Pen Friends ~ We are overjoyed to have YA Authors Lorie Langdon and Carey Corp with us today to talk about their co-written series DOON and their journey to becoming an author.
SP: Hi Carey and Lorie! Thanks for being with us. Can you start out by telling us a bit of who you are and when you started writing?
Lorie: Hi everyone! Thanks for having us on the blog! By way of brief introduction, I’m a wife, mom, Christ-follower, author, and Wonder Woman Wannabe. I’ve wanted to be an author since I read my first Judy Blume novel, but when I entered college that didn’t seem like a practical career choice, so I chose another path. It took many years of working in the business world for me to go back to my true calling.
Carey: Hey there! *waves* I’m Carey, mom, full time corporate marketer, pet lover, Believer, and Hamilton enthusiast (uh, that’s the PC way of saying obsessed, right?). I always wanted to be a writer, I just didn’t know it. When I was 7, I wrote a captivating retelling of Star Wars, see it here Lucas—shmookas! I wrote Star Wars. I spent the summer after 6th grade writing a hundred pages of soap opera that was a Santa Barbara knockoff. Then I forgot about writing until several lifetimes later when I had a crazy dream after watching the PJ Hogan live action version of Peter Pan. The next morning I wrote what would before the first chapter in my novel Shades of Neverland. From that day on, I was hooked (oh ya, pun intended). But it would still be another lifetime before getting published.
SP: So, Doon. A re-imaging of the musical Brigadoon. How did this idea come about?
Lorie: When I was sixteen I saw the musical Brigadoon and fell in love with the romantic tale of the village that only appears to the modern world once every one hundred years. But one thing always bothered me about the original – during the hundred years that the portal to the kingdom is closed, the people in Brigadoon sleep. Really? They sleep! I couldn’t stop thinking about what I could do with that hundred years…
We met at a local writers meeting and became friends almost instantly. We’d just finished editing our respective solo projects and were discussing what we each wanted to write next, when I mentioned my idea of doing a retelling of Brigadoon. Coincidentally, Carey had just completed her second young adult novel, so I was picking her brain on voice and technique when somewhere along the way our conversation took a detour. Our ideas for the mythical kingdom of Doon sparked an explosion of evil witches, magic spells, daring adventures, two unique best friends, and heroic princes in kilts … soon it became clear that this story was bigger than the both of us, but that together we could make it amazing. So we jumped in with both feet and DOON was born!
SP: A co-written series–wow! What was the hardest part about writing as a team? What was the easiest part?
Lorie: As you can imagine, one of the challenges of co-authoring is not having complete creative control, but this can also be an advantage because you have two brains instead of one!
Carey and I, much like our characters, are opposite in a way that makes for a perfect balance. As writers, we each bring different technical strengths to the table.
The actual process of writing with a co-author is fun and dynamic. Splitting responsibilities such as blogging, promotions, and social networking is a great blessing. But the biggest advantage is that you have someone who is equally invested. Someone you can call or text at midnight with a brilliant plot idea, who won’t curse you out and block your phone number. (Carey: Ha! Lorie is trying to teach me boundaries, but I’m not a very good student.)
Carey: What Lorie said—especially the part about opposites. Lorie LOVES to write bad boys, like her character Jamie. I have a soft spot for the boy-next-door good guys, like my character Duncan. I love what Stephen Sondheim has to say about collaboration: “One of the advantages of having a collaborator is—you’re never slammed in the face alone.”
SP: Carey, if I understand correctly, you are the musical zealot, yeah? So was writing Mackenna Reid mainly your job? Does Mackenna have any of your personality showing through? *Bonus question: If you were in charge, which musical from our world would Doon’s theater perform first?
Lorie: Carey, I’m limiting you to a hundred word answer on this one!
