"All My Children" interview
with Deref and Thea Zara
1. How did you pick the music to go with the stories?
Thea: Well, usually with a dual to the death.
Deref: LOL. Yes. Sometimes we have bloody battles about them. Both of us feel pretty strongly about the music, but we usually arrive at an agreed position.
Thea: Sometimes they suggest themselves while we're writing; other times we just wander through older music looking for something appropriate.
Deref: Sometimes the songs have specific links to the story line, other times it's just an atmospheric thing. For me, often they're songs that I've performed at one time or another.
2. Jake seems so STABLE when he was younger. Explain your reasoning on his lack of major mental issues back then.
Thea: Well, it takes time to crack any nut. We hope to slowly develop certain neuroses in ol' Jake.
Deref: For me, Jake was made, not born.
Deref: He started off as a normal kid, but it was his environment that made him what he is.
Thea: He's a child of his environment and of his times.
Deref: People have said that the hardest job we have is to go from young Jake to old Jake and do it convincingly. (Mind you, the same thing applies to Amanda). Chapter 14 shows Old Jake for the first time. Jake is forged in the fires of his experience.
Thea: Honestly, I think Jake is coming along that path nicely. Amanda and Vinny are going to be the ones to really "break".
Deref: Yeah. Man - that's going to be nasty. It's up to readers to decide whether Jake's transformation is believable.
3. Making Jake Wind's father goes a long way to explain Wind's relationship problems. How did you all come up with this idea?
Deref: It started from a chance remark that Thea made one day.
Thea: See, that premise is what started it all. Way back when the Scorched Remnants was trying different formats, they had a chat room briefly . . .
Deref: (That's the Scorched Remnants Message Board, for the newbies amongst us)
Thea: . . . and I was in there one night for awhile throwing out stuff, and "You know, Wind doesn't really come off as a Lane" was one of the comments I made. When Deref and I started talking stories, I made the same comment to him, with the basic idea that Jake and Amanda had a fling in high school. Honest to God, it was supposed to be a five-chapter (at the most) story. *looks over at the fanfic that ate Cleveland*
Deref: Your words were, "Have you ever noticed that Wind isn't a bit like the rest of the Lanes? There's only one person who Wind's like - Jake!" I guess I have to take a lot of the blame for the length, though there are times when I think we need to move it along.
Thea: Hehe, yeah. I wouldn't change it now though, honestly. It's gone from being all about the destination to being about the journey.
Deref: The only departure we've had to make from canon is to reverse the order of Wind's and Summer's births. And even that's not strictly a departure. Yeah - it's all assumption. We've been assiduous to stay on-canon throughout.
4. Wind's birth scene was awfully realistic. Did one of you by chance see a live birth?
Deref: Heh - yes. I've seen two - my own daughters'. And thanks!! I'm delighted that you found it realistic.
Thea: Only on TV. My mom made me watch The Joy of Birth (PBS special) when I was younger so I'd get the whole birds and bees thing.
Deref: Of course, there are four more to come. The fact that the Lanes have five kids indicates something - well, several things.
Thea: Yeah, CATHOLIC.
Deref: One, that they're either hoplessly incompetent, Roman Catholic, or that they like kids. Two, that Amanda's pretty fertile. Three, that it gets easier as they go along. Not quite along the lines of Monty Python's "get that will you, Deidre?", but a lot easier than Wind's birth was. I was thinking about doing the 'eat the placenta' thing, but a) I think that was a bit later, and b) you have to draw the line somewhere. Although I do have some friends who did that.
Thea: Bleech, I have CATS who do that.
Deref: Yeah - I thought that's how people would react.
Thea: That alone is enough to dissuade me.
Deref: It had some currency among the New Agers at one time. I'm not sure whether it still does. But really - birth is an amazing thing. They say that if it wasn't for the fact that our minds force us to forget, women would never do it.
Thea: Or would invent the male pregnancy, ala Junior.
Deref: The best description I've heard is that it's like crapping a watermelon. I could have made the scene much more graphic, but decided against it.
5. How does your co-authorship actually work? Which one of you does what in producing a chapter?
Deref: I like to think of it in musical terms. I'm like the player, and Thea's like the conductor.
Thea: That's a damned good analogy.
Deref: We discuss what a chapter's going to look like - we lay out the basic story line, and I do the writing. As it goes along, I send the parts to Thea and we discuss them and make changes. Sometimes Thea will write a specific scene . . .
