Widow’s Welcome, the new urban fantasy-crime novel by partnership David Towsey and Katherine Stansfield writing as ‘D.K. Fields’, was published in August 2019. It’s the first in a trilogy to be published by Head of Zeus. Set in the fictional Union of Realms during election year, the novel explores the power of stories and the story of power.
Here Creative Writing lecturer David Towsey discusses the pains and pleasures of co-authorship.
Where did the inspiration for Widow’s Welcome come from?
As hard as it to admit, we started planning and talking about this big fantasy project because we were totally hooked on Game of Thrones. Of course, so many people really responded to that TV adaptation – people who might not have been interested much in fantasy before. We were both already fans of fantasy novels, but such a big budget TV version made it feel like anything was possible in fantasy right then. There was a very specific point that made us sit up and think, “Hey, we want to do something like that.” That point was the finale of season five; the plight of Stannis Baratheon really got to us for some reason. We knew we wanted to write something with the same kind of impact, and with the same kind of stakes. Hopefully we achieved that with Widow’s Welcome, albeit by taking a very different route.
How did you manage to write a novel together?
The short answer is: painfully. The long answer is we really had no idea what was the best way to approach such a project. We went through a lot of trial and error. We didn’t know any other writing partnerships; we only had author interviews (like this one) and a few blog posts to go on. Even with just a little research it quickly became apparent that no-one had the same way of managing how they wrote together, so we decided to just try a few things and see what worked for us. Initially, we were writing the framing-narrative for Widow’s Welcome together, which meant writing a good chunk of words each and then passing the same Word file back and forth. We read what each other wrote, discussed it, and then just kept going. We knew if we stopped too long to pick holes in the draft, we’d never get anywhere. But we didn’t limit ourselves to a chapter each or a certain word count before handing it over. Instead, we took a three days on, three days off approach. Though the discussions did, perhaps inevitably, lead to one or two arguments this was the way we managed to push the draft forward and get words on the page. But when we came to write the “embedded” election stories of the Caskers and the Lowlanders that feature in the book, we enjoyed full autonomy – and that was quite a relief, really.
Widow’s Welcome is the first in a trilogy – what’s in store for readers in the next two books?
We don’t want to give too much away, but readers can rest assured that the remaining four election stories are told in full. Our main character, Detective Cora Gorderheim, has her work cut out for her keeping up with all the peril and intrigue complicating this year’s election. The second book, titled The Stitcher and the Mute, is already with our publisher and we’re just about to start the third. It’s all go here!