Writing Two Heroines in One Thriller
By Dawn Ius
Writing partnerships can get complicated. Egos, creative differences, writerly quirks—the potential for disaster hovers just below an author’s naturally thin skin.
Unless you’re Allison Brennan and Laura Griffin, the dynamic duo behind the popular female P.I. series, Moreno and Hart. While both are New York Times bestselling novelists in their own right, the co-authors credit a unique writing process for their partnership—and series—success.
“What works is that we each write our own character,” says Brennan, who is the voice behind Scarlet Moreno, the slightly older, more experienced former cop who was pulled into being a private investigator when she was pushed out of the Los Angeles Police Department. “Laura writes Krista Hart, the former rookie cop who thrives as a P.I. and is the only person Scarlet really trusts.”
For each book, the authors discuss the general over-arcing storyline and key character growth points—and then break off to write what ends up being individual novellas that are carefully stitched together to create two unique versions of the same story.
“I think it goes back to voice,” says Griffin. “These heroines—Scarlet and Krista—have such distinct personalities, it seemed natural for us to trade points of view within each book, part one told from one character’s perspective and part two told from the other’s.”
LOST AND FOUND, the third in the Moreno and Hart series, begins with Krista on the most dangerous skip trace of her career. With their P.I. business on the brink of failure, Krista doesn’t think twice about bringing in rival investigator (and potential love interest) R.J. Flynn to help track down the missing witness. Meanwhile, Scarlet is following a lead that could answer the question that’s been dogging her for three years: who is behind the mysterious shooting that cost her her badge and nearly her life?
As Scarlet begins to unravel a shocking conspiracy, Krista hones in on the witness—and realizes someone close to them is watching their every move. With the clock ticking and the body count rising, LOST AND FOUND builds to a heart-pounding climax that has become the hallmark of Brennan and Griffin’s work.
“For me, the key to suspense is pacing and character,” says Brennan. “The reader must be invested in the outcome, which means they need to care about the people involved in the story in some way.”
“Good suspense is all about the build-up,” Griffin adds. “You have to keep increasing the stakes and you have to make sure the story questions are compelling enough to keep the reader turning the pages. Personally, I love writing action scenes. I don’t feel like I’ve really nailed it unless my heart is pounding at the end of it.”
This kind of tension comes almost second nature for the authors who, in addition to the Moreno and Hart series, have to keep up with heart-racing publication schedules. Brennan and Griffin are in high demand—each have committed to writing three of their solo books this year.
Brennan writes the popular Sean Rogan/Lucy Kincaid romantic thrillers, and a mystery series featuring protagonist Maxine Revere, along with some connected trilogies, bringing her published books tally to more than two dozen. Aside from Moreno and Hart, Griffin writes three additional series, with her bestselling Tracer novels at an impressive 11 titles strong.
“We both have families and deadlines to juggle, so the biggest challenge is planning out our timing,” says Griffin. “But one thing I love about writing an independent series is that we have such a quick turnaround time compared to traditional publishing.”
Also, the authors admit Moreno and Hart have a special place in their hearts—not to mention good standing in the somewhat saturated thriller market.
“The best thing about Scarlet and Krista is that they truly like and respect each other,” says Brennan. “They are opposites in many ways, but their friendship was forged in violence, and that bonded them in a deep and unbreakable way. Having two equal female characters who have that bond is rare in fiction. Scarlet admires Krista’s ability to plan and execute. Krista is unflappable. But more than that, Krista is loyal. And that’s the one thing that Scarlet values above all else.”
Griffin adds, “That loyalty is really the heart of what the Moreno and Hart series is all about. I’ve seen this dynamic a lot in buddy movies or stories featuring brothers or military heroes. But I’ve seen less of it with female lead characters. It’s like a bromance—but with women.”
Allison Brennan is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of more than two dozen thrillers and several short stories. Reviewers have called her “a master of suspense” and RT Book Reviews said, “The Lucy Kincaid/Sean Rogan novels just keep getting better!” She’s been nominated for multiple awards, including the Thriller, Best Romantic Suspense, and Daphne du Maurier awards. FEAR NO EVIL won the Daphne award. Her new and upcoming releases include BEST LAID PLANS and NO GOOD DEED in the Lucy Kincaid series, and POISONOUS in the Max Revere series.
For more information about Allison, visit her website.
New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Laura Griffin started her career in journalism before venturing into the world of romantic suspense. She is a two-time RITA Award winner (for the books Scorched and Whisper of Warning) as well as the recipient of the Daphne du Maurier Award (for Untraceable). Laura currently lives in Austin, where she is working on her next book.
To learn more about Laura, please visit her website.