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A Few of the Challenges Facing Writing Duos - A Guest Post by Brian Palmer and Jason Rowe

14 Jun 2013
Today I have something very interesting  - a guest post by not one but two authors. To make it even more interesting they are male authors writing in a catagory that is currently utterly dominated by women. Meet Brian Palmer and Jason Rowe, a co-author team who write New Adult dystopian fiction and their first novel Genesis: XII.


Genesis XII


A century after the world was predicted to end, it was indeed reborn. Under the leadership of the Overseer of New Earth, minds were united, diseases were cured, and the Earth was healed when population centers minimized mankind’s footprint, and the remainder of the planet was turned over to the will of nature. War was eradicated, the world embraced one religion, and the New Era began.

But darkness rises now, mistaken for a mere shadow cast by the bright light of human progress. It is the time of which the ancients foretold. It is the time when all things must end. It is the time of The Twelve.

Six men and six women representing all creeds and colors are supernaturally gifted, but the unlikeliest of heroes. They are barely adults by the world’s standards, but still they are called.

Only they can stand against the growing darkness – but will they stand together?

XII: Genesis is the first installment of an eight-book series in the Young Adult / New Adult genres. If action excites you, if the supernatural intrigues you, and if love compels you - then you are invited to join The Twelve in their fight against the growing darkness that threatens New Earth!

Goodreads | Amazon | Amazon UK

Guest post

Brian Palmer - Writing the first entry in the XII Saga—Genesis—was quite a trip, and knowing that this is only the tip of the iceberg gives us chills considering how big this first story already is. We knew from the beginning that we weren’t going to be writing a standalone title here, but as time went on the scope of the series just kept growing and we soon realized that in order to fully tell the tale we wish to tell, it would require the series to be eight books long. That’s one heck of an epic story. Toss in the fact that this is set a century in a dystopian future and we quickly were—and still are—faced with handling the hugeness of the story and the world we would need to create as well. Despite all of this though, there were several other factors which made starting this series a unique and gigantic gamble for us:

The first thing we realized was we were embarking on a series that is geared towards the New Adult audience, but is something of an outlier within the NA world with respect to its genre. Much has been written about the knock that NA gets for being nothing but sex-filled contemporary stories and romances set on college campuses, and while there may be some truth to this, most of us here realize that NA encompasses other subgenres too. There are a number of paranormal novels out there, for instance, and Terri-Lynne Smiles’ Foreseen, for example, does a good job of making NA science fiction relatively easy for non-scientific types like me to understand. But when Jason and I did some research to find out about some of the other NA books out there, we didn’t find a ton of dystopian series that had a supernatural/urban fantasy bent to them like our series does, so it got us wondering if we were either being too bold and striking out in a direction where there was no market for such stories, or whether we were writing a story that might fill a largely untapped section of NA readership. We chose to believe the latter option.

Jason Rowe - Well stated. It’s also important to note that awareness of the NA genre has really come about during our four-year journey in releasing this first installment. The genre that I had in mind originally for this story was YA, but somewhere near the three-year mark it became apparent that NA was more applicable. That said, we’ve also been seeing a quickly growing fan base of women who are in their 40’s to 70’s and men in their 30’s and 40’s, so the risks associated with the NA genre are mitigated somewhat by knowing that the story is already appealing to a much broader audience than we had originally intended.

Brian - Another big risk for us was learning how to write as a duo. In our previous creative endeavors, we’d always worked solo, so it took some time to adjust to this new situation. Two heads were definitely better than one with respect to keeping all the details straight and having very productive brainstorm sessions (if I’m being honest, part of the reason this series will be eight books isn’t simply because the scope of the series is huge on its own, but because we bounced so many ideas off each other that the story just became even bigger, organically, than it might ever have been if just one of us was writing it), but we had to figure out a style that worked for us. Should we divide and conquer, so to speak, and work on different aspects of the story at once? Use outlines? How would we ever be able to edit efficiently with two sets of eyeballs always looking at the text?

Jason - Ultimately, through the process of trial and error, we came to the process we have now which is to collaboratively brainstorm the plot points (and new ones come up in each of our writing sessions) but have one “set of hands” in the writing process. This process also continues to enable us to write in one voice, something that we had to work hard to achieve in the first installment of the saga. That said, one set of hands actually means the two of us sitting on either side of a Skype session, discussing what comes next, writing it out a paragraph at a time, a couple of hours at a time, and sharing, editing and finalizing the content through the chat window before calling it good enough to be saved in the manuscript.

