Monday, 18 May 2015

Pulp Friction. An Adventure in Collaborative Writing

Today, I have the pleasure of taking to Lee Brazil, Parker Williams, Havan Fellows and Laura Harner about an unique project that fascinated me as soon as I hears about it. I wanted to find out more, so being nosy I asked and this is what they said. As we go through I'll also introduce you to some of their boys

What exactly is Pulp Friction? It sounds fascinating, could you just explain a little bit about how it works.
Havan: Pulp Friction is awesome-sauce...and I’m not biased at all. *shifts halo that is tilting* Seriously (such a bad word *shudders*) PF is Laura’s brain child...and it’s a group of short serial stories reminiscent of the Pulp Fiction shorts back in the day. We give you men who aren’t afraid to be bad to be good and take you on a journey with them for a whole year. We each do our own series and have them overlap with each other so the final product is multidimensional and so brilliantly colorful that it really is a complete experience for the reader.
Lee: Well, Havan said it perfectly. Pulp Friction is a unique collaboration. Sexy fun, murder, mayhem… and a whole year to get to know and love the men as they learn to love themselves and each other. 
Havan: *writes down time and day* Lee said I was perfect!
Laura: We have one overarching theme that is just about as vague as it can be when we sit down to figure out a year—for example, our first year, it was something along the lines of: Gay men are being murdered in Atlanta, now everyone create your own characters. Write six 15k word books about your characters—one every 2 months—try to include each other’s characters once in a while and we can tie it all up with one co-written book at the end. We knew we wanted it to be reminiscent of the Pulp Fiction mysteries in the 1930s and 40s, but otherwise, I hate to say it, but we were pretty clueless. 

Bart and Sabine - Lee's boys

Where did the idea come from?

Havan: Once upon a time Lee and I were minding our own business messing around in a private group chat box and a lovely lady came to us with a wondrous idea...*points to Laura*
Lee: It was Laura. I remember it very clearly. Havan and I were doing our thing…writing mm romances with Story Orgy and for Breathless Press. Then Laura said something along the lines of … “You know, I have this crazy idea.” She was right it was crazy. But it worked.
Havan: It’s like a Pavlov conditioning now...Laura says she has a crazy idea and I start drooling...
Laura: I love the serialized mysteries, but it’s simply too much for one person (okay for me). As soon as the idea popped into my head, I ran to our little G+ chat window, because I couldn’t think of anyone better to share it with than Lee, Havan, and Tom. As we got started writing that first year, we got to know Will, and he volunteered (at least that’s how I remember it) to become our Beta reader. The PF family was born.
(Parker: Actually I begged and pleaded.)
(LOL...and we’re glad!)
(I second Laura’s comment!)

How do you actually work it? Do you plan out the whole story at the start? Do you liaise on each part? What if a plot bunny whisks one of you away to a different place? Do you start planning your piece before the previous one is finished?

Havan: In a perfect world I’m a plotter...unfortunately I’ve never ever lived in a perfect world so planning for me. But we talk all the time about our characters and stories like they are real people in our lives with real events happening to them and I think that’s a key to our success. Because they are real to us. I know Laurant wants to feel Artie up in the best of ways...and that he loves to egg on Bart, and that Gun has a special relationship with Nico--and these simple little details carry over to the page and make the stories so much more than just words. It’s a beautiful thing. 
Parker: For me, I don’t plan the story. I let the characters take me where they want to go, because I’ve learned that telling them ‘no’ usually isn’t in my best interest.
Lee: I have a basic idea. But it usually morphs along the way. For instance, I had no idea that Sabine was going to get himself in this kind of trouble. Now he just keeps looking at me, like he expects me to help him out of it. 
Laura: Uhm...I might be more of a planner. Before I start, I have a general idea of the couple’s relationship, and how I’m going to move them from point A to point HEA. Regardless of whether we’re writing 5 or 6 PF books, there’s a general rhythm that needs to play out so the shifts and twists move the couple and the plot forward. I don’t make myself crazy with it, but, yeah...I know where we need to get and by when. That way when the plot bunnies hit, I can work them in without losing track of the goal of each book.
Gun and Laurent - Havan's boys

You’ve all got very different styles. Has there ever come a point where any of you have found you just can’t move it on because of what has already been done? If so how was the situation resolved?

Parker The nice thing is that we get to see each other’s work as it progresses, so we have a good idea of what we can use in our own books. In Laura’s first book, for instance, it ended with a fight in which one character’s life hung in the balance. In Lee’s next book, we know the character survives, because he includes an update on the character’s status. In my story, one of the characters ends up in the hospital after a demon’s attack, but in Laura’s book, she takes that into consideration and has my character appear briefly and talks about how things are with the other guy. So we try to keep up to date with each other.
Lee: If something happens, that truly derails one of our co-writers plots, we discuss and work it out. The whole thing hinges on that cohesiveness. There’ve been a few things that had to be adjusted, but it’s all for the greater good.
Havan: We still have our own series - sure we do lots of crossovers but we are the masters of our own domains. *snorts* That being said, we are very respectful when we use someone else’s character in a crossover - we talk about the scene, discuss the reactions we need to achieve and after we write it the others read it to make sure we are true to their characters. That is our secret ingredient...none of us are too proud to ask someone else “Help, I can’t make Jet (Sabine...Ben) say what I need him to your man!”
Laura: This may sound odd, but I think the writing gets better when we hit a snag. I don’t know, maybe I get too comfortable in my own style—so when one of the others calls me on a discrepancy I’m forced to re-think the scene or situation and find another way around. So far, I think whenever that’s occurred for any of us—the overall story—and the relationships between our characters improves.

