When we tell other authors that we write books together, some of them draw back in horror (“I could never give up that sort of control!”), but some of them are fascinated (“Tell me everything about how it works!”). What they all have in common is that they want to hear more about it. So, for your electrification and edification, we now present a list of the top five things we’ve discovered so far about this two-headed authoring gig.
1. TWO HEADS ARE BETTER THAN ONE
Okay, so even as we’re writing that, we know it’s not true. There are lots of situations where you don’t want two heads in the picture. A snake, for instance, is much better off with one head. A shark, ditto. Wow, imagine a shark with two heads . . . and we’re off topic. What we meant to say is that when you brainstorm and write and edit with somebody else, magic happens. The idea that was good when you had it becomes great when they put a new spin on it, and becomes awesome when the two of you combine your thinking to take it to a whole new level. You will deliver double punches to the feels of your devoted readers, like the champions you are.
2. WORDS APPEAR LIKE MAGIC
Seriously. It’s like that story with the shoemaker and the elves, who crept in overnight to do all his work. (Why did they do that? Why did we never ask that question as kids?) You send off your manuscript to your partner in crime, you return in the morning, and hold on to your hats people, there are brand-new words in there. And you didn’t have to write them! It’s a miracle!
3. YOU’LL NEVER WALK ALOOOOONE~
Those are song lyrics. Don’t you guys pay attention to musical theater? You’re barbarians. Anyway, the thing is, when you’re co-authoring, you never have to dig your way out of a plot hole all on your own. You’ve always got somebody who knows the story inside out to help you think something through, or bail you out if you wrote your way into a corner. This isn’t like brainstorming with a helpful friend. It’s like brainstorming with a smarter version of yourself.
4. THE SNACK ATTACK
When choosing your co-author, you should carefully consider their dietary habits. Amie did, and as a result, she has Jay, who doesn’t really have a sweet tooth. Do you know what this means? This means all the chocolate is now Amie’s. ALL THE CHOCOLATE. Don’t crush us in your stampede to find a kitchen-compatible co-author. Truth be told, this may be the #1 benefit, because chocolate.
5. YOU LOOK INVINCIBLE
And hey, you probably are. You have great hair, did we mention that? But we’re definitely not invincible. We all have parts of our writing where we know we rock, and parts that we’re always trying to improve. Choosing the right co-author means finding somebody whose writing you adore, but it also means choosing somebody who complements your strengths. Whether it’s finding somebody who always has great pace in their stories, who writes killer romances, or who scares the pantaloons off you, your perfect co-author can teach you a lot about making your writing better, and together you can write a story that makes the absolute most of your combined strengths.
What do you all think—would you ever consider co-authoring? (Of course you would, right? We already mentioned the chocolate.)
Amie Kaufman is a New York Times bestselling author of young adult fiction. Her work has been published in fifteen countries, won the Aurealis Award for Best YA Novel, been named the Huffington Post’s best YA novel of the year, shortlisted for the Gold Inky Award and is in development for TV. Her first series, co-authored with Meagan Spooner, began with These Broken Stars, and her new series, co-authored with Jay Kristoff, will start this October with Illuminae. Raised in Australia and Ireland, Amie has degrees in history, literature, law and conflict resolution. She lives in Melbourne with her husband, their rescue dog, and an extremely large personal library.
Jay Kristoff is a tragic nerd, but has spent the last ten years dumping expeez into his Intimidation stat, with the result that nobody is brave enough to say it to his face. He grew up in the second most isolated capital city on earth and fled at his earliest convenience, although he’s been known to trek back for weddings of the particularly nice and funerals of the particularly wealthy. He spent most of his formative years locked in his bedroom with piles of books, or gathered around dimly-lit tables rolling polyhedral dice. Being the holder of an Arts degree, he has no education to speak of.
His first trilogy, THE LOTUS WAR, is set to be published in over a dozen countries. The first installment, STORMDANCER, was critically acclaimed in Kirkus and Publishers Weekly, shortlisted for the Aurealis Award, and nominated for the David Gemmell Morningstar and Legend awards. The Lotus War novella THE LAST STORMDANCER won the 2014 Aurealis Award for Best Fantasy Short Fiction. Jay’s new series, the SciFi thriller ILLUMINAE, which he co-authored with Amie Kaufman, is on sale NOW. A new fantasy series, THE NEVERNIGHT CHRONICLE, commences with book 1, NEVERNIGHT, from St Martins Press/Thomas Dunne Books in 2016. He is as surprised about all this as you are.
Jay is 6’7 and has approximately 13380 days to live. He abides in Melbourne with his secret agent kung-fu assassin wife, and the world’s laziest Jack Russell.
He does not believe in happy endings.