Brian - A third issue we faced, which is related to the second one, is our different writing backgrounds. I had written novels in the past, but Jason had been a screenwriter prior to us embarking on this collaboration, so we were coming from two different methods of storytelling. Ah, the stories we could tell you about the starts and stops we had along the way as we tried to figure out how to make this “dance” work, especially with Jason’s penchant for writing succinctly and my tendency to find ways to make sentences be fifty words long when seven or eight would do! It took a while for us to find that happy medium where I wasn’t trying to add pounds of flesh to everything he was writing and where he wasn’t trying to hack off pounds of excess flesh that I had written in, but once we got there it was great fun! It is much better to be on the same page with Jason now than it was trying to figure it all out, and we’re both better writers now because of it.

Jason - Couldn’t have said it better!

Brian - And perhaps the biggest issue that faced us? The fact that we don’t even live in the same state let alone in the same area, so finding time to write together was hard, and to some extent it still is! Life got in the way so many times that it was not uncommon for us to go weeks without meeting together via Skype (thank God for that invention!), and months without writing anything new simply because we were busy with full-time jobs, family life and any number of crises that would pop up unexpectedly. So while the XII Saga promises to be huge and we needed to do a lot of preparation and world-building to make sure we could sustain an eight-book series without our framework caving in upon itself, engaging in the creative process was not the only reason it took us just over four years to get this first novel completed.

Jason - Now the routine is set and we can jump into future books with both feet, continuing the story rather than setting it up. The writing process is becoming very exciting as we discover what these characters will do next beyond simple plot points and moving from one to the next. Every writing session so far on Book Two has yielded a “WOW” moment as well as good laughs. When your own characters make you laugh out loud or go quiet for a moment, you know there’s a great chance that they will draw a similarly visceral response from fans as well!

We're very excited about the prospect of bringing something new and perhaps filling a void in the NA genre. We hope that by bringing a compelling, dystopian saga to the genre that it will attract YA and NA readers beyond those who are already into the romance or coming-of-age offerings that have been the norm to date. We're also extremely excited about what we know is coming in this series, so our desire to establish a following now is honestly not about publishing a book, but rather gathering as many fans onto this train as possible because the payoff is going to be so huge for them! This saga is mapped out through Book Eight, so the ending, cliffhangers, plot twists, etc. are largely in place already and we're just filling in the gaps as we go along. I don't know how many times Brian and I have stopped to shake our heads, wishing we could tell our secrets, knowing that if everyone else knew what we do, this book would have been picked up and published on a much broader scale already. So if we can end this discussion with any message, it would be JOIN THE XII and bring your friends and family with you, not to support us, but because we as voracious readers and loyal fans of existing blockbuster sagas ourselves can guarantee that The XII Saga will ultimately soar into that rarified air that transcends literary boundaries to become a permanent fixture of pop culture! 



Population Center-New York: October 31, 3 N.E., 11:48 p.m.       

The air is biting cold beneath a crimson moon as citizens of PC-NY prowl the streets in search of self-gratification. At the center of Times Square, a forty-foot effigy of a man on a cross continues to burn, casting an eerie, orange-red glow on nearby residence towers.

Around the fire’s perimeter, men with painted faces and torsos bloody each other as part of the holiday fight club festivities, while others guzzle homemade whiskey, howling at the moon between mouthfuls. Women dressed in little more than body paint gyrate to the drone of seductive, primal music, their bodies covered in sweat from the heat of the fire while others engage in sexual acts for all to see. Most of those present are sporting an erotic-themed, Egyptian crest somewhere on their bodies, whether in the form of a tattoo or jewelry.

A few city blocks away, a runt of a man exits a run-down, all-night food stand, clutching a small bag to his chest nervously, his sunken eyes darting back and forth down the dimly lit street. Lighting a serenity stick, he takes a couple of drags before shuffling off to his right, away from the raucous activities taking place a mile or so in the other direction. Moving fast enough to make good time, but not daring to run for fear of drawing attention to himself, he keeps his gaze fixed on a crosswalk that is only ten strides away.

Two strides short of his objective, a small group of painted men steps into his path from behind the edge of a nearby building. Even in the dark, their bald silhouettes cause the serenity stick in the man’s hand to tremble as adrenaline rushes through his veins. A member of the group steps into a small strand of light from a fading streetlight and the man goes pale at the sight of his would-be assailant’s coal-black eyes, surrounded by sockets full of ruptured blood vessels.

The man turns away in an all-out sprint, desperately looking over his shoulder after a few strides, only to find that his pursuers are merely walking after him. Hope courses through him briefly and he quickens his pace, but when he faces forward again a moment later a second group steps out from the shadows, blocking his escape from the first. Corralled from both directions, the man throws the bag at his attackers in a panic, hoping the sacrifice will suffice, but it is trampled as the two groups soon overwhelm him.

