Matthew Costello and Neil Richards both set out as script writers, their credits including The Disney Channel, PBS, the BBC, and many others. Their writing partnership goes back to the late 90’s and the two have written many hours of TV together. Their Cherringham series is their first crime fiction as co-writers. They will be taking part in the Endeavour Press Crime Fiction Festival.
[04/10/2016, 16:46:06] Neil Richards:
So, Matt – the guys at Endeavour Press want 500 words on Cherringham – and how we collaborate. What with you in New York and me in the New Forest… Seems like a good idea maybe to write it by Skype – since a lot of the time Skype is the way we work together. I think at last count we’ve written 25 Cherringham novellas this way – plus a full-length mystery (Dead in the Water, pub Oct 10) – and we’re now in the middle of writing mystery number 2 in the series – The Body in the Woods. Of course, real-life meetings are always going to be a big part of our collaboration – want to talk about that?
[04/10/2016, 16:50:38] Matthew Costello:
Of course. Let me fix a cup of coffee, I mean…tea. There…. Think that the key reason this has worked so well is that the real-life planning meetings, spending days in the Cotswolds, got us into the same mindset for our characters, the places and our evolving mystery. And for me — as an American — a good guide to what idiosyncrasies and differences one of our heroes — Jack, ex-NYPD detective — would experience. Not to mention the faux pas he might occasionally produce. What are some key components for that collaboration for you?
[04/10/2016, 17:26:45] Neil Richards:
Well. we’ve been doing it for so long – nearly 20 years of TV and interactive writing – it’s like second nature now. But trust is at the heart of it, I think. As we write chapters, passing them back and forth to be edited, shaped, cut and improved – we both know that if one of us is unhappy about a section or a plot turn, then that has to be for a good reason. So we keep talking until the speed bump is ironed out and we’re happy to move on. We also have different writing styles – I’m always thinking about the shape, the overall narrative, the architecture, whereas you…
[04/10/2016, 17:39:11] Matthew Costello:
Moi? Well, for me I have to believe every moment. The gospel of POV – point of view. We are inside the skin of each character, so all that is experienced is experienced through their eyes, their emotions, their values. I think that is one reason the series has been so successful (over 200,000 sold!). But I also think that the way we mesh our concerns really creates a very special kind of mystery. Then — for a series that features a yank and Brit, the fact that we are — gosh — a yank and a Brit allows us really relate to that clash of cultures. (Let alone the language differences we are still discovering!) And I must say, think you have gotten quite comfortable in the skin of our NYC cop from Brooklyn, yes?
[04/10/2016, 17:43:07] Neil Richards:
I think so – though I would always want you to take that final pass to winkle out those pesky Britishisms. And in turn you’ve spent enough time here in the UK to be able to see the world through our English single mum detective partner. And we can still surprise each other. Right now for example as we’re knee-deep in book two, Jack’s playing his first cricket match. And I have to say some of your technical questions about the game have made me smile…
[04/10/2016, 17:45:21] Matthew Costello:
Wait till you see what I’ve done to your beloved game. Do believe it is currently a hybrid of cricket meets Babe Ruth world series. But then that’s what’s so great about our work together: those cultural bumps (as amusing as they are) get caught, smoothed out…improved. End of the day, when it comes to solving crimes in the Cotswolds…it all works!
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