The creation of A Conclave of Crimson

by | Mar 17, 2024

Or how two writers wrote a book series in 3 months across international timezones.

Book One of A Conclave of Crimson is now out in the world, but the story of its creation is unusual, to say the least. We wanted to share with our readers how this extraordinary multiverse began, so we sat down for a conversation. 

In 2021, we were invited for a Nightworms interview about our respective vampire books: The Gabriel Davenport Series (Beverley) and Beguiled by Night (Nicole). We had each read one another’s books: in fact, this is how we became friends. A beautiful friendship, borne out of a mutual love of vampires ❤️‍🔥 [Update: watch our 2024 interview with Sadie Hartmann, aka Mother Horror, on the Nightworms YouTube Channel]

A question emerged while we were preparing for that first interview, when we barely knew each other: ‘what would happen if our vampires met?’ It seemed such an innocent idea at the time, and we had a bit of a laugh about that… but neither of us could stop thinking about that concept.

BEVERLEY: So we began with an idea that Vauquelin could travel to England to meet Clove and the Bloody Little Prophets at Gehenna. I wrote the first part and sent it over to Nicole — and the whole thing snowballed quickly into the tiny little gateway to our multiverse, Crimson is the Night.

But our vampires very swiftly began to prod us as they had much more to say. We were both working on other books at the time, The Sum of Your Flesh (Beverley) and Citizens of Shadow (Nicole) and we decided that after we’d completed the first drafts of those we’d reward ourselves with a little fun by delving into our multiverse again.

NICOLE: It was a beautiful thing, because it never would have worked had our vampires been so different from one another. There are differences, yes… but both of us are so heavily influenced by Anne Rice and her canonical vampires.

BEVERLEY: And any differences that did come up we quickly realised we could explain by unique vampire bloodlines.

NICOLE: It became clear to us at once that it wasn’t feasible to write this by switching off parts as we did with Crimson is the Night. With seven characters (two new ones showed up after Crimson!), it just couldn’t work. So we turned to Google Docs. 

We never outline our work, and all our stories are character-driven. Google Docs allowed us to write in live time, and both of us would be in the doc, watching words appear. It was call-and-response, and we had to think on our feet because one or other of the characters would say or do something that completely blindsided us. It was a magical way to write, but one that requires a gargantuan level of trust. You have to let ego and perfection go out the window, and allow your writing partner see what you write as you write it, warts and all. My god, we had some hilarious typos!

Because this was just for fun, and we never meant to publish it, we let the characters drive. We agreed to not hold anything back. And boy… did they deliver 🥵. We left loads of comments in the margins as we were writing. It was so much fun! We would also keep in touch via chat, so we have records of our conversations and reactions as we wrote.

Beverley, remember at some point I said, ‘OH… we’re going there, are we?’

BEVERLEY: *coughs* I certainly do. Looking at you, Gabe and Moth 😏. And from then on, the heat level spiralled. But we never meant for this to be spicy, we simply followed their lead. 

NICOLE: Exactly that. In our previous vampire books, there was some spice (quite a bit more in Beguiled and Citizens), but nothing like this. It was so much fun… and we discovered that we are really good at writing spicy scenes.

BEVERLEY: And the character arcs in this part are sensational. Every time we sat down to write, which was basically any time we could glean to be together, considering that we’re eight hours apart, time zone wise, the story took us to places we never ever imagined. We’ve never heard of anyone else writing like this. It was pure alchemy.

Our comments in Google Docs were almost as entertaining as the story unfolding — What are these two doing?! Remember that, Nicole?

NICOLE: Oh my god, YES. That was such a huge turning point in the book, and when we finished that chapter we were a bit gobsmacked. Neither of us ever expected [spoiler redacted] what happened to happen. 

BEVERLEY: Even now I’m still shellshocked over that occurrence!

NICOLE: I don’t think we’ll ever get over that! But wasn’t that kind of when we started saying… wait a minute… maybe we should publish this?

BEVERLEY: It was. But that was a terrifying prospect, given the material. It sounded very much like us, writing wise, but with the dial turned up to maximum.

NICOLE: As it progressed, it became clear that we had some queer/diverse voices that needed to be heard: that there was something to this story that we could not, in good conscience, keep to ourselves. We agonised over it so much…

BEVERLEY: The words were coming so quickly we could barely get them down. We passed the 70k mark after a couple of weeks. 100k. 200k. And they still weren’t finished. Sometimes we’d be writing long after midnight just to placate these seven voices who didn’t care that we were mortals and needed sleep. Finally, 3 months to the day after starting, we wrote the final scene. 324k. A trilogy. And then we slept.

NICOLE: In the final throes, we were on our knees. Neither of us had ever written so much in such a short time frame. But as we were progressing with the story, we started having problems with Google Docs. It would stutter and freeze on us, and sometimes we’d have to come in behind each other and clean up, just to get the words down. Then, one night, I panicked… you were asleep, Beverley, remember? As I was editing my parts, I got an ominous error message from Google Docs:

I was effectively locked out of the document. My heart dropped to my toes. Ironically, I had to Google what to do about this. Turns out: we broke Google Docs. We had exceeded their character limit. In case you’re curious, it’s 1.02 million characters. We went past that! Whilst I was having a coronary over in the U.S., I had to make an executive decision (again, the inherent trust thing between two writers) — I had to duplicate the doc and split it into two parts. We lost our original comments in Part One (but we have them preserved). And that was heartbreaking… because we ended up with two halves, and to us, it was one book. It will always be one book, no matter how many volumes we end up with.

BEVERLEY: But we survived (with probably more grey hair) and after Nicole had worked her magic on formatting, we did order an omnibus of our hefty baby, with its temporary cover, just so we had it. This is classified as a lethal weapon 😏

NICOLE: The omnibus is almost 4 inches/101mm thick…so you can see why we had to split it into 3 books 😏

BEVERLEY: There’s so much more we could share about our journey with Conclave, but as this is getting to be a little lengthy we’ll wrap this up. If you’d like to know more, follow us on Instagram @nicoverleybooks. This is an incredibly unique story with an equally unique creation process. And we’d love for you to read it and to fall in love with our vampires 🫠

Come sit with us.

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