While the small mob satisfies its bloodlust, a jet-black patrol vehicle comes to a silent stop at the curb behind them. The nose and rear of the vehicle are inscribed with the word SECURITY while the doors of the vehicle are adorned with the large, gold letters: ONE, an acronym for “Overseer of New Earth.” The roof is decorated by an enormous red sun that is partially blotted out by the visage of a black dragon in flight. Inside the vehicle, a security officer points a video camera at the scene, watching briefly as the murder plays out with green, night vision clarity on the camera’s viewfinder. After a few brief moments of filming, the patrol vehicle pulls away as the victim’s screams are swallowed up by the night.

Across town, another ONE Security patrol methodically makes its way past city blocks filled with tents and makeshift huddles. Barrel fires scattered throughout the skids do little to warm the families living there and the eyes of hungry children with poverty-smeared faces stare at the vehicle accusingly as it passes. The officer inside pays them no mind as something a block away catches his eye. A woman is desperately trying to fight off three men and failing miserably. The patrolman pulls off to the roadside, readying his video camera. Just outside the passenger window, a small child sits on the ground rocking as she hugs her legs tightly to her chest. Her clothes are dingy and tattered, her face streaked with tears.

She doesn’t seem to notice the officer as she calls out to her mother between sobs. The officer unemotionally points the camera at the girl before turning to her mother who has now been wrestled and pinned to the ground. After collecting enough footage, the patrol car pulls away from the curb and moves on. One of the assailants becomes aware of the officer’s presence and looks back as he drives past them. The man’s black eyes reflect no light as he licks his caked lips and smiles before turning his attention back to the woman. The patrol car leaves the woman and her daughter to the whims of the mob, passing a steam-filled alley before turning south on its assigned route.

Down that same alley, an old man, made older by his life choices, is slumped against one of the alley walls fighting a case of the nods while cradling a bottle. He wakes from his current blackout and makes a mighty effort to remove the bottle’s cap when Mikael instantly appears out of the cloud of steam to his left. The wino drops the bottle with sudden sobriety brought on by the presence of the imposing figure that is slowly walking toward him. Despite his drunken stupor, the wino reckons Mikael must be over ten feet tall and built like a thoroughbred, his muscular arms and legs making mountaintops out of the sea of white and grey that marks his clothing. A grim look is etched onto Mikael’s chiseled jaw and looking up at Mikael, the old man notices that he radiates a different light than what is seen in the alley, or anywhere the old man has been in his lifetime.

Just as Mikael is about to pass by the wino, he stares down at him and his look softens. The wino squirms as Mikael’s form shrinks in size to more earthly, but still imposing proportions. At the same time, the glow that blankets him drains like water from his massive frame and coalesces into his eyes before they turn dark brown. Then, Mikael smiles at the old man as if he knows him and reaches an inviting hand out without saying a word. Hesitating briefly, the old man accepts Mikael’s invitation.

The moment the wino takes Mikael’s hand warmth spreads over his body. Like a child clinging to its mother, the old man buries his smiling face into the chest of his new friend and weeps tears of joy. After several moments, the wino steps back and smiles at Mikael, before walking away with renewed hope, his eyes and mind both clearer than they have been in many years.           

Mikael resumes walking without looking back, his steely gaze remaining fixed on his ultimate destination somewhere in the cloud of fog at the end of the alley. As though on command, the fog-like haze that fills the alley parts before him obediently. Clusters of men, women and children who are huddled around barrel fires pay him little notice; neither do they note as Mikael passes by them that the very shadows along the alley walls created by their barrel fires begin to break free from their natural places to slither after him.

Mikael stops when he reaches the far end of the alley, a look of calm expectation on his face as fog closes around him, concealing him and his dark stalkers from the view of any who might be looking on. The sound of laughter is heard faintly from somewhere unseen before fading out, and the shadows form a perimeter around Mikael, his stoic gaze softening into a smirk in response.

“This is our domain, Mikael,” a hissing voice says from behind him. “You have no power here.”

“This place may be yours for the moment,” Mikael says without turning around, a hint of menace in his Nordic accent, “but try me if you doubt my power.”

Hoarse cackling erupts and then spreads throughout the shadowy ranks.

“Even you are no match for us – alone and so far from home.”

Mikael is unfazed by the threat. “I was sent here so I’m quite safe, but since you’re in a conversational mood, I have two messages for you.” After more cackling and hissing, he continues without waiting for them to reply further. “First, tell your master that Joshua looks forward to their reunion…” the laughter is replaced with shrieks in protest as Mikael continues. “…and be sure to tell my brother that I’ll see him soon.”

The next moment, a pulse of light illuminates the fog like a storm cloud and a clap of thunder is heard before a torrent of wind rushes down the alley, drowning out the shrieks of Mikael’s dark stalkers as it blows out all of the barrel fires and leaves the alley in total darkness.


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