Confession: I am a control freak. You can ask anyone, especially my wife and co-workers. If a project is to be done right and done on time, I want to do it solo and want it done my way. In the past few years I’ve been learning, albeit slowly, to give up some control when necessary. I took part in a collaborative writing effort with my fellow authors from Marcher Lord Press. We started up a fantasy story that took a couple months to write, with each of us contributing approximately a short to medium length chapter. While I did do the intro and set up the characters, it was freeing to adapt to other writers’ imagination as they took the plot in directions I hadn’t considered.
Also, having five books edited for publication makes one give up control incrementally. It’s either that or you get really pissed off every time the boss-man tells you this is how it’s going to be in your book. Which I sometimes still do. In early February I approached Vox about writing stories for the game he had in development for the world of Selenoth. After exchanging a few emails, Vox phoned me with a different idea: a co-writing project in which we would create a sci-fi murder mystery.
I was intrigued. Never done something like that before, which meant I was excited about the challenge. Vox already had the politics, planets and religions of a story universe sketched out. That appealed to me because it meant less work. It took me a week to brainstorm ideas and whip up a first chapter.
I had no idea how he’d receive the idea. In a phone conversation prior to emailing him that first chapter, I found out that our visions for the overall story had about 75 percent in common, without even consulting each other on details. That’s when the lightbulb lit and I told myself, “I can work with this guy.”
So I hunkered down and wrote long segments, and sent them to Vox on occasion. He would change it as he saw fit, and we often overlapped, with him sending revised sections as I closed in on the finale. I don’t think I argued with any of his changes because when he told me them I went, “Well, that’s way cool!”
My only pet peeve was that Vox preferred phone contact, and I’m an email guy. It’s a minor thing and I got over it, about halfway through the process, because most of our calls ended with clear direction for the story and characters. Took me six months to pound out Quantum Mortis, and Vox another month and a half to write his portions and put on the finishing touches. Not too shabby.
I still shake my head and wonder, “How on Earth did I write a novel and let someone else change it into a finished product that was still part mine, yet not the same thing I came up with?” The trick was not being wholly wedded to the characters and plot from the get go. Told myself, “Relax. Have fun with the people, the places and especially the action . That way if things get rewritten or cut, it’s no big deal.”
And you know what? It wasn’t. The control freak had loosened his grip. Well, somewhat. Vox wasn’t too scary. I liked that our brains were on the same wavelength when it came to character development and blowing things up. We put together a great story, a hell of a fun thing to write, and hope you enjoy the result of our collaboration.
And yes, the second installment of Chief Graven Tower’s explosive investigations is well underway.
– Steve Rzasa
QUANTUM MORTIS A Man Disrupted will be published on 2 December 2013 and will retail for $22.99 in hardcover and $4.99 in ebook. You can preorder the hardcover and receive a free copy of the ebook for $14.99 if you do so before December 1st.
UPDATE: If you’re thinking of preordering, here is a little more incentive. The page count turned out to be higher than estimated, at 326 pages, so the retail price of the hardcover will be $22.99, not $19.99. The preorder price is still $14.99 and the ebook price will be $4.99.