Yes, we are a husband and wife team who write together, three books now, and we are still married.
When we started writing in 2000, we were doing our own things – I wrote a romantic comedy and Janet produced a couple of contemporary, and cozy mysteries. We routinely edited each other’s work, but Janet had a secret. She wanted to write a ‘50s hard-boiled detective novel but couldn’t figure out how to get into a man’s head and make her detective sound real. I would consistently change the dialogue for her male characters telling her, “A guy wouldn’t think that.”
One day she revealed how she’d love to write a hard-boiled murder mystery. Surprised and delighted, I turned to her and said, “So let’s do it together.” She almost broke into tears.
When our family and writer friends learned what we were up to, they warned that this arrangement could spell out the demise of our 43 year-old marriage. They insisted it would never work. Concerned with these dire predictions of doom, we decided to take a business approach. The first rule was to check our egos at the door. We set rules of professionalism, overall respect and patience. A deadline schedule was established and we met every two weeks to discuss character development, subplots and fight scenes. We discussed what was working and what wasn’t.
Contrary to the warnings, our writing journey has turned out to be a lot of fun. We took research field trips to old Los Angeles and Hollywood. Touring the neighborhoods, historic hotels, restaurants, and night clubs gave us the feel for the 1950s. The headlines from period newspapers provided us with insight into the lives and scandals of period actors, actresses, and studio executives. Mobsters were big thing in 1950s L.A. with amazing personal lives. Since Will is a member of ASIFA-Hollywood, we have opportunities attend screenings at many of the historic motion picture studios and see where our PI, Skylar Drake would have worked as a part time movie stuntman. We interviewed retired police officers about LAPD procedures and equipment in that era.
The result has been three novels so far and a wonderful partnering experience for both of us. There are, however, still some curious skeptics who wonder about us. At a recent public appearance, we were part of a panel of mystery authors discussing the writing process. When the time came for questions, a hand shot up from the audience. The elderly man stood, pointed at the two of us and asked, “How exactly does that work?” Janet smiled and asked, “How does what work?” The person answered, “This writing together. Why haven’t you killed each other? I could never dream of writing with my spouse.”
websites: www.janetlynnauthor.com and www.willzeilingerauthor.com