(I'm really excited here everybody and let me tell you why:
I received an email one day from Sarah Craft, publicist for Hex Publishers. She offered me a chance to review some work in a new franchise they've got cooking over there called Denver Moon. I read a little bit about the book and it's got me stoked. Not only is it Science Fiction, and this is an SF blog, but it's a detective story. I got my start reading detective stories with the Hardy Boys and, even if my current consumption of mystery is mainly through police procedurals on TV, I still love them. But it gets better.
In my very first post I wrote of how comic books/graphic novels are totally SF. I've loved comics since I was a wee little Jimbo and my neighbor gave me a bunch of older books that his nephew was done with. AND NOW I GET TO REVIEW A GRAPHIC NOVEL!!!! YAY!!!!! It'll be my first review of a comic. I'm geeked. So thanks to Sarah and Hex for that opportunity. I have the first two comics of Metamorphosis, the graphic novel. They're entitled Murder on Mars and Rafe's Revenge. I also have a copy of the novella, Denver Moon: The Minds of Mars. I haven't reviewed them yet because they haven't been released and I'm not sure what the legalities are regarding publishing a review for something that hasn't been released.
I was also offered the chance to host a guest post by one of the authors and I jumped at the chance. JABAMR is a place where authors are encouraged to share their thoughts with the public. So without further ado, here are the thoughts of Warren Hammond about co-authoring a piece. Oh, and thank you for the opportunity to host a guest post and review some really cool stuff!)
It was about two years ago when Josh Viola sent me an email. “Let me buy you a beer,” he said. “I have a project I hope will interest you.”
Sold by the first part, I met him on the north side of Denver. We’d gotten to know each other a bit over the preceding year or two. Josh is the owner of Hex Publishers, and I’d written a short story for his company’s very first book, Nightmares Unhinged. Then came book signings and more short story anthologies, and dare I say, we became friends.
Then came his offer of a free beer and a mysterious project. “I have this great idea,” Josh said. “A detective on Mars, and her name is Denver Moon. We can write it together.”
I wouldn’t say I was immediately taken with the idea of co-authoring, but I wasn’t opposed to it either. Lots of writers collaborate, especially in movies and television, where much of the content we see is produced by committee. Co-authoring is rarer in the book world but certainly not unheard of.
“Tell me more,” I said.
Josh elaborated on the story concept. “Denver Moon is a PI. Her sidekick is an artificial intelligence that’s been installed in her gun. Oh, and she’s colorblind.”
“Yes, but somehow that gives her an advantage.”
“How would that work?”
“I have no idea. What do you think?”
And that’s how it started. The sharing of ideas. The shaping and honing of those ideas. The creation of story.
Like most creative projects, you don’t know where to start, until you start. A short story seemed as good a place as any. Josh took the first stab by writing the first draft. Then I went in for the second crack. We were just starting to learn how to work together, and we passed the story back and forth a few times, each time making the story stronger and more complete, until finally, both of us were happy. That story, Metamorphosis, then became the basis for our graphic novel.
Enter a third collaborator, Aaron Lovett. Aaron is an artist, and I’d been plenty impressed by what I’d seen of his work. He’d done the cover art for Nightmares Unhinged, and I’d seen early versions of a comic book that became Tooth and Claw. Truth be told, Aaron was a huge reason I got involved in the Denver Moon project. Josh had been clear from the beginning that he wanted to do a three-issue comic, and I knew right then, I might never get an opportunity like this again. It’s a common dream amongst authors—especially those who write SF and fantasy—to see a story you wrote turned into a graphic novel. So how could I pass up the opportunity to see a story I co-wrote through the lens of an artist as talented as Aaron?
As I write this, Aaron is working on the third and final issue, and I can’t wait to see it. To me, this is the exciting part of collaborating. We all bring our own talents and perspectives, and the ultimate beneficiary is the work itself. Like the short story and the graphic novel, I couldn’t have written our next project, a novella, on my own. And neither could Josh. The novella, Denver Moon: The Minds of Mars, was product of the two of us.
This time we changed our process, and I was the one who wrote the first draft. We’d meet after every two or three chapters to discuss what was going to happen next, and only after I’d gotten to the end did Josh go in to clean it up, flesh it out, and add his personal touch.
Some co-authors use a different method. One author might write all the scenes from the point of view of one character, while the other author takes responsibility for a second character’s POV chapters. A friend of mine co-authored an urban fantasy series, where one author took the action scenes, and the other took the romantic scenes. I’ve also seen co-authors who simply break up the responsibility for chapters into odds and evens. In the end it doesn’t really matter as long as the reader can’t tell who wrote what. In fact, as my memory fades, it gets hard for even me to tell.
Our next novella (for now titled the unimaginative Denver Moon: Book Two) is currently under way. The first 9,000 words are written, and Josh and I met over beers just a couple nights ago to discuss what’s coming next in Denver’s world. We both had a ton of ideas. Some we’ll keep. Some we’ll have to toss. And some will stew in our collective mind until they morph into something new and unexpected.
After this next novella, we don’t know what’s next. We’ve thrown around some ideas, but to this point no decisions have been made. We’ll work that out later. Anything for an excuse to have a beer with a friend.
Some of the Hex Publishers products listed above are available for sale at the links below: