Thursday, June 23, 2011

A Look Inside: Ellen Connor--The Writing Partnership of Ann Aguirre and Carrie Lofty

The first book NIGHTFALL in the “DARK AGE DAWNING” trilogy has just been released. It’s written by Ellen Connor, the pseudonym belonging to the dynamic writing team of Ann Aguirre and Carrie Lofty. We’re lucky enough to have them as guests this week.

goofy girl designs

  1. Ann, please tell us a little about yourself.
    I was born in the Midwest and I studied English Literature in college. I moved to Mexico with my family six years ago. Life as an ex-pat is often interesting and complicated, but I wouldn’t change a minute of it. Life outside the US has definitely broadened my worldview. I write all kinds of things, and I’ve been writing stories since I was eight years old. It took a bit longer for me to go pro.

  2. Your turn, Carrie. Would you share a short biography?
    I was born in California and raised in the Midwest, but I had to travel to England to find the love of my life. Since then I’ve studied history and literature, so maybe writing historical romance was the natural choice. As for paranormal romance...that took a little bit more time!

  3. How did you two meet?
    We met online through a romance website and eventually attended Nationals together in 2007. Because there’s a lot of mileage between Wisconsin and Mexico, annually is about best we can manage in person. But IM(Instant Messager) is our friend!

  4. How did your partnership start?
    Ann had a kick-ass dream about a girl who transforms into a Doberman, and she gave it to me--just for fun. I decided to write the hero’s chapter just for kicks. I’d never done anything like that before! Then we were off and running. We draft very fast, so the whole thing felt like a rollercoaster.

  5. What is your system for writing together?
    We take turns with chapters, with one point of view in each--for the most part. But the point is that once we start with a character, we stick with it. I wrote the hero in Nightfall, for example. And then it’s like playing ping-pong. Or tag! You’re it!

  6. How long did the creation of NIGHTFALL take? Is it quicker or more time-consuming to generate a story as a team?
    We write quickly on our own. Together...well, together we’re pretty darn fast. IM takes care of plotting issues, but then we get momentum going that propels us to the finish.

  7. How is writing as a team different from penning a book alone?
    Communication is critical, of course, and so is compromise. The key thing to remember is that you’re writing a book that must please two people. We both need to feel proud and satisfied when the work is done. It’s double the creative input, however, but it’s awesome. When you’re working alone, you answer to nobody else. You’re in complete control. Writing with someone else gives them equal say in the end product.

  8. What are some of the benefits of your partnership? What’s your favorite part of working with each other?

    Carrie: I love the shared creativity. Most of the time writing is such a solo effort. With a partner, we get near-instant feedback on new material. That intangible spark is really unique to co-writing. We just have a blast!

    Ann: Yes, the instant feedback is amazing. When you write a chapter you just love on your own, there’s nobody to say, Wow, way to go! But if you’re working with a partner, he or she gets to see the writing straightaway and can really juice your enthusiasm. It certainly makes it easier to go on when you’re weary or flagging -- having someone else’s constant support and investment.

  9. Were there any unexpected or amusing problems that occurred in your work on NIGHTFALL because you wrote together?
    Not so much other than worldbuilding details. That required timelines and lots of IM conversations.

  10. Would you share an excerpt from NIGHTFALL?

    Ten minutes later, with Jenna trailing like a sleepwalker, they stood in a small clearing just north of the cabin. Mason didn’t trust her compliance. She was still thinking, doubting his word, and that would get them both killed.
    God, he didn’t want to get rough with her, but she wasn’t getting away from him. She couldn’t. Her life depended on him—his will, his cool, his knowledge. But his survival depended on her too.
    “C’mere,” he said quietly.
    She didn’t move.
    So he went to her instead. Something good and calm opened in his chest when she didn’t shy away.
    “Listen, Jenna.”
    “What now? More stories?”
    “No, listen. Listen to the forest.”
    The stillness enveloped them, a dark and unnatural stillness that gnawed at bones and wore away at the mind like a drip, drip, drip of water. No moon shone through the quiet leaves. No animals moved among the foliage. Although they stood in the trees, among those countless living plants, breathing each other’s poison air, there wasn’t a single noise to indicate life.
    Jenna stood at his side. He could barely see her in the thick black soup of night, but he heard her frantic breathing.
    “Where is everything?” she whispered.
    “Mitch took you camping, right? When you were younger?”
    “It creeps me out, you knowing stuff like that.”
    “Did he or didn’t he?”
    “Yeah, when I was a kid. And you were right. He never hit the bottle out here. For him, being in the woods was normal.” She inhaled deeply, unsteadily. “But this…this isn’t normal.”
    He took her hand, the only solid, real, warm thing in the forest.
    “Everything I’ve said is God’s honest truth.”
    She tightened her fingers as a shiver worked down her arm. “There’s no God here.”

