Readers of this blog will be aware that I am an identical twin. In fact, my twin, Julia Williams and I are so similar that our eldest brother used to tease us saying that we were one person really. ‘No we’re NOT,’ we’d cry in unison, as we dived on him, before he brushed us off suggesting we’d rather proved his point.
Of course, he was just being a mean big brother. Julia and I share similar faces, and have some similar personality traits, but we are also very different. She is much more glamorous than me, enjoys dressing up in fancy outfits and fine shoes for parties. I’d rather slob about at home. I’m more politically active than she is, and though we share core beliefs about justice and equality, we often have a different take on how these can be achieved.
One thing we do have in common is that we are both writers. Julia is, however, far ahead of me. She began taking her writing seriously when she had her second child in 1998. She took a number of courses, found herself an agent and wrote two novels, all while raising four children and looking after her parents-in-law. She finally hit the jackpot with her third novel, ‘Pastures New’ which as published in 2009. Since then she’s gone from strength to strength, having published nine novels that regularly make the best sellers lists.
I’m very fortunate that Julia got going before I did, as she taught me what a hard grind it was, and how much rejection I could expect before success beckoned. I’m equally fortunate that she’s also a fine editor, so I have expert advice on my writing whenever I want. Given how busy she is, I try not to exploit it too much, but thanks to her, my first flash fiction collection was good enough for publication. And, her advice last autumn was enough to tighten up ‘Echo Hall’, so I finally got the publishing deal I’ve been craving.
I’m also lucky that I get to see Julia’s books first and always enjoy how watching how my feedback is incorporated in the editing process when it is useful. But her writing can be very different from mine, as she has written about here. My stories tend to be politically charged or focus on relationships between friends and family members. I don’t really enjoy romance unless it has a purpose in the story, and I always find romantic relationships more interesting when there are problems to be resolved. I get bored by happy couples frolicking in clover! Julia, on the other hand loves romantic fiction and romance is at the heart of her novels. However, as she has gone on, she has tended to bring in other relationships as well, and often has interesting things going on in the background, such as ecoprotests, or living with a disabled child which I feel adds real depth to her books. I take a long time to write (‘Echo Hall’ took ten years, I’m two and a half years into writing ‘The Wave’) but Julia has managed ten novels in eight years, a work rate I find astonishing.
If you’d like to know more about how we write, similarities and differences in our work, you can meet us in the flesh! All you have to do is pledge £110 to support my novel ‘Echo Hall’ and we’re all yours. AND as a special bonus, you’ll get a pamphlet of my seven poems about twins l- ‘Monozygotic’. Here’s a sample poem:
On being a twin.
What’s it like then?
Being a twin?
It’s like seeing your face,
but in a different place.
Like someone dressing in
the contours of your skin.
Like sharing shape and thought,
and every single fault.
It’s all I’ve ever known.
Ask me another one.