ANGELS WITHOUT HALOS is a suspense novel set in South Carolina. Love is blind, but is justice colorblind?
Authors Melissa Mayberry and Travis Casey have joined forces to create a truly unique novel. What makes this suspense thriller exceptional is the fact that they wrote the 70,000 word book with alternating points of view – Melissa writing as Gemma Gage and Travis writing as Thaddeus Kline. There was not a definitive plot to speak of when they began writing it. Throughout the book, neither of them had any idea what the other one would write in response to their own chapter. Now that's how you keep the readers guessing when the authors don't even know what's coming next.
Casey began the book writing the odd number chapters as US Embassy officer, Thaddeus Kline, stationed in London, England. When his wife turns up dead, he blames crime boss Bruce Gage and makes it his mission to find and kill him. Kline sets out for North Carolina determined to settle the score. What he doesn't count on is coming up against his adversary's wife, Gemma Gage.
Miss Mayberry followed by writing the even numbered chapters as Gemma Gage. Gemma has her own problems when she makes an unwanted discovery about her husband's business. When Bruce catches her red-handed scrutinizing his dealings, he retaliates by keeping her captive in her own home facing inevitable death by a Bengal tiger.
When Thaddeus breaks into the Gage mansion looking for Bruce, he gets a whole lot more than he bargained for. The story takes one twist after another when Thaddeus takes Gemma as a hostage cum bargaining chip – but Bruce Gage didn't get where he was by rolling over easily. Thad and Gemma soon become the hunted themselves and their clashing personalities must join forces to combat a common enemy. As their thirst for revenge deepens, so does their involvement in the fractions of the criminal underworld. Rival gangs fight for their allegiance which leaves them with no alternative except to trust each other. But can they?
I joined an online critiquing group in 2011. In addition to having my work read and reviewed, I would do the same for others. I stumbled across a writer named Melissa Mayberry. She was writing her first novel, a YA romance, with characters who had me screaming at the pages at their ignorance, feeling their pain at rejection, and cheering at their victories. I knew she was good by how much emotion she evoked from me. I was writing my first novel as well and we soon became writing partners exchanging ideas and offering feedback on each other's stories.
One day Melissa asked if I'd like to write a book with her. I was flattered. No writer is going to jump into a metaphorical bed with another writer unless they feel the writing is good enough for their name to accompany their own on the cover.
So the first question was how does someone begin writing a novel with someone else? There was little question how we would do it in terms of POV (point of view). It would be in first person and I would write the male MC and Melissa would write the girl, and we would alternate chapters.
We decided that we would pick each other's names. I named her character Gemma Gage and she called mine Thaddeus Kline. Next we needed a setting. Through previous conversations we discovered that we both loved Asheville, North Carolina. So that was it. We had a place, although the story does move through all of North Carolina and parts of Tennessee.
Melissa had come up with a title she wanted to write before we even began, so the characters needed a common enemy. We decided to make it her husband, Bruce. And that was about all we discussed before putting pen to paper, except that I would write the odd number chapters and Melissa the even.
What you read is spontaneous writing. We never knew what the other one would write in answer to our own chapter then had to move the story according to what the other character said, did or discovered. Every time I wrote a chapter and sent it to Melissa, I couldn't wait to see what she would come back with. I think she took delight in throwing things my way that I could have never anticipated. I would often sit and wonder for hours "How the hell am I going to get them out of this situation?" Then I would send her back my chapter with a "Ha! Let's see how you get out of that one" attitude.
The end result is amazing.
Writing this book has been a lot of fun. Melissa and I have never met nor spoken but have enjoyed one another's work and we're able to put together a fascinating story that we both hope you will enjoy. Fasten your seatbelt and get ready for a wild ride!
A few years ago, Travis Casey critiqued work for my first series. He seemed to enjoy the story but I remained a bit skeptical of his praise. After all, that story is a young adult romance. When I returned the favor and critiqued Travis' book, Trouble Triangle, I fell in love with a rowdy, smart mouthed sailor named Tyler Chambers. Immediately, I noticed the quality in Travis' work, but the complexity and depth in his characters captivated me and each week I was anxious for more.
Soon, Mellifica became a series, as did Trouble Triangle. Anyone that has finished a novel can attest to the euphoric rush. We finished our first novels around the same time and became addicted to writing and each other's stories. At the time, my daughter started writing fan fiction with her friends. They would write one paragraph and the other person write the next. I liked that idea, but on a less complicated scale. Every writer I know has their "writing bestie" and it wasn't difficulty to know who to pitch this idea to.
Thankfully, Travis accepted the idea as a challenge and I dug through my list of ideas and proposed "Enemy of My Enemy." Neither of us had written action, but both of us could write a rich character. We created characters for each other, and Travis assigned me to the sass-mouthed Gemma Gage. She was a materialistic woman who ignored a very complex and organized crime spree, simply to reap the rewards. My biggest challenge was that I actually hated the idea of her and her shallow ways. Bringing life, depth and personal growth to this character took a lot of work. Eventually, I learned to love Gemma Gage and allowed her to survive to the end of the book.
Thaddeus Kline was the project I gave to Travis. After writing such a naughty character in his first series, I threw him a curve-ball with Thad. Sure, Thad has an agenda to kill, but deep down he was a good guy pressured into a dreadful situation. Thad isn't a born killer, but is a quick study when he needs to avenge his woman.
Co-writing this book was a lot like reading a new book. I had a basic idea of who this character was, but no idea how Thad would handle Gemma. Most of the time, I had no idea what Gemma's responses would be.
Fortunately, sparks between Thad and Gemma flew faster than bullets from an ugly gun.