  11. (Note: My formatting difficulties prevent indenting for the paragraphs. Sorry.)

  12. Are the same characters featured in all three novels?
    Yup! The heroes of Midnight and Daybreak are both introduced in Nightfall. We hope readers will want to stay with us to make sure those deserving men find their happy endings.

  13. When will the next book in the DARK AGE DAWNING trilogy be released?
    Midnight comes out in September and Daybreak in December.

  14. Where can readers find out more about your books?
    Our website is Stop by for the covers and blurbs for the rest of the trilogy, or just to say hello!

    We hope you’ve enjoyed this interview. If you have any questions about writing partnerships or the DARK AGE DAWNING trilogy, please feel free to ask. We’re giving away one free copy to a commenter in the continental US. Good luck!


  1. Great insight into the collaborative writing process. It's one thing I'm not sure I could ever do. I'm too much of a control freak.

  2. Lori Dillon,
    Yeah, it might be hard to co-write a book, depending on your partner, but I think I'd like collaborate with someone. :)

  3. sounds like a good partnership. Can't wait to read the first book!

  4. Sounds like you've both found a process that works. Writing with someone else can be quite difficult, but also fun with the right person.

  5. I'm glad working as a team works for you both. I'm not sure if I could do it or not. Wishing you both great sales with Nightfall and books to come. Happy T13!

  6. You've been at it even longer than me. I didn't start my first book until I was 13.

  7. Very interesting. I couldn't imagine co-writing over such a distance.

  8. Really nicely done!

    Enjoy your day!

  9. Janell,
    Yeah, I think you'll like the book. :)

  10. Heather,
    I agree. It seems they have a good partnership going.

  11. Adelle Laudan,
    I just got NIGHTFALL, but so far it seems their partnership makes for great stories. I wish them many sales too.

  12. Alice Audrey,
    Yeah, it's funny how many authors know they want to create as kids.

  13. Country Dew,
    I wonder how it would be to have a partner that far away too.

  14. What a great peek into the process! Thanks so much for this. I've considered co-writing with someone and this style sounds like it could work very well. I appreciate the insight.

    Great excerpt. :)

    Happy TT,

    13 Circling Thoughts

  15. What an interesting story. I'm just so fascinated by how your journeys took you to Mexico, England, Wisconsin... and to collaborative writing. Wow!!!

  16. I would think it would be very challenging to write with someone like that, especially at a distance from each other.

  17. Xakara,
    I agree. It's interesting to see how others write. Thanks for stopping by.

  18. Karen,
    I think travel enhances creativity and increases people's experiences. I bet it's helped Carrie, Ann and you. Thanks for commenting.

  19. A Kwee Life,
    I'm guessing Carrie and Ann IM each other a lot.

  20. I’m pleased to announce the winner of Ellen Connor’s fantastic new release, NIGHTFALL—she is: Karen, who enjoyed learning about Carrie and Ann’s world travels.

    Karen, please contact me at bdavis (at) windsladder (dot) com and we’ll get the book to you. Thanks.

  21. Carrie and Ann,
    Thank you for sharing NIGHTFALL and giving us a glimpse into its creation and your partnership.

  22. I'm so excited to have won a copy of Nightfall! Thanks! I know I'll enjoy reading it!

  23. You all really bring home what a different world we live in now that there is the Internet.