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Dartmouth graduate Victoria Grossack leads an international life, with homes in Switzerland and Arizona and a professional career in the financial industry that has spanned the Atlantic. She is fluent in German and French (and English of course) and has an MBA. Her last full-time position was as a Senior Vice President in New York City for a reinsurance company, but she is currently writing nearly full-time and living with her husband who is a professor at the University of Arizona. Her writing has been published in Contingencies, Woman’s World, I Love Cats, The Journal of Actuarial Practice and Chicken Soup for the Soul. She was a regular columnist for Writing-World, has had numerous articles published at Re:Fiction, and WritersWeekly, and contributes to Doux Reviews. She has written a book about writing: Crafting Fabulous Fiction. In addition to the six Greek mythology based novels that she has written with Alice Underwood, she is the author of The Highbury Murders: A Mystery Set in the Village of Jane Austen’s Emma, The Meryton Murders: A Mystery Set in the Town of Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice and the contemporary Academic Assassination. She also tutors mathematics, as trigonometry and statistics make a nice break from creative writing. Finally, she teaches on-line creative writing classes and has edited manuscripts; you can find out more at Victoria’s Writing Classes.
Alice Underwood studied classics at The University of Texas and Princeton University while earning her degrees in mathematics. Her passion for antiquity has taken her from the shadowed catacombs of Princeton’s libraries to the ruins of Pompeii and the sunny shores of Crete and Santorini. Her work has been published in Consortium, Networks, and numerous insurance industry journals. Alice leads the global insurance consulting and technology practice at one of the world’s top financial service companies; she lives and works in New York City.
In 1998, Victoria and Alice tied for first place in an international short story contest. After collaborating on several nonfiction pieces, they decided to apply their complementary strengths and perspectives to a work of fiction. Their first novel, Jocasta, reimagines the story of Oedipus from the point of view of his wife and mother.
A vibrant tale set in Bronze Age Greece, Jocasta has garnered rave reviews from university faculty, publications such as Historical Novels Reviews Online, and numerous readers. A Greek-language version of Jocasta was released by Kedros Publishers of Athens in 2006. In 2009, Kedros released Niobe and Pelops, the first novel of a trilogy based on the life and myths surrounding Niobe.
The Tapestry of Bronze is a series of novels set in Bronze Age Greece.
You may be interested in visiting other parts of our website:
Our Books (in English)
Maps (Thebes, Pisa/Olympia, Eastern Mediterranean)
So often we are asked: "How do you write together? Especially how do you write fiction together?" We've had a partnership for years, collaborating on several nonfiction pieces. But it's true, fiction is different. So Victoria wrote an article, which appeared in Fiction Fix on the coffeehouseforwriters.com website.
When Two Heads Are Better Than One
You've just finished the draft of your chapter. Now you have to put it away for at least a week. Only then will you be ready to revise. But you're bursting with impatience. Wouldn't it be wonderful if a helpful elf came along now to correct all those problems? Some creative spirit who cares about the work as much as you do?
If you have a writing partner, this can happen!
As the saying goes: "Two heads are better than one." But there's another, just as true: "Too many cooks spoil the broth." What makes the difference between bad soup and good writing?
Respect is the primary ingredient in a good working relationship. If you don't have mutual regard for each other's abilities and personalities, then you have no business collaborating. Constructive criticism is one hallmark of respect. I look forward to reading my partner's next section; while I may find ways to enhance it, I'm sure it will be interesting. When she balks at something I've written, I always try to understand her objections. I know she's a smart cookie, so I had better take her comments seriously! If my partner's work needs improvement, I point it out tactfully. After all, in my next scene I may commit some basic error-I want correction but I don't want her to come charging at me.
Who gets credit for shared work? Partners may handle this in various ways; in my case, both names have appeared on everything Alice and I have co-written. We have the following agreement: if it is clear who has done the greatest amount of work on something, that person's name goes first. If it's not clear, then whoever originally had the idea takes the lead spot.
Trust in your co-author's integrity is key, but it may also make sense to put your agreement in writing. So far Alice and I have not had a lot of money to divide, but with a major non-fiction work (which made it all the way to committee at John A. Wiley before being politely rejected) we did go to a notary and formally establish our rights and expectations.
When we consider actual assignments, we evaluate the work we're thinking about taking on. This is especially important with a long-term project. We ask ourselves if we're both ready to commit the required time and effort? Do we each have something to contribute? Do we share a similar level of excitement and enthusiasm?
Once we take on a major project, Alice and I take a methodical approach. We start with one or more general discussions after which we separate to mull things over privately. One of us will then draft an outline. Sometimes we ship this back and forth several times (e-mail is great, especially as my partner and I live on different continents). We then confer again, work out a few more details, and divide the labor. With the basic structure in place, we roll up our sleeves and get to work. As one of us finishes a section, she sends it to the other. The recipient makes detailed comments and revises as needed and passes the section back. When we get to the final draft, we review everything word by word.
We have also worked out our own way to keep things from becoming confused: the file names of her chapters begin with the letter "A"; mine start with the "V". There's a version number at the end of the file. If one of us has a comment or a question for the other on a particular passage, we offset it in the file by using double parentheses ((like this)).
In our last face-to-face discussion, Alice and I talked about our strengths and weaknesses. She's stronger on research. I have a gift with pacing and tying things together. Each of us adds polish to the other's prose. We've found that capitalizing on our complementary strengths greatly improves the finished product.
One pitfall of collaboration is that two distinct voices and two sets of ideas can clash. Ideally, we put our heads together and pick the best of the possibilities but sometimes we simply don't agree. When that happens, we each state our case and see if we can persuade the other one. If we can't, we might seek an outside opinion. Communication and compromise prove invaluable in every step of this process.
The conversations where Alice and I really get into the collaborative groove are incredibly stimulating, sometimes lasting for hours, thrilling both of us as we work out a difficult plot point or relate a research find. There's nothing like sharing the "aha" experience and the joy of creativity with a partner!
The Tapestry of Bronze is a series of interlocking novels set in ancient Greece, starting several generations before the Trojan War. Archaeological evidence indicates that this “Golden Age of Heroes” aligns with Bronze Age dates. Our series forms a tapestry, because the books tie together, although each novel focuses on one strand of story and they can be read separately.
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Do you wish to contact us? Write to us at “tapestryofbronze” at “yahoo.com”
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