Maggie Brown and Leni Hanson on writing lesfic romance The Last Time We Met together
Believe it or not, co-authoring was never something I’d ever thought about, or imagined I’d ever be doing. I’m a fly-by-your-seat writer, AKA “pantser”. I have a rough plot in my head and go from there. My best ideas come in the middle of the night when my imagination runs riot. I don’t always know from day to day what my characters are going to do next, and I surprise myself where they sometimes end up. You can say writing for me is never boring, though I have been known to delete tracts of text because of my flights of fancy. But it doesn’t matter what you write or your slant on a subject; fundamentally it must be written well. Good writing is a craft that has to be learned.
So, how did I get to write a book with someone?
It’s probably ironic that we named our book The Last Time We Met, because Leni and I have never met. She was actually a fan of one of my books, Playing the Spy. She asked if I would consider writing a book about Austen Farleigh, one of the supporting characters. Herself a wannabe author, Leni had no experience in writing a book but was as keen as mustard. I’m a great believer in helping someone achieve their dreams, so I came up with the bright idea that we write the book together. She could learn hands-on.
Well, it was an interesting and sometimes inspiring experience.
Since one of the book’s MCs was from the Washington DC area, it was really handy having an American adviser. So many US words and phrases are different from Aussie speak, and I’ve been lampooned enough for it by American reviewers. Leni was enthusiastic and definitely wanted to have her say, which kept me on my toes.
As you can imagine, it was a little difficult at first for both of us to adjust, but we soon got into the swing of things. And in the end we produced a very special book.
There’s a lot of things we laugh about now it’s over:
- It took us months to decide on a title. You think it’d be easy, but it’s not!
- She’s more of a romantic than me.
- Originally, they were going to Fiji but, after one of my flights of fancy, ended up in New Guinea. I think Leni is still shaking her head over that one.
But…we never had any difference of opinion on the sex scenes! We both like it hot!
Coauthoring was a reminder to me how much we all have to learn. In the words of Ernest Hemingway: “We are all apprentices in a craft where no one becomes a master.”
Like Maggie, I can honestly say that co-authoring a book was never something I’d thought about doing. I was a voracious reader of romances in all genres—I love, love, love a good romance. But something peculiar happened to me.
After reading Maggie’s Playing the Spy, a supporting character, Austen Farleigh, kept popping up in my mind. That sexy, charismatic rock star wouldn’t let me go. I re-read the book thinking maybe I’d work her out of my system. I read other books. None of that helped get Austen out of my mind. I even had dreams about her.
Months passed and I still couldn’t shake her. The character was freakin’ stalking me. Why her? I’d read thousands of books. What was it about this character that was staying with me? The truth is that, besides Austen being, well, hot, I truly admired her for protecting a friend from serious consequences. (You’ll need to read Playing the Spy if you don’t know what I’m talking about.) This was the kind of character I wanted to know better. After Austen’s relentless visits, I finally realized she was making it clear she wanted her HEA. And I wanted that too. After having finished several books where the sequel ended up with crappy matches for the characters I liked, I finally gave in and wrote Maggie. I just had to try to find out her plans for Austen, or if she even had any.
So how did it happen?
It wasn’tas if Maggie responded immediately to my fangirl note with, “Oh hey Leni, congratulations, you’re my 1,000th fan letter for the week and you’ve won the opportunity to work with me on my ninth book!” Maggie’s not like that at all. In my imagination, she could have been. In reality, the invitation occurred after we’d emailed each other a few times. I volunteered to beta read Reinventing Lindsey and jumped when she asked me who I thought would be a potential love interest for Austen. This was my big chance to get Austen’s perfect match. A dream come true. I gave Maggie not one, but a whole list of potential candidates, including the pros/cons of each one. The choice I liked the best was the most glowing. (Wink) I’m a go big or go home sort of person. It’s part of my romantic nature that Maggie mentioned above. She invited me the next day to “do the story together.” I was stunned. I realized I was going to be writing a book with my favorite author. There may have been screaming in my house that day. Oh sure, I got this! How hard could it be?
Against all odds…
I don’t know about other co-authors, but we worked by a set of rules. Maggie had two firm rules: As the seasoned author, she had the final say on everything. And we had to have fun. Luckily, Maggie likes to laugh, and I like to make her laugh!
We did it!
Guess what? I learned it’s not as easy as I thought to write a book. Simple things like the names of characters and settings took considerable thought and discussion between us. Then there were all of the dialect differences. Keen as mustard? What does that mean? Don’t even get us started about commas! I have to shake my head when I read other co-authors write about their experience and never mention any bumps. I can’t believe they didn’t have any. We had to work through bumps all of the time.
I’m here because Maggie took a chance on me and she taught me well. Thank goodness for people like Maggie Brown in the world! The Last Time They Met is going to really surprise you. It demonstrates how two very different writers from opposite sides of the world, came together to produce a happy ever after for two endearing characters in an entertaining book.
From us both
We’re still friends, folks. We email, talk on WhatsApp and discuss what’s happening in our lives. And hey, we’re from different parts of the world, so everything’s new and interesting. Although we may never meet, it doesn’t matter. We’ve had a shared experience that we’ll never forget.
And, by the way, we did have fun writing this book and we look forward to your reactions and reviews.
More about the authors
Among other things, Maggie Brown is a writer in her spare time and a reader by night. She began writing Lesbian fiction novels six years ago and just loves telling a story and bringing characters to life. To take readers on a suspenseful journey or immerse them into a passionate love affair she thinks is awesome. She likes getting people excited about the things she’s excited about.
Maggie’s home is in Brisbane, a fantastic place to live. The climate is warm, the people laid back and the life-style easy-going. To chill out, Maggie likes golf, cards and a glass of wine with friends. She’s done quite a bit of travelling and enjoys seeing how other people live.
The Last Time We Met is Leni Hanson‘s first co-novel. A voracious reader, she has an impassioned interest in stories with lovable characters who are loyal, funny, epicurean, and assertive.
Leni is a ditzy wife. An insatiable romantic. A fervent, sadly currently grounded, traveler. An avid collector of unique objects. A fanatical, ginormous sports enthusiast. She lives by the motto: Never give up, never surrender.