A Split Personality

We’re asked all the time about how we write together. The answer is with a lot of planning, respect and hard work. Also, on any given day, we may have only one brain between us. LOL.

We’re long-time friends, first brought together by our love of books and desire to write fiction. Our collaborative efforts were initially laid to rest when our first two books never found a publishing home. Then Leigh started working on paranormal fiction, and Jan started editing and brainstorming with her. Four books later, we still like each other enough to keep going.

It hasn’t been smooth. We’ll spare you all the details, but the road to completing The Witches of New Mourne trilogy involved a couple of publishers and some disappointments. The publication of HEALING MAGIC on October 18, 2021, is a giant high. We’re proud we brought this story arc to a close.

As for how we cowrite—we think it helps that we’re very different. We develop plot and characters together. While the story may shift and change as we’re writing, a solid blueprint is where we begin.

From that point, Neely Powell has a split personality.

Leigh forges ahead, laying planks of story down. She loves research. For the trilogy, she explored candles, crystals, spells and potions for our witches to use. She’s a specialist in creating creatures like the one who rules the fae in our fictional town. Leigh’s a “throw words at the screen and fix them later” writer. She excels at keeping it going. 

Jan can’t do that. She edits as she writes. One sentence can take as long as the next three pages. She’s into the subtleties and details. For her, emotion is more important than plot, and she’s unafraid to let love, passion or anger rip.  

Do we drive each other crazy? Sometimes.

When Leigh gently tells Jan, “Let it go,” Jan may need to say, “Wait a minute, we need to think about what’s driving this character.” 

It’s a balancing act. 

Jan traveled this summer to Leigh’s Florida home for a planning session on a new book. The plot took a number of twists and turns. At a couple of points, we were not seeing eye to eye at all. Happily, no blood was shed, and our story has a fiery dragon residing atop a high rise in upscale Buckhead, Georgia. We’re bringing him to life one page at a time.

At the end of the day, our friendship matters most to us both. We’d hand in our laptops if Neely Powell started to interfere with Leigh and Jan, just two Tennessee girls who grew up wanting to spin words into stories. You can write a new book, but you can’t make an old friend.

We’re celebrating the release of HEALING MAGIC via FaceTime with a Diet Coke toast. Then it’s back to the dragon.


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