This November, SBW TalkBooks read A Reaper of Stone, the first installment of a fantasy series of novellas by Mark Gelineau and Joe King. Intrigued by their characters and storyline, TalkBooks members wanted to know how they work together and what comes next. Read on to learn more about Gelineau and King’s team approach to publishing.
A Lady is dead. Her noble line ended. And the King’s Reaper has come to reclaim her land and her home. In the marches of Aedaron, only one thing is for certain. All keeps of the old world must fall.
Elinor struggles to find her place in the new world. She once dreamed of great things. Of becoming a hero in the ways of the old world. But now she is a Reaper. And her duty is clear. Destroy the old. Herald the new.
Interview Q&A Recap:
How long have you known each other? Have you been writing that long?
We’ve been friends for over twenty-five years. We have been writing and telling stories in one form or another for about that long, yes. Mark’s an English teacher and has been published for a few years. Joe’s held a similar passion for writing for a long time. This is the first series that we are publishing together on our own.
What have you written before the current series of novellas?
In terms of published works, Mark has a very cool series of pulp stories with Pro Se following the Hanged Man. We did one short novella together for them called “Southern Hospitality” in the collection Once upon a Sixgun. The Echoes of the Ascended is the first work we are publishing together, and on our own.
How are the stories within the Echoes of the Ascended series organized?
There are four different series, all in the same world. Each has its own protagonist with a different story, but they’re from the same group of orphans who grew up together. Each series also embraces a different genre. A Reaper of Stone is the first novella in Elinor’s series, which is epic fantasy. Rend the Dark is a horror story that features Ferran. Alys is the protagonist in Best Left in the Shadows, a noir tale. Roan and Kay’s storyline begins in Faith and Moonlight, the opening installment for our upcoming young adult series.
The way we’re piecing the world together has been very different and we’re enjoying it. We didn’t have time to draft a full novella at the beginning, but we had enough time to draw a flash part of the world, and we continue to build it as we go along. We’re both big film and TV guys, and we’re trying to give it that type of feel.
The resulting prose is smooth. How do you share writing tasks?
Thank you so much for the kind words! We share and swap a lot of tasks, so there’s a lot more nuts and bolts to our Frankenstein-style of writing that I can probably cover here.
Joe comes up with a grand scheme and refines it into story beats. Mark writes first draft and gives it to Joe to edit and revise. The process repeats. Edits, alpha pass, beta pass, etc. But generally, Mark is the writer, the wordsmith, and the artist. If you see a particular piece of prose that’s like “Wowza!”, that’s Mark. Joe’s the cold-hearted editor that cuts and cuts and cuts. Then Mark does more writing, and Joe more cutting. And we go back forth until we feel it’s done.
We never do the same job as each other. We each perform different functions at different levels to prevent the writing from feeling inconsistent. Instead, hopefully it feels more like a polished product as we add layers of more editing and more writing on top of the original drafts.
Does sharing the writing load let you turn out more books?
Yes and no. We think it helps with writer’s fatigue and writer’s block because if we do start feeling worn down we can always tag out. But there’s also a lot of thinking and decision-making that usually happens within our own heads that need to happen across emails or phone calls instead, which takes an awful lot of time.
I think our team-writing probably writes at, or a little slower, than your average solo writer, but we make up for it in consistency, which allows us to publish a new novella every month. I couldn’t imagine having to face that kind of deadline alone every month.
What’s it like to release a novella every month?!
It has been pretty insane. Since we are publishing these on our own, we manage one to two rounds of beta responses, one to two rounds with our developmental editor, one round with our copy editor, and then manage the cover design and formatting vendors, and create all marketing and promo materials every month. The book-a-month model helps gain exposure for previously published novellas. And we have loved every minute of it. Well, almost.
How do you approach social media?
We use social media platforms, such as Twitter, to engage with people, to reach out with others, and to also talk about their work. Other writers are great for support, but we also focus on reaching out to our target audience.
How do you get your book reviews?
We did a few things to help us out here, but mainly, we just asked people who bought our book, “Hey, love it or hate it, we’d really love a review.” In our experience, the hardest part is just asking people. The length probably helped too, as far as people’s investment in time. Here are a couple of things we did. Your mileage may vary.
1) We gave the book away for free at launch for a few days and let people know it was available (through websites, emails, going into local stores/groups).
2) We contacted the amazing web blogger community and asked if they’d be interested in doing objective reviews.
3) We also did Goodreads giveaways and other similar giveaways to reach more people.
Ultimately, I think people are wonderful about wanting to leave honest reviews if given the chance. We just tried to remove as many barriers as we could to giving people that chance. With that in mind, if anyone would like to do an objective review of our work, please contact us. We have ARCs available 🙂
Do you have plans for other publishers to pick up your books?
We like the freedom of self-publishing, but we’re very open to a publisher wanting to take over. Writing is just twenty percent of all the work that needs to get done. It requires lots of coordination to stay on schedule.
Ever since the day he discovered his grandfather’s stacks of pulps, comics, and sci-fi and fantasy novels, Mark was fascinated. When he saw his first movie, Star Wars, he was hooked.
Stories of adventure and far off worlds thrilled him then and inspire him now. It was this passion for imaginative storytelling that led him to writing and education. In addition to his own writing work, Mark has taught middle school English for the last thirteen years, and is excited to share his stories with his young son, Bryce.
Joe King spent most of his childhood doing what he loved most—building things with his friends. He built friendships, stories, worlds, games, imagination, and everything in between.
Joe believes in the power of stories, dreams, family, friendship, and getting your ass kicked every once in a while.
More than anything, he wants to tell a good story, and, for him, Gelineau & King is the constant reminder that it’s never too late to start building the things you love.