Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Ms. - and Mister! - Paige Tyler Reveal the Secrets of Their Romance Writing Partnership



New Paige Tyler books175It's not uncommon for authors to write together under a single nom de plume, but a husband-and-wife partnership is more unusual. In this exclusive interview, Ms. and Mr. Paige Tyler tell us how they make their romance-writing collaboration work.

 

Amazon Book Review: You've been writing together for several years now. How did you start this adventure together?

Ms. Tyler: When I first started writing, I was a total pantser. Seriously, I had absolutely no idea where I was going from one chapter to the next, which meant I frequently wrote myself into corners. At some point, I told my hubby about my predicament, asking for his advice: "Hey, hon. I have my hero and heroine chained up in a bank vault and the building's on fire. What should I do?"

That led to several discoveries. One, my husband can be snarky when he wants to be. And two, he has some really good ideas when it comes to action scenes and getting the hero and heroine out of tough situations. 

That was the beginning of our joint writing adventures. It started small, with him at first providing a few suggestions before I started a story. Then it grew into him doing flowcharts on notebook paper of how the scenes I had in my head might string together. Finally, it got to a place where we were both working together on the stories. There have been a few bumps and rough patches here and there, but now we're at a point where our strengths and weaknesses seamlessly blend together to create our stories.

Mr. Tyler: When Paige first asked for my thoughts on a particular part of the story she was working on, I didn't really think too much about it. She had one scene where she was stuck, so I gave my suggestion and I figured that would be it. Then she asked about another scene, then another. It wasn't long before she was asking me to help her plan out the story—storyboarding the plot, basically. From there it turned into Paige saying, "Hey, can you go ahead and write that action scene since you seem to see it so clearly in your head?"

Now, I know women think all men are oblivious to this kind of stuff, but I was bright enough to recognize I was being worked. Ultimately I agreed to help because I saw that this was something Paige really wanted to do, and I thought I could help.

Our writing partnership has grown in leaps and bounds since those early days. Sometimes, I look back and marvel that we've come so far from those simple beginnings when Paige dropped a story in my lap and said, "I can't get my hero and heroine out of this situation. Can you help?" Certainly I can't say it hasn't been a little strange at times, but it's also fun. And in some crazy way, I think it has made us a stronger couple. It's amazing how much you learn about what's important to your spouse from reading her vision of romance. A lot of soul-baring goes into writing romance, and that has a positive effect on our relationship.

ABR: Paige, your photo is on your website and the back of the book, and your author bio is, well, all about you! (And I love your Favorite Movies list, by the way.) Why do you guys feel like now is the time to let the readers of the Paige Tyler books know that you're a husband-and-wife writing team?

Ms. Tyler: We've always been very open about that the fact that Paige Tyler is a writing team, and the readers that follow me on my website and Facebook are well aware of it. My husband goes to all the conferences with me, helps me run the tables when I'm signing books, even appears on panels with me occasionally. As far as we're concerned, Paige Tyler isn't one person—it's a team. It always has been.

Mr. Tyler: As Paige said, we've never hidden the fact that the stories we put out are the product of a writing team. In fact, most readers pick up on the fact that there's something different going on the moment they start the books and notice the attention paid to the action sequences. When we first started out, we agreed Paige would be the "face" of the brand. Writing in a female-focused genre, we thought that'd obviously go over better with the readers. In regards to strengths and weaknesses, Paige is flat-out better with the social aspect of the business than I will ever be. I'm not great in public, freak out when she asks me to help with Facebook parties, and have never tweeted in my life! So I was completely fine with working in the background.

By attending various conferences and signings, I think we both have learned that the romance community is a lot more open to our writing as a team than we initially gave them credit for. That's part of why we talked to our agent and publisher about being a little more open about it.

ABR: What do you each bring to the table when you're crafting a new book?

Ms. Tyler: A new story will typically start with the two of us sitting down for dinner at PF Chang's and brainstorming the characters, conflict, and the plot of the book. There's a lot of give-and-take as I focus on the romantic elements and he concentrates on the action/suspense aspect. By the time we leave the restaurant, we both have a good idea of where the story is going.

