Being invited to contribute to awesome projects still feels new to me. This year, we’re also filling in another square on that writerly BINGO card: first professional collaboration.
It started like this:
Joe Pulver asked me to contribute a story to Cassilda’s Song, a King in Yellow anthology that would be written by women. There was no way I could turn that invitation down. I wrote, and wrote, and struggled to find “She Will Be Raised a Queen,” but am excited for you to read this one. It has its roots firmly in “The Yellow Wallpaper,” and you can see some other inspirations here.
When that was written, I said gosh that was awesome — and then Joe sent me another invitation. What! This time, he was doing Leaves of a Necronomicon, and did I want to do a story for that? Heck yes I wanted to do a story for that. The stories in that one were to be slightly different, all connected by a strange book. The story he had in mind for me would have another connection. It would be tied to the story Damien Angelica Walters was writing.
I had never written anything like this, however! I came to realize my story would probably need to be written before Damien could do hers — chronologically, it would come first, so needed to be a foundation of sorts. It was a curious kind of pressure, to know that another story would be build off events established in this story. Our stories are connected through sisters, sisters who loved each other but never quite said that.
The process was wonderful. Having someone to brainstorm with turned out to be vital, since we were building a miniature universe for these stories to exist in. These stories are weird, and bleak, and still hopeful. Damien and I both edit — and we worked together on a story she sold to Shimmer — so we weren’t starting with a completely blank slate, which probably helped make the process easier.
But I breathed easier only when Damien loved my story, and she would go on to write a fabulous companion piece to it — though before she could, Joe asked us to come back to Cassilda. What! He wanted us to write a single piece together.
That was an entirely different animal!
Companion stories, sure, but writing with another writer? For publication? How would our styles mesh? How would we work together? I have written with others before — on fanfic projects (!) and original books that never saw the light of day, but this is absolutely my first professional collaboration, and it was a joy to work on.
Whenever we seemed stuck, we went off on strange tangents (what about Cassilda as a DRAGON?! If you cut That Scene I will run off to Carcosa, woo!) until the proper story fell into place, and it turned out that we explored some King in Yellow territory that has never quite been explored before–the nature of Cassilda, where she comes from and what she really may be. I love what we came up with, and hope you do, too!