Welcome Back Lynne and Valerie. I am so happy to be chatting to you on publication day for The Last Time I Saw You. What are the challenges of co-writing a novel and how do you divide responsibilities from idea to final draft? How long does it take you to write a novel?
We love writing together and feel the advantages far outweigh the challenges, however there are definitely aspects of co-authoring that present more difficulty than writing solo. Because we live in different states, one of the biggest of these is scheduling. We speak every morning to determine the day’s “assignment” and then FaceTime at the end of the day to discuss the work for the day, and so we need to be strict and precise about the time for these appointments. That means looking at our calendars and determining times that mesh with our respective schedules.
With everyday life commitments , sometimes finding a mutually workable time can be frustrating, and could hamper the flow of work. Then there is the challenge of resolving a disagreement regarding plot line or character. Fortunately, this is a fairly rare occurrence, and when we have disagreed, we’ve been able thus far to listen to each other’s reasoning with respect and an open mind. Hence the solutions have always been arrived at without rancor or resentment. Lastly, the job of editing can be challenging because it’s something that must be done together, page by page, line by line. This part of the job can easily keep us on FaceTime for six to eight continual hours at a time. So…pretty minor challenges given how much we enjoy working together.
We talk through an idea for two months or so before we write the first sentence, and so we have a general idea of where we want to go and what the twist will be. We also develop our characters together. We don’t have a detailed outline of the story, preferring to let it unfold more organically––to let the characters dictate the action as it were. We work equally on all aspects of the book, so even though we have two protagonists, we both write for each of them. The process has now evolved to the point where Lynne might start a scene and then send it to Valerie to finish or vice versa. There are times when the beginning of a sentence is written by one of us and the end by the other. And of course we edit each other’s work as well.
The Last Mrs. Parrish took us a year from start to final edits, however, The Last Time I Saw You took eighteen months. The book in progress has taken us four months, and we are now in final edits.
What’s your favourite word and why?
Lynne – Gobemouche – it sounds just like what it is – extremely gullible. It’s a fun word to say and it reminds me of something my father would make up. He was a great kidder and loved to come up with crazy nicknames and words.
Valerie – mulligrubs. First of all because it sounds so delicious on the tongue and secondly because it so perfectly describes someone who is sullen and has the grumps.
Which song would each describe each of you?
Lynne – Break My Stride – Matthew Wilder
Val –Time of my Life – Bill Medley & Jennifer Warens
What elements do you feel need to be present to make a believable, good suspense novel?
Good character development, plausibility, tight pacing, and surprising but inevitable twists.
What book do you wished you’d written?
Val – Pride and Prejudice
Lynne – Murder on the Orient Express
Do you have any advice for someone experiencing writers block?
Change your focus. If you are stuck on a certain scene, leave it for a while and come back to it later. Find a different scene to work on that comes more easily at the time. Also, get the keys moving even if it feels forced. You can always edit later. The best advice on productivity we’ve ever received was from a mentor who was fond of saying “Don’t get it right, get it writ.”
What three mistakes do you think new writers make?
Not editing enough
Revealing information too soon
Overly descriptive prose
Any more advice for new writers?
Find a good writing teacher or mentor and work on your craft. Read widely. Network with other writers through groups and conferences. Never give up
Liv Constantine is the pen name of sisters Lynne Constantine and Valerie Constantine. Separated by three states, they spend hours plotting via FaceTime and burning up each other’s emails.
They attribute their ability to concoct dark story lines to the hours they spent listening to tales handed down by their Greek grandmother.
THE LAST MRS. PARRISH was their debut thriller. The Last Time I Saw You was released today (30th May 2019) by HarperCollins. Click to view on Amazon UK.
My Review of The Last Time I Saw You:
Dr Kate English has it all. Not only is she heiress to a large fortune, she has a gorgeous husband and daughter, a high-flying career and a beautiful mansion anyone would be jealous of.
But all that is about to change. One night, Kate’s mother is found dead, murdered in her own home. And then Kate receives a message: You think you’re sad now, just wait…
Evidently, all is not as it seems in Baltimore high society, and as scandals, infidelities and betrayals are exposed, tensions rise to boiling point. The murderer could be anyone – friend, neighbour, lover, relative. And Kate is next on their list…
Kate has a perfect life. She has the handsome husband, a beautiful daughter, a successful career as a Doctor and a home that is the envy for many others.
When Kate’s mother is found dead, her life immediately changes forever. Then she receives a message; ‘you think you’re sad now, just wait.’
The murderer could be anyone and Kate is next.
I loved The Last Mrs Parrish (one of my favourite books from 2018,) so I was very excited when I found out that another Liv Constantine book was on its way.
Kate does seem to have it all but she is a prime example that things are never as they seem and how life can change in an instant.
I did like Kate as a main character. There were other characters I felt sorry for. There is so much bubbling just below the surface all the way through, I couldn’t stick to one suspect before another took their place. Many I suspected; even Kate.
Whether I was right, I think you should read for yourself.
There are many plot twist and turns in this compelling story. In some places, it’s actually quite creepy. There were a few times I had to look over the book when my house made a noise – that’s how involved I was in the story. I was totally engrossed.
I think I actually liked this novel more than The Last Mrs Parrish and I enjoyed that book a lot. It has a unique plot and handles the subject of grief and mental health as well as building mystery and tension all the way to an unbelievable ending.
Full of mystery, suspense and tension, family politics, betrayal and rivalry, The Last Time I Saw You is one of the best novels I have read this year.
Thank you to HarperCollins and the authors for the review copy.