"Which one of you does what? I mean, it says Mik and Drew on the cover, so do you both write the book?"
That's a question we get asked a lot. Simply put, it depends on the book. One of us usually takes the lead for a given series, but when it comes down to the real hard graft, we tend to spilt into two major roles: character and plotting. Mik's strength is character and mine is plot.
When I'm asked to pick which one is most important, I say they are both important, but for different reasons. However, without great characters you won't have a series where people will want to return.
But then, without a decent plot for those characters to deal with, there'd be no direction and no feeling of satisfaction at the end, since nothing would have been wrapped up.
Yet, even after the plot gives the story bones and basic musculature, people will tend to remember the characters first and last. At times, it's almost as if the plot is needed to give the characters something to do and to give us as readers satisfaction and fulfillment, but emotionally, the plot is easily forgotten with the ease of a "who cares" shrug of the shoulders.
The thing is, with a series like The Maudlin Wives Inn, the plot is a mystery that is secondary to the characters, but without which, the book will feel vapid. So, that's why Mik leads The Maudlin Wives Inn from the point of character - setting Esther loose on the world - and then I follow with the boring plotty bits, while trying to make most of the clues as invisible as possible. Then we do it again together a million more times until we're happy.
So it's character first on the bones of a general plot, then the plot muscles and tendons are welded to the bones and the character is laid over everything again providing the contours and outer skin.
As for plot, we also try to make sure that even though it can feel like it takes ages for the master plot of the book to become obvious, the first clues were laid out right at the very start. You'll see the same thing in the Two Old Twitchers series. If you knew what you were looking for, you would have found the main clues provided right up front. But hopefully, not enough to know which of the many paths are dead ends and which lead to the solution or unmasking.
However, for Mik and I, the fun is always in the journey with the characters. Each book is a summer road trip of sorts. Mik makes sure fun people are invited and I make sure I navigate us correctly to the destination. In that way, you can trust the trip will be worth it in the end and that it's always fun getting there.
After making what felt like a million versions of the third cover, (prone to exaggerating? Who me?) I was about to find a wall to bang my head on when out of the blue, Mik said "what about the smoothie?"
The scene: Me at the computer with a virtual trash can full of rejected covers for The Maudlin Wives Inn Book 3. Mik's sanguine nature was finally starting to sag. Normally, I might have questioned the idea of a strawberry smoothie on a plate as the best idea for a book with a wedding theme, but I was too tired to argue. ('At last,' you could almost hear Mik think.)
And then it happened. Just like it had with the first two covers. And the pattern hit us both at the same moment...
We couldn't wait to get back to writing about Esther Quill and are delighted to announce that book two is in edit and on target for a print and eBook release by summer.
The romance heats up a notch in this one and we've have introduced some lovely and not so lovely new characters who, together with the wonderful regulars of Sinbad, Mrs Kent, Jimmy, Tillie and Nana Fluffy, make Fisherman's Rest the best place to hang out for the summer.
Here's a sneak peek:
After the research that went into writing Two Old Twitchers I felt like a change. I'd been liberated somewhat by finally getting a book out and now I just wanted to write in a completely different way on a completely different subject for no reason other than because I could.
Turns out that it's a great reason to write. The first few pages took a bit of work but once I had the voice just the way I wanted it I was away and Esther Quill was born.
Charles Perrin and Tom Worthington are to this day, two of my favourite characters of all time. Finding them in my brain was a revelation and one I am very proud of even though they didn't come about easily.
It all started with an idea for a TV series I was writing which never really had a name other than a tentative one of Full Circle. That to me should have been the giveaway that this idea wouldn't fly, but in saying that, it was great practice. I wrote six episodes of it and very quickly came to the conclusion that while the premise was good something crucial was lacking. Full Circle consisted of a group of five mature women who, through their community contacts and years of life experience went about solving crimes. It was familiar and comfortable. What it wasn't was right. Then one day, doing housework I heard a word on television that stuck with me no matter what I did to shift it. Twitchers. A very odd word indeed but one that for me, worked. Suddenly I had the platform on which Full Circle would work. Full Circle would be cut up and absorbed into a whole new concept, a book about two older chaps, famous in their field and well respected, who through circumstances beyond their control, end up in a village in England's Newforest with four rather wonderful female friends. They were four of the five women characters I had loved so much from Full Circle.
So, the hard yards of rewriting and creating began all over again but this time the idea was sound and best of all, complete. I adore Charles and Tom and their dynamic, and hope that the adventures they get up to, the people they are surrounded by and the way they handle life is as enjoyable to you as it was to me.
It has been a long wait for Esther Quill. But worth it.
The Two Old Twitchers were consuming our attention when Esther invited herself into our lives and insisted we take notice.
Not only did we take notice, but even before the second Twitchers book will come out, Esther will have her first two books out and a bunch of animated trailers on You Tube.
Esther is the ultimate free spirit; a woman in her late 30s who has chosen to be free inside to the point where she transforms a whole little fishing village and the lives of the people she meets.
We look forward to giving you a sneak preview of the first three chapters sometime in the next few weeks and the book will be out in summer!
Have you ever sent something out to the big wide world and wished you could pull it back and make it a little different? I had that with the original cover of the first Twitchers book. We'd agreed on a stylistic typographical approach and Mik's a big fan of white space. But it always felt lacking in some way to me.
When I was designing the art for some of the web material you'll see popping up more and more soon (especially on the official Twitchers site) I came to love the green vector image style and finally Mik suggested I just bite the bullet and re-design the book cover in time for the print release next summer in the US/UK.
The new cover is full of colour and feels more alive than the first one. The version shown here is a smaller sample taken from the new iPad cover, re-designed for the new high resolution retina display.
Compare that with the original version (left.)
One of the big differences is that the original didn't show the Two Old Twitchers, Tom and Charles. Instead, I used a stylized cuckoo. My idea was to theme each book cover with the bird used in each title.
I think the Two Old Twitchers are better.
Which do you prefer?
Foul fowl mystery
One of the mysteries in Two Old Twitchers: A Cuckoo In The Nest came from a real-life story I investigated when I was a radio journalist and news editor.
It began with a panicked phone call put through to my studio.
Drew on meeting one of your characters in real life
Have you ever written an imaginary character, then moved to a new town and come face to face with your character in real life? We did. We being Mik (my wife and co-author) and I.
Just as well our character is delightful. In fact, she's one my favorite characters in the Two Old Twitchers series - and if you've read book one (the cuckoo in the nest), you'll love what happens with her in book two (the grouse that ate the eagle).
Here's how we me our character in real life.
I think Mik might turn me into a birder yet.
I photographed this dotterel in the Coromandel
I had not even heard of birding when she presented me with the idea for what became our first solo series: Two Old Twitchers A Cuckoo In The Nest
. But now...