What’s been the best thing about working together?

Parker: Seeing the story evolve and knowing that I’m working with these amazingly talented writers who have years of storytelling under their belt.
Lee: What Will said. I swear, between him and Havan, I don’t know what I’m here for. :D
Havan: *blinks* Oh don’t even go there...I’ll always need you, Lee. :)
Laura: Without a doubt, for me the very best thing about working together is the relationship we’ve formed. Havan, Will, Lee, and Tom—they are my chosen family—and if you’re a long-time reader of Pulp Friction, you know just exactly what that means. I love each of them.

Artie and Ben - Parker's Boys

What’s been the most difficult thing about working together?

Laura: I actually don’t like any of them. (Ignore my previous answer) It’s a struggle to talk to them. I have to force myself to get on the computer once a week to stay in touch. *Blinks at the headslap* What? 
Okay, that might not be exactly true. Strictly speaking. We are actually more than friends—we’re family. I couldn’t tell you the last time a day passed without us talking. I bet it’s been over a year. So, back to the question...the most difficult thing may actually be focusing on work. Which really does relate back to my answer about the best thing about working together, doesn’t it?
Havan: For the record, I’m delightful to work with...honest. 
Parker: For me it’s being the new guy. These people have worked together for years and are all well known and respected in the genre. I’m the pup constantly nipping at their tail. Fortunately they keep pushing me to be better, and I think I’m learning a lot from each of them.
Lee: The most difficult thing about working together is that we’re in different time zones, plus Laura starts writing at some god-awful hour in her time zone. 

Okay, so tell me more about this particular Pulp Fiction and why I really need to buy it.

Parker: The story unfolds book by book. Each author tells a tale that stands on its own, but taken together with the whole it evolves into a lush world. In 2015 we harken to Laura Harner and Tom Webb’s series ‘Altered States’. A world where vampires, werewolves, demons, ghosts, psychics, and other supernatural beings exists.
Havan: Reading a series with two main characters and awesome secondary characters is great...but what if those secondary characters you adore suddenly have a series of their own...happening concurrent to the first series. Imagine immersing yourself in that type of splendor. Because that’s what we’re guys (Laurant & Gun) are secondary characters in Laura’s, Lee’s and Will’s books and vice versa.
Laura: I’m partial to the Altered States world. The story idea came from asking that all important question: What if...
We’ve probably all watched television news and seen officers take an accused killer on a “perp walk” to parade him in front of the press. Well, imagine that you were watching and the killer burst into flames as soon he was brought into sunlight. What would happen to our perspective of the world if vampires and wereanimals were revealed in such a spectacular fashion? And for long-time fans of the Altered States Series, the moving the story into the Pulp Friction format gives us a rapid turn around on stories, plus a look at all sorts of preternatural beings. (Sex demon, anyone?)

Jet and Nico - Laura's boys

Are there any future projects in mind? What should I be looking out for, individually or collaboratively.

Lee: I hope that there will be more Pulp Friction next year. Meanwhile, I have a ton of current projects and Havan and I are scheduling time to write another book together. It’s going to be a continuation of Christmas in His Heart, which we did last year in November. The new story will pick up two favorite characters from that story and see what happens.
Parker: This year I’m planning on releasing book two of the Shifting Needs series. The first book Protector of the Alpha was Jake and Zak. This time it’s Casey and Sev. I also am almost done with ‘Haven’, a dark story that’s not like anything I’ve written in the past.
Laura: I know it’s hard to predict with certainty where we will all be in the future, but I would love to see us be able to continue Pulp Friction. It’s a challenge to create a cohesive serial, let alone four of them by different authors that all have to mesh into a single overarching theme and final plot. Writing the PF books for three years has been excellent training for other writing projects.
I’m certain you’ll be seeing some new collaborations from us—as a whole group and in pairs—so there’s always something to look forward to with your
 PF authors!

Thank you so much to the Pulp Fiction authors for giving us a peep into their world. I don't know about you but I'm going to take a look at the stories.

And where can we find these awesome peeps and their work

Lee Brazil
Twitter: @leebrazil

Havan Fellows
Twitter - @havanfellows
Pulp Friction Love FB group -

1 comment:

  1. This is an awesome interview. Thank you all for participating and sharing such great insight into the PF series! I've read some of the books already and have loved every single one of them. You are all great writers whom I truly respect.
    Much love and I wish you all much success in everything you do, everything you accomplish. And a huge Thank You to Nephy for having these crazy folks here! :P