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  • Husband and wife writing partners
    by rogernmorris at 22:35 on 12 September 2008
    Could you write a novel with your other half? I went to an event last night at the Italian Cultural Institute in Belgrave Square where the historical crime writer Michael Gregorio was revealed to be a husband and wife team, Michael Jacobs and Daniela De Gregorio. She's Italian, with English as a second language, and he's English with Italian as a second language, and between them they write novels in English.

    Interestingly they revealed that their crime series, which is set in Prussia during Napoleonic times began as a story by Daniela in Italian and Michael told her that she had to write it in English. His thinking was purely and simply that the English language market was so much larger than the American, plus he said that it is even harder in Italy for a new writer to get published. You have to be introduced by someone, or be someone. A lot of Italian crime novels are actually written by magistrates. Anyhow, that was his view, but he said it was confirmed when they met their Italian publisher - the book had been acquired by an Italian house through the UK, after Faber had published it. They asked the Italian publisher, would you have taken this if it had come to you as a manuscript in Italian. And they were honest enough to say, probably not.

    That's all by the by. The thing that interests me is the idea of collaborating with your spouse/partner.

    I am now going to read their books, by the way, which look fab, right up my street.
  • Re: Husband and wife writing partners
    by EmmaD at 10:48 on 13 September 2008
    How fascinating. And yes, the books sound great.

    Nicci Gerrard are a couple, aren't they? They write alternate chapters. Whereas Dick Francis only wasn't Dick & Mary Francis because the publishers said joint authors don't sell, and his was the big name from his racing days. She did all the research (presumably except for the racing bits) and a good bit of the writing, too, apparently. And the original police procedurals, the Swedish Martin Beck series, were written by a couple. Maybe it's more likely in detective/thriller novels, but I can't think why that should be.

    I think it would depend on what jobs each was doing. It must be incredibly hard to match your narrative voice to each other's, but maybe you'd gradually converge, most easily perhaps if you're both journalists and used to writing to a brief. But I can imagine a sort of multi-stranded feedback loop between one person doing the research and understanding Italy, and the other doing more of the writing, but each understanding what the other does, which could work very well. Rather like when Michael Frayn does a Russian play, and works with a literal translator.

    Maybe that's why it's so normal to write comedy, especially, but other sorts of scripts too, in pairs or teams, but much rarer with fiction. Narrative voice is the most individual thing, the rest you can argue over.



    And it's always cheering to hear of the peculiarities of other countries' book trades.
  • Re: Husband and wife writing partners
    by rogernmorris at 13:41 on 13 September 2008
    Just realised I made a mistake in my original post - should have said 'the English language market was much larger than the Italian' - that's what I meant to write. The late night gremlins got in.

    Emma, as for who does what - Michael and Daniela revealed that he is better on the descriptive writing and she is better at the psychology/characterisation. She said she couldn't do desccriptive so well because she was short-sighted and tended to get bogged down in detail. He said he was not so hot on psychology/characterisation because he is an English bloke. Very funny double act - it was an enjoyable evening.
  • Re: Husband and wife writing partners
    by optimist at 16:55 on 13 September 2008
    It's an intriguing idea - would possibly lead to murder in this house

    David and Leigh Eddings are another example.

    It would be interesting to know how many women's roles went beyond sharpening the pencils in the good old days?

    My English teacher had this theory about Dorothy up at dawn roaming the fells and writing her diary entry about daffodils and then William wrote his poetic version from the sofa...

    Mind you - I was reading about Dumas recently and apparently the reason for his prolific output was having a team of ghosts to write the boring bits for him - a bit like a great painter and his apprentices? The ghost did the plot and the first draft and then he allegedly wrote the fun parts like the dialogue.

    It's a thought?

    (Ok I got that out of a novel and wikipedia so it might not be true )

  • Re: Husband and wife writing partners
    by Account Closed at 17:02 on 13 September 2008
    Could not stand to do this - ever. Not particularly with my other half, but with anyone. It is such a private and solitary thing, for me.

    Obviously does work for a lot of people though, and I wonder how many wives or husbands acknowledged in the back places should, by rights, have their names on the cover? I always wonder *exactly* what an author means when s/he praises his/her spouse for 'typing' or 'advice'. How much help would you need to give before you were a collaborating artist?

