Monday, August 19, 2013


Ammon is in Black & Gold on Right
When my son, Ammon, played basketball for Monarch High School, my wife and I cheered enthusiastically from the bleachers. 

We soon found out that not all his teammates were "team players."  Most notable were those whose whole ambition was to get the ball and drive hell-bent down the court to make a spectacular layup. 

As a 6'4" forward, Ammon was especially good at working the boards, rebounding and driving in to pass off at the last second, allowing another player in a better position to score. 

Had to document that Ammon (#35) did make baskets!
During a particularly heated game, we heard the Dad of one of the players, who was seated behind us, comment, "Ammon is too nice.  He won't get the stats."

I thought, "That's because he's a team player."

In any team sport, there are two driving forces that must be kept in balance:  what’s best for the one versus what’s best for the whole.  In the end, team work means doing what’s best for the whole team first, before doing what might be best for any individual, including yourself.

Great teams come together only when each player cares as much about the success of the other team members as he cares about his own. 

Back Row: Berk 3rd from Left, Andy 2nd from Right
Now, brotherly relationships can be notoriously complicated, with a lot of old baggage, but in our case, I enjoy my relationship with Andy and value his friendship.  As writers, I think the different experiences and skills we bring to the table are complimentary, and the product of our joint efforts is greater than the sum of its parts.

We discovered this only as adults. 

Growing up, I was always in the “big-kids” group of siblings, while Andy was always in the “little-kids” group.  Big kids were allowed by our parents to do things that the little kids were not.  This created a gap between us, and when we did interact as children, it was often when the big kids were playing dirty tricks on the little kids. 

Fortunately, Andy survived, and we had similar growing-up experiences, though the events in Andy’s life came a half-dozen years after mine.  While we both became lawyers, we both eventually decided to try something new.

Scary stories have always been a family specialty.  I started writing a young adult science fiction series, and when Andy also tried his hand at writing fiction, it didn’t take long for us to come together as The Brothers Washburn on a young adult horror series.  We find that once we start telling a horror tale, any bounds on the story are limited only by our own creativity and imagination. 

Telling tales is way more fun than being a lawyer.

As brothers, we get along well and have a healthy level of mutual self-respect, so we can freely share ideas and challenge each other without worrying about egos.  We are more creative when we are bouncing ideas off each other and discussing a general storyline, but we actually write separately, conferring afterwards on what we have been doing. 

In some ways, we are very different in how we approach a story.  Andy used to be a planner (a habit he got from writing like a lawyer), but in fiction writing, he no longer likes to plan ahead.  He likes to develop his characters, and then let them take the story wherever it is going to go. 

On the other hand, I am definitely still a planner.  I am always making lists and outlines, not only for the current story, but for future stories as well.

For both of us, background research is important in the theoretical sciences as well as in the local Trona geography.  The Dimensions in Death series is an ongoing horror story based on principals of science rather than on demons, devils or magical creatures, so an understanding of scientific theory is necessary and fun. 

However, Dimensions in Death is not a science fiction series with a few scary scenes.  It is horror, suspense and fright in a fast pace narrative with a little science sprinkled on for spice as the truth is gradually discovered by our heroes in the story.  Separately, the local geography in the story plays a critical role in setting the mood of the tale.  Trona, California is a real place in this world located in a desolate region of the Mojave Desert by Death Valley.  We grew up there and try to keep the series settings as real as possible.

The general outline for Pitch Green, the first book in the horror series, came together in November of 2010.  We were attending a writer’s seminar together in Manhattan and listening to panel discussions by top literary agents during the day.  One night, as we rode the subway from one end-of-the-line stop across town to the opposite end-of-the-line stop, and then back again, we mapped out the basic elements we would need to expand a favorite childhood scary story into a full-length novel.  Andy wrote the first rough draft, and then, in our typical tag-team effort, I took that draft over to edit and expand the tale. 

In the writing of the first book, the ground work was laid for both the sequels and the prequels in that series.  The whole tale is long and complicated.  However, as The Brothers Washburn, we are having more fun in the spinning of it than should be legally allowed.

But that’s okay--we know some good lawyers.

For the original of this post, go F.J.R. Tichenell, our blog tour host extraordinaire, here. Thanks, Fiona.


  1. Berk Washburn, are you kidding me? You grew up to be a writer of horror tales? We'd have never guessed that of our FHE brother back in the day! Ha! Love it! Now I have to read the book.

  2. I am excited you found me, Linda! Those days seem far away & just like yesterday. I'd be interested in what you think of the book! Enjoyed your blog by the way.