1 July 2008

Interview with Megan and Susan Davis and giveaway

Thanks To Susan and Megan Davis for talking to us about co-authoring. Also talking about their Cozy Mystery Homicide at blue Heron Lake.
1. Firstly can you tell us a little about yourself?

Megan: I am a freelance journalist, poet, novelist, humorist, and general literary lackey. I like chocolate, cats, Jane Austen, tea, journaling, owls, celery, cooking, and travel, to name a few things. I really like my sleep. I am marrying my sweetheart soon and moving to Liverpool, England where I plan to continue my writing career, and possibly pursue a librarian job considering I love libraries, and it’s the only “real job” I miss.

Susan: I’m a wife, a mother of six, and grandmother of five. Megan is my #3 child and #2 daughter. I’ve been writing fiction seriously for about nine years now. Before that I did newspaper writing. All of our children are home-schooled, and four are college grads. I still have #5 and #6 in “home high school.” I also like embroidery and genealogy, but don’t have much time for those anymore. I still do logic puzzles, especially on trips. I grew up in Maine and married a man from Oregon (my awesome husband Jim, a news editor). Page is my maiden name (no “i” in it, please).

2. How did you know you wanted to be a writer, have you always had the desire or did it come later?

Megan: I was born with the infection. So, yes, I have always wanted to be a writer.

Susan: I made up stories from the time I was very small and always thought a writer was the neatest thing anyone could be.

3. If you were not a writer what would you like to be?

Megan: A writer. Or did you mean if I couldn’t be a writer? An independently wealthy house wife.

Susan: Man, she’s a hard act to follow. I knew I should have done my answers first, but I was procrastinating. Before I was a writer, I was a teacher, a waitress, and a blacksmith, among other things. But I’d like to be an acrobat. A thin acrobat.

4. When you co-write a book how do you choose someone to write with?

Megan: Considering I’ve only co-written books with my mom, I would have to say I chose someone I knew was a good writer.

Susan: Aw, thanks! I chose my co-author because I had an idea for the plot, but something was missing. It just wasn’t sparkling. When I told Megan about it, she immediately saw what would make it better. Yeah! A business partner should always be one who makes the business and the product work better.

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?

Megan: We brainstorm together to come up with the story, then we hash out the synopsis together. After that, we generally take turns writing.

Susan: As to research, we’ve both done some, but if we need to call policemen or lawyers, Megan makes me do it. For the actual writing, we decided on the first book to alternate chapters. Doesn’t matter whose point of view it’s in, we switch off chapters. But we’re now on book 3, and we’re a little more flexible because of other events, like trips and wedding preparations. Whoever is least busy that week writes a chapter or two. I think it’s evening out pretty well. I just returned from a five-day trip, and Megan had written a chapter and a half. The week before I did about two chapters while she completed some other “must-do” obligations.

6. Do you have differences of option on how the story should go and how do you work out what way to take the story?

Megan: Yes, sometimes we disagree. But usually we just keep coming up with new ideas that work for both of us. And sometimes we ask a third party, like my dad, to help us unravel some knots.

Susan: We’ve had a few differing opinions on plot points, but more on details. We try to respect the other person’s ideas and keep track of the descriptions each time a new character is introduced. If one author comes up with a plot twist the other doesn’t like (sounds hokey, improbable, or just plain boring) the other will usually agree to drop it and save her “pet” ideas for a solo book.

7. What benefits have you gained from co-writing books?

Megan: Well, I have gotten my foot in the door with novel writing, and I get to have my name associated with my mom’s, a now fairly big name in Christian fiction. I’ve also really enjoyed being able to use the co-writing as a credit when I am in contact with other publishers.

Susan: Thanks! You’re so sweet. I think writing books together has brought Megan and me closer and given us each deeper respect for the other’s abilities. Meg is an awesome poet, too (which I am NOT), and I’m very proud of her. It’s also taught us to be careful and to be clear. Don’t assume the other person can read your mind! Every now and then in the middle of writing a manuscript, we schedule a time to hash over the plot, how the clues are coming together, and any adjustments we may need to make.

8. A few questions on Homicide at Blue Heron Lake. How did you come up with the idea for this series?

Megan: We heard about the new cozy mystery line, and mom had an idea for a book so she shared it with me. As we both like mysteries we kind of started brainstorming together and eventually it became “our book” rather than only hers.

Susan: I had submitted one idea for a mystery to this editor (Susan Downs at Heartsong Presents: Mysteries) and it was rejected. Susan said it was too suspenseful, not the “cozy mystery” she wanted. So I worked on a new idea. I grew up in Belgrade, Maine, where Great Pond was supposedly the inspiration for On Golden Pond. I wanted to write about a large lake with a mail delivery boat and people living in their summer cottages on islands in the lake. Megan helped me take it from a simple romance to a nifty mystery.