Thea: If I have a clear idea on a scene, I'll write it, then Deref reworks it so it all has a unified voice.
Deref: . . . but most of the time I wield the pen - or the keyboard - while she stands behind me with a stick with a nail in it.
Thea: My side is almost 99 percent done in AIM. There are several key scenes we've had in mind since the first; we're coming up on two over the next couple chapters.
Deref: We complement each other very well. Thea has a wonderful imagination and a superb sense of story. If I have any talent at all, it may be just in putting the words down. The final scene, for example, is almost written.
Thea: Well, yes, but they're pretty words.
Deref: Sometimes I tend to wax lyrical - some of the descriptions for example. Whether I do it well or not is a moot point, but I do enjoy it. It's a constant source of frustration to me that I can never approach the writing of the people I most admire . . .
Thea: Which I think is crap on Deref's part; he's one of the best out there.
Deref: My initial inspirations were CL Basso and Renfield. Both of those guys were, and still are, mentors to me. Their styles are radically different but they're both incredibly talented. Then of course TAG burst onto the scene and showed us all how a professional does it. TAG and I had a wonderful backwards and forwards thing happening at one time. I'd fire off one of his and write a ficlet. I don't know whether he felt the same way, but we were almost tag-team writing. It was a real hoot. "Antipodean Daria" and "Farmyard Funnies" were products of that. Then I had a 6-12 month hiatus where I stopped writing altogether. I lost virtually all my momentum at that point, and never really got it back. That's when "Writes of Passage" reached its current stage. Recently, I've discovered another writer who, for me, is another one of the "greats", but she only writes Harry Potter fic. Still . . . I always strive to put whatever I can of what I continue to learn from them and all the other wonderful writers into my writing. I fail, sadly.
6. I want to ask about the timing of the death of Jake's father, but I guess that's in the future. Still, what do you have down about it from the Daria show and books?
Thea: There is going to be a scene before Jake and Helen's wedding involving the dearly departed. That's about all I can say, but we will be staying on canon.
When dealing with Ruth and with Mad Dog we scour the episodes for clues in Jake's rants.
The one moment I'm waiting for story-wise is Altamont.
Deref: Oh yeah. That's gonna be fun to write. I'm looking forward to that too. Sigh. Poor Jake.
Thea: AMG is going to be gunning for us after the next Amanda chapter.
7. Which chapter was the most difficult to write, and why? (individual answers)
Deref: The thing about collaborations is that the inspiration flows backwards and forwards. When I'm writing a chapter, or a scene, that I can really feel, it comes naturally and it works easily. When I'm writing a chapter that's essentially all Thea's inspiration, it can be hard work - I need lots of help and prompting from her. I think that's one essential difference between a pro like TAG and a hack like me.
The first few chapters - the Jake/Amanda chapters - I found very easy. The more recent ones have been hard work. I think we're coming up to some chapters that'll be easy again.
In some respects - many respects - it's a lot easier to think about which parts have been easy rather than which have been hard. And now that you force me to think about it, I think it's the "angsty" stuff that's been easiest for me. I enjoy writing that. When I was actively working on "Writes of Passage", I was classified as a writer of "Daria mental-torture fic". I think that's my milieu (if I have one at all).
Thea: You know, I don't honestly think there's been a HARD one for me. There were one or two early on where I didn't feel like I carried my weight thanks to family stuff that kept me away from the computer, but the story was always a way OUT of that sort of thing.
8. Which parts of the saga are you the most proud of? What parts do you wish you could redo? (individual answers)
Deref: Heh. I think my favourite parts are the Jake/Amanda scenes, and the Amy scenes. I love the angst and I love writing Amy. Jake and Helen are harder, probably because Helen's such a strong character and Jake's such a klutz. So I guess it's the parts that I like most that I'm most proud of.
I'm not sure at this stage that I'd redo any of the scenes. Maybe when it's all over I'll wish that I could, but very early on in my "career", Renfield convinced me that I shouldn't re-write anything. His advice was "do the best you can, and move on." I took that to heart, as I've taken all his advice.
Thea: Well, the Helen stuff in the last chapter turned out really well, I think. Just about anything with young Amy kills me.
Deref: I wish we had more opportunities to write more Amy.
Thea: We will, but not for awhile
I think we missed a couple opportunities early on, but all in all, I'm most proud of my work on AMC, and a lot of times things we missed seem to come around and turn into something we end up liking. The whole "Morgendorffer sibling" thing was like that, but I loved the way it was handled.
