THE HIGHS AND LOWS OF CO-WRITING
Catherine Doyle & Katherine Webber, authors of Twin Crowns, May 2022
Back in 2020, when the pandemic was just getting into full swing, we decided to write a YA fantasy together. Something fun and swoony and pacy. A book that would make us laugh, and ultimately – cheer us up.
It made perfect sense. After all, we shared an undying love of YA fantasy (which we spoke about all the time), we were best friends and soon-to-be sisters-in-law. Why not become co-authors, too?
We started brainstorming right away, adding all our ideas into a virtual melting pot that would go on to become the first draft of Twin Crowns. We both love romantic comedies, epic landscapes, and stories about sisterhood. We wanted witty banter, sarcastic best friends, hopeless flirting, and lots of sneaking around. Then we added swoon-worthy love interests, magic, witches, royalty, and of course, a cute animal side-kick. We spent long nights coming up with a fully realised backstory for the land of Eana, the world in which Twin Crowns takes place. We weaved our own myths and legends, sometimes texting each other at 2am or 3am with the spark of a new idea. Then we created the world itself, a kingdom that sprawled across landscapes, from the desert to the sea filled with lush forests and bustling towns, and of course – the towering palace of Anadawn, and its glittering golden gates.
From the outset, we wanted to infuse Twin Crowns with lots of comedy. We flung our poor, kidnapped princess Rose into increasingly ridiculous situations to see how she would react, far from her comfort zone in the palace. Meanwhile, we threw our witch, Wren, into the unknown, by giving her an unexpected fiancé in lovably hapless Prince Ansel and an inconvenient crush in his stalwart guard Tor.
Although we each write from a separate POV (Webber writes Rose, Doyle writes Wren), we planned every chapter together, making sure we knew exactly what was happening to each sister and when. However, there was always room to add a little embellishment or a surprise new addition, like a sneaky library kiss or a flirty scene in a hot desert spring. One of the best things about co-authoring is getting to write half the book and experience the other half of it just like a giddy YA reader.
Co-authoring a 120,000 word YA fantasy novel does not always make for smooth sailing. When you’re constantly switching back and forth between chapters, certain characters can slip through the pages. More than once, we would call each other up with pertinent questions like, What happened to our wolf? Is she with you? Because I haven’t seen her in nine chapters.
And of course, when you’re co-authoring with the person who’s about to marry your brother, an inevitable question does arise: Is this hot soldier character you wrote based on my brother? And if so… ew. Sometimes, it’s best not to think about the inspiration too much.
But finally, there comes the end result, the book that’s been edited and polished to the point of gleaming and dressed in the most beautiful cover you’ve ever seen. The very best part of sharing this moment with your co-author and best friend is that not only can you be proud of the book you toiled over for months and months, but you can be proud of each other and the long journey you made together.
Twin Crowns is published by FarShore and is available now!