I’m very pleased to welcome the writing pair of Chris Almeida and Cecilia Aubrey to Love, Lust and Laptops! This talented duo has been a successful team for a while and are here to tell us a bit about how they do it. They are the authors of the Countermeasure series.
Welcome Chris and Cecilia!
A Shared Brain
It never fails, even after all this time writing together, when Chris and I reference our writing partnership we receive odd looks and a barrage of questions. “How does that work? Do you each write a chapter? A portion of the novel? Does one write the novel and the other edit? Do you each just write a specific scene? Are romance scenes awkward?”
What we realize is that, although collaborative work is not new or unique to us, some people can’t get their head around our partnership. The fact that we write action packed stories with intense and fairly erotic love scenes leaves them floored or skeptical. Their reaction is puzzling because to us, writing together is second nature. You could say we share a brain.
We’ve talked about this often—the brain-sharing thing. To understand how we work together, you need to know how we began this journey together.
We met almost 4 years ago when we both answered a casting call for a role-playing group portraying characters from one of our favorite novel series. As fate would have it, we were given roles as a mated couple. The rest you can say is history and the basis for our current partnership. There was an instant chemistry. Our writing style, views, and ideas where in tune with each other’s. When we slipped into the skin of those characters, we played their POVs seamlessly, flowing from one post to the other, from one story to another, just as we do with our own characters in our novels now.
At the end of 2010, we had reached the decision to leave the group. We weren’t quite sure what we were going to do, but we knew we wanted to continue writing together. One night, Chris had a dream which birthed the idea for a Contemporary Suspense story. When Chris had a better grasp of it, we discussed and decided to flesh it out. Once we had the plot and characters mapped, we began to role-play the story with our own main characters, Trevor and Cassandra. That story became the basis for our second novel, To Russia with Love.
With each post, each interaction, we grew comfortable in their skins, their relationship, and their adventures. So much so that as the story played out, we realized that we needed a beginning to their relationship. Their HEA arrived in the form of Countermeasure. With encouragement from friends, we turned to novel writing. However, novel writing and role-play are two different animals. We adapted our collaboration, but at the same time, we still retained some of the methods to our madness as we transitioned our role-play stories into novels. Chris’s original dream became the prologue in Countermeasure and we created our own method and voice for bouncing the POVs without head hopping. Those who read and enjoy our stories notice that the scenes flow from one character to the other in deep POV, RP style.
With that explained, you can now grasp that we truly write each chapter together. There is not one paragraph or page in which only one person touches it. Although with the move from RP to novel writing, we changed the tense and person in which we write, we never changed how we tackle the writing process. We divide our work by POV. It’s the simplest and most logical way for us. Take for example the short stories involving Cassandra and Trevor. If a chapter starts with Trevor’s POV, Chris starts it and if it’s Cassandra’s POV, I start it. The same happens with any character that we write. Each will wear one character in a scene and whoever has the beginning scene starts the chapter until it’s time for the other’s POV. We ping-pong the chapter between us for additions and line editing until the chapter is finished.
In many instances, we find ourselves writing dialog between the characters or writing scenes with interaction between them as we snowflake the chapter .What about the character’s POV in these instances you ask? No one knows Trevor better than Chris does; the same way I know Cassandra inside out—what she feels, how she would react, what she would say. So if Chris writes something in Cassandra’s POV, I always go through it to “Cassiefy” it, and if I write a Trevor piece, Chris will “Trevorize” (or geekify) it.
When it comes to steamy scenes, the same holds true. But that’s where writing in partnership becomes a fun game. To us, the challenge in writing them is to make the other squirm. If that doesn’t happen, we know something is seriously wrong and we revise the scene until it does. For us, the key is in the sensuality of the moment not quite in the act itself. The scene has to deliver to the reader the sensations and emotions our characters felt with each touch, each stroke.
Once we can go into deep editing, we turn to one of our adapted methods—I read the manuscript while Chris listens for flow, continuity, grammar, repetition, and reads for typos, punctuation.
That phase of editing can take from a day to a week depending on each chapter’s complexity and length. But it doesn’t end there. Once we’re satisfied, we then pass each chapter to our group of beta readers who, in turn, read it and give us feedback. We only move on to the next chapter. when we are fully satisfied with the chapter and we have their seal of approval.
We are plotters by nature but with some pantser mixed in—call us plotsers if you will. With having a solid arc to the series and loose outline for each book, scenes and chapters can be written out of order. This is where the shared brain comes in handy. We are so in tune in our thought process, we don’t experience a lot of differences when it comes to the stories. We develop the scenes as we go and we talk them out until we have something that makes perfect sense and that works for both of us. When we do reach a disagreement, we talk through our points until we find something that works for both and in the end, it all ties nicely.
A shared brain can be a burden, but a surprisingly easy one to bear and, most of all, a lot of fun. We do a lot of things together. We go through tense moments waiting for the first reviews to come in, we hold our breaths in anticipation for reader feedback, and, most of all, we laugh at each other and ourselves regularly. That’s what has allowed our partnership to flourish. In essence, we have tons of fun while doing what we love doing: entertaining readers and sharing our world with them all. We hope you join us in this incredible journey and become a part of our growing Countermeasure family.
Cecilia & Chris
About the authors
Writing had touched Chris Almeida’s and Cecilia Aubrey’s lives in different ways through the years but had never taken flight. It was in 2010, when Chris and Cecilia met and began role-playing online as a hobby, that writing placed itself front and center in their lives.
Chris and Cecilia have since chosen to release all their titles independently. They have several short stories and two novels published under their own label, Éire Publishing, and are vocal supporters of independent publishing done right. They are currently working on the third novel in their series. Through all the chaos and laughter, they still hold true to their roots, bringing their favorite role-play characters and stories to life.
You can find them at:
Chris Almeida – http://www.facebook.com/Chris.Almeida.Author
Cecilia Aubrey – http://www.facebook.com/cecilia.aubrey.author
Authors Facebook Fan Page – https://www.facebook.com/Authors.ChrisAlmeida.CeciliaAubrey
Series Facebook Fan Page – http://www.facebook.com/Countermeasure.Series
Chris & Cecilia- http://chrisalmeida-ceciliaaubrey.com
Countermeasure Series – http://countermeasureseries.com
Cecilia – http://twitter.com/CAubreyAuthor