26 May 2008

Guest Blogger: Victoria Trout and Penelope West

This week, we welcome the mother-daughter writing duo Victoria Trout and Penelope West. Their release from Whiskey Creek Press, Ethan's Flight, is now available. The subject of our Q&A today is writing as a team.


After being falsely convicted of murder, young Bostonian Ethan Adams is freed by his brother's daring rescue. The brothers pause their flight in St. Jo, MO, where, homesick and saddle-sore, they plan their future. Changing their names, they barely knock the dust from their clothes before they become involved with a beautiful pair of sisters—who have their own hidden dangers. Living with their aunt, due to their father's impending insanity, the girls aid their conductor uncle on the Underground Railroad.

Will ETHAN'S FLIGHT garner them all a future, or will the danger drawing nigh and pre-Civil War strife tear their lives, and hearts, apart forever?

You are a writing team. Who makes up your team?

Penelope: My daughter, Victoria, and I write together.

How did that come about?

Victoria: I was pregnant with twins, and Mom was unhappy about the selection of books on the market. I suggested she turn her writing from personal to professional. We began collaborating at that point.

Penelope: Victoria was confined to the couch to keep the twins from being born too early, so we'd talk things over, and then I'd get it on the computer, which was on another floor. Eventually, we ended up with a 288,000 word Regency. While that was going its rounds, we wrote a biography of the founder of the Sui Dynasty in China. While that was being reviewed, we began Ethan's Flight. The first didn't sell, and the second didn't make it either, yet. So we concentrated on our American Western Historicals with romantic and mystery elements. Ethan's Flight is the first in the series.

How do you do it? Isn't it difficult working together and being so closely related?

Victoria: We don't always see eye-to-eye on every little detail in a story, but we have worked out a system to handle these things. If it is really important to one of us, the other usually gives way and goes with the concept as is. If it isn't a major issue that must go one way or the other, we blend. The sum is always greater than its parts, and our main concern is that the whole product is a story that makes sense and keeps the reader engaged.

Penelope: Victoria is really good with the ideas and research. I do more of the nuts and bolts of the writing and editing because I have the time to put it all on paper, and I know most of the mechanics.

Victoria: I am dyslexic, but Mom is used to translating what I have on the page into the right words so that it makes sense to other people. Neither of us could do this job alone, but together we are dynamite!

Penelope: We hash out the general idea of the story, the setting, the characters, and the major plot points. Then I pull up my chair to the computer and go to work. I love a blank page, and have great joy in filling it up with words. Any glitches? Pick up the phone and call for help! Victoria can generally get us out of any sticky situation I can devise! She thinks on her feet, which is a major plus!

Victoria: When the chapter is done, Mom e-mails it to me, and I begin to flesh it out. I e-mail it back to her. She goes over it, add things or moves them around, sends it back, and we work it out until the chapter is really done.

Isn't it rare that two people would have such a similar voice?

Victoria: Singly, our voices are very different, but they blend together into one voice in the finished product. Most of the time, people can't tell who wrote what, and neither can we!

You have an interesting branding. How did you come up with it?

Penelope: Our branding is "Stories Where Family Matters." We are very strong on family. We see a lot of breakdown in families today, as each individual is more concerned with his/her space rather than the good of all. History has proved repeatedly that the breakdown of the family leads to the fall of the empire, and in this day and age, the whole world is so tightly connected it is important to keep the family strong.

Victoria: We want to get our message to people on the importance of the family unit without being preachy, which just causes more objections to the concept. My kids are very much involved in the business of selling the books and getting them out to folks. We practice what we preach!

Penelope: Our strongest supporters come from our extended family, which is scattered all across the United States. My son and other daughter are thrilled with our writing, and they are both a part of our stories. Parts of their personalities help form some of our characters, my son helps us with technical research, and my other daughter helps with the reading, editing, and selling of the books.

Victoria: As this series grows, the input from all family members becomes ever more important. We hope our stories help other families learn to work together to make a stronger unit, community, and world.


Thanks for stopping by this evening! Leave a comment or question for Victoria and Penelope to be entered into a drawing for a copy of Ethan's Flight. Two other winners will also be chosen: one will will a journal and another a tile coaster, both from Cafe Press. Winners will be drawn next Sunday. Good luck!