AUTHORS BEHIND CONGRESS’S AUTHORS: Interview

Originally published in The Hill By Kris Kitto

Mary-Rose Hayes

(Editor’s note: Hayes answered these questions via e-mail.)

Why did you decide to work with Sen. Boxer?
Blind Trust was my second collaboration on a book with Sen. Boxer, the first, A Time to Run, having been a good experience and a fascinating insight into the political world.

What was your writing process like? What was the division of labor? (i.e., Who did what?)

Sen. Boxer and I worked together to develop the storylines, major characters and chapter outlines. When we reached agreement, we accepted advice from our editor.

What’s Sen. Boxer’s writing style like?
Sen. Boxer’s writing style is clear and concise, with a firm grasp of dialogue in locations and between characters [that] would have been inaccessible to a political outsider such as myself.

How would you describe your writing style?
I published six novels in different genres, including suspense and romance, before my first collaboration with Sen. Boxer. My writing style varies accordingly.

How did you merge your writing style with hers? What was your creative process like?
The merging of styles was seamless on the whole, with the editor having final approval. The actual creative process involved mutual brainstorming sessions, with a significant plot breakthrough during a trip to Washington, D.C. There were numerous weekend telephone calls and e-mails.

How would you describe this book?
I would describe this book as a political thriller, with an exploration of current “hot-button” political issues.

What inspired this book?
This book was inspired by Sen. Boxer’s beliefs regarding such issues as individual rights, illegal surveillance, and potential subversion of the country by political extremists. Sen. Boxer also wanted our readers to see how tough politics can get and how important staff and family are to the officeholder.

Had you co-written a novel before? What did you take into consideration before agreeing to this project?
I joined the first project (A Time to Run) because of my admiration for Sen. Boxer and the opportunity to work with her. In due course I welcomed the chance to work on a second novel.

Would you work with Sen. Boxer again — or any other member of Congress, for that matter?
I would certainly work with Sen. Boxer again. Any other potential collaboration, with or without a member of Congress, would be considered on an individual basis.

I see Sen. Boxer nearly every day as a politician and legislator. What’s she like as an author? What was it like working with her?
As a co-author, Sen. Boxer has always displayed flexibility and generosity.

What were some of the challenges of this project? What are the general difficulties of co-writing a novel?
A major challenge in the writing of Blind Trust was the severe economic downturn in the fall of 2008, while the book was in the final stages, which required adjustments throughout the text to keep the story relevant. The only potential difficulty in co-writing this book concerned my recent move to Arizona from San Francisco and the subsequent lack of face-to-face meetings with Sen. Boxer; however, this was solved mostly by e-mail and phone.