When we get home, he outlines the story, first in very general terms—opening scene, middle plot points, conflict, and romance, and then the conclusion of both the romance and the suspense angle. I'm reading right there with him, making sure we both continue to see the story the same way, nudging him now and then so he doesn't do anything extreme—like add a zombie into the story! This outlining leads to more discussion and fine-tuning of the story and the details, which leads to more outlining. Throughout the process, we layer in more and more details. His strong suit is the action and logical plot sequencing (his favorite line is "How do you know how to get there if you don't know where you're going?"), so he'll outline that stuff in detail. He'll focus on moving the suspense parts of the story along, highlighting areas where he thinks romance and character building might fit. He'll do some dialogue, mostly those parts related to "guy talk." He knows where I'll want to put elements of the romance—or the romantic conflict—so he leaves space in the outline for me to do it (e.g., "maybe they should kiss here?"). At the same time he's doing his thing, I'm working through the outline too, focusing on the romance, character development, and dialogue. These are my strong suits, which are almost directly opposite of his.

Mr. Tyler: Okay, well, Paige didn't leave me much to talk about, did she? Bottom line, I bring the linear progression of the story and the action. She brings the emotions and the romance. I've always thought about it as a construction project. I come in and lay the foundation, erect the framing, then slap on the roof. That's the beginning, the middle, and the end of any good story. It has to be there, and it has to be good, unless you want the entire structure to fall apart or sink. But no one buys a house because it has a nice foundation. It's everything that goes inside the framing that makes a house—or a book—beautiful and worth anything.

ABR: Your romance novels feature heroines who are far more likely to step toward danger than to back away. What appeals to you about these kinds of protagonists? Do you see readers shifting their attention toward action-oriented heroines as well?

Ms. Tyler: When I think about the TV shows I loved the most growing up, I think about Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Firefly, even Charlie's Angels and Wonder Woman—all shows that featured strong female characters putting themselves at risk to help others. The male characters didn't affect the heroines' decision to face danger. I think those shows had an obvious effect on me and the kind of stories I prefer to write now. As far as whether there's a shifting trend toward readers wanting action-oriented heroines, I'm not sure I'd say that. I think there's a mix, just as there's always been. Some readers want their heroines more kick-butt and involved in the action while some prefer them to hang back a little.

Mr. Tyler: My reading background is heavily focused on fantasy and urban fantasy, where strong female characters are simply taken as a matter of course. In my time in the military, I was exposed to women doing the same job I was doing with the expectation that when the shooting started, they'd be right there shooting back. So when I started help Paige craft the stories, it was natural for me to see the heroines and secondary female characters as people who step toward danger. I don't think there's a shift toward action-oriented heroines. I think there are some readers who prefer that kind of heroine, some who don't, and some who don't care one way or there other. Readers in the last group are simply focused on some other aspect of the story (the romance, the heat, the suspense, etc.) and make their decision to read the story based on those.

ABR: Can you give readers quick descriptions of the various series you're writing now?

Ms. Tyler: We have two main series going right now, the X-OPS Series and the Special Wolf Alpha Team (SWAT) Series.

The X-OPS Series revolves around the missions of the super-secret Department of Covert Operations—the DCO. It operates out of Washington, DC, and is buried in the depths of the Department of Homeland Security. Teams in the DCO combine shifters with highly trained humans. Shifters are people who naturally possess animal DNA along with their own, usually of a feline or canine nature. This DNA doesn't let these special people turn completely into animals, but it does allow them to display certain animal characteristics. These abilities make shifters extremely valuable assets to the DCO, but they can also ostracize them. Suffice to say, not everyone in the DCO appreciates shifters. The human member of the team usually has some kind of military or law enforcement background. It's their job to both support the shifter on the team and eliminate the shifter if he or she ever goes rogue or is in danger of being compromised by the enemy. If that's not bad enough—and being told that your partner might have to kill you is pretty bad—there are also rules against forming any kind of personal relationship. Fraternization is strictly prohibited! But while having all these issues playing in the background can make team dynamics complicated, romance still seems to finds a way.

The SWAT Series is about a pack of sixteen hot, hunky alpha werewolves working for the city of Dallas as their SWAT Team—also known as Special Wolf Alpha Team. The werewolves in this series possess certain basic werewolf characteristics like claws and fangs, excellent vision and a keen sense of smell, strength and speed, as well as the ability to heal from almost any wound. However, while some of the Pack members are limited to their human form with the usual werewolf capabilities when they shift, others can push it all the way to become actual wolves. The hook in this series is that each werewolf in the SWAT Pack has one special woman out there for them who can accept them for what they are. When a werewolf meets The One for them, no other rules apply, and nothing will stop them from being together. It's a force that no one can resist for long. In fact, it's stronger even than the werewolves themselves.

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A New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of sexy, romantic fiction, Paige Tyler writes with her husband. Paige Tyler books feature alpha males and the kick-butt heroines they fall in love with. For more information, visit www.paigetylertheauthor.com.


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