9. Did any of Glenn Eichler's responses to recent interview questions from Kara spark trouble or ideas for new material in the saga?
Deref: Yeah!! Jake's sister!! I have no idea how we're going to handle that one.
Thea: There weren't any huge things, but occasionally one of us will pipe up, "hey did you read this . . . ". Ah, well, Mr. Eichler isn't canon, so unless we remarry off Ruth . . .
Deref: Heh - yes. There's no reason for us to change anything.
Thea: . . . and quite honestly, who'd have the old battle ax?
Deref: But really - nothing else he said gave me any reason to think of diverting or changing anything.
And yes, Ruth's part in this is far from over.
Thea: I think, at the most, it's triggered a few pings to the ol' muse, but nothing major as of yet.
Deref: Yeah - I'd go along with that. What I really liked was the fact that we've touched base with him. All praise to Kara for that!
Thea: With all due respect for the man, I think a lot of his answers seem very glib, off-the-cuff responses that don't necessitate a major reworking of AMC to accommodate.
Deref: Well, we also have to remember that these are our stories, not Glenn's, and we can do whatever we like. It's a blast hearing what he has to say, but it's not necessary for us to take it to heart.
10. What new elements went into creating Amanda's family, besides what little was known about them on the show? What did each author contribute?
Thea: Honestly, her mother and father as characters haven't been fleshed out as well as they will be.
Deref: Really, there was so little known about them that it gave us free reign.
Thea: We caught them at the worst time in a parent's life . . .
Deref: Yes - well said. They're about to reappear, of course, and we'll be able to flesh them out a little more.
Thea: . . . especially back then, when something like pregnancy marked your entire life
Deref: Yes - that relates back to an earlier question. It was a big deal back then.
Thea: As to the Lanes, they come across very poorly in the reunion scenes of "The Teachings of Don Jake".
Deref: I think that the way we had them react was very true to the times. Amanda's courage in doing what she did was quite inspirational. I admire our Amanda. (Sorry - that related to Amanda's parents again.)
Thea: We wanted to establish the canon separation between them and the wandering Lanes, as well as have someone choose Amanda. At that point, she believes Jake abandoned her, and being chosen over family by Vinny has sealed their relations. Hip on Amanda's part.
Deref: Yeah. In the series they live their separate lives, but remember, they have five children. They always struck me as a fascinating couple. It's been fun fleshing them out.
Thea: Oh, we'll get around to explaining that . . . *insert more evil laughter here*
11. What went into creating Jake's family, the stuff that wasn't on the show? How did you decide what to use?
Deref: Oh - that's entirely down the to depths of evil in Thea's mind.
Thea: Quite a bit of it was plot related, more of a "what-if". Ruth isn't exactly likeable as a character. Honestly, as all of them go, I dislike that woman more than any Daria character ever. I don't know why that is.
Deref: Neither Ruth nor Mad Dog are nice, but we have some surprises up our sleeves. I think the less said about that, the better, at this stage.
11b. Does your dislike make it harder to write for her?
Thea: Oh, no.
Deref: For me, easier.
Thea: She's absolutely great to write for, 'cause you get to be as nasty as you want and it's perfectly in character.
Deref: She's a very strong character, so it's relatively easy. Mad Dog, surprisingly, was harder. We had to leave a lot of ambiguity in him, and that takes some doing.
Thea: She's another product of her times, a strong woman with prejudices, and one who still believes the 'man' of the house should take care of her.
Deref: There were some hints of things to come, though we've tried to keep them relatively subtle.
Thea: Honestly, I don't know about that. I think several people know what you're referring to.
Deref: What - the hints or the subtlety? I'm sure you're right. I was never very good at "subtle".
Thea: Maybe. Plot-wise, I think it's just as much my fault, if not more. When I plotted that bit out, I was hammering the reader with the clue by four. But, then again, when it does come up, I want a few people going, "Crap, I should have seen that", instead of shouting "Shenanigans! I call shenanigans! What are you trying to pull here?"
Deref: Yeah. Well, we can only hope. We do our best, really. I hope people enjoy it when it comes.
12. Deref, having lived through the sixties, how much of your story is based on real life incidents (personal ones, if it's not too invasive to ask)?
