Baseball, books, and bucket lists brought Leigh Brown and Victoria Corliss together not only as best friends, but as partners in the literary world.
Years ago, while at her son’s baseball game, Leigh was reading Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum novel “To the Nines.”
An Evanovich fan, Victoria, whose son was on the same baseball team, stopped to talk about the book.
The two began to talk books and a friendship quickly blossomed.
Fittingly, after a friendship spawned from the love of literature, Leigh and Victoria have co-authored and published two novels together, “Second Chances” and “The Pie Sisters.”
Both consider them “near natives.”
Leigh, who now lives in Warwick, grew up in Stratham, N.H. but moved here to attend Bryant College.
Victoria spent part of her childhood in Rochester, N.Y., as well as Switzerland, but mostly in New Canaan, Conn. While attending Ithaca College, she met her husband, who lived in the Boston area, but both fell in love with Rhode Island and moved here permanently in 1988 and now live in Cumberland.
The love of reading and writing was a lifelong trait for Leigh and Victoria.
Leigh worked in the town library, although she uses the word “worked” loosely.
“You could usually find me checking or reading the books myself,” she said.
Growing up, she thinks she may have been the only one who was excited when the teacher assigned research papers.
While living in Switzerland, Victoria said she and her family would return to the States for vacation in the summer.
It was always a trip to look forward to seeing family, watching American television and the annual trip to the bookstore.
She has “vivid memories” of those trips.
Victoria said, “I was always dying to get the next book in a series, I would wait all year long for the next installation and new books to take back with me. I just always loved reading.
As their boys grew up, Victoria and Leigh retained their friendship and about two years before their children would be off to college, Victoria started to have a ceaseless feeling of butterflies in her stomach, “like something was coming.”
Leigh had been feeling similarly and told Victoria, “If you figure it out, let me know.”
They began writing a bucket list, things they liked and disliked; when they shared their lists, Victoria and Leigh found that the lists were nearly identical.
“We had things from liking to cook to not liking tuna fish,” Victoria said.
Writing a book was the one entry that stood out to both of them.
Working in the marketing world, writing had always been part of Victoria’s background, but she felt the field had “outgrown” her and took on writing full-time.
Leigh left the corporate world when she had kids, but retired from her decorative painting company to dedicate herself to writing.
“This is a full-time love and responsibility,” she said.
As similar as the two women are, their writing processes are vastly different.
Where Victoria needs silence for concentration, Leigh could “write in the Warwick Mall.”
Where Leigh works off a stream of consciousness, watching the story unfold in her head, Victoria tries to get her writing as close to possible the first time.
“I think most people will be surprised that our own writing is actually very individual,” Leigh said. “We don’t sit and go over every sentence together. We go off and write our own chapters.”
Despite their separate chapters, even their editor can’t discern who wrote which.
The partners have created a “seamless singular voice,” something Victoria said they “stumbled into mastering.”
The magic of one voice from two writers comes from the long outlining process the authors use before going their separate ways.
Victoria said, “We are so thorough in our outlining that it’s just a matter of choosing the words to express it. Either one of us could write any of the chapters.”
As authors writing in the third person, Leigh and Victoria establish which characters they best relate to and focus on that character’s development in their own writing.
Although many would shy away from co-authoring a novel, Victoria and Leigh say having one another has been a source of their success, whether that’s dealing with writer’s block or the fear that comes with writing full-time.
Victoria said, “I’m not the person to fear change, I embrace it, but it’s still scary and to have an amazing partner like Leigh to take this huge leap with was comforting. We were partners second and best friends first.”
Leigh said many writers deal with writer’s block, but with a partner you’re accountable to someone else and always have someone to bounce ideas off of.
“We are so lucky because many people don’t know how to share their creativity in such a way that it is respected and nurtured in the way we do, but for whatever reason it worked for us,” Leigh said. “I couldn’t enjoy this without her and it has just been so fulfilling.”
“Second Chances,” Leigh and Victoria’s first book published in 2013, is about three people whose lives become intertwined while they run away from their pasts.
Their latest book, “The Pie Sisters,” was released earlier this year.
The novel tells the story of three sisters returning to the lakeside cabin they used to visit as children.
Both Victoria and Leigh have fond childhood memories of summers by a lake with bonfires, s’mores and canoe rides.
“We are finding, especially here in New England, that resonates with a lot of people,” said Leigh.
“Our first book is always going to be our baby and we have great pride in it, but it was a challenge. We knew we wanted to write something that keeps readers wanting to turn pages. ‘The Pie Sisters’ is really a story from the heart.”
Through two books, their families supported both Victoria and Leigh.
Leigh comes from a family of book lovers and encouraged her the whole way.
Victoria’s husband gave her the space to work on writing 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day.
“They are our first and biggest fans,” she said.
Although, Leigh and Victoria have some ideas and sketches for another piece of literature, right now, the co-authors want to focus on promoting their two publications and meeting with their fans.
“We love writing, but we also love reading. Our meet and greets aren’t just about selling books; it’s about meeting and connecting with other readers and sharing our passions.”
The two novels are available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle editions. They can also be found at local bookstores. For more information on Leigh and Victoria or their books, visit their authorial website, browncorlissbooks.com.