Resources for Writers
Collaborating on a Multi-Author Series by Chris Harris
My latest book, Uprising, is the third part of the multi-author series, Burning Skies.
The book follows the main Character Cal as his holiday to New York is interrupted by a Chinese orchestrated attack on the city which precedes a surprise Chinese nuclear attack and invasion of the whole country. No more spoilers, it’s a great story and the best way to understand it is to read it.
When I was asked if I wanted to be part of the venture, I must admit my initial excitement was quickly followed by my own personal doubts as to whether little old me could follow in the footsteps of the well-known and massive selling authors who wrote the first two in the series. Devon C Ford, who wrote book 1 of the series, The Fall, was already a good friend after a mutual fan (still makes me cringe when I say it) told us we lived reasonably close together. We met for a coffee a few years ago and the rest is history. Book 2, Fallout, is written by Jacqueline Druga. I was already a fan and had read most of her impressive work by nature of being a prolific post-apocalypse reader myself, so I had a little bit of a fan moment when she contacted me to congratulate me on being chosen to carry on from where she left the plot. Even more so when she read my first draft and loved it.
As to actually writing, the first process was to re-read both books a few times with a notepad next to me jotting down key characters and storylines and ideas on how I would weave what I was to write into the plot with no more instructions from Vulpine, the publishers, other than, ‘Do what you want, as long as it’s in the same universe and timescale and you leave it at a good place for the next author to carry on.’
Writers know their own work intimately as not only do you write it, but reread it countless times throughput the whole writing, editing and proofreading stages. I had to get to know the first two books as well as my own.
Eventually I was ready. I opened my laptop, stared at the blank document for a few moments and began typing. The publishers obviously wanted me to complete my efforts as soon as possible to keep the momentum of the books going, so for the first time I was writing to a deadline. It worked, and my usual glacial speed of writing picked up pace to the slow babbling flow of a meandering stream. Everyone has different styles of writing, some plan meticulously and end up basically transcribing the full hand-written book from reams of paper on to their computer. Others write furiously, pouring thousands of words onto a page and then go back and delete rafts of it and edit other sections so it makes sense. I do neither. I usually only have a title and very basic storyline and just let the story develop as its written. My zombie series, Zombie Castle, started out as a title and the opening few ideas: The main characters are on holiday in Cornwall in the UK when the zompoc starts and they decide to head to Warwick castle. I am now on book four and they have only just reached the castle. What happens next in the story will be as much a surprise to me as it is the reader. This can be a slow process, but I’ve never deleted more than the odd line or changed a paragraph in the editing stage as what I write is normally well considered and tortuously planned in my head before I press a key on my laptop.
This time though I had to follow an already established plot with key characters and had to make sure what I wrote weaved its way in credibly. For the first time, though, I could bounce my ideas off my fellow authors, just to check I was on the right track. Jackie, being from the US was invaluable in answering questions about places I had only ever visited through Google or on a page on my world atlas which also now lay opened on my increasingly cluttered desk. Devon who I regularly see socially provided great support as we bounced around ideas over a pint or two. He had created the characters initially so it was great to confirm I had interpreted them as he had first envisioned.
Writing is a lonely affair. You spend long hours alone with only your imagination and a mug of coffee for company, so working with others made a refreshing change.
The vast scope of the already established story also made it easy introduce new characters and plots to develop the book further. There are so many different but connected plots developing, it was sometimes difficult to make sure you were not jumping ahead or missing parts out you would need to include later, but six weeks after I started, I was satisfied I had not missed anyone out. The existing characters had developed nicely, the new ones I had introduced had established themselves fully and the storyline had kept up the excitement and fast pace set by the others before me.
As I read it through one last time, I was personally very happy with how it had worked out. I could do no more, I had done my best and pressed the send button to ping it to the publishers so the editing process could begin.
It is now up to the readers to decide.
Following this project, Devon and I decided to collaborate on another project together. We are co-writing Book 2 of his New Earth series, also to be published through Vulpine. So, from one project another one begins. Who knows what will happen next as authors see the benefits and readers enjoy what two or more minds can conjure up together?
(c) Chris Harris
About Uprising (Burning Skies Book 3)
The Chinese are continuing to strengthen their hold over an America still reeling from the invasion.But in the hills, woods, and countryside small sparks of rebellion are taking hold, fanning the fires of patriotism that will unite the country against a common enemy. Cal, wanting revenge for the death of Louise, stands side by side with his new family ready to defend it at all costs.
Finally free from the clutches of Fen Shu, President Madeline Tannerrefuses to leave her fellow countrymen to their fate. She is their leader and will stop at nothing to protect her people.
While the rest of the world stands by and watches, a few nations decide they must stand against Chinese aggression and,despite threats to their own countries, join the battle.
The Uprising is beginning.
Order your copy online here.