Friday, January 25, 2013

Friday's How They Do It - Lorna and Larry Collins

I've met this couple who write together at several EPICons and lookon them as long distance friends. Also as gutsy enough to write together.

Janet, thank you for having us!

1. How do you create your characters? Do you have a specific process?

They usually come along with the story we are telling. However, sometimes we find the character and then build a story around him/her. Often they are composites of real people. For instance, for our first mystery, Murder... They Wrote, we met a man, talked to him for about five minutes, and as we walked away, Lorna said, “We have to write that guy.” For our current historical novel, The Memory Keeper, set in San Juan Capistrano, we knew we wanted to tell the story from the viewpoint of a JuaneƱo Indian. The character grew from the story and our research.

2. Do your characters come before the plot? Do you sketch out your plot or do you let the characters develop the route to the end?

Sometimes the characters come first, and sometimes the plot dictates who the characters will be. Larry is a plotter and would like to outline the entire story, every chapter, and every scene before even starting to write. Lorna is a ‘pantser.’ That means she tends to write by the seat of her pants and follows the story as it unfolds. But even she knows the beginning and the end as well as the overall arc of the story before starting to write. Since our current book is based on historical events, Larry has done the extensive required research and puts down the facts for the chapter. Then Lorna adds the human elements and emotions. Finally, we sit together and polish our work into a seamless narrative.

3. Do you know how the story will end before you begin? In a general way or a specific one?

The one element we always know from the beginning is the actual end of the story. We usually have at least the final sentence or sometimes the final chapter written very early in the writing process, often right after the first chapter.

4. Do you choose settings you know or do you have books of settings and plans of houses sitting around?

Our settings are based on places we know, although the specifics of homes, gardens, streets, etc. may be created. For our historical novel, we are able to see many of the actual buildings that would have been in existence at the time, and descriptions and drawings exist of the town. We even bought an etching showing what San Juan Capistrano Mission looked like during the period of our story (1820-1890).

For Lorna’s anthologies, Snowflake Secrets, Seasons of Love, Directions of Love, and An Aspen Grove Christmas, she and her fellow writers created a fictitious town in Colorado based on two other real small towns. However, since it doesn’t exist in reality (although some of our readers have expressed an interest in visiting it), we can make it anything we want it to be.

Our mysteries, Murder... they Wrote and Murder in Paradise, take place in Hawaii in real settings and places we know well. The first is on Maui and the second starts there but moves to Oahu.

Larry’s short story collection, Lakeview Park, is based on a real park in Orange County, CA. and Lorna’s fantasy/mystery/romance, Ghost Writer, is set in Laguna Beach, CA. Since we live in Dana Point, in southern California, these are both very familiar locations.

5. Where do you do your research? On line or from books?

We usually do most of our research online. When possible, we visit the actual locations, whether we portray them as they are or fictionalize them. However, for our historical novel, we have purchased a great many reference books and have interviewed quite a number of people for specific information. Then we try to find secondary sources for confirmation if possible.

6. Are you a draft writer or do you revise as you go along and why?We all know

Because we write as a team, we revise as we go along. We start writing individual chapters. Once we are satisfied with them, we begin building the finished manuscript. But often, as we move further into the story, we realize some background for later events is required earlier in the narrative. So we go back to the combined manuscript and revise. We continue this process, including at least twice or more on the completed manuscript, before we submit it.

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1 comment:

WS Gager said...

Lorna and Larry: I applaud that you can write together and not kill each other. My husband is working from home today and let's just say I'm not getting anything done!
W.S. Gager on Writing