OUR WRITING PARTNERSHIP

Elaine on Marion

In 1997, Marion was the successful candidate for a research post I was managing whilst an academic at the University of Dundee. She'd impressed me with her rational thinking, attention to detail, organisation and very considerable communication and presentation skills. She still impresses me with these qualities now, but once we'd started working and writing together, I soon realised how wonderfully creative she was too.

We quickly became friends as well as colleagues, and spent much time travelling all over Scotland, delivering training courses and consultancy services. We've written two academic books together which have been very successful. On a personal level we have supported each other through major family challenges. When I separated from my husband a decade ago she was there for me - a steady rock in very troubled waters. When I keeled over with a serious illness a few years ago she was there for me again. I do not know how I would ever have managed without her.

When we work in partnership, whatever the topic or setting, we have an amazing creative synergy which comes partly from our intrinsic personality differences. When Marion had periodic doubts that we would ever finish the book or that it wouldn't be good enough, I would sweep them away with my natural confidence and always insist we could have a best-seller on our hands! I've discovered that she's a bit of a control freak with the paperwork, so I've just let her get on with it - that's the boring bit anyway - and concentrated instead on ensuring we're always well-fed and watered. I'm an absolute risk-taker, whilst Marion is more calculating but we've needed both of these approaches at various times in the genesis of the book.

Now that Eight of Cups is published and the marketing and promotional phase has started, we're on the road together again once more, after a long gap, planning a round-Britain trip of readings and signings. It's going to be a bit like the "Two Fat Ladies" and their motorbike - except that we're not fat, or old either and we'll have a campervan instead of a motorbike. But this time, even if she's in the driving seat I shall have to insist that her Elvis CDs are put away - there's only so much compromise a partner can stand!

Marion on Elaine

She frightened the life out of me when she interviewed me for a job in 1997 at The University of Dundee. Brusque, quick witted, direct, challenging. I've since learned how to manage her - unless she's having one of her brusque, quick witted, direct and challenging days that is!

In terms of our writing partnership, we're like two interlocking pieces of a jigsaw which have totally different shapes and colours but fit together to make an interesting picture, each needing the other to complete the image. She's innovative, high energy, analytical and decisive. In true Welsh fashion she isn't slow to sing her own praises. I'm more organised, slower and less confident, yet perceptive and a good completer finisher.

She's a keen cook. I keep the paperwork in order. We make an effective team and have developed a working partnership over twelve years of research, teaching and writing.

What always matters to us is that we produce a quality product, tailored to our audience, whether that be a group of practice managers in a workshop on devising protocols or the readership of the Fate magazine, for whom we are currently drafting an article.

Our taste in books can diverge markedly (Oscar and Lucinda by Peter Carey - she loved it; I couldn't finish it) and our respective writing styles differ too. We had to make a conscious effort, at times, to aim for a middle ground with Eight of Cups or it might have become very obvious who had written what. So far, no-one has raised the issue as problematic.

I won't pretend to understand her love of horses, and she definitely doesn't share my enthusiasm for The King of Rock and Roll. However, in spite of that, or maybe because of our differences, we have great fun together and have supported each other in difficult times too.

She'll want me to edit this no doubt!!