Early in 2014, Jennie Jones, Lisa Ireland and I began discussing the possibility of a joint project. We're all with the same publisher, we all write rural romance, and we all knew each other. Surely those were enough things for a successful adventure!?
One of the first problems we discussed was - how do we do something combined when our styles are very different?
We decided to base our stories around a town, so we had 1 town; 3 very different stories.
Then we had to work out where to put this town, and what to call it!
Jennie lives in Western Australia, Lisa's in Victoria and I'm in NSW, so we had no common ground. Lisa went hunting and thought central western NSW looked like a nice spot. I'd lived not far from there so was half-familiar with it and then I went on a bit of a driving tour to fine-tune. Our town is roughly around Lyndhurst, Mandurama, Carcoar, Neville and Barry.
Then to create a name. We all thought using an Aboriginal word would be best, with a good meaning, but it couldn't be used elsewhere in a high profile place. We had names and ideas flying before we eventually settled on Dulili, which means together. Nothing could be more appropriate.
Groups aren't always successful but we were very lucky with our group - we've enjoyed ourselves and we're still friends, even better friends than before! I think because there's three of us, it's made things easier to work through. We email constantly. When we're trying to decide something, we all sit at our keyboards and the emails fly fast. We discuss openly and honestly but politely and sensibly. More often than not, we all agree easily. We came into this project with open minds, to create something fun for the three of us. We can all compromise and laugh. We help each other out, always.
I had a change in writing style mid-way through the project which was a little traumatic for me. I had to re-write my entire story and without Jennie and Lisa to keep my spirits up, I'm not sure I would have gotten through. Then I had a major story edit after submission, and again, there they were - my very own cheer squad. Add to this, I thought I'd have a book out before this one, but now it's my debut and I'm riding their coattails...but they didn't worry at all. You couldn't find better people to work with.
As a bonus, we love each others' stories. This has made blending in the town's characters to our own story so much easier. One of Jennie's fabulous characters is in both Lisa and my books. One of Lisa's fabulous people is in Jennie and mine. And one of mine is in the other two stories. We have a map of Dulili pinned to the wall so we all know where everything is, what each building looks like. We love Dulili so much, we'd like to move there :)
I love all three of these stories - A Heart Stuck on Hope; Honey Hill House; The Healing Season. I hope you will too.