Sharon and Tom Curtis. The husband-and-wife team started writing in the 70s and stopped writing in the 90s, and since then some of their books – especially the pirate romance The Windflower – have entered into legend. Hyperbole from a fan? Well, if you haven’t yet read the Curtises, who publish as Laura London, you’ve got your chance. Grand Central is reissuing all but two of their stories, which includes tomorrow’s release of The Windflower. To celebrate, we have an interview with the authors, and we have three (3) Advanced Reader Copies of The Windflower to give away. To put your name in the draw, just comment below before 11:59PM EST, Wednesday April 30, 2014, and we’ll pick three winners. (Unfortunately, because of the cost of postage, this contest is only open to those in Canada and the USA.)
And now without further ado, Sharon and Tom Curtis. – Jean AAR
You’re a writing duo! I know of a few others in the business (fantasy author Ilona Andrews immediately comes to mind, although I know there are other collaborations), but there aren’t that many because, I imagine, it must be difficult finding someone whose style meshes with yours, much less turn into something even semi-coherent. And your books are more than coherent – they’re magical. How did you decide to start writing together, and why romance novels?
Tom and I were married in our teens, and we were both huge Jane Austen and Georgette Heyer fans. In our midtwenties, I started telling Tom that I wanted to write a regency romance. I wanted to live in that world in my imagination. One afternoon, I sat down at the typewriter and wrote the first page and a half of A Heart Too Proud. When Tom came home from work, he was excited to read it, and said “Hey, it sounds like a real book.” Tom wanted to join the fun, and so that evening, we began to write as a team. We can’t thank you enough for calling our books magical. What a wonderful compliment! Good feelings.
I would love to see a short film of your writing process, as the two of you work out plot direction, character, prose, etc., but since I can’t, I’ll just have to ask: how do you decide character development, plot direction, and the rest of the nitty gritty that a lone author just decides on automatically? And what happens when you disagree?
One of the ways we keep our books coherent is that we have only one pair of hands on the keyboard at once, to keep our voice consistent. Tom is usually the keyboard guy.
We write together in a conversational style. A book usually starts with a character. We name our character and work out the details of their personality. We think about their family and what influences would have created their character. The Windflower was a little different because it began with a concept: pirate ship.The plot evolves after we have our main character or concept. We talk about who the characters are, where they live, what they might be exposed to, who they might meet, who will help them, who might try to do them harm, what challenges they will face, and who will they love.
The style of our prose must serve the characters, time period and the needs of the story. Thrashing out characters and plot can take us several weeks, and by then, we have a pretty good idea of the tone of the dialogue and narration.
When we disagree, it becomes part of the general discussion of “what comes next”. There’s a real feeling of security about having a second opinion when you’re not sure of something, or when you’re wondering what should come next. I think it works because we have so much trust built up in our marriage that we can speak frankly with each other.Sometimes our discussions can get spirited; sometimes we are laughing hysterically. The unpredictable quality is always a surprise.
Your response is so interesting, and in many ways characteristic of your books, which are very thoughtful. One of my favourites is actually a short story you wrote for the anthology When You Wish, “A Natural Child”, and I couldn’t believe you’d thoughtfully, and convincingly, written a romance about a completely naive 17-year-old and a jaded 22-year-old. But you did, which goes back to your point about prose serving the needs of the story’s elements, and not the other way around.
I noticed this especially in your last book, The Testimony