On Sunday I was at the Nottingham Playhouse listening to Cassandra Clare and Holly Black talking about The Iron Trial – the first in their five-book Magisterium series. I have to confess I went along not really knowing what to expect! I haven’t read the Iron Trial yet (although I have read and enjoyed several of the Mortal Instruments books) and as my friend and I walked into the auditorium it became apparent that we increased the average age by about 20 years!
I really enjoyed it though. It was inspiring to listen to Cassandra and Holly talking about how they came up with the idea for the story while they were in an airport waiting to board a plane (‘I said…then she said…then I said…’). They introduced us to the main characters by telling us about their hopes and fears and showing us sketches of them which I thought was effective and a great incentive to read the book and get to know them better.
What I was really interested in though was the collaboration part. How do two people write a book together and how does the process work? Listening to them chat about bouncing ideas off each other and critiquing each others work I felt quite envious. What an invaluable thing – to find someone who is literally on the same page as you (forgive the pun); someone who will be on your team, so that you can help to make each others work better.
In amongst all the Shadowhunter-related questions (characters in Cassandra’s books, in case you haven’t read any) I managed to ask them how the writing process worked for them, as individual writers and together. I found their replies fascinating. As individual authors they plan and write books completely differently. Holly is a visionary. She gets her inspiration for a story from a picture and bases it around that, writing and rewriting chapters as she goes along, changing everything constantly. Cassandra on the other hand plans and outlines everything. She knows exactly where she is going from the start. To write the Iron Trial together I don’t think they had to compromise the way that they write as individuals; instead they came up with a new way to write together. So they literally write together. In the same room, at the same time. Each writing a page or so at a time, then passing it back and forth for the other to read, change etc.
I know from experience that there is a wonderful buzz when you work on something with someone else. I love the idea of collaborating to write a book (or series of books in their case) together and I got the sense that they loved doing it. Even though apparently they fell out a couple of times in the process! So I’m excited and intrigued to read The Iron Trial. Have you read it? Or any other books which have been written by more than one person? Let me know what you think.