PW: Is Monkeewrench your first book?
P.J. Tracy: Not the first book we've ever written, but certainly the most mainstream, and the first thriller. We've been writing together for years, short stories [and] mysteries started us years ago. This is our first big collaboration.
PW: How would you describe the process of co-writing a thriller? Are there pros and cons when compared with the usual single-author approach?
PJT: I think it's all pro. Many more characters are inside two people than one. It's always wonderful to have a sounding board. When we're writing separately, on different projects, you can work on one sentence for an entire week and not know if you're doing the right thing—but we can ask each other, "What do you think about this?" It's a faster process. With the plotting, we have to be in the same room... we'll hammer out the basic plot and character ideas, then we'll each individually work on chapters that are populated with the characters we're familiar with. Then we'll e-mail and call each other hundreds of times a day and go through what we've worked on.
PW: If you tour, how will you handle it?
PJT: We're having the rock and roll tour starting in April. We don't know how we're going to handle it. We're babes in the woods here. We just go where people tell us and do what they say and hope we don't make any mistakes.
PW: Is the computer game described in the book based on a real-life version?
PJT: Oh, my, no. Except one that we wrote. While we were writing the book, we laid out the Serial Killer Detective computer game, just so it would be in the back of our minds as we wrote about the ways in which the characters in the novel investigate the murders. We're not game-players, and we're kind of pacifists. We don't do a lot of graphic descriptions of violence, I don't think.
PW: The rural and urban cop teams you describe seem quite believable. Did you work with law enforcement officials while writing this book?
PJT: No, we did not.
PW: How did you coordinate the plot through three settings?
PJT: It seemed natural. We split locations. One of us would write a piece in Wisconsin, another would write a piece in Minneapolis. It seemed to flow together remarkably well. You always have a different place to go. Sometimes when you're staying with a single character or set of characters, it's hard to keep it fresh. It was great to have those options. It made the writing easier. And it's hard when you have two writers to even think about writing anything from the first-person POV to follow one character throughout an entire novel. It's always been something that eluded us... we need more characters.
PW: Is Monkeewrench the first in a series, or do you plan to write stand-alone books?
PJT: It's the first in a four-book series. We're working on the second one now. We'd love to do stand-alones, but so far this will be a series.
PW: What's the rights situation on this book?
PJT: The U.K., Germany and France have purchased rights, and they will be coming out in paperback in August, at least the U.K. edition is. Putnam handles all English-language rights.
PW: Who is your agent?
PJT: Ellen Dyker, at Curtis Brown. We met through the mail 10 years ago. We sent her the first mystery we'd written, which was never published, and which we never pursued. But she loved the writing, and we remembered her, and how kind she was to us. Ten years later, when we contacted her, she remembered everything and jumped at the chance to see another book. And here we are.