Here is the second part of our two-part interview with Tricia Goyer and Mike Yorkey, authors of The Swiss Courier. In this installment, Goyer and Yorkey share both the process of collaborative writing as well as their process for writing historical fiction.
How did you decide to collaborate on a manuscript? Who did what?
Mike: You might say that Tricia and I started on a lark. We had this germ of an idea about a Swiss courier being asked to do something that she never envisioned doing. As we discussed plot ideas, I wrote them down and then sent my file to Tricia, who added more thoughts. After several months, we had a strong outline of what we wanted to do. Then I would write a chapter or two and send them over Tricia, who would edit, make suggestions, or even rewrite whole sections. The process pretty much went like this throughout the entire manuscript. I wrote chapters in my “spare” time as I had other editorial commitments, so it took me about two years to finish the first draft. Then Tricia and I went back and forth on edits as she worked around her busy schedule. This was definitely a labor of love.
Tricia: Mike put the ideas on the page . . . and I worked to bring the people and the story to life. There were some sections (technical stuff) where I gave very little input. There were other parts (like the romance) where I, yes, rewrote whole sections! I thought we worked well together, as we each respected the other person’s talents.
How do you go about writing a novel based on historical fact? How does that shape the manuscript and tone of the book?
Mike: I read the definitive biography of Werner Heisenberg—Heisenberg’s War: The Secret History of the German Atomic Bomb by Thomas Powers. A couple of books about American and British pilots interned in Switzerland during the war (Shot from the Sky and Refuge from the Reich) were especially helpful. World War II novels dealing with the Switzerland and the OSS were beneficial, such as The Swiss Account by popular novelist Paul Erdman. Once you have this information in your head, you create these characters and let things play out as you envision everything happening. By the end of the novel, I really believed that [Swiss Courier characters] Gabi Mueller and Eric Hofstadler lived!
Tricia: To balance that, I usually read a lot of “true” stories. I’ve written about spies in my Chronicle of the Spanish Civil War series, and I devoured as many autobiographical accounts as I could. I’m thankful Mike focused on the technical details so I could play with the motivations, fears, and inward battles that these people faced.
What do you hope a reader takes away from The Swiss Courier?
Mike: An appreciation for those who stood up against the Nazi regime. All it took was a jealous neighbor to denounce you to the Gestapo, and you were in for a heap of hurt—and probably a painful death.
Tricia: A sleepless night! Ha! I hope this story will entertain. I also hope the reader will come away with “external” knowledge about this time in history and “internal” strengthening of one’s own convictions.
If you want to enjoy a sleepless night full of intrigue, excitement, and romance, download The Swiss Courier for $4.49 (available at this price through February!) from Vyrso today.