Miles Arceneaux is the creative collaboration between Texas writers Brent Douglass, John T. Davis, James R. Dennis. Miles was born out of a group of old friends vacationing on the Texas Gulf Coast with diverse backgrounds. Brent is the principal owner of KBC Networks, John has years of experience writing about the Southwest and its different facets, and James practices law in San Antonio and across Texas. Visit Miles at http://www.milesarceneaux.com/.
How did the authors decide how the book was going to be written?
John T. Davis: We took turns drafting chapters, then editing one another’s work, and finally passing around the finished draft among the three of us. It was a process of churning the manuscript until the plot points were coherent and one consistent voice emerged.
James R. Dennis: As with most everything we do, the process was evolutionary, by which I mean bordering on random. We began trading chapters initially, and only years later did someone (I’m ashamed to say it was probably Brent) come up with the startling and innovative idea that we actually create an outline. Obviously, we began writing Thin Slice of Life without any idea that it would be published, mostly as an amusement for ourselves. As time went on, it was clear that we each had particular affinities for certain story lines or characters, and that worked itself out over time.
Brent Douglass: What they said. By the time the novel was finished, it was hard to find a paragraph that didn’t somehow include a contribution from all three of us.
What role did each author play in creating Miles Arceneaux as a whole?
JTD: When we began creating Miles, the Earth was without form, and void, and darkness was on the face of the Earth…No, seriously, we wanted to imagine a guy a little smarter, funnier and cooler than any of the three of us. Since you (Miles, that is) have to write what you know, we imagined Miles lived by the water and has a colorful, if largely unspoken, past. He’s a little like that Dos Equis guy in that way.
JD: We each brought certain things to the table: Brent, a knowledge of the coast and coastal culture, John T., lots of experience in the music business and years working as a professional writer. I brought a pronounced inclination toward sloth, an understanding of legal affairs, and some experience with Texas lawmen. Miles had all of those skills, and a devil-may-care charm that each of us only finds in our dreams or in James Bond movies.
BD: Collaboration is a tricky thing, especially on something as fundamentally creative as a novel. But I’ve found that to be the case in any start-up venture (in my case a couple of start-up technology companies) where creative, even audacious partners are essential to success. At Miles Arceneaux Inc., we fell into our roles pretty naturally and developed a rhythm that worked well for all of us. It helped that we’ve known each other for longer than I care to divulge.
What is some advice you’d give writers who want to write in a partnership?
JTD: Flee. Seriously, this is no way to commit literature. That being said, if you must, everyone has to check their ego at Page One. If you’re going to serve the reader and the story, you and your co-author(s) have to be fair but unsparing with one another. Even ruthless. It can sting sometimes, but it’s the only way to collaborate effectively. We came out of the process still friends (more or less); It helped that we wrote in large part to entertain one another. Now we’re all famous authors.
JD: If one is, for whatever reason (paying off a gambling debt or doing penance for past sins, for example), really going to write in partnership, I’d echo John T’s advice about setting aside one’s ego. I also think a clear understanding of the flow of the story and where it is going will ease a lot of heartache later on. Finally, in such a work, the real trick lies more in the editing than in the writing. Presenting the reader with a consistent narrative voice has to be a paramount objective.
BD: Do it for fun. If you start the venture with grand expectations, you’re just putting pressure on yourselves. If the project starts to produce something really worthwhile as it progresses, everybody involved will recognize that and it will feed the process.
What are your goals for the future with Miles Arceneaux? Do you plan on writing more novels together?
BD: Look for the next Miles Arceneaux book this fall. We’ll continue to write them until it’s not fun anymore.
JTD: The second novel by Miles, a sequel of sorts, is being edited as we speak for publication in 2013. A third novel, a prequel, is in draft stage. As long as Miles keeps buying rounds, we’ll keep chronicling his tales.
JD: It’s an interesting question, one which requires a level of planning that I’m not sure we’re familiar with or really even capable of. But where ever there’s a truth that needs a good stretch, or a Cuba Libre that needs guzzling, or a pretty woman who needs to be dazzled (okay, mildly amused), Miles will be there.
Thin Slice of Life is available for purchase online at Amazon and Barnes & Noble. You can also purchase Thin Slice of Life at your local bookstore. For more information about Thin Slice of Life, visit http://www.thinsliceoflifebook.com/.