Ashley and Kymberly Golterman's debut novel, Do No Evil is a hilarious mystery which revolves around the sleuthing efforts of a pair of sisters. My interview with the authoresses below!
Jill Dearman: How did you two decide to write "Do No Evil"?
Kimberly Golterman: We were putting up the Christmas tree and we started talking about writing a murder mystery.
Ashley Golterman: Yes, because nothing says 'Christmas' like thinking of interesting and brutal ways to kill someone.
KG: We knew we wanted it to revolve around two sisters who were private investigators. Both sisters needed to be independently compelling, but riveting as a team.
JD: You are both pretty young (could you say how old you are?)—how did you manage to develop such distinct voices for your sister detectives?
AG: I'm 20 and Kym is 27. Phineas was developed prior to Phoebe. I have about a hundred differerent novel characters in my head at a time—
KG: That explains a lot.
AG: As I was saying, sometimes these characters live inside my head for weeks, months, or even years before I get a chance to write them down. I sat down and wrote Phineas from scratch. She was a blank canvas.
KG: Phoebe was created to balance out Phineas's rough patches. She's the yin to Phoebe's yang.
AG: That's very zen of you.
JD: How did you write this book together?
KG: We didn't. Many black eyes were had over "Do No Evil." I'm kidding, although we didn't have much of a social life outside of the characters' fictional one. Spare moments, and even not-so-spare ones, were spent plotting, tweaking, editing, conversing, bickering, planning, and banging our heads against the desk.
AG: What most people are surprised to find out is that we didn't sit down and write together. I sat down all alone, with just my iPod, and wrote Phineas's chapter. Then Kym would sit down all alone and read my chapter, then write Phoebe's. We knew the basics: who died, whodunnit, and most importantly, why. But we didn't know in what order or what would happen between Phineas and Phoebe. I think it kept things interesting, as we were both surprised at times by our own book. Also, Phineas was shown in a different light depending on who was writing, just as Phoebe was. This method worked so well that we're employing it in the sequel, "Do Tell."
JD: On a craft level what was the most challenging part of writing this book?
AG: Did she just refer to our work as "craft"?
KG: I think I just got goosebumps! The hardest part for me was mapping out the plot in a way where there weren't any holes. Obviously making sure the story is consistent, believable, and easy to remember is crucial for a mystery. Add in the fact that we were two separate writers who weren't working side-by-side and the whole process becomes even trickier.
AG: Luckily our genre is based on the belief that ordinary women can do extraordinary things, and we took that a step further with the idea of an ordinary place, being the fictional town of Lair, where extraordinary things can happen. That's also been an issue with the next book, "Do Tell." We want the characters to be funny and the mystery to be surprising, but doing that while keeping the plot realistic and credible can be challenging. But that's half the fun.
JD: Who are some of your favorite writers?
AG: We both enjoy and have learned so much from other writers in our genre. Janet Evanovich, Stephanie Bond, Kyra Davis, Sophie Kinsella, Jennifer Crusie. Obviously we have a throwback to the classic mystery, the one who inspired me to write as far back as grade school—Arthur Conan Doyle. Who doesn't love Sherlock Holmes and Watson? I also love the seductive, slow romance in Austen novels. While I'm not refusing a sex scene between Cooper and Phineas, I will say that sometimes a look can be just as potent.
KG: Not to mention the hardcore mystery writers. They've inspired us to keep the whodunnit hidden. Knowing who the bad guy is in the first chapter ruins the fun. Lisa Gardner, Tess Gerritsen, Patricia Cornwell, and Nora Roberts are all strong female writers in that genre, and have brought new life to it as far as I'm concerned. Another inspiration and favorite is the gothic element in Bronte, after all, what is more severe and creepy than "Wuthering Heights"?
AG: Yeah, topping mingling bones might be difficult.
For more on the fab sisters, check out their website:
Until next week I leave you with this question: what have your experiences with collaboration been like?