Carey: OK, this question basically flies me on a magic carpet right to the edge of the rabbit hole, where Roger from RENT is waiting for me to go with him. The short, non-hyperbolic answer is yes. I am obsessed with musical theater and I’ve spent hundreds of hours listening to Broadway radio in addition to the 20-30 shows I see annually with my teenaged daughter, Athena. The crazy thing is, as much as Kenna and I LOVE musicals, are tastes are somewhat different. Her favorite show is Wicked (she was already in Doon when Hamilton blew up), so that would be the first show she did in Doon – and she would play Galinda of course. Also Kenna’s musical tastes differ from mine. We both love Wicked, Les Mis, RENT, Spring Awakening and Sondheim, but she likes Rogers & Hammerstein musicals more than I do. If I were in charge, Doon would do Hamilton first … and all the Doonians would be like “What’s Happening?!?”
SP: Lorie, did you take on Veronica? Or was there a collaboration?
Lorie: I do write Veronica, and as you guessed, Carey writes Mackenna. There are bits of each of us in these two vastly different, but best friends. Like Vee, I’m tenacious when I set my mind to something and I’m a ‘smile while your world is falling apart’ kind of person. But Vee’s more analytical side comes from Carey. And Carey is theater obsessed and has a flare for the dramatic like Kenna. But Kenna’s sarcastic sense of humor and ditzy moments are more like me.
SP: We were super impressed by the unique voices and character development for each of the main characters, (Veronica, Kenna, Jaime, and Duncan) not one was the same, each lovable and flawed! Can you give our writer friends some tips on how you developed your characters?
Lorie: We worked hard on building believable characters and knowing them like we would know our own best friend or love. A few things to remember while developing your own characters:
- Readers care about characters they feel sorry for – give your character empathetic qualities and struggles.
- Readers like characters with humanistic traits – make them human and relatable.
- Readers like to admire the character – give them admirable qualities to balance their flaws.
SP: Ok, who loves Scotland? Did you do research to make it feel so authentic? Did you travel there? Any Scottish relatives that helped you with accent or vocabulary? Were you madly in love with a Scotsman in the days of your youth? (**major book crushes on the Doon princes, by the way)
Lorie: LOL! Yes, my Scotsman obsession started with the musical Brigadoon and solidified when I read Outlander in the 1990’s. I even named my hero Jamie as a tribute to the great James Fraser. I never could’ve guessed, the series would become a popular TV show as we were releasing our second Doon book!
Sadly, we’ve never traveled to Scotland, but we’ve done so much research and resided in that world for so many years that if feels like we’ve lived there!
SP: We are big on world building over here at the Spinning Pen, can you give us some tips on how you built Doon’s World?
Lorie: World building is equal parts research and imagination. For Doon, we tried to be strategic. We wanted to keep contemporary touchstones for Vee and Kenna in the world of Doon—like pizza!—while still maintaining the fantastical, historical feel.
Carey: We were also very deliberate about the technology that we incorporated in Doon. We thought through all kinds of new fangled contraptions and asked 1. Is this something a newcomer could have brought into Doon (either physically like a bra or intellectually like running water) 2. Does Doon have the resources to recreate or manufacture this? 3. Does implementation actually improve Doonian civilization?
SP: BLINK/Harper Collins Publishing — How has your experience been with them?
They’re fantastic! We both love Blink’s vision of inspiring and heartening books that maintain a tradition of imaginative and exciting storytelling that will bring readers to the edge of their seats, immerse them in a heartrending love story, or engross them in a story of a life well-lived.
SP: Your road to finding an agent: Short and downhill or long and uphill?
That’s a long answer…Lorie wrote a blog post about it recently. You can read it here: http://www.irelandwritertours.com/p/more-interesting-bits_2.html
SP: If you could give any writing or querying advice to our writers, what would it be?
There’s so much we could say here, but one thing that’s vital is: Never compare your writing to anyone but the writer you were the day before. Comparison will steal your creativity and your joy. You are the only one who can tell your story. Make it yours. (cue Who Lives, Who Dies, Who tells your story)
SP: Doon is not the only book series you have written. Where can we learn more about you and your books?
Find more on Carey’s books here:
Find more on Lorie’s books here:
SP: Thanks again, Lorie and Carey! We hope our readers will enjoy your books as much as we have. We wish you all the success with future books and adventures!
Nova and The SP Team