Christina Dodd and Connie Brockway have been successful romance authors - and friends - for years. Their newest release is their first joint project: Once Upon a Pillow from Pocket Books. We talked with Connie and Christina about their collaboration and how they made it happen.
You two have been friends for a long time. How and when did you first meet?
Christina: Connie was introduced to me at a writer's conference as a
writer who had just sold her first book, and I immediately seized the chance to sit next to her. There's nobody as happy as a writer who just sold her first book, and Connie still had stardust on her shoulders. I know it's hard to believe, but she was giggling.
But it was the next year in New York City when we cemented our friendship. We shared an agent and we went together to his luncheon. We were wearing heels, because we wanted to impress someone -- our agent, the other writers, New Yorkers, I don't know
who -- but on the walk back to the hotel, blisters brought out the real Connie and Christina. My main memory of that walk back is Connie, limping down a Manhattan street, holding one shoe, and both of us laughing like maniacs.
We may have impressed New Yorkers ... but not with our sophistication.
She lives in Minnesota, I live in Texas, but we've been inseparable ever since, and we offer as evidence our phone bills.
Although you haven't co-written a book before, have you collaborated in other ways?
Yes, we're constantly talking about ideas for books. That's why our phone bills are so huge. Besides which, it's the most fun part. It's also the most liquid. Also, we're in a plot group which meets once or twice a year to plot books for everyone. We meet in Minnesota in the summer and Houston in the winter with Susan Kay Law, Geralyn Dawson, Susan Sizemore and others. Plot group is great -- you can throw an idea out to the group --whether for a scene or motivation or conflict-- and watch them run with it or shoot it down. Since you are working in a free-association, off-the-cuff sort of way
there's no huge investment on your part; ergo, 'ego-damage control' (always imperative with writers) is optimum.
So what provided the push to finally try writing one together? Has it been simmering on the back burner for a while, or was it a sudden idea that took root quickly?
Connie: Okay, here's the deal. I can't recall when, but years ago, during one of our conversations, Christina told me about her husband's brainstorm, something he called Autobiography of a Bed, and over the course of six or seven years we found ourselves drifting back to it again and again. We loved the concept but we were also enticed by the idea of doing something really unique with the format; One tale that is made up of four
scintillating love stories and woven together by "bridges." Most anthologies are written by authors who can't work as closely with one another as a book like this demands in order to make it work as a whole (because they don't know one another, have time constraints, or whatever).
What we've done in ONCE UPON A PILLOW is taken four of the genre's most
popular time periods and traced the history of a magnificent bed and the even more magnificent lovers that owned it, culminating with a contemporary
hero and heroine.
Rather than both working on the same story, you split the book up into
four novellas and you each wrote two. How did you decide who would do what
Christina: Connie had never written a medieval and wanted to -- actually, she wanted to do the research, which she adores -- so she wrote the first story. I wanted to revisit the present, so I wrote the last story. That left us with eight hundred years of English history to divide between us. Elizabethan times fascinate me -- who didn't adore "Shakespeare in Love"? And Connie wanted to write a smuggler story with a twist, and what a twist! So her second story is set in the Regency.
This left us needing a way to fill the gaps, so at the beginning of ONCE UPON A PILLOW, the bed is the most cherished exhibit in a small museum in England, and the tour guide, Laurel, spins incredible stories of the Mastersons who married and found love in that bed. She tells a Medieval tale of the making of the bed, another tale about a Masterson who kidnaps his bride -- the wrong bride -- in Elizabethan times, a Regency tale of a quarreling couple who finds themselves chained to the bed, with sexy results, and finally Laurel finds herself in her own romance with a dark, mysterious stranger who desperately wants her and pursues her without mercy.
Obviously you came through the process with your friendship firmly intact.
Connie: Has our friendship survived writing together...ha! That was a cinch. I'll tell you what's hard, what's hard is listening to how much weight Christina is losing - now that is the stuff that threatens a friendship! Christina and I talk on the phone. A lot. More than I talk to my friends in town, actually. But that's the beauty of living 1500 miles from
one another and never having shared the same state -- intimacy bred of the knowledge you can always hang up. We never do.
Connie and Christina, thank you for joining us! Readers, these authors answer more questions about their collaboration on their websites:
July 12, 2002