By Michelle Andreani
I hate to admit so soon in our relationship that I don’t know everything, but here we go: I wasn’t really aware that co-written novels existed until six years ago. That was when I stumbled into a Borders (RIP) and upon Rachel Cohn and David Levithan’s dazzling Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist*. I grabbed the novel without a second thought (it says right on the back cover that there’s kissing = the Only Purchase Incentive I Ever Need Ever), but I didn’t know how it would grab me.
It wasn’t until I’d finished reading Nick & Norah that I wondered how it had even happened. How did two super-talented writers join forces and write one super-wonderful book?
I didn’t wonder for too long, though. (I think Taylor Hicks won American Idol that year, so there was that to deal with.) I just knew I wanted to do it.
When we first began brainstorming, Mindi and I did so over email. Mindi was busy with revisions for Live Through This — you should maybe definitely pre-order it right now. I’ll wait here . . . Ready? Okay, good! So, since Mindi was hard at work, and I’d been reduced to a shrunken head after the most God-awful writing year of my life, we began throwing out ideas casually and just for fun. But soon enough, it was Really Happening. We’d found our story! We’d found Cloudy and Kyle! Hooray!
That’s when, six-or-so years post-Nick & Norah, with no Taylor Hicks to distract me, I had to start wondering how this co-writing thing worked. Would there just be more emails? Skyping? PHONE CALLS?!
(This is where I should tell you that I HATE talking on the phone. And you can tell I mean HATE because I capitalized, bolded, and italicized the word “HATE.” Which is big-time emotion.)
Thankfully, Mindi’s had mercy on me — there have been no phone calls. (Which I guess might sound weird to some? But I find it Junior-Mint-refreshing.) It does, however, raise the question: with that off the table (for now, anyway), how do we communicate effectively when we’re trying to collaborate on one story?
Emails, emails, emails! Naturally. It’s a very convenient way to talk through anything, especially since our timing is sometimes off, what with me living in the future and all. (Um, the eastern time zone. Not the future.) Plus, I’m a big fan of the folder option. See?
It’s a great way to keep everything organized when you’ve got a bazillion ideas floating around – and, another plus, I’ll never forget where I put them!
Sometimes email just isn’t fast enough, and we’re not patient enough, and that’s why God and Google invented Gchat! Before we started the actual business of writing, Mindi and I had some marathon sessions discussing our characters’ motivations, outlining our story, and other Very Important Things. Yep. We are nooooo nonsense. We never, ever talk at length about Gchat’s weirdo smiley faces. And the best part is we can save the chats and always refer back to them if we need to. (Can’t do that with a phone conversation, can ya?! Not unless you’re recording your calls, I guess. Which carries kind of a creep-vibe, no? And then you’d have to keep rewinding and fast-forwarding to find the exact — uugghh. Tired just thinking about it. Point: Gchat.)
And, of course, when there’s just no time for emails and online-chats, there are texts. Texting especially comes in handy when we’re writing and need a quick question answered: What perfume does Cloudy wear? When is Kyle’s birthday? Can you use the word “ass” in the first line of a YA novel? All answered via text! Isn’t technology the best?
Except phone calls. Phone calls are the worst.
*Fun Fact: Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist was actually published six years ago TODAY. Happy Anniversary, Nick and Norah! And thanks!