I’m doing the final push to finish the sequel to our succubus/angel novel, so I was thinking about how Brian and I wrote the original manuscript that would become Lost Angels and the upcoming Angelus Rose.
Brian and I tried to get together in person once a month or so to write. I would fly in and out of Burbank or Brian would fly in and out of SFO, but our process was pretty much the same: Brian would pace and I would type and the story just poured out of us.
One of the most intense experiences was the weekend we wrote the chapter where Lorelei is dropped off by some fiends beside the LA River. I’d written the stuff where Lorelei crosses the trickle of water and climbs down into a storm drain to confront Asmodeus, her boss and the prince of LA.
I remember sitting on Brian’s enormous rock-hard futon with my laptop across my legs. I read the unfinished scene to him, up to Asmodeus’s attempt to exorcise the mortal girl’s soul from Lorelei’s infernal flesh.
“I don’t know what to do next,” I told him. “The exorcism can’t work yet, because we’re only halfway through the book. But I don’t know why someone so powerful couldn’t do something as simple as exorcize a human girl from a devil.”
“Okay. Let me think.” Brian started pacing around the room. Slowly, but with increasing speed, he began to dictate.
It was amazing. I’m a pretty fast typist, but I couldn’t keep up. It all came out: description, action, dialogue. He had to wait for me to catch up. At times, we debated events. I snarked and added asides, punctuation, paragraph breaks.
We’d go until Brian got stuck, then I’d read back what we’d written. We took breaks to walk over to Billy’s Deli for a pastrami sandwich and a chocolate egg creme, or to poke around Brand Books, or to run up to Griffith Observatory to watch the sunset.
Eventually we’d end up back in his room, the laptop open, hammering out more of that chapter.
I’m not sure how many thousands of words we wrote that weekend. We got out of the botched exorcism through Lorelei and Ashleigh running across the 5 to the two of them climbing the hill up toward Dodger Stadium.
We wrote stuff where Lorelei and Ashleigh confront Yasmina. The elder temptress offers Ashleigh elevation to succubus, if only she’ll betray Lorelei. It’s the turning point of all three characters.
The whole experience felt incredible. We seemed to be channeling lightning.
There’s no possible way I could have written those scenes myself. They relied entirely on Brian’s familiarity with LA’s geography, flora, and history. I don’t know that he’d actually walked the path our girls took — minus the jog across the freeway — but I know he’d explored thoroughly enough that I could rely on his research.
And that was pretty much our pattern as we hammered out that massive first draft. I’d write us into a corner — say, LAPD pulling Lorelei and Tuan over on the highway — and then Brian would dictate us out.
I don’t know if the process would ever work for collaborating with anyone else, but it was magic for us.
Angelus Rose will be out in August.
He’s pretty incredible, with a mind full of stuff. He definitely took the story in places I never imagined. It guess that’s the joy of collaborating.