Deref: Heh - not too invasive at all. The answer is, a lot of it, in the sense that I'm trying to re-create the zeitgeist, as I remember it. The 60s was an incredible time. The sense that we were changing the world was palpable - we really believed it. The fact that we not only failed, but failed so spectacularly, is something that I want to try to capture. The current chapter we're working on, the Woodstock chapter and its successor, will, I hope, have a couple of poignant moments about that. Not to the degree that it overshadows the story, I hope.
Also, since, as I worked it out, I'm exactly Jake and Helen's age, I hope that I'm getting some of the angst of growing up in that era right. For Jake, in particular, his military upbringing would have caused some huge conflicts with the hippie thing, and his rejection of Mad Dog and the whole military ethos is one of the reasons he accepted the hippie lifestyle so enthusiastically. But Jake, being Jake, could never quite make it, could never really be laid back enough.
As far as the thing with Amanda's concerned, there's a lot of me in that. That's probably all I want to say about it.
13. Thea, as a child of the post-sixties yourself, but also as a citizen of the U.S., what perspectives do you feel you bring to the series?
Thea: I was raised by my mom and grandmother. My grandmother instilled a love for older things, Dean Martin among them. My mother was very much a child of the late sixties and seventies, and my taste in music and for the times came from being around her and listening as she talked or played music (many a long day was spent with her sitting at the record player just listening to singles). I think this gave me more of a feel for the time period that most people of my generation got. For example, there was a virtual age test awhile back on the PPMB, and I scored a decade older on the test than my mother did.
14. If you can, describe briefly the creative process that drives the story; in particular, how do you decide what elements (example-the moon landing) to include? What ideas for background historical events did you consider but discard?
Deref: That's a tough one. TAG has likened this to a Forrest Gump story.
Thea: Sometimes there is just a historical event too big to ignore. The moon landing was one; EVERYONE watched that sucker.
Deref: Yeah. Essentially, if it was a significant event, we wanted to include it.
Thea: Especially if it plays off of one of our characters.
Deref: Then there are some things that we have to include because of the show . . . Altamont, for example. We did have a scene in Colorado mapped out, but we rejected it. It was funny, but not really relevant.
Thea: John Denver is the man, man.
Deref: Sometimes I think we don't reject enough. But there is, I think, a rule that we try to abide by. Everything that happens has to happen for a reason. It has to be either for character development, or plot development, or sometimes just for fun. The two "guest stars" at the end of chapter 14, for example. The moon landing thing was pretty easy. I don't think that anyone who sat through it will ever forget it. I kept seeing the pictures in my mind's eye when I was writing that.
Thea: Had we been a few years earlier as a setting, we'd have seen JFK shot.
Deref: There are a couple of really significant events coming up that we'll do a Forrest Gump on. I hope they work. Being exactly Jake and Amanda's age really helps for me.
15. Name some of your favorite writers' tricks or techniques used in the story.
Thea: I think the best one we use is the back and forth between the separate threads. We're really telling two tales here: Jake and Helen, and Vinny and Amanda.
Deref: Yeah - I like the way that works.
Thea: And we blatantly use that fact to give dramatic cuts where we need them.
Deref: Heh - yes. Some would call it "melodrama".
Thea: Nah, melodrama would be something like a soap opera. *looks back over the plot* *looks at the title*
Deref: There are times - very few - when we break the fourth wall and speak directly to the reader.
Thea: I'd like to remove my last statement from the record.
Deref: Oh - speaking of the title . . . I had no idea that there was a TV show of that name until we were well into it. Had I known, I wouldn't have used it. I think it was a big mistake.
Thea: I tried to talk him out of it, but didn't realize he didn't know about the show. I just started using it as a joke title while we were planning, the other being "Jake's flake", referring to Wind being a "chip" off the old block.
Deref: So let this be my official apology for that.
Thea: Again, both were just sort of "something to name the files" and there were a bloody lot of files: conversations, timelines, story arcs, looking up when such and such a song came out or what day of the week a certain day fell on in 1968 or when the moon was full. Thank God for the internet full of crazy facts
Deref: Yes - the research files are probably longer than the story.
Deref: A lot of those small things are surprisingly accurate. We went to a lot of trouble to get them right. The date and day of the week of the Leonid storm, for instance.
Thea: And plotting a pregnancy . . . jeez, you have no idea how hard knocking Amanda up was.
Deref: ROTFL. I think she means getting the dates right.
Thea: Twice, no less, 'cause we KNEW when Summer was to be born, but getting her through Wind and onto pregnancy number two was a bit of a pain in the butt logistically.
