“Ellen Called Too.”

Layne Jamesauthor, book writingLeave a Comment

“But I didn’t want to tell you the other day, because Oprah calling was already so much information to process.” That’s said casually the next week at dinner as my husband I delicately toast our respective glasses of Chateau Margaux because you know we drink that stuff like it’s going out of style.

“Oh really?” He’ll tilt his head with a small smile and reach for a piece of escargot. “Tell me more.”

“Wellllll, we’re heading out to see her next Thursday – on her private jet of course – and this is how  I imagine our first interview with our friend Ellen will go….”

Ellen: Alright, ladies. So here we are. How are you feeling?

Lindsay: Excited! (Does a little dance) We’ve talked about this moment for so long!

Layne: Amazing! Thanks so much for having us out.

Ellen: Okay, so your book Remember Us is out on the shelves, already a bestseller.I have to say I’ve read it, and I love it. Your second book is due out in three months, but I want to talk about Remember Us today. 

Layne: Great! We do too.

Lindsay: If you want us to sign your copy we can (smiles at Ellen and laughs)

Do you have a favorite line in one of your books?

Layne: So many. Here, can I see that very pretty hardback copy of Remember Us you’re holding. Okay, I actually have to read a small section to get to the line I want, I hope you don’t mind.

Ellen: No, not at all, go ahead.

Layne:

“Blake, you do not want a piece of this.” I pulled my grey fuzzy robe around me and leaned into the cold granite counter.

When the timer went off, Mom jumped from the table. I knew casseroles were the devil for my body, but Bernice made a breakfast fit for a king, and in the presence of her buttery goodness, I lost any ounce of self-control I once possessed. Dad sat and watched everyone dance around the kitchen in a sort of caustic waltz. Ben grabbed the plates and Blake got the cups for orange juice.

In all of the commotion Blake leaned in close as he walked by and whispered loud enough for only me to hear, “Oh Reese, yes. I most certainly want a piece of this.”

It gets me every time. Lindsay wrote that.

Lindsay: When we first wrote Remember Us, we wrote most of it without hardly any dialog (looks at Layne and they both roll their eyes). I distinctly remember Layne writing the opening scene with Ben and Reese’s drinking game dialog and laughing hysterically. It’s definitely one of my favorites. Although it wasn’t at the beginning of the book at the time. But I remember thinking, this is good! Our dialog is going to bring this book to life and hopefully make people laugh!

Layne: I have to jump in here and mention that Lindsay had probably said “Do you think we need dialogue?” about…six times previously. But every time, I said, “NO.” I was scared to write it. The bit of dialogue we attempted seemed flat and stale. Which is all hilarious in light of the fact I think that’s one of the strongest parts of our book now.

Ellen: What did you love about writing with each other?

Lindsay: Layne is ridiculously talented. She is by far the better writer between the two of us. So she definitely adds an elite level to our writing. She is brilliant at her craft and I’ve learned a lot by working this process with her. Layne is great at so many aspects but I’d say she has been the girl that has kept us going. Maybe not at the beginning when our book was crap and she just wanted to chuck it (looks at Layne and laughs) but from that point on she was all in. Without her commitment and drive, we could potentially still be writing Remember Us, and 12 Hearts may not even have been written yet.

Layne: Ahhhh, thanks, Linds! (blushes furiously) Lindsay is motivated and hilarious. She writes a mean one-liner and is so incredibly amazing at catching the little details especially. I think we would both say that I tend to be more of the big picture person and she tends to be our one-liner/detail genius, but you know, there were so many times when it was Lindsay saying “I think we have a hole here” or “This isn’t working.”

And by “big picture” I don’t mean storyline – I mean, rather, that I obsessively moved chunks of the story around.

It was fun. We laughed a ton through the process. We texted each other a million times over the past few years of writing. We’d message each other lines from the book all the time to say “good job” or “I love this.” I generally laugh at the same places in our book even though I’ve read it through a hundred times. Yes, literally one hundred.

It was so great to have another person to laugh with me when I realized we’d written “just” in our book 1082 times or “stared” 511 times. When we did our in-person read-through, we created a list of words we kept using over and over and over again. It was infuriating and hilarious.

This is one of the hardest and best things I’ve ever done, and it was an unbelievable gift to do it with one of my dearest friends. Now, I wasn’t in her wedding, but I’d say we’re close, really close. We know each other on a deep level. It’s nice knowing there is someone else out in the world who loves our book children as much as I do.

