fire now”. In other words, I tend to place more of an emphasis on “favorite books” than I do “favorite authors”.

Which is not to say I don’t have favorite SF/F authors, because I do. But for me, “favorite author” is a category I pretty much reserve for “people who have directly impacted my life above and beyond just writing a book I thought was awesome”. Tolkien goes into that category. So does Barbara Michaels, a.k.a. Elizabeth Peters. You will note, however, that both of those authors are deceased and my sister specifically asked me about favorite living authors.

Three: “I adore this author’s work” does not necessarily equal “so I’d like to collaborate with this author on a project”.

Even if we’re talking authors who are also SF/F, this doesn’t necessarily mean that that person and I would be a good fit for collaboration. Some questions we’d have to consider would include (but not be limited to):

  • Do we have compatible writing styles?
  • Does our individual work hold any promise of interesting crossovers?
  • Alternately, if we want to do a new project together that has nothing in common with our individual projects, do we have an idea to pursue we’re both excited about?
  • Do we have compatible writing schedules? Are we local to one another? If we’re not, how many time zones are between us? Would it be difficult for us to coordinate via Skype?
  • Are we both reasonably sure we can work together as professionals and not drive one another nuts?
  • Can we set up a reasonable contract for the work between us, or have agents do so on our behalf?

All of which would slant me in favor of collaborating with an author I actually already personally know.

Four: Just because I really like a given author’s work and would really love to write with them doesn’t necessarily mean they’d want to write with me.

For one thing, they might not know me from Adam, and might not have any reason to know whether I’m capable of stringing coherent sentences together. And certainly, a lot of authors above a certain tier in the world of publishing are going to get a lot of strangers approaching them going “I have this awesome idea, you write it, we’ll split the royalties fifty-fifty.” (I do not operate at this tier of publishing.)

For another, even if they’re aware of who I am, they may not have actually read my stuff. Or even if they have, they might not have cared for it. Which is fine!

But if I’m going to work with someone, it would definitely need to be someone who knows my work and who would be excited about working with me.

Which, again, would probably slant me towards authors I personally know.

Five: Most importantly, even if I can name an author I’d love to work with, this doesn’t mean I can say off the top of my head what the general plot of our project would be.

For one thing, if I’m going to collaborate with someone, the very first thing I’d want to settle with them (aside from verifying workable logistics and the whole ‘can we work together without driving one another crazy?’ question) is what we’d actually be working on.

And what that project would be would very much depend upon the individual author. If they’re someone else who writes urban fantasy, we might conceivably do a crossover between my main character and theirs. But it’s just as possible that we might wind up doing something separate from either of our own titles, if we find an idea we’re passionate about.

All of which is a very long-winded way of me not actually answering my sister’s question. (Tolkien's "go not to the elves for council, for they will say both no and yes" quote? Totally applies to me. Also, verbosity is my superpower and this is a pretty impressive number of words to answer a question I wasn't even sure I could do a full blog post on!)

Given all these caveats, and assuming that all relevant stars were in alignment and these would be collaborations that could in fact happen, here are some ideas:

  • Along with Tanya Huff, I’d be real amused to write Kendis and her compatriots discovering courtesy of a certain centuries-old gentleman named Henry that vampires totally exist. I'm pretty sure the Warders are trying very hard to go LALALALALA about the whole vampire concept. (But really, I would happily write anything with Tanya Huff, who is a queen of all the subgenres. I’m not even particularly interested in writing milSF, for example, but for Huff I would make an exception.)
  • Along with Julie E. Czerneda, I’d want to write an original SF story because she is way, way better at aliens than I am.
  • Along with C.E. Murphy, some form of historical/period urban fantasy since she and I both have some interests in that direction.
  • Along with Cherie Priest, I’d be interested in doing something fun in the realm of Southern Gothic. You couldn’t pay me to live in the South these days, but you could totally pay me to write a story set there. Alternately, it would be very amusing to see what Warding efforts would be happening in Priest’s version of the Civil War and post-Civil-War history, in the world of Boneshaker. It would not be impossible to Ward Priest’s version of Seattle. But it would be a lot harder what with all the zombies.
  • Along with Doranna Durgin, even though she’s writing paranormal romance these days, I’d be interested in original secondary world fantasy or contemporary fantasy (not necessarily urban).
  • Along with Kat Richardson, there’d be more fun crossover potential. Can a Greywalker actually see the Wards on a city? Can a Warder actually go into the Grey? It’d be fun to find out.

So there you go. Becky, this post is for you!

Angela hasn't collaborated with another author yet, even though she does a pretty passable imitation of being two different authors herself, what with publishing as both Angela Highland and Angela Korra'ti. Regardless of what name you know her by, come find all her books at, or say hi to her on Facebook or Twitter!

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