For authors Christina Hobbs and Lauren Billings, aka writing duo Christina Lauren, writing their fun, sexy, NYC-set erotic romance series can be a bit of a challenge — especially when it comes to living far apart. So how do two authors make a long-distance writing relationship work? Today they share how they wrote Beautiful Stranger hundreds of miles apart, and what they did when they encountered a manuscript "terror." Plus, we offer a free downloadable excerpt from their upcoming novella, "Beautiful Bitch" at the end of this post!
We sometimes joke about the tattoos we’re going to get — a classy tramp stamp of ripped panties, or a depiction of sex in a public bathroom — but all joking aside, the tattoo we’ll probably get is simply “Geography Sucks.”
It’s hard enough crafting a book in the solitude of our own head, and people often wonder about the challenge of writing together with two brains that work in completely different ways (think Oscar and Felix, but with better clothes and painted nails). But our differences have always worked well for us. What often snows us is the fact that we live seven hundred and twenty six miles apart.
To be fair, most of the time we can manage working remotely. In fact, writing together is so fun we can’t believe we get paid to do this. After four years, we have a system of regular plane trips, an embarrassing number of spreadsheets and a text plan that is ... shall we say, forgiving. And we always pretend we are just writing these silly books for each other. Shh! No one else will ever see!
For Beautiful Stranger, we booked a room on the California coast to outline, and let our brains go as wild as they could. Lo got drunk on wine, Christina got ... well, she had some really great sparkling water. After all, this book had to follow the ridiculousness that was Beautiful Bastard. We had to do something racy. The guy had to be swoony and nothing like Bennett Ryan. The woman had to be strong, but nothing like Chloe Mills. So, we came up with Max & Sara ... and a whole lot of public sex.
Easy, right? When you’re writing smut for your bestie, you just ... write ... smut. Simple!
Except ... it’s easy to write people having fun and just having sex all over New York City. It’s harder when emotions come into play, and the characters need to suffer, somehow, between all of those orgasms. We didn’t want it to be porn without plot, and we didn’t want Sara’s hesitation to feel disingenuous.
If you write, you know that moment when the fun in drafting turns into the terror that your manuscript won’t ever work. We looked at Beautiful Stranger and thought ... good god, what is this book about anymore? Max is perfect, why is Sara freaking out? It wasn’t the first time this had happened to us, but it was the first time it happened on a deadline.
Cue plane trip. Cue in-person sit down. Cue lunch, and making each other laugh, and hammering it out face-to-face and finally finding those missing pieces.
We met again in Vegas two weeks later to read through the final draft, and actually sent it to our editor a day early. Take that, geography.
- Christina Lauren