What it Takes to Be a Team
I thought, "That's because he's a team player."
In any team sport, there are two driving forces that must be kept in balance: what’s best for the one versus what’s best for the whole. In the end, team work means doing what’s best for the whole team first, before doing what might be best for any individual, including yourself.
Successful teamwork takes a lot of professionalism, and great teams come together only when each player cares as much about the success of the other team members as he cares about his own. Brotherly relationships can be notoriously complicated, with a lot of old baggage, which can make teamwork difficult, but in our case, I enjoy my relationship with Andy and value his friendship. As writers, I think the different experiences and skills we bring to the table are complimentary, and the product of our joint efforts is definitely greater than the sum of its parts.
We discovered this only as adults. Growing up, I was always in the “big-kids” group of siblings, while Andy was always in the “little-kids” group, even when he was no longer a little kid. Big kids were allowed by our parents to do things that the little kids were not. Our different privileges created a gap between us, and when we did interact as children, it was often when the big kids were playing dirty tricks on the little kids. Fortunately, Andy survived, and in many important ways, we had similar growing-up experiences, though the events in Andy’s life came a half-dozen years after the same events had occurred in my life.
Then, for about 35 years, I was a business lawyer working for international commercial finance companies in the mid-west, while for about 25 years, Andy was a trial practice lawyer working in Southern California. Eventually, we each moved to Colorado, where we had a chance to interact as adults. The difference in our ages was no longer significant, and we talked for some time about starting a business together. We both have many years of formal writing experience, and we have always been story tellers, first to our siblings, then to our own children, and now to our grandkids (who are increasing exponentially in number). Scary stories have always been a family specialty, and I love sci-fi. I started writing a young adult science fiction series, and when Andy also tried his hand at writing fiction, it didn’t take long for us to come together as The Brothers Washburn on a young adult horror series. We find that once we start telling a horror or sci-fi tale, any bounds on the story are limited only by our own creativity and imagination. Telling tales is way more fun than being a lawyer.
As brothers, we get along well and have a healthy level of mutual self-respect, so we can freely share ideas and challenge each other without worrying about egos. We are more creative when we are bouncing ideas off each other and discussing a general storyline, but we actually write separately, conferring afterwards on what we have been doing. Though we sometimes disagree on specific wording, there is usually some friendly give and take as we consider alternatives, and then we can agree quickly on the final wording. We both appreciate the different perspective and skills that the other brings to the joint process.
In some ways, we are very different in how we approach a story. Andy used to be a planner (a habit he got from writing like an attorney), but in fiction writing, he no longer likes to plan ahead. He likes to develop his characters, and then let them take the story wherever it is going to go. On the other hand, I am definitely still a planner. I am always making lists and outlines, not only for the current story, but for future stories as well.
In addition, Andy doesn’t like having other people around him when he is writing, especially when he is creating new material. There is no real reason for this, just sometimes people bug him. In my case, I have to organize my surrounding work environment. Once everything around me is in order, then I can detach from the world and write.
If Andy hits a tough spot in the story development, it is almost always because of outside distractions. If he can get rid of the distractions around him, he can keep writing. If I hit a tough spot, I don’t try to force it. I stop, leave the house, pick up some fast food, and then I can come back refreshed and ready to move the story forward. I find that fresh ideas just come naturally when I’m eating--Chipotle is always good for stimulating my creative juices.
For both of us, background research is important in the theoretical sciences as well as in the local Trona geography. The Dimensions in Death series is an ongoing horror story based on principals of science rather than on demons, devils or magical creatures, so an understanding of scientific theory is necessary and fun. But, Dimensions in Death is not a science fiction series with a few scary scenes. It is horror, suspense and fright in a fast pace narrative with a little science sprinkled on for spice as the truth is gradually discovered by our heroes in the story. Separately, the local geography in the story plays a critical role in setting the mood of the tale. Trona, California is a real place in this world located in a desolate region of the Mojave Desert by Death Valley, and we try to keep the series settings as real as possible.
The general outline for Pitch Green, the first book in the horror series, came together in November of 2010. We were attending a writer’s seminar together in Manhattan and listening to panel discussions by top literary agents during the day. One night, as we rode the subway from one end-of-the-line stop across town to the opposite end-of-the-line stop, and then back again, we mapped out the basic elements we would need to expand a favorite childhood scary story into a full-length novel. Andy wrote the first rough draft, and then, in our typical tag-team effort, I took that draft over to edit and expand the tale. In the writing of the first book, the ground work was laid for both the sequels and the prequels in that series. The whole tale is long and complicated. However, as The Brothers Washburn, we are having more fun in the spinning of it than should be legally allowed, but that’s okay--we know some good lawyers.
About Pitch Green
The mansion is, admittedly, the only notable addition to Trona, but it’s something everyone tries to avoid due to its creepy facade. Everyone except for Camm Smith, who is obsessed with the need to get inside.
Seven years earlier, as Camm herded a pack of little trick-or-treaters past the mansion, her young neighbor, Hugh, disappeared, becoming just one of many children who have vanished from Trona over the years without a trace. Now a senior in high school, Camm is still haunted by the old tragedy and is sure the answer to the mysterious disappearances lies hidden somewhere in the decaying mansion. Joining forces with her best friend, Cal, who also happens to be Hugh’s
older brother, Camm naively begins a perilous search for the truth.
As things spiral quickly out of control, and others die, Camm and Cal discover it will take all their combined ingenuity to stay alive. An unseen creature, lurking deep within the bowels of the mansion, seems to have supernatural powers and is now hunting them. Making matters worse, they become entangled with hostile federal agents, who care only about keeping old secrets permanently hidden. Left with only their
wit and seemingly ineffective firearms, they know they are running out of time. Unless they can make sense out of the few pieces of the puzzle they manage to unearth, the monster will certainly destroy them, and like so many others before them, they will be gone without a trace.
About the Brothers Washburn
The Dimensions in Death series is merely the beginning of the
ingenious and spine-tingling world of the Brothers Washburn. Be on your guard, people, there is a new Grimm in town.
For more information, you can find the brothers on their blog, Twitter, and Facebook, or contact their publicist, D. Kirk Cunningham.