Collaboration is not be a process that works for every author. It takes a good amount of friendship and mutual trust for two authors to go back and forth over a shared piece of work. Amy Helmes and Kim Askew are a pair who makes it seem almost effortless – and enjoy it the entire time.
“It’s kind of unbelievable how well the collaboration works! We take turns writing chapters and editing each other’s work. It’s a fun process, and full of surprises,” shared Helmes.
Both Askew and Helms have a life-long love for writing. Helmes started young, with positive re-enforcement for teachers.
“I started writing during what was supposed to be my naptime… so quite a while,” joked Askew.
The two were brought together over a blog about book-to-film adaptations a la Masterpiece Theatre. After discovering that they enjoyed working together, they turned their eyes to bigger projects.
“We’re both former English majors who love Shakespeare, so when we decided to write books together, adapting his plays seemed like a natural fit. We also felt that his themes and plots were ripe for a YA mashup — they’re so emotional and dramatic, and in that way feel very true to our own remembered experiences of being teens,” said Helmes.
Askew prefers Hamlet, Mercutio from Romeo and Juliet, and the Macbeths from the play of the same name. They hope to weave them into future Twisted Lit novels — but looking forward to new characters doesn’t mean that those already written aren’t just as fun.
“I think my favorite Twisted Lit novel to write has been Tempestuous, our take on The Tempest, just because it reminds me of a cross between Mean Girls and every John Hughes movie ever made. I kinda-sorta want to jump into that book and live it; getting trapped overnight in a mall with a bunch of crazy teenagers just sounds like such an adventure,” said Helmes.
Like other authors, Helmes and Askew have found some particularly enticing subject matter while researching this particular series.
“We’ve gone down some fascinating rabbit holes while researching our books, but I think my favorite would have to be the 1934 Chicago World’s Fair which appears in our latest Twisted Lit novel, Anyone But You. The World’s Fair featured an exhibition of real live babies in incubators. Wild,” said Askew.
“I also loved researching Anchorage, Alaska, which is the setting [of]Exposure. We were able to incorporate events that are unique to Anchorage, including the Crystal Gallery of Ice and the legendary ‘Running of the Reindeer,'” added Helmes.
They don’t need to be at Anchorage to write, though. Helmes is easy to please, able to write anywhere so long as she as peace and quiet. “With two young kids at home, that is rare and hard to come by!”
“I like writing in fancy hotels over afternoon tea or on the couch in front of my fireplace,” confessed Askew.
Writing is not the only interesting hobby that Askew and Helmes indulge in. Helmes has another life as a game show participant.
Both Helmes and Askew are avid readers. Askew’s favorites include Michael Chabon, Raymond Chandler, Hilary Mantel, and George Eliot. Helmes loves everyone from Charles Dickens and the Brontë sisters to nonfiction writers like Mary Roach and David McCullough.
Like many authors, Helmes and Askew do have their dark days. But they always know that they can depend on each other to keep themselves going.
“We encouraged each other not to give up before Merit Press contacted us about publishing our first two Twisted Lit novels. Now it’s also the great feedback from Twisted Lit readers. Positive reader reviews are a great motivator! We love the experience of writing, so that keeps us going as well.”
For more from Helmes and Askew, visit their Tumblr.