Friday, 14 August 2009

To Collaborate or not to Collaborate

Through my writing career I’ve ended up collaborating with various authours, and while I’ve gained much from the experience, I know many authors out there are reluctant to do so. Not me it seems. I’ve worked with Brian M. Sammons (“Stomach Acid” and “Six-Legged Shadows”), John Goodrich (“The Masked Messenger”), David Witteveen (“Sweat as Decay”), John Sunseri (“The Spiraling Worm”) and John Kenny (an unpublished science fiction piece) and I’ve enjoyed what I’ve got out of each collaboration and the end story we’ve created. I’ve also discussed the possibility with other authors of doing collaborations, including with David Kernot and C.J. Henderson, if we can ever get the time.

What I find works well for me is what I have learnt from the experience. Brian is taught me how to really cut to the heart of story, John Goodrich on how to tell a story without explicitly telling it, David in writing sincint poetical scenes, John Sunseri how to make language and character create a style all of its own, and John Kenny the importance of pace and reflective prose. I’ve learnt much more from each of these authors than just what I’ve listed, here I’m illustrating particular elements of learning that were unexpected for me in the process. The end result is that I feel that I’m a better writer because of these experiences, and it also taught me how to be humble and not so hung up on the in’s and out’s of a particular story. Oh, and to let a story tell itself.

The other reason I like collaborating is because of the creativity it allows.

I’m currently writing another novella with Brian M. Sammons, which is the reason for this post. I’m finding that even before we’ve started ideas are just flowing all over the place and we feed off each other’s perspective, so much so that the tale just seems to write itself. We are both very excited about where it is headed.

Most of my collaborations have been with horror and dark fantasy writers, a genre that seems to bring authors together rather than creating a sometimes overly negative competitive environment that I’m finding in some speculative fiction ‘scenes’. From my experience horror and dark fantasy writers tend to get excited about what each other are writing, and want to share. How nice is that!

Collaboration can potentially create its own problems. For example my most successful series, the Harrison Peel spies versus the Cthulhu Mythos series (The Spiraling Worm) is not a sole-creation of my own, but one that had a genesis with John Sunseri and now with Brian M. Sammons, C.J. Henderson and John Goodrich. We’ve all agreed that our characters are our own (mine is Harrison Peel, John Sunseri’s in Jack Dixon, C.J. Henderson is Joan De Molina and Brian M. Sammons’ is Jordan - amongst others) and that we need to seek permission to use each other’s characters, but we also agree that we can each pretty much do whatever we like in this shared world setting. So what happens if I get a movie or game deal for The Spiraling Worm (not saying it is likely, but it is a possibility), what do we do then? Hopefully we’ll all get financial rewarded, and that’s what I’d like to see.

So leading on from this point, I’ve decided that some series I will collaborate on (such as the Harrison Peel series) and some I won’t which I want to hold complete control over (such as my Earth Central series for example featuring stories including “Black Water”, “Aftermath”, “The Entropy Collapse”, “Terraformer”, “The Octagon” and others). Of course stories that aren’t part of any series (“Sweat as Decay”) don’t really matter, they are stand alones, but fun to write nonetheless.

Fun times ahead, seeing where all this collaboration business goes.

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