Beneath An Irish Sky – Publication Day – Author Q & A

Recently I reviewed an ARC of Beneath An Irish Sky and I was genuinely surprised by how much I enjoyed this gentle romance.  Whilst I’m still not a full-on romantic, I could be converted yet!  Today is publication day so I am posting a Q & A with the co-authors Val Olteanu and Liv Thomas.  I was particularly interested in gaining a clearer insight into how writing partnerships work, surely there must be some fall-outs en route!!


Hi Teresa, thank you so much for inviting us to be on your
blog. ‘Beneath an Irish Sky’ has been part of our lives for over five
years, but it’s very surreal to now see it in print! We hope people
enjoy reading it as much as we enjoyed writing it.

Liv and Val

Meet the Co-Authors: Val Olteanu and Liv Thomas (pen-name: Isabella Connor) whose debut novel is ‘Beneath an Irish Sky’

How did you two meet and what made you decide to write a novel together?


Val: Tolkien brought us together! Liv and I were both members of a ‘Lord of the Rings’ fan forum. It’s unbelievable but – eight years on – we’ve still never met in person because I’m in Canada and Liv is in England.


Liv: I asked Val if she wanted to write a novel with me. It’s still a bit of a mystery why I chose her because I barely knew her. Sixth sense, perhaps? I’d had an idea for a book kicking around for some time and had started getting some of it down on paper, but I was quite an impatient writer and found it hard to concentrate on detail. I preferred broad brush strokes; in Val, I found someone who could paint in the details.


You write as a partnership. How does this work?


Val: Because we’re both in different countries, everything is done via emails and phone calls. When we start a new novel, we brainstorm ideas together and then create chapter outlines. It’s essential as co-authors for us to know exactly which part of the novel the other person is writing, or there could be duplication.


Liv: When I finish writing a scene, I send it to Val for comments, and she does the same with her own scenes. We then critique each other’s work. All of it: ideas, style, grammar, punctuation. We give detailed, honest feedback. We don’t sugarcoat things or worry about bruising egos, and I think our work is stronger because of that.


Do you each have particular strengths and weaknesses in terms of writing?


Val: I think Liv and I started the novel believing we each had particular strengths and should write to those. However, as the novel progressed, we both tried out different types of scenes and our confidence in our abilities grew. So working together has been like an extended writing workshop.


What are the advantages of writing with a partner?


Val: For me, it’s having my co-writer’s input, feedback, and support. Liv and I also complement each other, so there’s a tremendous synergy in our writing partnership.


Liv: Working with a co-author, you get to be a reader as well as a writer.


And the disadvantages ?


Val: The eight-hour time difference between us. I’m on the west coast of Canada, and Liv is in the UK. When I’m going to bed, she’s waking up. What that means in practical terms is that sometimes I’m having a phone conversation with Liv and I’m exhausted – and vice versa.


Liv: I’m sure it takes longer to write a novel with a partner. We also have to make sure we consistently use a unified voice and tone. It was quite a challenge for us in the early stages to find our combined voice. When we first submitted our partial manuscript to the RNA New Writers’ Scheme, the reader said our book was ‘seamless’ – that she couldn’t tell two writers had been involved in its creation. We were delighted with that.


How do you resolve any disputes?


Val: We do have disputes. It’s inevitable if you’re co-writing a novel. The disputes don’t arise out of our egos, though – they happen because we’re both personally vested in the novel. If we have a disagreement about a major plot point, we know it has to be resolved sooner rather than later. We might talk to each other by phone since it’s quicker than e-mail.


Liv: If the problem is a minor detail of style, we might leave it and come back to it later with a fresh eye. Sometimes with time and distance, and because of things we’ve written later in the novel, the dispute resolves itself. We both had to compromise with parts of Beneath an Irish Sky. Not with major plot points, and not with key character development, but we’ve both sacrificed some lines and scenes that were near and dear to our hearts.


Do you plan to continue writing together?


Liv: We’ve almost finished our second novel together, and are planning more.


Val: It would seem strange now to write without Liv!

Valerie Olteanu

Val Olteanu

Liv Thomas
Liv Thomas







  • Share/Bookmark

Leave a Reply