We’re thrilled to welcome Erika Robuck to The Debutante Ball this week! Erika is an avid reader and historical fiction writer. Her novels include RECEIVE ME FALLING, HEMINGWAY’S GIRL, CALL ME ZELDA, FALLEN BEAUTY, and the forthcoming THE HOUSE OF HAWTHORNE (May 2015). Her story “I’ll Walk Alone” is featured in GRAND CENTRAL: POSTWAR STORIES OF LOVE AND REUNION, out July 1st from Berkley/Penguin. She is a member of the Hemingway Society, Millay Society, Hawthorne Society, and Historical Novel Society, and she lives in Annapolis, MD with her husband and three sons.
Today she shares her views on author collaboration and how the wonderful new anthology Grand Central came together. Take it away, Erika.
I had the recent positive experience of contributing a short story to an anthology of post-WWII stories with some of my favorite authors, and it has me thinking about the nuances of collaboration. Throughout the process of writing my story for GRAND CENTRAL: ORIGINAL STORIES OF POSTWAR LOVE AND REUNION, I had the pleasure of working with authors as critique partners, plotters, pitch makers, and event planners, and I learned so much that I asked some of these bestselling women to share their knowledge with others. Specifically, I asked them to give their advice on collaborating effectively, and their responses were both inspiring and informative.
“I think it’s very important to have already built up a great deal of self-confidence before any collaboration. I’m always open to new ideas, and certainly am eager for my editor’s input, but ultimately, I am the author of my work and the captain of my career. I need to be able to absorb advice yet stay true to my voice and my original intent.” –Melanie Benjamin, New York Times bestselling author of THE AVIATOR’S WIFE
“Social media has allowed unprecedented cooperation among writers–and sometimes even inspired new books! Our new anthology, GRAND CENTRAL, is a case in point: novelist Kristina McMorris contacted nine other bestselling WW2-era female authors via Facebook and Twitter and asked if we’d each contribute a novella set in Grand Central Terminal on the same day in September, 1945; because of Kristina’s inspiration and our collaboration, we now have a beautiful book coming out from Penguin July 1.” —Jenna Blum, New York Times and international bestseller of THOSE WHO SAVE US and THE STORMCHASERS
“For me, collaborating effectively is knowing when to share work with readers I trust. My rule is, never show anybody anything until you have a complete first draft finished.” –Amanda Hodgkinson, New York Times bestselling author of 22 BRITANNIA ROAD
“For me the hardest part of collaborating is incorporating feedback—taking the problems that someone else finds in your work (because they always give you the problems; you have to find the solutions) and addressing them in a way that keeps the writing wholly your own. My advice is to find just a few trusted advisors to whom you can show your work at the right stages and to learn how to take the essence of what they are saying and reshape it in your own voice.” –Pam Jenoff, bestselling author of THE KOMMANDANT’S DAUGHTER
“Know when to speak up and when to shut up. My momma always told me to pick my words wisely, from songs of praise to battle cries. This becomes especially critical in teamwork. I’ve learned that the most constructive course of action isn’t necessarily action. Sometimes it’s silent reflection—allowing others to do the same and thus, giving all time to brainstorm and possibly arrive at a conclusion even more successful than the initial knee-jerk response. That being said, there are times when you must be bold and voice your opinion immediately. That’s the finesse of teamwork. Balancing those two. I can’t say I’ve mastered the yin-yang, but each new collaboration, I aim to be the best team member I can be for the ultimate goal—awesome literature.” –Sarah McCoy, New York Times, USA Today and international bestseller of THE BAKER’S DAUGHTER
If you have any advice to add or if anything resounds with you, please share your thoughts in the comments. I will give away one copy of GRAND CENTRAL to a lucky winner (*US only, please.)
Leave a comment by Friday, July 11th at noon for a chance to win!
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