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Thursday, 29 March 2018

Teamwork!




Writing can be a lonely old business, so it’s great when you find yourself working with a good friend on a writing project. My pal of 26 years, Rob Tysall and I have been collaborating on a supernatural thriller for the last four years, and I’m delighted to say that it’s been accepted by Bloodhound Books and will be published in early July 2018.

Collaborating with Rob isn’t a new thing. We’ve been working on non-fiction articles as a team for many, many years. Giving ourselves a working title, we are Words & Images UK, my words, his images and we generally work anywhere in the UK. Although we have travelled abroad for some articles.

However, creating articles for publication involves two different skills – photography and journalism. But, writing a novel is a combination of both of our imaginations, visions and writing skills. The only images are those in our heads – and the skill is in getting the pair of us imagining the same thing!

Although our book has only just been accepted, and we’ve only just settled on what its title should be, which is:  The Bitter End, people are already asking, “So how does collaborative writing actually work?”

For myself and Rob it’s been a sort of evolving situation. Neither of us could have made a deliberate decision such as, “Hey, let’s write a book together!” It was nothing that straight forward. We’ve simply found ourselves chatting about story ideas over the years. If ever I was stuck for a plot, or written myself into a corner, I could chat it over with Rob and he’d always come up with a great twist or a new idea. In fact, I’ve dubbed him my Ideas Man.

One day about four years ago, he came up with an idea for a book that he thought I should write. I listened and then said, “I can’t write that! It’s too dark. It’s too deep. I don’t think along those lines!”
But would he let the matter drop? No! His idea was growing and growing in his head and he wouldn’t let up.

For a while we didn’t make any actual progress, but we did a lot of talking, and plotting and planning, until finally, I relented and drafted out the beginnings of a story. Not surprisingly, it wasn’t how he had envisaged it. But it was a start and we decided not to scrap what was written but began working on it together. As any writer will tell you, editing something is a lot easier than editing a blank page!

Admittedly, his first suggestion that I change a paragraph sent me into spasms! Someone telling me what I should or shouldn’t write! Unheard of! But that’s where a solid friendship comes into play. We listened to each other’s ideas and reasoning, discussed every scene and sentence, and didn’t fall out! In fact. Some of the most tragic and intense scenes would reduce us to fits of laughter as words and ideas ran away with us.

There are dark sections in this book, especially from the viewpoint of one particular character (no spoilers here) where Rob was in his element and waxed lyrical while I typed. The practicalities of a collaboration, at least in our case, is that just one person does the typing, that keeps the style ‘uniform’. And I’m a much better speller, and faster typist – which I really need to be, as once his imagination is let loose, I’m hard pressed to keep up with his dictation!


So, imagine if you will, a male Barbara Cartland lounging on the sofa dictating his latest masterpiece to his secretary! 
It wasn’t quite like that, but you get the picture.

Creating the characters and their backgrounds has been great as a collaboration especially having someone of the opposite sex putting the male point of view over, and I think this shows in the dialogue and actions.

And discussing the plot with someone else provides a stack of events and dramas, that one person alone would not have thought of. For example, when halfway through the book, Rob says, “You know (character) has to die, don’t you?” And I scream: “What? No! You can’t kill (character)!” And Rob just nods and says, “Yes you do.” I admit I was reminded of the famous Stephen King quote: “Kill your darlings.”  (Don’t worry it’s not the dog…)

Now our book is finished, I think the proof of the pudding as to whether the collaboration worked or not, is the realisation that without each other, the book would not have been written. And we’re still friends! And making a start on a sequel!


Q. So, collaborating with a friend, is it something you’ve done or tried to do? And did it work for you?

The Bitter End by Ann Evans & Robert D. Tysall. Published by Bloodhound Books, July 2018.

More on Rob Tysall: https://www.facebook.com/robert.tysall   https://twitter.com/TYSALLSPHOTOS

 Have you read crime novel: Kill or Die, also published by Bloodhound Books. 

 https://www.amazon.co.uk/Kill-Die-Ann-Evans-ebook/dp/B06Y55N625


 Have you read time slip thriller for YA, Celeste, published by Clean Reads. 









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