This was a question I probably should have addressed when the Desire senior editor suggested a down-under continuity series back in 2006. I had worked on three continuity series before then, but each was an editor-led series. The overview of the series, the characters, the broad storylines were developed by the editors who invited the authors to participate.
This series, however, was to be author-led. In other words, the development of the series from initial concept to completion would be in the hands of the six authors. The idea of collaborating on a project like this excited me. So much so, I jumped right aboard that train while yelling encouragement to the others to join me.
“Come on,” I cajoled to those dragging their feet. “It’ll be fun! We’ll brainstorm and bounce off each others’ energy and we won’t have to work in isolation as we usually do. Plus developing a whole series arc will be brilliant!”
Six strong-minded women who are used to operating in creative independence working together as a team… How would that work? Would we still remain friends after all that brainstorming, plotting, writing and promoting?
Two years later and Diamonds Down Under has launched with VOWS & A VENGEFUL GROOM (January, Silhouette Desire.) Getting to this point was all of the above AND about 300% more work than we’d anticipated. Along the way we honed our collaborative skills and learned about delegation, compromise, tact, and teamwork. AND–here’s the happy ending romance always promises–the bonds of friendship have not only remained intact but have strengthened.
We’re not the first to tackle our own multi-book continuity series for Harlequin or even for Silhouette Desire. Before Diamonds Down Under there was the six-book Millionaire of the Month, and before that The Madonna Key (7 books) for the now defunct (sadly) Bombshell line.
But when it comes to continuity collaboration, my poster gals are the Mills & Boon Medicals foursome who recently sold their 12th Crocodile Creek title.
Lilian Darcy, Alison Roberts, Marion Lennox and Meredith Webber have got together not once, not twice, but three times to develop and write three four-book mini-series. Who better to ask about the magic of collaboration? Here is what they had to say:
Alison Roberts: To sum it up, I’d say it’s challenging but fabulous. And so much fun, working in little bits and pieces of the other books, like snatches of conversations overheard or even just the expression on someone’s face.
Marion Lennox: It was indeed fun. It felt a bit like a free book cos there were four plotters rather than one. I think the fact that we totally respected each other as writers and we knew each other’s characters would be treated sympathetically was the key.
Meredith Webber: What I loved was the intricacy of it, weaving the stories together so bits of one fitted seamlessly with bits of another. We even wrote little passages for each other’s books so the stories melded. This might not have happened if we’d known each other less well or not been friends.
Lilian Darcy: What they said…plus I will add some advice to anyone attempting an author-generated series: give yourselves a simple over-arching continuity thread that hits the centre of your line’s promise to the reader so that the complexity and uniqueness can develop within each story without you all getting tangled up and treading on each other’s toes.
If you’d like to sample the results of the collaborative effort that produced CROCODILE CREEK, visit my blog (www.bronwynjameson.com/blog) in February. If you’d like to sample the results of the collaborative effort that produced DIAMONDS DOWN UNDER, visit www.diamonds-downunder.com/ for blurbs, extracts, backstory and our series blog. And don’t miss the chance to win a diamond pendant in our Treasure Hunt. VOWS & A VENGEFUL GROOM, by Bronwyn Jameson, is available now.