I must have done something right in another life because this is a fantastic author accepting to answer my questions!
Maybe not all of you know this tidbit but behind the pen name Erin Watt you can find two incredibly talented and famous authors: Jen Frederick and Elle Kennedy!
First I want to thank them for taking the time to answer my questions. I’ve loved their books (written alone and in tandem) and I feel really lucky that they were willing to give me some of their precious time!
I’m once more honored and incredibly grateful to these brilliant and generous authors! ♥
Now time for you readers of future readers to know more about Erin Watt’s work.
- Some questions about you and your tandem first: how did it all begin? What pushed you to write together? A crazy night out after a book signing? A blind writer date organized by a crazy author’s association? Or was it all arranged by your publishing houses to give you more coverage and hype (just like Oakley)?
We were friends before we decided to co-write. We’re both huge fans of American Football, and one day our text conversation about football drifted into a conversation about wanting to write a YA soap opera. Many text messages later, we had already started plotting Paper Princess.
- How do you share the work? One is writing a main character and the other writes about the other MC? Is writing in tandem more complicated? Disrupt your routine and nearly threw you off the cliff? Or is inspiring and motivating? How is your relationship? Do you sometime want to hurt the other? Or play prank?
We live in different countries, but thankfully it’s not that hard for us to work together. We generally try to write so many words at a time, and email our story back and forth. There’s always plenty of phone calls, texts, and emails between switch-offs, and sometimes they’re even related to writing 😉
We’re good friends, so that also helps a lot. It can be difficult, though, writing with another person, as there are scheduling issues, or differing opinions about the direction of the story. At the same time, you’re never “stuck” for very long as working with another person means there is always someone to bounce ideas off of.
Now let’s talk about your books.
- How did you come with Paper Princess idea (or The Royals series in general)?
We started by giving Ella a bit of a backstory. Here’s part of our actual text conversation coming up with The Royals:
Jen: Ella is the child of the man’s druggie brother…
Elle: No blood relation!
Jen: Okay. Adopted brother. Although I hate demonizing adoptees. Let me think up some other screwed up family tree. Wait, how about they were military buds? SEALs!
Elle: First scene should be her stripping and the new daddy showing up and hauling her away.
Jen: How many sons?
Elle: Five. Also, I think that when she gets to the mansion, Royal is insistent that his sons need to treat her with respect because she’s had a tough life, etc. But the sons are all set on making her life miserable. They don’t want her there. They think she’s a trashy interloper who wants their money.
Jen: We need an angry make out scene.
- Was publishing Paper Princess different from your other books? More or less challenging? Frightening? Or did someone holding your hand helped with the nerves?
We wrote the book because it was so much fun. Since we’d never published a YA book before, we had no expectations and were blown away by the reception. Readers embraced Ella and the Royals and gave the characters life in a way only readers can.
- In the” Royals” series and “When It’s Real” both female characters Ella and Vaughn are strong and loyal women. They both come from relative modest origin, have (want) to work hard. They are caring, deeply loyal to their “family” and independent. Both help the male character to grow up. To care. Would you tell men need women to become responsible? Are women the best part of men? Girl power!
We believe in girl power! Go girls! But the best partner for a strong woman is a strong man. Both Ella and Vaughn needed someone who could not only stand beside them, but stand up for them. Reed and Oakley both needed to find that inner strength. As a producer in When It’s Real tells Oakley:
“King peers over my shoulder. “She’s changing you.” I don’t acknowledge him and write the next line about how I’m feeling like my heart’s a junkyard, filled with spare, discarded parts. “The best ones do.”
He slides over to fiddle with a panel, but I feel the heat of his eyes.
“Got something to add?” I mutter.
Over his outstretched arm, he says, “The good ones put your character to the flame and burn away all the rest of the shit until you come out a better you. She’s one of the good ones.”
“How do you know?” I challenge, chin out, glower on my face.
King gives me a mysterious smile. “You just do.”
Excerpt From: Erin Watt. “When It’s Real.”
- Who was the diabolical mind behind the cliffhangers of Hell? Who loves torturing readers among you? Did you get many bribes from readers just to leak some scoop about the second and then the third book? I know you love your teasers so I think you enjoy having us being all expectant and suffering 😉
LOL The cliffhangers were inevitable! We felt that Ella’s story was going to be too long to fit into a single book, which didn’t leave us much choice but to have cliffhangers. Plus, isn’t that the best part of any soap opera? That moment when you think everything’s finally getting resolved and then BAM! – with 2 minutes left in the show, the other shoe has dropped and you’re going to have to tune in next time to find out?
Ok… maybe it was just a little evil, but the tag line is “These Royals will ruin you.”
- Do you fear reader’s reactions? Alongside reader’s reaction: do you read reviews? How do you react to negative reviews? Would you say reviews are helpful in general?
We knew the ending of the story before we wrote it. You can’t write from a place of fear so even if it would make fans angry, we felt that it was right for the story. We don’t read many reviews. Our view is that by the time readers give reviews, it is too late for us to make any changes to the story. Reviews are really for readers. Readers communicate to other readers through their reviews.
With that being said, if there’s a common thing you see in reviews you may need to consider makes some changes in the future.
- On to “When It’s Real”: did you want to take Oakley down a peg in the beginning? Or where you already sporting wicked grins imagining your reader’s reaction at his conceited behavior? Do you get angry/frustrated… at your characters? Do you talk to them? Maybe you’re rehearsing the dialogs and one of you plays one character and the other answers?
We don’t riff dialogue off of each other, but lines play out in our head before they hit the page. As for Oakley, he started in one place at the beginning of the story and then grew. We know that sounds really vague, but we don’t want to give anything away before people have the chance to experience the story for themselves.
- What are your projects in the coming year?
We’re working on a couple different projects at the moment. We have Easton’s book, Fallen Heir, coming this August, and we’re also working on another standalone for Harlequin.
- Any advices for authors dreaming to collaborate with someone else? The “Author’s tandem handbook 101”? The do’s and don’ts?
You need to be able to communicate openly with each other when something isn’t working for you. Be open to differences in opinions. You also need to know when to pick your battles.
Something light to end this interview:
- You just found a leprechaun in your garden. He was trapped under a fallen bush (they’re tiny) and wants to thank you for freeing him. He grants you three wishes: what would they be?
- Eat all the chocolate you want without any adverse physical effects.
- Never have writer’s block again
- A couple extra hours every day for ourselves 😉
A huge thank you for playing the interview game with me! I can’t wait to read your next books 😀
Thanks for having us!
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