What prompted you to start writing
Late one evening, after one of our Exam
10 study sessions, we talked about what
we would do with our lives if we weren’t
studying for tests. To our surprise, we
learned that we both wrote fiction for
pleasure—and each of us had contemplated historical novels set in ancient
Greece, based on mythological themes.
For years this information lay fallow—we were leading busy work lives,
and although passing Exam 10 completed Victoria’s FCAS credential, Alice still
had a few more exams to finish. But we
continued to be close friends and found
time to co-author articles for the CAS’
Actuarial Review on the experience of living
and working in Europe, as well as a more
technical article for the Journal of Actuarial Practice. One year, each of us entered
a short story in the Society of Actuaries’
Actuarial Speculative Fiction contest—
and our stories tied for first place!
As the years went by, we kept toying
with the idea of writing a mythological
novel together. But it wasn’t until Alice
moved back to the United States that we
finally dug into it.
How do you write books together?
Fortunately our strengths are complementary. Victoria, who actually has a
degree in creative writing, is skilled at
managing the plot—maintaining tension and pacing and inserting twists and
surprises. Alice is more visual and has
studied the archaeological record. She
supplies many of the descriptive details
that bring our scenes to life.
Our usual method is to start by brainstorming the general shape of the story
together at a very high level. Victoria
then sketches out the first version of
each chapter, and hands it off to Alice to
begin fleshing out. We pass the chapters
back and forth by email, each of us editing and revising the previous version
until it begins to feel complete.
How do your actuarial skills serve you in
There are so many ways! The actuarial
profession has taught each of us good
project management and organizational
skills. Alice maintains a master spread-sheet that spans all our novels (including
the future ones we’re planning) to keep
track of the life lines of all our characters and key events in the narrative. That
helps us avoid inconsistencies.
We also insist that the plot, and our
characters’ motivations, hang together
logically. We delve deep into causes and
reasons. We don’t want just to show what
happened; we want to understand why
and how. Even when the myth gives a supernatural explanation—and the character
inside the story believes that supernatural
explanation—we prefer to include a natural explanation for readers to discover.
A dividend of the actuarial examination process is that it taught us discipline.
We’re both accustomed to having something challenging to work on outside of
Tell a bit about the novels.
Our series is called the Tapestry of Bronze
because all the books are set in Bronze
Age Greece. Though each book can be
read independently, the stories form a
tapestry that weaves together elements of
myth and archaeology. To date, four books
have been published—they’re all available
on Amazon, in both paperback and Kindle
format—and we have more in the works.