We asked Katharine and Elizabeth Corr, co-authors of A Throne of Swans, to give us some insider information on how they write together…
Liz: Both of us have been writing since we were young. I remember producing a lot of (pretty cringeworthy) fan fiction.
Kate: Me too! Tolkien fan fiction plus some really angsty poetry that I still have, safely locked away…
Liz: But neither of us ever properly finished anything. Just lots of beginnings of novels and rough drafts of short stories. That changed when we started writing together in 2012.
Kate: Liz had started writing a YA novel and had got stuck around 40,000 words. I’d been taking some writing classes at a local adult education college, so I asked if I could help her out. We never thought anything would happen with it, it was just something we both loved doing in our spare time – a bit of fun. But when we finally had a full manuscript in our hands we thought: why not send it off to some agents?
Liz: It suddenly felt real and quite scary. But we stuck with it through the early rejections, until one agency told us they really liked our writing style (although they weren’t so keen on what we’d actually written!) and asked if we had anything else. We didn’t, but it was enough to make us want to write more. Seven months later we had a polished draft of what would become The Witch’s Kiss. Shortly after that we got our agent and then a publishing deal for the trilogy. Now we’ve just published A Throne of Swans with Hot Key Books and are working on its sequel, A Crown of Talons.
Kate: We often get asked how we manage to write together. We’ve been told our voice is seamless, that it’s hard to tell that two people are involved. It probably helps that we grew up reading a lot of books by the same authors (we still love Susan Cooper, Terry Pratchett, Tolkien, and Jane Austen). Fantasy is probably still the favourite genre for both of us. We share a lot of the same interests, too; we’re both massive Star Trek fans and we both studied history at university. So it sort of makes sense for us to have a similar writing style.
Liz: Though we do have different strengths as writers. Kate writes very quickly, whereas I’m slower, and I tend to get caught up in little details even when we’re supposed to be focusing on the big picture…
Kate: Which can be quite irritating! On the other hand, that’s what makes Liz a great editor. I like world building, making readers cry and killing characters off.
Liz: Whereas I enjoy character development, making people laugh and (if I can) saving characters from whatever horrible fate Kate has planned for them. Because there are two of us, we have to plan stuff out – we are definitely planners not pantsters! We plot the book out, and work out a detailed chapter outline before we actually start writing. Then we plan who writes what.
Kate: Of course, we don’t necessarily stick to this plan. The story usually evolves as we’re writing, for one thing. One of us might get caught up in a particular part of the story and just keep going. There has been the odd occasion where we’ve both written the same chapter, then had to ‘discuss’ which version to use. We’ve sometimes fought over whether a scene one of us loves slows down the action, and whether particular characters should live or die. But we usually resolve things ourselves – we’ve only had to call in our editors as referees twice!
Liz: And besides, the arguments never outweigh the benefits of having a co-author. There always someone to talk to and to bounce ideas off (no matter how insane). And because we’re sisters we can be brutally honest with one another (although one of us is way more brutal than the other). Even if we get to the point of almost falling out, we know that we’ll both have forgotten about it by the next day. We can laugh with one another and also at one another. The one thing we can’t really do is physically write together. Apparently one of us talks too much…
Kate: My inner librarian writes best with peace and quiet and no interruptions! But when we get down to line edits we do sit together, or we FaceTime. All our documents are in the Cloud and the way it’s set up means that one of us can’t edit a document without the other knowing about it! There are times when we drive one another crazy. But the benefits of writing with a friend – particularly with a sibling you’re really close too – definitely make it worthwhile.
Liz: That’s true. For the time being, at least, we can’t imagine it any other way.
Katharine & Elizabeth Corr
About the Book
In a world where the flightless are ruled by those who can fly . . .
When her father dies just before her birthday, seventeen-year-old Aderyn inherits the role of Protector of Atratys, a dominion in a kingdom where nobles are able to transform at will into the bird that represents their family bloodline. Aderyn’s ancestral bird is a swan. But she has not transformed for years, not since witnessing the death of her mother – ripped apart by hawks that have supposedly been extinct since the long-ago War of the Raptors.
With the benevolent shelter of her mother and her father now lost, Aderyn is at the mercy of her brutal uncle, the King, and his royal court. Driven by revenge and love, she must venture into the malevolent heart of the Citadel in order to seek the truth about the attack that so nearly destroyed her, to fight for the only home she has ever known and for the land she has vowed to protect.
Written in rich detail and evocative language, this is the start of an irresistible, soaring duology about courage, broken loyalties and fighting for your place in the world.
About the Authors
Katharine and Elizabeth Corr are sisters originally from Essex, now living in Surrey. When they both decided to write novels – on account of fictional people being much easier to deal with than real ones – it was obvious they should do it together. They can sometimes be found in one of their local coffee shops, arguing over which character to kill off next. Katharine and Elizabeth are also authors of the spell-binding trilogy The Witch’s Kiss.