Though we write for Harlequin Heartwarming under the Aimée Thurlo name, most of you know that there are two of us. Today I’d like to give some insight on how we work together. Keep in mind that we’ve been writing partners since 1980, and that Aimée has always been the major talent and biggest contributor, especially with our romances, the Ella Clah mysteries, and the Sister Agatha series.
I’ve taken the lead with our Lee Nez and Charlie Henry books, and the non-fiction science workbooks, but we learned fairly early in our partnership who does what best, and wisely we stuck with a winning combination.
At first we had a lot to learn about how to create an acceptable manuscript as a team - something with one voice, not two. That takes practice. You can’t do it overnight. But it can be done.
Partnerships are the best way to write - though I am prejudiced on that. When something good happens, you have someone to share it with - someone who sweat right there along with you, someone who understands the sacrifices you had to make, the hours at the computer, the feeling in your gut when the scene you think is brilliant is out of character, or just doesn’t really work in the story.
It helps that we work together in the same house, though we do have different offices and work habits. Aimée has two dogs with her, a day bed, and shoes everywhere. I’m, let’s say, more organized, though Aimée would use the term compulsive. I think that’s because I can find stuff and I file folders using the English alphabet. And my dog guards the door, not my boots.
Fortunately, one component that makes our books better than they would be if we worked individually is that we aren’t at all alike, except that we’re best friends and we’re committed to bringing the reader the best possible book.
Early on, it became very apparent what our strengths are. I’m better with action scenes, descriptions, and plotting. Aimée hates choreographing action and has direction issues. Her ability to bring emotions to the page are far better than mine, however, and she’s great with dialogue, at least with women characters. One might suggest that this is a boy/girl type of thing, but I don’t mean to appear sexist.
One of the most important lessons I’ve learned while working with Aimée is neither of us can ever suggest that `my words and/or ideas are better than yours'. Our teamwork and commitment to the project forces us to look at what we’ve written even more closely, and that makes our stories even better.
When I left teaching and my writing became full time, it was a test for us at first, but it’s been worth it, and I wouldn’t trade one second of working with Aimée for any other person, or career. We’ve lived a Heartwarming life together for forty-four years, and now, finally, we get to write about it. How cool.