Thursday, June 04, 2009

Author Marriages

I've always found this an interesting aspect of publishing -- authors who get together, or are thrown together, between two covers.
These are obviously symbiotic relationships. (Symbiosis is a kind of mutual parasitism, which isn't a had thing in terms of species survival. Or writer advancement. In fact, it's a very good thing, since benefits flow both ways.) But what kind of symbiosis is going on in Authorland? Is it crass, creative, or convivial? Or all three? Or something else entirely?

A crass motive -- or maybe I should call it "pragmatic," which is less perjorative -- would involve an author seeking to enlarge his own footprint via another author's established fame, growing fame, industry connections, marketing savvy, fanbase segment -- you know, the aspects of the business that put a shine on reputations and money in the bank. Creative motivation is fairly self-explanatory. The parties are driven by a desire to stretch their wings, take some imaginative chances, and perhaps learn from each other. Conviviality as a basis for partnership simply means two writers genuinely like each other and think they'd have fun working together, maybe to alleviate the essential loneliness of this profession.

Just an aside: I wonder what brought Stephen King and Peter Straub under the same covers? Does anyone else have the feeling they probably did better as singles than as a couple?

So here are my questions. Why do you think writers hook up? And unhook? Have you ever seen evidence of unhappy or even disastrous pairings? Do you prefer to read collaborations or anthologies? Have you ever been able to untangle the authors' voices if the book is a collaboration (say, the voice of Vivien Dean from the voice of Pepper Espinoza in a Jamie Craig story)?

Feel free to throw in any other observations. I am, as usual, curious.


Treva said...

Presumably because each has strengths the other lacks and they can work together. (I'm probably incapable of collaborating with someone else so I'd have to guess.)

K. Z. Snow said...

Hi, Treva. In some cases, that's probably a motivator, too -- but I doubt it's one that's readily acknowledged! (Imagine an author admitting, "Well, I decided I had to camouflage my weaknesses, so I paired up with Bunny on this book.") :-)

Anya Howard said...

It has been my experience that an editor with the publishing house picks the "marriages". May be, like Treva says, an editor feels that the authors in question work well together. Or it could be they think the individual author works wedded together will have a strong appeal to similar audiences.

K. Z. Snow said...

Good point, Anya, about editors or publishers initiating this process, in which case the determination of strengths and weaknesses is out of the authors' hands.

I was thinking more about hook-ups generated by writers themselves. I know this does happen.

Jenre said...

I Haven't read enough Jamie Craig to separate the author's individual voices. However, whilst reading Mexican Heat I could clearly identify some phrases that had come from Josh Lanyon.

It always astounds me that two authors can work together without wanting to kill each other, especially during the editing process!

K. Z. Snow said...

I suspect these are not all hearts-and-flowers relationships, Jen. Betcha many collaborations slip into something like a grudging Dom/sub relationship.

*gigglesnort* That just brought some weird images to mind!

Little CJ said...

Well, Carolyn Jean is about to read Parters in Crime, and that will be her first ever anthology or collaboration of any kind. She thinks writing is sort of lonely, but the perk is that you can be in total creative control. Pre-editing, anyway. So a collaboration is good and bad.

Who cares what she thinks, though. I want to congratulate you on the award you just won. Spiffy.

See you later.

K. Z. Snow said...


Shit, now I have to sprinkle salt around my damned computer.