16. What part of writing the story provoked the biggest disagreement between the two of you?
Thea: The end. We're not there yet, naturally, but that's probably the biggest disagreement we've had over the course of the thing.
Deref: Yeah. That's probably right.
Thea: I conceded to Deref's idea after much debate. Well, epilogue more than end, 'cause it will still end in the same place, but will just have this epilogue after.
Deref: We do have quite a lot of disagreements, but they're good disagreements.
Thea: Yeah, I think the story gains from them more than anything,
'cause we bounce out the ideas that don't quite make the cut.
Deref: I agree. The disagreements force us to hammer out the plot lines and resolve problems.
Thea: For example, we wanted to physically have someone at the lunar landing launch, but it would require we drag someone halfway across the country for no reason OTHER than to see a moon launch.
Deref: Yeah. It was one of those ideas that we both liked, but which wasn't practical.
Thea: Then it struck me/us that - as i believe someone mentioned earlier - the image we get as a people when we look back on it, is seeing it ON TV.
Our disagreements tend to be supremely tame; course, if he gets too excited about something, the tranq darts calm him right down.
Deref: Heh - true. They're rarely shouting matches. In truth, we disagree a lot, or at least do a lot of talking about specific scenes. There's one at the moment (no spoilers) that we're still working through.
Thea: Not really disagreeing, but finding the point were we will agree.
Deref: Some would see it as a disadvantage, but, for me, it's one of the benefits of collaboration.
Thea: The truth is, the music is where we disagree most, just 'cause he finds some of what I love as oldies music to be "noise pollution at its worst". I agree. See, we do that all the time.
17. Deref, have you ever considered any fics with Daria characters in Australia (Vincent Lane being the most obvious choice, with Helen - being sent to represent the firm's interests in a case - being second)?
I can't see myself doing another one. It could only ever be comedy.
18. Deref, being Australian, do you ever find that small bits of American-specific trivia and information trip you up on occasion, and if so, could you give us an example?
Deref: Short answer, yes. Longer answer, we're so saturated here with Americana that a lot of it comes fairly easily. But certainly I make some significant blunders. Having a dedicated and expert group of beta readers, of course, saves me from some of the most embarrassing moments. One of the most interesting debates about that in recent times has been that of spelling.
I made a specific decision when I first started writing that I'd use Aussie spellings, and I always make a note of it at the end of each story - not by way of apology, but as explanation. It's never been an issue until recently, when one person said that they found it extremely distracting. That got resolved when I asked the question on the board and no-one else was bothered by it (although some beta readers constantly try to "correct" my spellings.)
I guess the most difficult part is when I lapse into specific dialect. Willie, for example, speaks with a distinct drawl, and to get that right - so that it works for USA readers - sometimes takes a lot of work. I try to pay close attention to that sort of thing. Again, our beta readers are a huge help.
On the whole though, people are very kind and tolerant and, if I do make any significant 'voicing' blunders, they don't tell me about them.
19. What gave you the idea to write 'AMC', and how do you manage to keep everything interesting and suspenseful when we know where the main characters will end up?
Thea: Aside from the "what about Wind" thing, there was this point in talking where this conversation (paraphrased) was held:
(Deref) My muse ran off to Tahiti.
(Thea) My muse is insane, but I'm a lazy sod.
(Thea) Hey, why don't I give you her number and see what comes of it?
I never expected them to run off and get married.
As to the second part: It's all about the journey, about how they become the people we know, that makes the story worth telling.
Deref: LOL. Re "suspenseful and interesting", I take that as a compliment - thanks. If we do, I guess it's just part of the storytelling thing. We've had one piece of commentary recently asking, in effect, "How can you possibly write a story about such boring secondary characters?" Clearly, that person found the characters boring. Equally clearly, we never did. Interestingly enough, that person read the whole thing from start to finish in one sitting. I consider that a supreme compliment. Even if someone disagrees strongly with the premise or the construction or whatever - if they're prepared to put the time in to read it, I'm delighted.
Thea: They're too interesting from a writer's viewpoint to fall to the wayside of board chops.
20. Thea, being the first woman writer interviewed, I have to first say 'Congratulations.' As a female writer, do you feel that you have a more innate grasp of the world of OH (as 'Daria' was written to favor female characters)? If not, what special insights as a woman do you bring to Dariafic?
Thea: I dunno. Aside from family, I don't tend to identify with the female mind as much as the male mind. I tend to have guys as friends more than girls, so there isn't any real "girly thinking" going on . . . well, not much at any rate. Especially with AMC, when it comes down to it, I try to tell a story I'd want to read.
