Recently, I had a blast working with young adult author Bronte Huskins and her mother, Sarah Newton. Together, they wrote the novel, Never Mind My Thigh Gap, a story about a young girl joining a model competition to overcome her insecurities while finding friends along the way. (I love this novel, by the way.) When they offered to write an article about their co-authorship, I invited them on here immediately. I hope you’ll enjoy their story as much as I do.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in guest articles are those of the author/s and do not necessarily reflect my own. To show authenticity of the featured writer, articles are posted as provided (a.k.a. I do not edit them). However, the format may have changed.
What It’s Like To Co-Author With Your Mother by Bronte Huskins
The question, “So, what was it like to work with your mum?” gets asked a lot, with the expectation of the answer being, “It was very challenging” or, “It was so difficult and at times I wanted to rip her head off!” But the answer, the real answer, couldn’t be more opposite. Writing a novel with my mum taught me a lot about my writing and actually made me a better writer.
Working with my mum on a novel we are both passionate about was actually a really enjoyable experience. There was never a time where I got so frustrated that I had plotted how I would kill her in her sleep that night. Of course it was hard work; writing a novel is certainly the most challenging thing I’ve ever done, but I think that having my mum there writing it with me actually helped keep my sanity in check. She understood my frustration when the characters were being a bit too moany and cried with me as we wrote the ending. It’s an experience I’m glad I could share with her.
The one thing I was surprised about was how much I learnt from co-authoring Never Mind My Thigh Gap. My mum showed me what my strengths and weaknesses were and how to play with them and use them to my best advantage. She taught me that I was great at characterisation, conversation and description, but not so good with the nitty gritty, in-between stuff, which she turned out to be good at. She made me a better writer and we just worked together as co-authors.
We managed to get a rhythm going pretty early on in the process; I wrote the main text and my mum would edit it and write Oscar’s point of view. This involved a lot of sending the book backwards and forwards, and doing it again we realised that it would’ve been a whole lot easier just to send my mum the whole thing once I had written the first draft. We know that now but despite this, I wouldn’t change a thing. It was a learning experience and was a real bonding experience. I can’t imagine writing a novel without her anymore.
My tips on co-authoring with or without your mother.
Start with a plan
The main tip I would give to anyone who co-authors is come up with a plan of action beforehand. Writing this novel could’ve easily turned into a disaster, but we planned the outline of the story before actually writing it. Even though the story did change as we went on, having the first outline was extremely helpful.
Learn to compromise
I would also advise that you learn how to compromise; the trouble with co-authoring is that it’s not just your book, you have to share your baby with someone else. Whilst it does take some of the pressure off, it does also mean that you have to combine your ideas with someone else, and not all of them make the cut.
First with yourself and then with the other person. Often the other person may say or do something that you instantly have a negative reaction to. Stop first and think about what they are saying, could it be true, even if a little bit? I remember once my mum saying I use too many words and my first reaction was to scream at her, but she was right – I do and when I got over myself and listened to her, the book was better. Also I felt completely at ease being honest with her and not hurting her feelings. I never held anything back as I didn’t want there to be any tension between us.
Know your strengths
Part of this process helped us both get really clear what our strengths are. I am very good at character development and speech, my mum showing the reader what is happening and the emotional impact of the story. When we realised what we were both great at, it allowed us to settle in to our respective parts.
I know it’s not for everyone, but I found and still find co-authoring with my mum a great experience.
I am an 18-year-old student at Bath Spa University currently studying Creative Writing and Publishing. My first book ” Never Mind my Thigh Gap” is based on my own experience of entering a model competition to get over my body image issues. I write about ordinary, everyday heroines who are more likely to don a new lipstick than a suit of armour. I want my heroines to be real and relatable, acting like a teenager does in real life; unsure, scatty and indecisive. With my writing I want to inspire young girls who feel they don’t fit into society’s norm to be comforted by the down-to-earth related characters in our books and realise, in their own way they are heroines too.
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