Here is the beautiful backstory of our novel collaboration, which begin with an email sent from Peachtree Street, in the heart of Atlanta —
HE: You’ll need a creative project to get you through the next few months. Why don’t you write another novella?
ME: Why don’t you write one with me? What do you think about this? What if you write the poems and I write the prose?
With those emails a novel was born. September Ends is a contemporary romance with erotic and supernatural elements bound together by poetry. It reveals the intricate web of passion and desire entangling Liz Snow, Pete Hendrix and Jack O. Savage. The story is told through Liz Snow’s diary, Jack O. Savage’s poetry, and letters sent across the Atlantic.
The novel is a collaboration between an anonymous English poet, a “Northerner” as the English call them, now living in London, and me, a native Tennessean, now happily entrenched in Atlanta on Peachtree Street. We met through an online writers’ group and found that, not only did we share an enthusiasm for the new wave of indie authors and publications; we also share a passion for English and American Literature. We both feel very strongly that words can be an art form.
His email came the day I learned that my mother was terminally ill with cancer. My response led to two months of back and forth emails and negotiation. I guess you could call it negotiations. He says now that he didn’t want to collaborate. I thought ‘no’ was merely a delay tactic until he found out more about how the novel would develop.
He wanted to know who the main character would be. That was around 9:00pm Eastern Time. By the time he checked his email the next morning in London, I had a four-page character analysis of Elizabeth October Snow of Atlanta, Georgia, originally from LaFayette, Georgia. What about the other characters? I developed Peter William Hendrix III of Chattanooga, Tennessee. What if they meet through a famous poet? An Englishman? What if…how about…Jack O. Savage, he said? I didn’t even need to think about developing his character because by that point The Story had found us.
My collaborator had never visited the American Southeast. How could he understand the lushness of our countryside in the summer? The sound of the bugs and crickets at night? The lull of interstate traffic that is a constant background hum? I recorded them for him! At night I stood outside capturing the sound of crickets and tree frogs from the farm in Tennessee. After a rainstorm, I visited my family’s cave and recorded the rush of the waterfall capped off with the lone cry of a mourning dove, which the Cherokees called a Rain Crow. I recorded the birds singing in the rain and I took pictures of our trees, flowers…anything that would assist him in the experience of the Southeast.
Three main personalities presented themselves to us and these characters began to tell us the story. We developed the synopsis. It’s funny how the original storyline is almost nothing like the novel we plotted! My collaborator wrote the poetry as the ‘spine’ of September Ends. From there, I started writing the words to weave the characters around the plot. I visited the Margaret Mitchell house in Atlanta and literally begged her spirit, if it was still there, to give me some type of guidance, something unique that would be as different and of ‘the now’ as the poetry/prose collaboration. The question was also the answer. To make the novel a bit of today’s world, the story is told in the different methods in which we communicate as well as having a message which is relevant to today’s world. Diary entries, blogs, and emails comprise a great part of September Ends, although most of the story is told in a traditional novel format.
I wrote Part-1 with each chapter as a short story, in case my collaborator wished to remove one. That way we wouldn’t have to re-write an entire section. By Part-2, we were both sharing ideas. By the time we reached Part-3, we were writing practically the same thing. We writing, me adding, he’d write more. The Muse found us in a major way. Now I understand how musicians or actors feel when they receive a buzz of the creative. In our case, we received a story.
The anonymous English poet? We have only spoken on the phone three times. The entire book was written via emails and MS-word docs.
Are we personally involved? No, we just work together.
Do we have plans to meet? No, not really. It might upset the balance we have achieved in our collaboration.
Do we plan on writing future novels? Yes, we do.
Sadly, my mother lost her battle with cancer and died before she could see the success for September Ends. She knew about the book because I wrote it on our farm in Tennessee while I took care of her as her disease progressed. She called September Ends my lifeboat during her turbulent seas. The poet and I dedicated the book to her and her courageous battle. She did live long enough to know that the book had been published. For that, I am very thankful.
~~ Hunter S. Jones
Hunter is an author from Atlanta. September Ends is available in paperback and Kindle editions on Amazon.com, the week of November 24, 2013. Hunter plans book signings in Atlanta, Chattanooga and Nashville, including at Atlanta’s Spa Sydell Midtown location, Saturday December 14 at 1:00. See also: Twitter.com/huntersjones101; Facebook.com/huntersjones111; Pinterest.com/HunterSJones