Last year, I discovered A.M. Hounchell on Twitter, read a book of his in one sitting, and did a review the very same day. We became fast friends that still have never met in person. But, it was clear to me even then that he could write. I got him to compose some letters for Letters Never Meant to be Read Volume II, and somehow we decided it was a good idea to start a separate book together as well.
“Ever play chess by mail?” I asked him last summer. How old of me and super nerdy. He is at least a decade younger than me and has known no world without cell phones.
“That’s what we’re going to do, I have a few ideas,” and I laid out the groundwork for our then unknown collaboration.
We erected the skeleton for a story idea, a good and twisted plot full of holes, and the promise of a great journey. I wrote, sent, and waited. He wrote, sent, and waited…
I sent him the first chapter which included two scenes last July. He sent me something back. I wasn’t sure what I was expecting at the time, but what I got was crazy.
There, Quintessential Reality was born, and Shelly’s life was in our hands. Can two men write as one woman? We never doubted that, just where we were going. We actually wrote for Shelly in both 3rd and 1st person point of view. Hard to talk about, super fun to do.
I honestly feel better writing for a female protagonist and have done so on many occasions in Short Stories to Tell Your Boss. Sure, I grew up with a house full of girls and now live in the same manner as the minority sex, but does that make me some kind of expert? No. Easy to say, harder to prove.
I can admit that women provide me a great mystery of character, like a warm puzzle you never quite get, but you still try. When I was a little boy, I would pull on curling irons that were hot and ready to go on the bathroom sink. They were marvelous and I was curious. I have the scars to prove it. That kind of mystery, I did it again on the page.
Writing as a woman is both liberating and challenging. Also, the manuscript was combed by kind and brutal female beta readers, so neither one of us could play the fool.
Here is the book description and result of our dark and wonderful collaboration lest I give away any spoilers:
Shelly’s life is perfect by any conventional sense. She has a loving husband, two children, a great house, and her career as a real estate agent is really taking off. Just as her daughter’s sweet sixteen birthday party is in the works, Shelly’s life begins to unravel. She starts to realize that in suburban America, life choices are less about what you want, and more about the cards you are dealt. Mental illness is only half of her dark and twisted Quintessential Reality.
After each incident, Shelly confides with the reader, telling her true feelings about what is really going on.
She’ll have to battle her inner and outer demons to find her true self– buried deep below the rubble.
Her options are to Dig or Suffocate.
This book is FREE on Kindle Saturday and Sunday as part of Rusty Wheels Media’s Kindle Free Catalog Campaign that ends Sat. We are both really proud of this book and want to get it out there to as many people as possible to enjoy and provide feedback.
We’ve created a monster, her name is Shelly, and both of us are scared to death.