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How did this brilliant collaboration come about and what was the process of writing together, especially trying to combine 2 already established couples/personalities?
KJ: I proposed! I love the W&G books so much. (Jordan has heard this before, but I read Widdershins at 3am, lying on the floor unable to sleep and in agony from a trapped nerve, and for several hours I actually forgot about the pain – which will say a heck of a lot to anyone who’s ever had a trapped nerve.) So when it dawned on me that we were both working in the same time period, as well as in the same genre, I felt compelled to ask if she’d “fancy doing some kind of something sometime” where the characters met up. I’m such a silver-tongued smoothie.
Jordan: I fell in love with The Magpie Lord shortly after it came out and have since devoured everything KJ’s written the instant I can get my hands on it. So my first reaction was this fangirly swoon because KJ wanted to do something with me! Fortunately only my cats saw it, and my more dignified reply was something along the lines of “OH HELL YES!”
As you see, I’m almost, but not quite, as suave as she is.
KJ: As far as the how, It was really turn and turn about. We framed the plot together – Jordan suggested a London stopover for her boys on the way to Egypt for book 4, I suggested the misunderstanding setup and the Soane museum, Jordan brought in the Egyptian artefact and Whyborne reading Simon’s ghost-writing, and that was pretty much the bare bones in place.
~ Soane Museum, London ~
We had to write alternating first-person narrative, which seemed a bit scary but was actually perfect. The plot worked out so that the viewpoint changes were natural to move events along, and it was great fun to look at what was happening from the other perspective.
We discussed each other’s characters reactions beforehand where needed, so we knew how to frame the scenes, and we were both ready to rewrite bits of our own characters’ dialogue in the other chapters where necessary, to keep the voices and reactions right, but there was surprisingly little of that.
The interesting bit was seeing how they interacted. We knew that Robert and Griffin would hit it off, while Simon and Whyborne would not, but I was a bit surprised by strong those reactions were. It rather hammered home that neither Simon nor Whyborne is exactly easy to live with, and how much Robert and Griffin are both having to compromise. But it was also obvious (IMO) that while Robert/Griffin would have been well-suited as a couple, that relationship would never have brought out their depths. And without Griffin and Robert, Whyborne would be a lonely virgin and Simon would be dead. So things have definitely worked out as they should.
It was basically the most fun I’ve had in ages. I was really struggling with my WIP at the time and it was incredibly refreshing to stop and just enjoy. It was also interesting for me, because so far the Robert and Simon stories are set a few years before Remnant, so this was jumping way ahead in their timeline. I’m now really looking forward to going back and telling the story of what happened in between.
Jordan: As KJ said, it really worked out perfectly. I was in the planning stages for Necropolis and knew the boys would have to take a steamship from New York to London, and then from London to Port Said. So I already had a pre-made excuse for them to be in England without any logical contortions.
What I found really interesting was the opportunity to show Griffin through someone’s eyes other than Whyborne and to give him the chance to get out on his own a bit. He’s much more sociable than Whyborne, who would probably be perfectly happy as a hermit, and the thing he most misses about his old life in Chicago is simply the society of other gay men. So the opportunity to hang out with Robert was something of a vacation for him, even if they were working on a case. And of course Simon isn’t exactly a social butterfly either, so I think Robert was equally glad to have someone to pal around with.
I also learned KJ writes much funnier lines for Whyborne than I do.
KJ: I loved being allowed to play with Whyborne, he’s a gorgeous character. And I really loved that Jordan gave Simon a bit of a kicking. He gets a pretty easy ride being narrated by Robert, so I think he had it coming.