Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Guest Blog: Sister Act: Collaborating with Sister in Fiction and In Life by Amy Lewis Faircloth

          Today I welcome sisters, Amy Lewis Faircloth and Joanne Lewis to My Reading Room.  Amy and Joanne are the authors of Wicked Good which is the story of a mother and her son with Asperger's syndrome. It's a different kind of love story. A different kind of mystery.   Today Amy will share with us what writing is like between two sisters.

            People frequently ask how it came to be that two sisters wrote a novel together and what it was like to work as a team.  The answers are “simple” and “great.”

            It was March. The snow was dirty brown and the sun was absent here in Bangor, Maine. I was spending a lot of time on my sofa, channel surfing and landing nowhere.

            Joanne called from her home in Florida. “Wanna write a book together?” 

            I wrapped the afghan around me tighter and yawned from lack of blood flow to my brain. “Sure,” was the best response I could muster.
             I am a lawyer by day and single mom to two teenage boys by day and night. My oldest is diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome, a form of autism, which has been of mixed blessings to my life. Joanne suggested a story about a mad scientist who had discovered the cure for cancer in a rare strand of DNA. The cure required the death of one specific boy, a teenage boy in Bangor, Maine with Asperger’s syndrome. My contribution was to write the parts with the boy in it.
            We ran into two significant problems with this story line. First, my actual scientist friend was quite offended. “Why do people always write about mad scientists?” She exploded at me as we rode our bicycles at Acadia National Park. “Besides, curing cancer with DNA is a stupid idea.” She said more but her words were lost to the wind as I slowed to let her pedal ahead – way ahead.
            Second, although Joanne was surprisingly good at creating criminal characters and gruesome situations, we wrote really bad chase scenes. Weeks went by as we attempted to write the scene of the mother and son being chased in a forest. Eventually – and thankfully! - we abandoned that plot idea.
            Joanne is the literary brain behind this outfit. I can only write based upon my life experiences. Without Joanne moving the plot along, we would be nowhere. She would give me the plot line and I would write. We discussed plot and character development. If we disagreed on anything, I let her win. That, of course, applies only when we write! I am four years older, but, like I said, she has the literary brains.
            On the other hand, I have the experience.  My son is now 19 years old.   Life has been a challenge for both of us.  The incidents in Wicked Good are pure fiction - made up by my sister and myself.  But many of the characteristics of the mother and son have basis in authenticity. For example, once my son gets an idea in his head, it is tough to dissuade him otherwise.  As another example, juggling his needs with my job truly does stress me out and the bathtub is a frequent refuge. However, he has never hit me and I do not have a drinking problem.    
            Collaborating on Wicked Good has taught Joanne and me a lot about ourselves and about the other. We speak and e-mail every day but we don’t always discuss writing. Last week, when my washing machine and garage doors broke in the same day, and my standard poodle broke off his dewclaw and bled all over my new couch, instead of freaking out I called my sister. Together, we put it in perspective. She also made me laugh, which always helps a stressful situation. And when Joanne e-mailed me the other day that she discovered she is allergic to gluten, together we searched the web to figure out what that means. Then, we discussed the best way to make gluten-free brownies!
            We are so excited about Wicked Good. Not only because its publication is totally cool, but because now Joanne and I get to collaborate in life and in fiction too. 
About Wicked Good
Wicked Good is a different kind of love story. Rory is not defined by his diagnoses of Aspergers Syndrome and Bipolar Disorder and lives life to the fullest. Archer, his mother, is Rory’s biggest fan. We get a peek at the challenges they face as they are on their journey. Experience the unconditional love of a mother for her child and the many different ways Rory shows his love to those around him. 

Author Bios
It was a chilly day in Maine when Amy received the call from her sister, Joanne, “Wanna write a book together?” Amy said yes and the journey began.

Amy is the older sister who loves her 2 sons and nephew, dogs, volunteering at the Bangor Humane Society, running, hiking, snowshoeing, surfing the web, her brown poodle Teddy, Lola, writing, reading, cycling, going to bed early, spending time with her friends and family, being outdoors when it’s nice outside and indoors when it’s not, and editing Joanne’s writing. She is a pescatarian and a lawyer in Maine.

Joanne is the younger sister who loves her 3 nephews, her grey poodle Frisco, writing, hiking, snowshoeing, kayaking, cooking, traveling, Florence, Italy, anything to do with the Italian Renaissance, Michelangelo, spending time with her friends and family, and being edited by Amy. She a vegetarian and a lawyer in Florida.

Two sisters, both attorneys; as sisters, Amy and Joanne have learned to play to each others strengths—an important lesson for any co-authors.

Author Websites:
Roryism Contest Announcement
Have you ever said something that totally stopped conversation? Maybe it was insightful. Maybe it was weird. Maybe it was the thing everyone was thinking but was afraid to say. Rory, the teenage character in Wicked Good, is the master of conversation stoppers—his family calls them “Roryisms”.

WOW! is hosting a “Roryism” contest; the winner will receive a $100 prepaid Visa card and their Roryism will be published in the next book in the Wicked series. Full details can be found on The Muffin.


Interpreting Services said...

Very interesting and creative post, thanks for sharing and keep up the good work.

Amy and Joanne said...

Thanks for your support of Wicked Good.

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