Today marks the release of the e-book “Fiends: Ten Tales of Demons“, which features a reprint of my story The Touch of the Taniwha. To celebrate the launch, I’ve interviewed Heidy Goody and Iain Grant, co-authors of the tale Detritus at the Church Fete, which also appears in the anthology.
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How do you manage the co-writing process? What are the pros and cons of co-writing versus going solo?
Heide: When we co-write we spend some time in the same physical room to get the basics planned out (although we may have been tossing ideas back and forth via email) and we decide what chapters we need. Once we start writing, one of us will plot a chapter, writing a fairly detailed synopsis, and then we swap over so that the other can write it. Then we swap back for editing. We leapfrog through the book that way, always having two chapters in development.
Iain: It genuinely is a case of two heads being better than one. We do push each other and try to outdo one another. When it comes to writing comedy, we’re always trying to get the best out of every scene and our writing and editing approach really allows to us to take things to the next level.
Heide: Working with a co-author is a really strong motivator. It makes you take deadlines much more seriously, and of course you can see the work growing twice as quickly. It’s a subject that we think we now understand pretty well. We’ve run workshops to show other people how to develop ideas with other people, and we’ve written a guide for other authors. It’s called “How to Write a Collaborative Novel”.
Heide: Welcome to our world! It’s a world where all of the characters in Heaven and Hell are real and they sometimes appear on Earth. Satan turns up in suburbia after being made redundant from Hell. He’s expected to keep a low profile and live quietly among humans under the name of Jeremy Clovenhoof, but he’s just not ready for that. In the first novel, Clovenhoof, Archangel Michael is Clovenhoof’s enforcer here on earth, but in the second novel, Pigeonwings, he has his own journey to make after things go wrong for him as well.
Iain: Clovenhoof is an insanely fun character to write. He is motivated by selfishness and hedonism and operates without any of the social barriers or niceties we impose on ourselves. Throughout the novels, we’ve enjoyed placing him in a variety of situations, ones which would mortify the average person (particularly Brits) and just let him go to work.
Heide: We get lots of comedy from the “fish out of water” situation, but some of the most popular scenes are the ones that are set in Heaven and Hell where we explore some of the working culture there. It’s surprising how the misery of performance management and office politics is something that so many people can relate to.
Iain: I think the ineffectual management of Heaven and the totalitarian bureaucracy of Hell are my absolute favourite bits of the books. Our books are, of course, religious comedies and although the religious characters in the stories are as fickle and fallible as anyone else, our view of religion itself is a very positive one.
What would you do if you encountered a demon in your neighbourhood?
Iain: What? A real demon? Er, run?
Heide: I think the correct and healthy thing to do would be to establish what sort of a demon it was, and what the threat level might be. I don’t think I’d bother taking extreme action if it was a demon who simply wanted to move household objects around, eat all of my food and make funny smells. To be honest, a demon like that would fit right in with my family.
Iain: The demons from our stories are too wound up in their own problems – getting that promotion, meeting torture quota targets, performance management reviews, etc – to bother with little old me. I’d let them be about their business or, failing that, direct them to Heide’s house.
Heide: We have just, within the last few days, finished the fifth novel in the Clovenhoof series. That will be out at the start of 2016. We have another one to launch before that, Hellzapoppin’, which we will launch at Fantasycon in October. That novel centres on the monks of Bardsey Island, who first turned up in Pigeonwings. The monks were such great company that we wanted to spend more time with them, and there are lots of things that can go wrong when you live on a remote island community, especially when a strange, secret staircase turns up in the basement!
If you couldn’t write, what would be your next-best dream job/pastime?
Heide: I think I would need some sort of creative outlet, so I would probably just turn up as a film extra, make bad guerrilla street art, or sing songs in the style of Mr Punch at people on the underground until they paid me to stop.
Iain: Well, clearly someone is going to have to clean up that bad guerrilla street art and get those damned awful underground singers to move along, so I guess that’ll do for me.
Any other question you wish you’d been asked but haven’t yet?
Heide: Well, we don’t often get asked whether we are writers in residence of any phone boxes, but would you believe that we are? There’s a splendid vintage K6 in the village of Baxterley in North Warwickshire that is our writerly home from home.
Iain: Actually, Heide, once people find out that we are writers in residence of a phone box, people do tend to ask “Why are you writers in residence of a phone box?” I don’t have an answer to that one.
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Sales links for Clovenhoof books
Sales links for How to Write a Collaborative Novel
Sales links for Iain’s brand new Steampunk Book:
“ It is 1902. Victoria’s steam-powered empire stretches from England to the stars. The Queen’s Armoured Hussars patrol the æther. British airships rule the skies of Mars. Great British inventors build bridges across seas and connect the cities of the empire with vast subterranean tunnels.
But Britain (and the world) are under threat from unspeakable horrors from beyond. Slumbering gods, diabolic occultists and terrifying monsters from Earth’s past conspire to overthrow mankind and usher in an age of terrors. Only Professor Erskine Sedgewick – the most insightful mind of the age -and his faithful companion Cadwallander can stop them.
Fantastic steampunk derring-do and thrilling cosmic horror collide in this action-packed adventure. “