Deref: Let me butt in here - I think - at least I hope - that having both points of view helps, though.
Thea: When working with someone as good as Deref, it's more like putting in a request for lunch and then watching a master chef cook it in front of you. You're not doing much cooking but occasionally yelling out ingredients.
Deref: Heh - that's a great compliment. Thank you, Thea. I disagree, of course.
21. Deref, you're known through Daria fandom as a gentleman with some advanced knowledge of spirits and brews. Have you ever considered having any of your characters display any of that acumen in your fics? Also, how do you feel personally about how the use of alcohol is portrayed in Daria?
Deref: Hm - interesting question. First, I guess I don't think of myself as particularly skilled - unlike, say, Martin, who really knows his stuff. But even so, I think there's a real danger in the temptation to spend story time talking about things that interest us rather than things that interest the reader. I could spend a lot of time, for example, talking about computer stuff, or wine stuff, or flying stuff, and bore the reader to tears. I try to avoid that like the plague. It's one of the major dangers in crossover fics, and one of the reasons why, for me, they so rarely work. Most crossovers are more about the "other" than they are about Daria, and, unless you're as involved in the "other" as you are in Daria, they just don't work for me. If I spent any significant time going on about spirits and brews, I'd lose most of the audience. And God knows - I think only about half a dozen people are following the series anyway, so we can't afford to lose any readers.
But as to the second part of the question: no, in short. Alcohol is a part of life, and Daria really didn't shy away from anything. I think they treated it very responsibly on the whole. Jake's martinis were just comedy relief. It wasn't until Lindy arrived on the scene that they treated it seriously, and, for me, they did an absolutely superb job of it. Linking it back to the first part of the question, that wouldn't have worked if Lindy had started raving about the comparative qualities of one drink over another.
Of course, a more controversial aspect of the same question relates to other drugs. Because we're dealing with the 60s and 70s in AMC, we've already touched on it, and there's a lot more to come. I hope we do it well.
22. You're currently the only Dariafic writers who work as a team. What are the positives and negatives of this? How did you become a writing team, and did the efforts of other writing collaborations (Canadibrit and her companions on TLAS, for example) influence your decision to team up in any way? How, or how did they not? What advice would you give any other people considering co-writing a Daria fanfic story, based on your experience?
Deref: To me, it's a chance to work with someone I deeply respect. Thea's plotting and storytelling ability is wonderful.
Thea: Same goes for me. I respect Deref's ability to spin a tale. The major negative is, when one of us can't work, often neither of us can. For example, my move and personal stuff awhile back, or Deref's traveling.
I'm a huge fan/friend of Canadibrit and Ben Yee, and what they accomplished with The Look-alikes Series is still some of the best fanfic I've ever read, but I didn't really think of either of them when it came to "should we do this?". It was more like an opportunity to get some of the stories inside told. All too often I lose the story before it gets fully told. I'm desperately trying to NOT do that with "What You Reap" and I'm rather amazed I didn't with "Spring Break". Deref is like this mountain of calm stability that keeps the story going when my muse is busy bouncing off walls. Of course, bouncing off walls can be good . . .
Deref: Butting in - ditto - when my muse is stoned, Thea comes in with ideas that keep things going.
Thea: . . . some of the best plot points start out with her jumping up and down saying "ooh, ooh, what about . . ."
Advice - a good means of communication is the best tool: a messenger program or talking on the phone, some way to communicate real time.
Deref: Heh - k. I agree with everything Thea said, but I'll add some stuff. Having two muses working is fantastic. It really keeps things ticking along. I recently collaborated with Milderbeast on another very different story, and that confirmed everything I thought. One of the most important things is that you have to respect the person you're working with. You have to be committed to their vision of the story as much as to yours. And you have to let your ego take a back seat. An Aussie band called Skyhooks wrote a song called "Ego". One of the hooks was "Ego is not a dirty word". If we didn't have one, we wouldn't be writing, but ego can get in the way. You have to subvert it, and the best way to do that is to respect the other writer. Then, you get true collaboration. It would be easy to end up in constant battles - "it has to go this way", "no, that way", etc. I think there are some partnerships that simply couldn't work. So my advice is, for anyone thinking about collaboration, make sure you've read the other person's work and that you genuinely admire it. You don't have to believe it's perfect. If it was, there'd be nothing for you to collaborate about.