  • Re: Husband and wife writing partners
    by Nik Perring at 17:30 on 15 September 2008
    I'm firmly in the LadyBlackbird camp. And I think I'm too selfish to share a project as big as a novel with anyone (other than eds and that).

    Actually, now I'm thinking about it, me and my other half did start to write a school play together once, more for a lark than anything else. And it was fun in the coulpe of hours it lasted.

  • Re: Husband and wife writing partners
    by optimist at 17:47 on 15 September 2008
    I've often wondered what it would be like though - to work with someone else. I know I had to 'collaborate' at a writing class once and ended up with one line of dialogue as mine.

    It was of course the best line - LOL

    Anyway I wasn't taken with that experience but you look at things like Good Omens and think - could be fun?

    Or messy...
  • Re: Husband and wife writing partners
    by Account Closed at 23:55 on 16 September 2008
    Don't forget: David Gemmel's wife finished off his Troy saga for him following the author's death. And despite all fan mumblings, I hear it was very well recieved....

    I don't think I could collaborate successfully with anyone, let alone a partner. I've never tried, but I don't think I could handle the loss of control. My ideas usually arrive fairly complete and I'd be loathe to compromise. I do see writing as a solitary art and well, no one I've ever gone out with has shown any particular flair (in the writing department, at least). However, I have groaned silently countless times, when I've had bfs' 6th Form efforts - hidden in a box for X amount of years until I chanced along - foisted upon me for ready praise. Or even worse, with veiled requests to edit, revise...basically to write it for them...

    'I have a headache' has ever been the standard response.

    Most of that work has been charmingly basic. The current bf spent seven whole pages, handwritten (half -indecipherably, I add), describing how his MC (him, basically) loved football before whisking them off to another world that oddly resembled Narnia. Ok, that WAS Narnia in all but name. It didn't get me all in a lather to propose we start work on a Big Fat Epic together. I accept that I'll never know thirty different types of knot, my gardening skills consist of smoking a fag and watching him, and I couldn't kick a peanut with any kind of skill, let alone a football. He accepts I'm fairly good with words. We all have different talents and never the twain shall meet!

  • Re: Husband and wife writing partners
    by Myrtle at 12:38 on 17 September 2008
    For last year's NaNoWriMo, my mum and I collaborated. It was a notion completely alien to me but she was keen to have a go and I wanted to encourage her like she's always encouraged me. Pretty soon it became obvious that I was going to be driving the thing - the idea for the book was mine, and I was the one always ringing her up to say: "Have you done your words yet?" ("Um, I'll do them later, I'm going to get my hair done" was a standard response ) But what I loved about her contributions was the freshness of her writing - completely without the pretension that I know I can veer towards. And her humour (we were writing a black comedy). My plot was split into one main narrative, which I wrote, and then lots of extra bits, which were her domain. We haven't finished the book, it has stalled at 30k words - but I'm still keen to have another go... Only, I need to get better at sharing, and Mum needs to stop visiting the damn hairdresser so often.

  • Re: Husband and wife writing partners
    by Sappholit at 15:08 on 18 September 2008
    No way. I would never write a word with anyone. Never.
  • Re: Husband and wife writing partners
    by Account Closed at 17:35 on 18 September 2008
    There would be blood!
  • Re: Husband and wife writing partners
    by RT104 at 12:24 on 19 September 2008
    I think I'd find it hard. It's funny, my husband likes me to read his stuff, chapter by chapter, and discuss, and is happy for me to edit and suggest re-wordings, additions, etc.. But he never wants to read mine.

    Doing it genuinely jointly, though - can't imagine it at all. I'm WAY too controlling...! (Which may explain why he daren't read my stuff until it's all done and dusted and in print - and then just says very politely 'very nice, dear'!)


  • Re: Husband and wife writing partners
    by Jubbly at 11:54 on 23 September 2008
    Christ no, I couldn't even write a shopping list with my other half. People do it though and very sucessfully, is it Niki French? The hubby and wife team?
  • Re: Husband and wife writing partners
    by Steerpike`s sister at 15:43 on 26 September 2008
    I don't think I could write a book with my boyfriend, but I can imagine it with my mother - who has just started writing a novel.