Ellen: It was one of the hardest things you’ve ever done?

Layne: For me, yes, absolutely. I’d put it on the list with starting a business, working through the hard moments in marriage, and (co) leading a team of 11 girls around the world for two years. We actually stopped writing at some point. We got to the end of the book, looked at each other and said, “Now what?” I think we had around 36,000 words at the time, which is about half of what you need for a book.

And it was bad, Really Bad. I made Linds sad because I hated it.

Lindsay: It’s true. I’m forever an optimist (laughs)

Layne: We put it on the back burner for a year (Linds?) and then it was Lindsay who said we needed to pick it back up.

Lindsay: We should also mention that the first time we met for an in-person editing session we had the entire book ‘written’ if you will. So we did an entire read-through out loud checking for mistakes and whatnot and then…

Layne: I was ten minutes into reading a section when Lindsay yelled ‘BOOOOORING’ out into the room. Our book, which we thought was “fully written,” was boring. She was right. After that we took out the first bit of the book and deleted the entire last third and went back to the drawing board. We’ve almost fully re-written it at least two more times since then. But I’m grateful she could see it was BORING. It wouldn’t be the book it is today if she hadn’t called us out on our shit. I think we’re good for each other in that sense-we both have a deep and abiding commitment to excellence so we push each other to write better, dream bigger, see differently, and work until it’s done.

Ellen: Do you remember who wrote what?

Layne: I do mostly. There are some sections that are a full blend of both of us, some sections that were more Lindsay than me, and vice versa. But yeah. In general we tried really hard to have a consistent feel to the whole book, and I think we succeeded.

Lindsay: Our beta readers and publishers both said our book sounds cohesive, that you can’t tell there are two voices behind the characters, so I think that’s a good thing. But for sure, I remember who wrote what mostly because, Ellen, we invested years into this thing (laughs). I’m fairly certain both of our very first contributions to the book are still in it as well. Or at least a form of it.

Ellen: Now, I’m looking at your website. It’s amazing. blakeandbeckner.com. So tell me-where did the name originate and what was your inspiration for the site design itself?

Layne: Well, thanks, Ellen. That’s so kind. I never thought I’d be here, let alone hear you use the word ‘Amazing’ when directed towards us. We accept.  I’ll tell you about the name and maybe Linds can spearhead the website answer. We knew that authors generally had their own website, but since we wrote together, we wanted to create an umbrella platform for us to write together under. It can also work for either of us to write individually, or, I suppose, other people could write under our platform as well. We spent a lot of hours dialoguing through a list of names like “The Pen” or something generic like that.

But, when Lindsay put a few of our very top suggestions on Facebook, my friend Paul said, “Why aren’t you using Blake and Beckner?” (which are our middle names) and then it was so obvious. Why hadn’t we thought of it before?!

Ellen: Two good friends writing a book together. Do you think that should be a book in itself?

Layne: Ellen! You are speaking our language. Yes, absolutely. We’ll make it nice and a dramatic. And funny; Lindsay says humor is our thing. (winks at Lindsay)

Lindsay: And a movie too!

Ellen: Speaking of movies, I’ve heard rumors of Remember Us filming as a movie can you confirm or deny this?

Lindsay: No comment. (laughs hysterically and winks at camera)

Ellen: Is there anything else you can share about the book or the process?

Layne: Just that I never get tired of texting about our book people. If I could have a number our readers could text as they read the book and respond, I would love it. If someone can make that happen, let me know.

Lindsay: Oh yes! That would be amazing! Although, I will say, Layne is the best one to talk to about our book because while others LOVE our book she is the one person who was/is as deeply invested in this process. No one else will ever really know what that is like. This will always be something extra special for the two of us.

Ellen: What writing advice would you give to other aspiring authors out there?

Layne: Start! And/or find a friend like Lindsay who is crazy enough to dream big and write big with you.

Lindsay: Have a plan! (laughs) While it can be fun to wing it, it can take you a lot longer to get to the finished results. So have a flexible plan.

Layne: Ellen! Thanks SO MUCH for having us on. You truly are a babe. Also, can you be a doll and introduce us to Lauren Graham, casually over apps at your place? Thanks. You’re the best!

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