Saturday, October 29, 2011

Salt and Pepper

My friend and fellow Intrigue author, Aimée Thurlo, stops by Spinsters and Lunatics today with a guest blog post. She and her husband also write a mystery series featuring Navajo detective Ella Clah. To visit their website for more information about their books, click here.

Please give Aimée a warm welcome and be sure to leave her comments!

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

At the Chez Thurlo, I’m the slob and David’s the neat freak. He claims he’s just organized, I say compulsive. Think of the Odd Couple and you’ll be right. He’s Felix and I’m definitely Oscar. This, of course, has a definite impact on our lives as co-authors.

Like many other writers, David and I work to complete a number of pages daily, as opposed to working regular office hours. We’re pretty good about staying on target even with our divergent styles, but one thing never fails - the closer a deadline gets, the crazier our lives become. If anything is going to go wrong, it’s practically guaranteed that it’ll happen then.

I can vividly remember one incident that specifically illustrates this and the differences between David and me. David and I have separate offices and different responsibilities at home. This is how we manage to keep from driving each other nuts. Many months ago, I was working on a real tight deadline for an article I’d promised to write for a local newspaper. The computer had crashed the night before, but no worries, I had my printout and was ready to put it into snail mail. Problem was, I was also working on a book at the time and I’d totally run out of room on my desk. Not wanting to leave the pages on one of my copious stacks, I balanced the printout carefully atop the waste basket beside my chair and left the room.

David came in, and you guessed it. It was trash day, so out went the pages. Mind you, it should have been on my desk, but since I was going to mail the article later that morning, I didn’t want to get it mixed up with my current draft of Chapter Four of our new novel.

After my panic subsided, I eventually managed to reconstruct most of the article from memory and get it delivered on time, but I think I aged twenty years that morning.

I should now explain that one of my individual quirks is that, after first draft, I work almost exclusively on paper. At the end of the day, I then enter all my penciled in changes, sometimes scribbled in multi-colored inks to make it easier to follow, into my trusty laptop.

Naturally, my partner has a different system and writing routine. David, who teaches science part time, is the most orderly human being on this planet. Everything is in its place. He edits on screen, and even files folders alphabetically instead of by first, last, or company name! Sure, I have order in my office too, but you need a good memory and a trained eye to find a document, or, as David sometimes suggests, the ability and/or heavy equipment to take a core sample.

Every time David comes into my office he trips over a dog, a dog bed, or a pair of shoes. Oh, yes, my office does resemble a kennel/shoe store/closet. Perfection. Everything I love, except for chocolate, is close at hand, and maybe that’s why I consider my office ‘cozy’. David likes to think of his workspace as, well, an office. Whatever.

It’s clear that our methods of working and our styles are vastly different, but when we write, at least we manage to do so with one voice. That’s partly because we’ve been married for forty-one years, and despite our personalities, or maybe because of them, we fit into each other like two pieces of a puzzle. We complete each other’s....paragraphs.

Take one of my all time favorite Harlequin Intrigues, Winter Hawk’s Legend, as an example. It’s a landmark book for us since it our 30th for Harlequin. What makes this book special is that it’s about family, and how love can grow unassailable even between two people who ostensibly have nothing in common. I live that every day, so a piece of my heart went into that book.

And not coincidentally, that family thread continues on with our October release. Black Thunder, our newest Ella Clah mystery, features a unique heroine who is devoted to her immediate family, her clan, and her tribe. Her love of police work is rooted in the Navajo concept of harmony. To walk in beauty, the goal of a good Navajo, all the components of life have to be in balance. Evil requires good to keep it in check, so, to Ella Clah, police work is a way of restoring harmony for her tribe and her family. Like most of us, she fulfills a variety of roles in her day to day life.

I hope you’ll get the chance to pick up both of these special books and give them a read. If you do, share your thoughts with us. We’d love to hear from you.


2 comments:

GayleC said...

Hi Aimee- Very interesting. I always admire the very organized people in this world, but I can more easily relate to your method. I've read and enjoyed some of your Intrigues. I haven't read any Ella Clah mysteries, but they sound interesting. I will take a look at your website.

LindaC said...

I'm impressed by anyone who is organized, because I'm not. I'm also a pantser. I'm curious, how do you two divide the work of a manuscript?

Thanks,
LindaC