My guest–guests–whatever–today is the writing team known as Evelyn David. I especially like this duo because one of them is named Marian, and spells it correctly (i.e.: the way I do). They–she–oh, let’s just say “she”–also writes books and stories with dogs in.
Evelyn David has no picture of “herself” on her website, but she does have a picture of her shoe, so here is a picture of her shoe.
I asked the David duo what it was like to collaborate. Here is the reply.
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Writing in Two-Part Harmony
The number one rule for collaboration is: don’t do it. It’s too hard to blend two voices into one; author egos always clash; and the work load is never evenly shouldered. Plus you have to split the profits. (Of course, all writers at this point are laughing hysterically and asking “what profits?”).
But Evelyn David is one collaboration that is the exception to all the rules. After six years of writing together, it’s impossible for us to tell who wrote what in our books, our egos have never clashed since neither of us has much of one; and no relationship is ever exactly 50-50 all the time, but it all evens out in the end. Yes we split the profits of our writing, but we also share the emotional roller coaster ride of extreme highs (we sold a book!) to bottomless lows (we’ll never write another word again), and that’s invaluable to staying in this self-confidence-robbing business.
We proudly proclaim: Collaboration is the best things since the invention of chocolate!
Marian Edelman Borden and Rhonda Dossett are the two halves of Evelyn David. Marian lives in New York and is a freelance writer/editor for her day job; Rhonda lives in Oklahoma and is head of the coal program for the state. Despite the fact that they have written 5 books and countless short stories together, they have yet to meet in person. In fact, until they finished the draft of their first mystery, they’d never even spoken to each other.
So let’s back up six years and start the story.
Marian and Rhonda met on an Internet writers forum. Each was posting fiction stories and commenting on the stories they read and liked (both polite and firm believers in “if you can’t say something nice, say nothing at all). But the truth is both Marian and Rhonda liked each other’s storytelling style – an emphasis on great characters, attention to detail, snappy dialogue, and a bit of humor to make the tale exciting and fun. At one point, Marian asked Rhonda, via email, whether she’d like to try and write a story together.
One story led to another – and before we knew it, we decided to write a book. It should be more complicated than that, but we were both naïve enough to believe, if we write it, readers will come. But first to find an agent. We did, and it was the agent who suggested that it would be easier to sell the book if there were a single name on it – plus it would be easier for booksellers and librarians to shelve it. In under 30 seconds, Marian declared that her mother’s name was Evelyn; Rhonda chimed in that her father’s name is David…and Evelyn David was born.
So how do we write our books? The overall concept for the book is worked out via emails and telephone discussions. Ideas often pop out of news stories because more often than not truth is stranger than fiction. We use published crime stories as the leaping off point for our own ideas. A story in the New York Times about hundreds of thousands of dollars embezzled from a college was the inspiration for Murder Off the Books. Of course, in the real crime, it was only money that was lost. In our story, there were several murders and a romance to resolve before the case was closed.
We both write all the characters and every scene goes back and forth so many times that we can’t tell you who wrote what – only that it’s the voice of Evelyn David, not Rhonda or Marian.
The experts advise writers to avoid collaboration – but what do the experts know? For us, the joint creation of these mysteries has been an incredibly rewarding experience. We can’t guarantee that collaboration works for everyone, but if you’re considering it, here are a couple of tips that might make the process easier.
1. Try writing a few short stories together before you embark on a larger project.
2. Don’t worry if you don’t have identical work habits. For example, Rhonda is a night owl, and Marian couldn’t compose a shopping list after 9 pm. But what is important is to have a similar work ethic. Both Marian and Rhonda believe in getting the job done and if it means getting up early or staying up late; if it means working through the weekend even if you’ve had a grueling week at your day job – bottom line is we share a commitment to Evelyn David’s success.
3. Make sure both of you have a sense of humor. Writing is a tough business full of rejection and barriers to success. If you can’t laugh together at the tough road you’ve chosen to take, then you probably should find another line of work.
4. Park your ego at the door. Don’t worry about credit or who has done what this week. Figure it will all work out evenly over the long run.
Most of all, enjoy the process. We wish for you instant bestsellers, but most of all, we hope that you have fun writing together and are proud of your product.
The authors of The Brianna Sullivan Mysteries, Murder Off the Books, Murder Takes the Cake, and the short story Riley Come Home, Evelyn David is the pseudonym for Marian Edelman Borden and Rhonda Dossett.
Marian lives in New York and is the author of 11 nonfiction books on a wide variety of topics ranging from veterans benefits to playgroups for toddlers! For more information on Marian’s books, please visit her web site at http://www.marianedelmanborden.com
Rhonda lives in Muskogee, Oklahoma, is the director of the coal program for the state, and in her spare time enjoys imagining and writing funny, scary mysteries. Marian and Rhonda write their mystery series via the Internet. While many fans who attend mystery conventions have now chatted with both halves of Evelyn David, Marian and Rhonda have yet to meet in person.
Please check out Evelyn’s website at http://www.evelyndavid.com and their blog – The Stiletto Gang – http://www.thestilettogang.blogspot.com/ for information about Evelyn David’s appearance schedule and writing projects.
Our Books –
The Sullivan Investigation Series
Murder Drops the Ball (Spring 2011)
Murder Takes the Cake – Paperback – Kindle
Murder Off the Books – Paperback – Kindle
Riley Come Home – Kindle – Nook – Smashwords
Autographed Copies and other e-book formats available through Wolfmont Press at
The Digital_Bookshop – http://tinyurl.com/DigitalBookshop
Brianna Sullivan Mysteries – e-book series
The Holiday Spirit(s) of Lottawatah
– Kindle – Nook – Smashwords
The Dog Days of Summer in Lottawatah
– Kindle – Nook – Smashwords
I Try Not to Drive Past Cemeteries
– Kindle – Nook – Smashwords
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Thanks, ladies–I mean, lady! Come again any time; you’re always welcome. And your little dog, too!
WRITING PROMPT: Grab a partner, even one who doesn’t write. Collaborate on a very short story–say, 500 words or fewer.