1. Firstly can you tell us a little about yourself?
I'm a retired teacher turned part-time tax pro for H & R Block. I have 3 sisters, all younger. Our father passed away in 1984 but our mother is still living. I'm single, actually I'm the stereotypical old maid school teacher, LOL. I'd say I don't have any children, but that is not true. Over the course of 20 years in the classroom I had approximately 440 children. Of course they left me after a year or two (for five years I taught a multi-age classroom of half 3rd graders and half 4th graders). The third grade students were blessed to have me for 2 years instead of just one. I felt sort of like the Beaver's teacher on Leave it to Beaver; Miss Landers traveled from year to year with her students.
Besides writing, I love quilting and traveling. In fact, I combine the two whenever possible much to the chagrin of my writing partner. Elaine is a registered nurse and has taken two travel nursing jobs in the past. The first one was to Wyoming and the second was to North Carolina. In both cases, she asked me to travel with her during the summer when I was out of school. My sewing machine and material had to travel along with us. And then there are the fabric stores that have to be visited as we travel. Let's just say, Elaine can be tolerant when needed so I can get my fabric fixes.
2. How did you know you wanted to be a writer, have you always had the desire or did it come later?
I've been a reader since I was six. The librarian didn't believe me, at first, when I read so many books in a short amount of time. In fact, she tested me once to see it I had read all of the books I had checked out. She never doubted me again.
That is part of what led to my desire to write. I'd read a book and fall in love with the characters, then I'd create a continuing story of my own using those characters. I also love watching movies and television. I'd get hooked on a series (Bonanza, The Big Valley, Wagon Train, and Dr. Kildare were my favorites) and create episodes of my own when I played alone, drove with my parents on trips to visit my grandparents, or at night when I lay down to go to sleep. As I read through the years, I realized that I desperately wanted to see my name on the cover of a book.
I guess the other part of my desire to write is genetic. My father was a journalist and worked as a reporter, columnist and editor for newspapers in East Texas. I think if my father had lived longer he might have turned to writing fiction in his retirement because after he died I found the beginnings of a novel in his papers.
3. If you were not a writer what would you like to be?
I can't picture not being a writer now, but if I had to be something else I'd be an astronaut (if I were much younger and in much better physical shape), or a marine biologist, or a cryptoanalysist, or a private detective. Can you tell I had trouble deciding what I wanted to be when I grew up?
4. When you co-write a book how do you choose someone to write with?
In order to write with another person you need to be able to compromise and think along the same lines. It's vital to have a strong relationship with that person. I'd say you need have the same style of writing. I don't think plotters would mix well with SOTP'ers.
I've only written books with one person. How did I choose her? I didn't really. God did that for me. About ten years ago, my best friend, Elaine Powell, called me in February and asked me to meet her in a nearby town for dinner. I did and she showed me three chapters of a book she had started. Her question was "Do I continue or trash it?" I had already been hooked on the story and told her she'd be in trouble with me if she didn't finish the book because I wanted to know what happened to the main characters. Her next comment was that in that case she needed to tell me that God had given her a message that we were to write together. Who am I to question a direct order from God?
By the way, that book Elaine showed me was the first book she got published, Thanks to a Lonely Heart. She writes as Elaine Bonner and that book was published by Heartsong in September of 1999. Her second book, The Heart Knows was published by Heartsong in May, 2002, and our first book as co-authors, Her Home or Her Heart, was published by Heartsong in July, 2002. We publish together as Kasandra Elaine.
5. How do you go about writing as co-authors, does one do the research and one write, or do you collaborate on each character?
We both write and do the research. We create characters together and alone. We collaborate, but feel free enough to change plots and character actions without first consulting with one another. We have gotten to the point where we can work in the same room or 150 miles apart. We exchange files by email when necessary.
We brainstorm a lot as we're traveling. The idea for the next book to be published came from driving on vacation. We noticed clothing lying alongside the highways-shirts, shoes, etc. We commented on how we thought those things got tossed out of vehicles as they passed by. Later, we were driving between Elaine's home and her daughter's house and in the space of about three miles had seen three shoes lying on the roadside. The first and third shoes were a pair! That led to a "What if?" scenario and First I'm Nobody was born.
By the way, the titles are the hardest thing for either of us to come up with. First I'm Nobody is a line of dialogue from that book. It's working title was Duke-the hero's name.
About three years ago, Elaine and I were on vacation out in the southwest. We had toured Zion National Park and were on our way to a fairly large town (with a Wal-Mart) to do a bit of shopping. We passed by a spot on the road near LaVerkin, Utah with a sign pointing to LaVerkin Overlook. A random comment, "You shouldn't overlook a LaVerkin", led to "No, they're really bad people" and that gave birth to an idea for a western we've been playing around with.
Occasionally we do differ on which way to go with the story, but so far we have not reached an unbreachable impasse. For example, in our book, Redigo's Choice (final name to be decided upon by the editor in the near future) we had planned on one of the character's to become very ill and on the verge of death but recover in the end. I was writing the scene and I killed her off. It just fit (you'll have to buy the book to find out why). After I finished the scene, I told Elaine I had killed off the character, read her the scene, and told her to rewrite it if she disagreed. The scene stands and the book will be published sometime next year.
Sometimes, I'll get a phone call from Elaine to announce that she's created a new character or thrown a twist into one of our plots, or I'll get a brilliant idea and call her. I did that last night with the title to the next book to be published. We had named it Redigo and really liked it, but the editor wasn't completely happy with our choice. We submitted a couple of different ones, but we weren't totally set on those. Last night, Redigo's Choice popped into my mind. Elaine liked it and I've submitted it to the editor. We hope she likes it enough to let us use it.
Elaine and I live 150 miles apart, so we spend a lot of time on the cell phones collaborating. Luckily, we both have nights and weekends free on our plans, and she's on my circle.
7. What benefits have you gained from co-writing books?
One of the benefits is to be able to share everything-the work and the accolades as well as the rejections. I can't answer for her, but for me the biggest benefit has been in developing my self-confidence. Elaine and I met as sophomores in high school (in 1965!). Her family has become a part of my extended family. Her children think of me as another aunt, and her grandchildren share themselves with me. I have no brothers, so hers are sort of mine as well.
Yes, our next book, First I'm Nobody will be in e-format June 20, 2008 and in print December 19, 2008 from The Wild Rose Press. It will be followed by Redigo's Choice. We don't have a specific publishing date yet, but Redigo's Choice is a companion to First I'm Nobody. It's not really a sequel because the title character is a secondary character in First I'm Nobody.
Currently, we are writing two cozy mysteries and developing plans for a number of others. As we have been writing over the past ten years, we've realized with each novel that more and more suspense has woven its way into our romances. We like mysteries and came up with Edna and Klara Pidgeon last summer. We have had a blast working on their stories. And it is stories in multiple. We're concurrently writing two.
9. Where can we find you on the net?
Right now the only place you can find us on the net is by email. Since tax season has ended, my plans are to develop a blog/website for us. But that has been delayed because in the past week we got the first edits for Redigo's Choice. I'm working on that at the moment. Our email address is email@example.com if anyone would like to get in touch with us.
10. Do you have any final thoughts for us?
I think that, as far as working with a partner on a writing project goes, you need to pray about it and listen for God's direction. You have to be willing to compromise and give and take without getting your feelings hurt. Talk with potential writing partners and get a feel for their writing styles, their philosophies, their interests. A strictly romance only writer will not be comfortable writing with a strictly police detective only writer. There would be too much compromise involved for the project to work.
Finally thanks again for indulging me on my curiosity. I am very appreciative and I really am looking forward to seeing how different writing teams work.