When I first met Margaret Sutton, and we decided to write a book together, all I could think of was “The Odd Couple.” Not that either of us matched the personality types of Felix and Oscar, but we certainly were as opposite as opposite could get. How could a humor columnist who was known as the Erma Bombeck of Plano, Texas and an entrepreneur whose writing credentials included invoices, business letters, and a single sale to Ellery Queen’s Mystery magazine turn out anything even remotely appealing to fans of hard-boiled crime fiction?
Finding our way from that brash beginning to the publication of Doubletake, a police procedural featuring a female homicide detective, was a most interesting journey. I juggled five young children and a weekly deadline at the newspaper. Margaret juggled a manufacturing business and a busy social life. But somehow we made it.
The first thing we realized was how much research we needed to do. Collectively, we knew zip about law enforcement – speeding tickets not withstanding – and we had no clue how the criminal mind works. Honest, we didn’t. We were lucky in that we both had connections to people in law enforcement, and those people were happy to help us get it right. Police officers really do hate it when authors don’t get it right.
After an initial period of research and outlining the story, we each chose sections to write. Usually, that was determined by who came up with the original idea for that part of the plot, and I was sometimes amazed at how effortless that process could be. Our plan was to meet once a week and trade chapters. We each would then add our touch to the other’s work, hoping the end result would be a smooth blend.
Margaret was the epitome of tact when she read my first attempt to get into the killer’s mind. It was… well, how should I put this…so nice. But what did she expect from a mom? She put the pages down and suggested that perhaps the killer wouldn’t be thinking in terms of “Gosh, Golly, Gee.” Maybe he’d go for something with a little harder edge. When I told her I didn’t know about harder edges, she took me out back and made me use words I’d never even heard before. She made me say them over and over until they could come out without making me stammer or blush.
When collaborating, it really helps to have a sense of humor. When egos tended to get a bit sensitive, we found laughing beat arguing and Margaret took that to heart. It became a personal challenge to come up with a bigger and better practical joke to play on me the next time I came to her office to work. Don’t even ask me about the fake puke on the stack of manuscript pages I’d spent weeks typing. (Yes, this all started long before computers and printers.)
A writing partnership that is a complement of talents is a real gift. In the two years we worked on Doubletake, I noticed that Margaret’s strengths bolstered my weaknesses and my strengths bolstered hers. Each of us brought something unique and special to the process and, now reading through the book, I’m never sure where one of us left off writing and the other began. I couldn’t look at a chapter and tell you specifically who wrote which section. I may know who started a chapter. Margaret does have a wonderful way of setting up memorable secondary characters-the introduction of the irascible Dr. Davis is uniquely hers-but beyond that, the lines blur; which is a very good thing. Even though quilts play a central part in the plot, I’d hate to think the book resembled one.
Two brutal murders rock the quiet community of Twin Lakes, Texas, and Detective Barbara Hobkins must catch the killer before becoming the target of Doubletake. First published under the pen-name Sutton Miller, the book has been revised and updated and re-released as an e-book and paperback. “You’ll hate to put this one down until you have read that last word. Highly recommended by a satisfied reader, and I’m looking forward to the next book by this author. Enjoy.” Anne K. Edwards
ABOUT THE AUTHORS:
Maryann Miller won her first writing award at age twelve with a short story in the Detroit News Scholastic Writing Awards Contest and continues to garner recognition for her short stories, books, and screenplays. She lives in the beautiful Piney Woods of East Texas, where she also loves to play on stage.
Margaret Sutton has headed several unique businesses in the Dallas area. These included the production of home decorating items and a custom-design carpet sculpting business. Sutton has placed short stories in several mystery magazines such as Ellery Queen Magazine. A resident of Texas, Sutton shares her home with a pet monkey and considers herself “Willie’s Mom”.
Buy Links for Doubletake
You can find out more about Maryann and her other books at her Amazon Author Page * Website * Blog and follow her on Facebook and Twitter Margaret likes to remain more of a mystery.