Liza Kendall is the combined pen name of two award-winning, bestselling authors who’ve known each other forever and decided they could work together without someone ending up dead.
Liza Kendall is one pen name for two people. How did you come up with the name, and which of you is Liza, and which of you is Kendall?
LOL. The simple answer is that Liza Kendall was born out of Liz’s first name and Karen’s last name. But we went through a million names before we settled on this one.
How did you two start working together?
We met at a conference in New Jersey a decade and a half ago, and identified each other as kindred spirits. We have a long, oddball history of taking off to hole up and write together on our own separate projects--in L.A. while dog-sitting, in sunny south Florida, in New York and in Paris while taking a writer’s workshop. The cool thing was that we did actually write. After that first L.A. experiment, we came home with at least 100 dog hairs a piece, and 100 pages a piece, too. Success!
But HOW do two well-established authors (used to being the boss in their own imaginary universes) compromise and work together?
We honestly had never done it before, but we approached it with more enthusiasm than trepidation. And we have said from the get-go that if working together ever became a problem, the friendship was ultimately more important.
We each take a different view of creating a book. Liz tends to take a wide-angle, analytical, director’s view of a project. She’s also obsessed with ensemble scenes and banter. Karen is more drawn to scene details, color and characterization. But Liz is paradoxically more of a “pantser” when it comes to plotting, and Karen is weirdly, unexpectedly methodical. We have some funny conversations! And we share the “pants,” so to speak.
Liz: “Awesome! So we have the family arc and some fab notes on the characters and their goals, motivations and conflicts. Let’s go write!”
Liz: “Is there a problem?”
Karen: “Actually, yes. Ten of them.”
Liz: “How? We haven’t even started, yet.”
Karen: “I need to have ten plot points, split into three acts, and then a synopsis.”
Liz: “Ten? Why ten?”
Karen: “It’s just a thing.”
Liz: “Oh. Uh, okay.” If this is Thing One, when do Thing Two and Thing Three come along?
Karen: “So I’m just gonna go get my legal pad, ‘kay?”
Liz: “Dude, we need an ensemble scene after chapter four.”
Karen: “I’m no dude; I’m a chick. Actually a hen, at this age. And what’s an ensemble scene?”
Liz: “You know, where you have a bunch of people together, riffing off each other. A sense of community.”
Karen: “You want more than two imaginary people to take over my already warped mind?”
Karen: “This may get seriously confusing …”
Karen: “I want to write a scene with a goat/donkey/a bunch of catfish.”
Liz: “You want to … uh … why?”
Karen: “It’ll be great. Just trust me.”
Liz: “Uh … why?”
Karen: (writes frantically for two to three hours).
Liz: “Dude! I love the scene with the goat/donkey!”
Karen: “Cool. And the catfish?”
Liz: Silence. “Hey, did you see they emailed us the new cover?”
So this is how it goes. And it’s ended up being a lot of fun! Do we always agree on everything?
No. We’re human. We have become (to our mutual regret) adults. And since it never did work well, all those years ago, to toss a Tonka truck or a Baby Alive doll at any other kid in the sandbox, we have learned to compromise. 😊