Last week, Shorehouse Books released from authors Deborah Fezelle and Sherry Yanow, the sequel to The Evil That Men Do—A Walking Shadow. The new book and “EVIL” are available on Amazon.com in both print and kindle format!
This is the second of the series for your writing partnership. Has the process of writing together become easier?
Sherry: It’s basically the same process for me, after years of co-writing numerous stage plays and web series and now two novels. We send working drafts back and forth, constantly revising every last detail until we’re mutually satisfied with what’s made the cut. Sometimes the process consists of tearing up a chapter and starting all over again! But the rule is we’re never done until we’re both happy with the work.
Deborah: Sherry summed it up perfectly. We have a system in place that works for both of us. Having two sets of eyes and sometimes differing points of view keeps us on our toes. We are always able to compromise, and usually the compromise is better than what we each originally had in mind. Is it easier now? I think so. We know each other so well after eleven years of collaborating.
What part of the new book brought you the most excitement?
Sherry: I found it most exciting to bring new twists to Nick and Jessie’s lives, giving them huge challenges they’ve never encountered before, both internal and external. I also had a lot of fun introducing a new character, Clint Vaughn. An unrepentant alcoholic, Clint is very good at being very bad. He sets a lot of wheels in motion, a purely amoral and mischievous source of never-ending surprises.
Deborah: For me it was writing the theatrical sections. Having been an actress for so many years I loved going back into that world and getting into Jessie’s head. It enabled us to give the reader a peek into what really goes on backstage. Also, the introduction of two new characters – Clint Vaughn and Brianna Fontaine – was fun and gave us new avenues to explore with Nick McDeare and Roberto Martinelli. Finally, the last chapters were both challenging and bittersweet on so many levels, holding a special place in my heart.
Now, that you have been “hanging around” your characters for two books now, are they more alive to you? Have they become more dimensional?
Sherry: Nick and Jessie are like old friends at this point. They’re more alive but also more predictable, which is why it’s important to keep throwing them new obstacles they have to leap over … and also introduce the question of whether they can stay together. How many secrets can you keep from someone who trusts you without losing them in the end?
Deborah: We’ve been living with these characters for over a decade. It was Nick McDeare that initially inspired our partnership. As Sherry said, they’re old friends now. I hear their voices, see their faces and know every inch of that New York brownstone. On the other hand, the characters still have the capacity to surprise us. When we find ourselves struggling with a section it’s usually because we’re trying to force them to do something out-of-character. So they still rule the page in mysterious ways. And we listen to them.
Did this book take any surprising turns for you as authors?
Sherry: When we began we carefully thought out new twists for our protagonists and then discovered we didn’t like them after we finished the book. So the surprise was on us. Which meant tearing up the last third of the book and introducing twists that really worked this time, shocking turns of events we were surprised to discover we had actually built into the plot from the get-go but hadn’t seen as such. Once we discovered their potential and incorporated them, the twists we were looking for became organic to the story. At that point, the book burned its way out of our hands and finished itself.
Deborah: I’m chuckling as I follow up on what Sherry said. We spent months pushing through to the end of the book, following our outline. When we finished we stepped back, took a hard look at what we’d written and realized we didn’t like much of it. So we regrouped and came up with new twists. It was a daunting task, considering the amount of time we’d already invested. But as Sherry said, we’d unknowingly laid the groundwork for the changes, and the answers were right there in the subtext. We attacked the manuscript with renewed vigor and sailed through to the end with satisfaction.
Any new lessons you have learned from writing this book? Do you think sequels are more difficult to write?
Sherry: I found the sequel more difficult in the sense that Nick and Jessie have already fallen in love–the first blush of romance is over–and now it’s hard work to keep them fresh and entertaining. So the plot becomes even more important but it must also be organic (see above) and spring from the characters themselves and how they meet their challenges. You have to dig deep to uncover your characters’ strengths and weaknesses. Then you give them the resources to try to overcome their trials and work it all into an exciting dynamic that sustains them–or not–through hell and high water.
Deborah: Yes and no. LOL. A sequel poses new challenges. Creating characters from scratch (in EVIL) is working with a blank canvas. You fill in detail and color as you go along. With SHADOW the framework was already in place, so we had to find ways to keep the characters fresh and true to themselves. Also in EVIL, the budding romance of Nick and Jessie was a major part of the plot. In SHADOW their love is a backdrop for other storylines to take focus. For example, the readers who love the Nick/Jessie romance will relish their wedding, but the wedding serves as a trigger for a much larger event to take place.
Do you think your fan base will be surprised by this new book?
Sherry: Yes! Once we realized what our twists needed to be, they practically slapped us in the face and we couldn’t write fast enough to accommodate them. Some heavy-duty events are coming in SHADOW, some heart-wrenching, some heart-stopping, some OMG. All surprising in my opinion.
Deborah: Absolutely! As with EVIL, they will laugh, and they will cry. There are multiple plots, all with twists constantly coming at you. No character is safe. And the book keeps rolling to the very last page …
What are your goals as individual writers and as a partnership?
Sherry: My goal as an individual writer and co-writer is always the same: to write an exciting, engaging book I’d like to read myself. The kind of book you hate to put down and feel compelled to read late at night to find out what happened to the characters you’ve come to know and love or hate. I love stories and if I can write a good story, I’m happy. When you have a partner who adds to the process it’s even more fun and gives you a work that’s greater than the sum of your parts.
Deborah: I love creating characters that are multi-dimensional. And I’ve always loved books that were “series,” where I got to know the characters intimately. But I’m also ready to take on something new, another blank canvas. There are so many options out there for both of us. We’re a good team, better writers because of our partnership, IMO. We each bring something to the process, and we have each other’s backs. The highs are higher, and the challenges are greater. What more can a writer ask for?