Let me welcome Deborah O’Neill Cordes and Cary Morgan Frates, fellow Crimson Romance co-authors, on my blog. Under the pseudonym Morgan O’Neill, Deborah and Cary are penning fantastic time-travel romances – the Roman time travel series LOVE, ETERNALLY, AFTER THE FALL, and RETURN TO ME, and their new medieval Italian time travel series, THE OTHER SIDE OF HEAVEN, and the forthcoming TIME ENOUGH FOR LOVE.
I asked them to tell us a little bit more about the process of co-authorship and they have very graciously accepted.
First of all, for those who are not familiar with your story – how did you come to write together?
We met by chance at a writers’ conference over a decade ago and discovered we both love time travel and historical fiction. After the conference, we joined the same critique group, and while working with each other there, we decided to team up and write time travel romance epics.
The two of you are writing under a single pseudonym: Morgan O’Neill. Why is that?
Our collaboration necessitated the search for a pen name, since our given names are almost as long as the epics we write. And because our maiden names worked well together, “Morgan O’Neill” was born. The only other “famous” Morgan O’Neill is an Australian film director, so we’re hoping for a collaboration with him, too, somewhere down the road.
Is that pseudonym completely separate from your other writing ventures? Do you consider that beneficial or detrimental for marketing and reader-loyalty purposes?
The pseudonym is separate from our solo writing ventures. It is beneficial because we have other interests and projects written under our own names (as yet unpublished). As for reader loyalty, our Morgan O’Neill series are not set in one time period or place, and readers don’t seem to mind going from one era to another. Fans of ancient Rome are enjoying our medieval Italian series and vice versa. We have an Elizabethan time travel series in the works and anticipate our readers will embrace it, too (there is also the possibility for sequels to our Roman and Italian series!). In the future, as our solo projects find their way to publication, we hope Morgan O’Neill’s readers and fans will follow.
When it comes to those first stages of a partnership, do you have any tips on how to set out right and avoid possible future mishaps?
For those authors considering a writing partnership, we recommend hiring an entertainment attorney or finding an online service to draw up a contract. Should things go south, it will protect you. It is also something agents and publishers want to see when they are considering you as a client.
Can you tell us a little bit about your process? How do the two of you contribute and how do you edit?
We always use the historical record and timeline as guides for our plots, which gives us a template for needed scenes. After writing together for over ten years, the process of creating a series has gotten a bit easier, and we almost never quibble about what we individually want to handle. Certain scenes and characters just call to us, and we divvy up the rest. Because of the inherent complexity of time travel epics, its almost like writing two separate plots – the present and the past – and we must edit and blend our scenes after they are written to make a cohesive whole. Sometimes we write important scenes together. And you don’t even want to know what that’s like when it comes to the sex scenes – hilarious, but we’ll never tell who wrote what!
Can two authors query one agent? And will that agent represent only the partnership or both individual authors as well?
That depends on the agent. It is certainly something you must discuss before signing a contract.
And last but not least – what for you is the best thing about co-writing novels and what, if anything, drives you back to solo projects too?
The best thing is when we surprise one another by taking the novel in a unforeseen direction. It adds richness to our stories, and so far it has always worked for our plots. Also, having two pair of eyes for edits and typos is invaluable. As for what drives us to writing solo projects, we are individuals who have different interests, talents, and experiences to bring to life, and we always encourage one another in those pursuits.
Thank you so much, Laila, for giving us this opportunity. We enjoyed sharing a little bit of ourselves with your audience.