Editor's Note: The following is part one of a two part series on the making of The Witch’s Kiss trilogy, published by HarperCollins. Part two details how designer Lisa Brewster created book covers for the series.
On Jan. 26, sisters Katharine and Elizabeth Corr will be releasing the highly anticipated second installment in their The Witch’s Kiss trilogy from HarperCollins.
Fans of unique takes on otherwise tired tales will rejoice at this fast-paced and character-driven retelling of the popular classic fairytale “Sleeping Beauty.”
“Our ‘beauty’ is actually an Anglo-Saxon prince, Jack, who is cursed at his Christening by an evil wizard to cut out the hearts of people in love. Unable to break the curse, three white witches place him and the wizard into an enchanted sleep. Fifteen hundred years later the prince and the wizard start to wake up, and Merry – the descendant of one of the original witches – realizes that she has inherited the job of trying to break the curse. But Merry has never been properly trained in witchcraft, and when she starts to fall for Jack, things get frighteningly complicated.”
The Witch’s Tears will continue Merry’s story but introduces two newcomers.
“Both seem to offer alternative paths and a hope for happiness,” said Kate. “But as friends and family disappear, and a terrifying fairytale character seems to have come to life, Merry starts to wonder whether either of the newcomers can be trusted.”
The sisters stressed the importance given to the sibling relationship between Merry and Leo. It is central to the plot of both books.
“We wanted to write something that reflected our own close relationship, and to show that romantic love isn't the only - or even necessarily the most important - relationship in a teenager's life,” they said.
Having written together for some time now, the sisters have gained valuable insight into what does and doesn’t work in the co-authoring process.
“You really can’t afford to be precious about your ideas,” they said. “If the other person has an idea which works better for the plot [or] a character, then you have to be prepared to give up on your own ideas, even if you really, really love them. Also, when we criticize each other's writing/ideas, we've learnt to do it with a bit of a laugh and a smile. The most important thing is to have fun whist writing together, or you'll never want to do it again!”
The sisters spoke to Spine about their writing process, which is heavily dependent on their close relationship.
First, they pick an idea to work with and begin planning the story line, which begins in broad strokes but becomes more and more detailed until it results in a chapter outline that will usually be several pages long.
Then, the sisters divide what needs to be written.
“We always start off with the plan of writing alternative chapters, but [that] doesn’t always work out in practice. One of us might get stuck and take longer to work through a particular chapter, or she might want to keep going and complete the whole of that section. Also, the chapter outline might well change as we write: characters do things we hadn't anticipated, resulting in the story changing or needing to be told in a different order. The important thing is to get the first draft finished! Editing too early can be fatal - you just end up going over and over the same ground.”
“Once the first draft is done, we then go back and begin editing each other's work. There is usually a lot of re-writing done at this stage: it's not unusual to wake up and find that over night your sister has red-lined half of a chapter and re-written it. It can be frustrating, but it saves our editor work later on.”
“Once we are happy with the draft, we send it off to our editor. More editing follows; probably a further draft, followed by line edits, copy edits suggested by a copy editor, who provides a fresh perspective; and a proofreading edit. It's amazing what a good proofreader can pick up: really obvious typos and inconsistencies for example that have been missed by both of us, our editor, and the copy editor. At the proofreading stage the manuscript is put into book format so we can see the layout. The cover design and copy, [or] the bit that goes on the back of the book, is done much earlier.”
In 2017, the sisters hope to get started on the last book in the trilogy.
“We also have a lot of other ideas we’re excited about,” said Kate, “so we plan to do a lot of writing this year. In the next few weeks, we’re also doing a panel event at a bookshop in London and our first school event. We’re excited and nervous at the same time!”
Hiba Tahir is a YA author, a freelance journalist, and an MFA candidate in poetry at the University of Arkansas.