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Thursday, January 30, 2020

Beatriz Williams and Lauren Willig at Barnes & Noble

Last night I attended a book talk and signing by authors Beatriz Williams and Lauren Willig who, along with missing member Karen White, wrote the wonderful historical novel All The Ways We Said Goodbye (my review here) at the Barnes & Noble store on the Upper East Side. Karen White, a Georgia resident, refuses to go above the Mason-Dixon line until late spring.
Beatriz Williams and Lauren Willig

Williams and Willig launched into the origin story for Team W, as they have dubbed themselves. When Beatriz Williams wrote her first novel, Overseas, which she thought would be a smash hit, sell a million books and be made into a movie, she had the unfortunate timing of being published at the same time a little book called Fifty Shades of Grey was released.

Her new author friends Lauren Willig and Karen White (who all met at an Romance Writers of America event when they were seated alphabetically at the signing tables) tried to cheer her up with lots of cocktails and wine. They came up with the brilliant idea of writing an anthology together set in Scotland called Fifty Shades of Plaid, combining two hot romance trends. (White's editor told them to go back to their rooms, drink some water, take some aspirin, and sleep it off.)

What sounded great after an evening of drinking turned into an actual collaboration and their first Team W novel, The Forgotten Room (my review here). It was set in three different time periods with three different lead women characters, all connected by this forgotten room in a Manhattan townhouse mansion (based on a building once owned by Williams'  husband's family, now a medical facility).

They met at Alice's Tea Cup in New York City and outlined the entire book, something no one had ever done for their individual books. The authors each chose the character they wanted to write, and then wrote her chapter and sent them round robin to the next chapter writer. They had a legendary text chain where they would ask for advice, make changes, and have brilliant strokes of genius. (They joked that they could release a 40-volume set of the text chain, but would have to redact all the many inappropriate ones.)

Karen White's editor bought the book, and the authors laughed because she sounded surprised as she said "it's actually very good". The Forgotten Room hit the NY Times and USA Today bestseller lists, and Team W decided to write a second book.

Their second book, The Glass Ocean, (my review here) also had three female leads and was set mostly on the Lusitania, a cross Atlantic passenger ship that was bombed by a German submarine in 1915 during WWI. Nearly twelve hundred people perished.

Again, it was a success and Team W began plotting their third book, the recently released All The Ways We Said Goodbye, set during WWI, WWII, and 1964 at the Ritz Paris Hotel. Unfortunately, the authors' idea to spend three weeks at the Ritz Paris Hotel to research was shot down by both spouses and the publisher, so the authors had to do their impeccable research online.

Their collaborative novels are seamlessly written, and very few people can tell which writer wrote which character. (The authors keep that secret.) Even their editor can't tell- she has sent the edits to the wrong author on multiple occasions, which makes the authors laugh.

Their next book will be set in Newport, Rhode Island during the Gilded Age, the 1950s and the present day. Here's hoping they all get to go the beautiful mansions there for research on this one.

The capacity crowd on a very cold evening truly enjoyed listening to Beatriz Williams and Lauren Willig. They have their humorous patter down, and you can tell they are truly friends and enjoy working together. If you haven't read anything from Team W, I highly recommend you do. You should also read their individual novels, they are all wonderful writers.

Beatriz Williams' website is here.
Lauren Willig's website is here.
Karen White's website is here.

I saw the fabulous Tavia, cohost of the Book Club Girl podcast, there

1 comment:

  1. I have read these three authors as individuals but never in their combined books. I think I would like them!