9. Are the charactors modeled on people you know?

Megan: No. Although mom might say yes. I save those characters for things I write by myself so that I can take full blame—er, I mean credit.

Susan: In this series, I’d say no. These are the people we felt should inhabit our fictional and mysterious town, lake, and islands.

10. A lot of mysteries seem to be based in Maine (thinking back to Murder she Wrote, and I have read a couple others this year). What makes Maine such a good place for mysteries?

Megan: Lots of uninhabited land. Lots of small towns. We have ocean, forest, and mountains. And because Maine is part of New England, which we all know is named for old England, a very good setting for mysteries.

Susan. Good answer. And you’re right, Jenny. There are a LOT of mysteries set in Maine and mystery writers living in Maine. To people who don’t live here, I think Maine is a bit mysterious. It might seem primitive and basic—perhaps a bit quaint and “backwaterish.” Maine is packed with quirky people, a must in cozy mysteries. It also shares a long, largely unguarded border with Canada and a long coastline—both of which make it a good place for stories about smugglers and fugitives.

What upcoming projects do you have?

    Megan: Right now I am doing a lot of non-writing projects, such as applying for a spouse visa, sorting out and packing my personal belongings, and planning my wedding. But I hope to break into some more newspaper and magazine writing when I move to England.

Susan: I’m writing a contemporary romance called Trail to Justice for Heartsong, after which I’ll be doing a romantic suspense set in Maine, titled Hearts in the Crosshairs, for Love Inspired Suspense. In it, I give Maine something new: a female governor.

12. Where can we find you on the net?

Megan: I have a page on my sister Amy Ballard’s Web site: http://amyballard.com/Sister_Site.html. Also, if you Google “Megan Elaine Davis” you will find some of my poetry.

Susan: I’m at www.susanpagedavis.com, and you can see Megan and me both on the “Mystery” page of my site. I’m also a host at Keep Me in Suspense (www.keepmeinsuspense.com)

13. Do you have any final thoughts for us?

Megan: Last words? The key to the safe is in the roll top desk. But, seriously: It’s wonderful to be writing. I hope I never stop.

Susan: I can’t thank God enough for letting me earn money doing something this much fun. Thanks, Jenny!

Susan and Megan are giving away a copy of Homicide at Blue Heron Lake to one lucky reader. Just post a comment by midday next Tuesday Australian time. (add away for me to contact you if you win. disguise your email like mymail (at) mail . com.

To read my review click here.

17 comments:

Bethany said...

What a fun mother/daughter interview! It's interesting to get a peek into how two authors work together on a book.
Please enter me in the drawing for Homicide at Blue Heron Lake. (what a great title!)
Thank you,
jimmynmatthewsmom[at]gmail[dot]com

Cheryl Shryack said...

Would love to win this book. It sounds great! Please enter me in the contest. My email address is shryackmom[@]charter[.]net

~Ley said...

Cool interview! I've always wondered how co-authoring worked, though I'm sure it's a bit different with every author...
Put my name in the hat. This one sounds like fun!

ashley.vanburen[at]gmail[dot]com

Jo said...

Great interview and the book sounds great. I would love to win a copy of this book.

Blessings,
Jo
ladijo40(at)aol(dot)com

Cheryl said...

This book sounds great. Please enter me in the drawing. My email address is shryackmom[@]charter[.]net

Anonymous said...

Susan and Megan seem to make a great writing team, let alone mother and daughter. Great interview!

Please enter me in the drawing.

Deborah Piccurelli
DebPiccurelli(at)verizon(dot)net

Jewelz said...

Cool interview! I'd love to read this book!
Please enter me :)
joyfuljewelz (at) gmail.com

Carole said...

I love cozy mysteries and would love to read this one. Thank you for the chance to win a copy.

cjarvis [at] bellsouth [dot] net

Rel said...

Nice interview, ladies :)

stampedwithgrace said...

great interview! thanks for sharing :)

congrats on your upcoming wedding!

Pamela J said...

I'd love to have the opportunity to read this book. Please enter me. Thanks.
Pam
cepjwms at yahoo dot com

Doreen said...

What a great interview!! Would love to be entered for this book. purposedrivenlife4you AT gmail DOT com

Alexis said...

Great interview Jenny... count me in!!!! It sounds awesome.

Patty said...

Sounds like a great book. I have seen it and been wanting to read it. I would love to win.

pleblanc_1 at charter dot net

Bel said...

I enjoyed the interview and look forward to reading the book. It was a good inspiration to read what they had to say about their writing.

Beth said...

I've read a few of Susan Davis' books, so this one should be good.

I'd love to win it.

bethstitch(at)yahoo(dot)com(dot)au

Bev said...

Thank you for the interview. It was a fun read.

Enter me in your drawing please.

b {dot} werts {@} sbcglobal {dot} net

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