Authors & their Partners

Alan Garner: Boneland: One Of The Living Greats

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Paul Whybrow

Full Member
Jun 20, 2015
Cornwall, UK
After recently reading a very good crime novel by the writing team of Anders Roslund and Börge Hellström, I've been pondering who would make the ideal partner for an author.

Traditionally, writers are loners, reclusive beings who labour alone to create stories that they hope will be read by many. There have been a few famous writing couples. Perhaps the best-known contemporary married novelists are Paul Auster and Siri Hustvedt—he was previously married to writer Lydia Davis.

It rarely happens that writing couples are equally successful, one usually overshadows the other, and such is the case with Zadie Smith and Nick Laird, Michael Chabon and Ayelet Waldman, Stephen King and Tabitha King and Joan Didion and John Gregory Dunne. Other couples shared the limelight—Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir, Percy Bysshe Shelley and Mary Shelley and Jonathan Safran Foer and Nicole Krauss—though they're now divorced.

Going back a while, there's a couple who are credited with inventing Nordic-Noir—Per Wahlöö and Maj Sjöwall, whose detective Martin Beck appeared in ten stories. More recently, the twisted crime thrillers of Tania Carver are really written by husband-and-wife team Martyn and Linda Waites. Lars Kepler is really married couple Alexander and Alexandra Ahndoril, whose gruesome crime thriller The Hypnotist was an international bestseller in 2009.

I'm bemused as to how these writing couples reached an accommodation with one another, in how to write, share a home and stay sane. I'm in the fortunate situation, at least for my creativity, of living alone and being single. I've grown accustomed to the aloneness, agreeing with what May Sarton said :

"Loneliness is the poverty of self; solitude is richness of self."

All the same, I wonder if I'd benefit from having a loving partner who also wrote novels. Would my life be transformed by marriage to a literary agent, editor or marketing guru? And, would it be a wise thing for the health of the relationship, to have them represent me?

Perhaps loving another artist, of some kind, would be stimulating and restorative—a photographer, a painter or a sculptor.

Someone with a reliable income would certainly help! :cool:

Seeing as how obsessed we get with our Work In Progress, they'd have to be good listeners...or selectively deaf.

Are any of you involved with another writer, or a creative soul?

Have any of you tried writing a story with a partner?

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Spouse isn't a reader of fiction and gets impatient at mentions of WIPs. Is it not finished YET? Have you still not found a publisher YET?

Never mind. He supports me in other ways, big time, and one does not look for approval, permission or support, though it's darn useful to be able to test bits out. The good news for me being, if I can get him to listen to a very short extract read aloud...a page or 2, the feedback is always useful, assuming there is any. And if he likes anything, and says, oh, that flowed well, I was getting into that....that's a mega litmus test, precisely because he is a reluctant listener who doesn't read novels.

I have the ideal partner. He brings in a steady income. He's INCREDIBLY supportive and understanding about my lack of income. He is much more creative than I am, so he throws out book ideas and writing prompts all the time--it's like a writer's lolly scramble. He's willing to read my stories aloud so I can hear them. He critiques just about everything I write, and does so thoughtfully and constructively, but without pulling any punches. He champions my finished work, bullying colleagues and random strangers into buying my books.

Yeah. And, not to gloat or anything, but he bakes all our bread, cooks on the weekends, is handy with a hammer, is a brilliant father, and is good in bed.;) Guess I won the partner lottery. Though, to be fair, I spend a lot of time cleaning up after him--he's spectacularly good at making messes.
I write alone, though my better half is a beta reader. Unfortunately, she's not a real lover my genre. We share the cooking...

@Paul Whybrow 'Would my life be transformed by marriage to a literary agent, editor or marketing guru? And, would it be a wise thing for the health of the relationship, to have them represent me?'. Mine might be with a literary agent. But would I want it transformed? I'll have to think on that


Credit: National Gallery of Art
I live with someone who occasionally reads thrillers to find out what happens on the next page. Anything I write sounds wonderful, marvellous, brilliant as far as my partner is concerned. I might catch the odd yawn, but there is never any constructive criticism. We both have demanding workloads and share household tasks.

So I am a solitary writer and that works for both of us.
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Alan Garner: Boneland: One Of The Living Greats

Village Hall Meeting this Sunday!