Annette Meyers is best known for the Smith and Wetzon mystery series and Martin Meyers for the Patrick Hardy mystery series. Together, as Maan Meyers, they collaborate on historical mysteries set in New York.
“You have to be a particular type of person to collaborate,” says Annette Meyers. “I am not that type of person. I would never say to Marty, ‘Hey let’s write a new Maan Meyers short or novel!’ I am a very bad collaborator.”
Yet, despite this, Annette Meyers has co-written seven very successful novels and numerous short stories with Martin Meyers. Below, Meyers talks about how Maan Meyers works.
What are the benefits of collaborating on fiction writing? How do you do it? When does it work? How does it positively affect the final product?
Annette Meyers: The singular benefit is the work that’s created, but that depends on whom you’re collaborating with.
Marty and I do talk about the project and throw out ideas. But we found early on that we couldn’t work in the same room. We worked out a routine of my writing the first chapter, printing it out, giving it to him. He rewrites and then writes the second chapter. It is not in any way easy. We don’t agree on the writing process. Our styles are different. I use long sentences. He uses short choppy ones. I use paragraphs. He likes one sentence paragraphs. I like to work from beginning to end; I am very organized and literal. Marty works like an actor; he does set pieces and hands them to me. Sometimes they have little or nothing to do with what we’re working on. It drives me mad.
The strange thing is that on our second book, The Kingsbridge Plot, he wrote one of his set pieces on a cockfight. I was exasperated and put it aside. Then when I read the first 20 or so pages of what we’d written, I saw that the novel didn’t open with a “kick,” that it was in fact dull. That’s when I remembered the wonderful set piece of the cockfight and we put it in and it became the opening of the book!
So we don’t work well together. At the end, we have a final negotiation. “I can keep this, if you keep that” kind of thing.
Our editor at Bantam used to ask for a one page description of our next book so she could authorize the advance, and I’d ask Marty for a little of the research (he did most of it on the earlier books because I was working full time), he’d give me 35 pages and after I had my fit of exasperation, I had to sit down and cull that information into three or four paragraphs.
Here’s the most interesting part of our collaboration: When I read the galleys of our first collaboration, The Dutchman, it was amazing. It was a third voice. Not his, not mine.
The voice of Maan Meyers. And it worked. And it was exciting and awe-inspiring.
We are working right now on a Maan Meyers short story that was commissioned for an anthology. Marty loves the collaboration. But it is very difficult for me. I am a writer who writes in my head. I like going solo. I am an obsessive person who needs to have control of my thoughts and words.
All that said, I am very proud of the seven great history-mystery novels and all the short stories we created as Maan Meyers. Neither Marty nor I could have written these on our own.
Jeremy L. C. Jones is a freelance writer, editor, and part-time professor. Jones is a frequent contributor to Clarkesworld Magazine. He is also the director of Shared Worlds, a creative writing and world-building camp for teenagers that he and Jeff VanderMeer designed in 2006.