by | Jun 29, 2023 | Tosca Lee, On writing | 4 comments

An Interview with Coauthors Tosca Lee and Marcus Brotherton

By Tosca Lee

It’s the question we get asked all the time: 

How Can Two Authors Write a Novel Together?

My coauthor of The Long March Home, Marcus Brotherton, and I discuss. 🙂

Coauthoring A Novel — coauthors Tosca Lee and Marcus Brotherton

Tosca: This is my second time co-authoring, and it’s very different than the first. With the Books of Mortals series, Ted Dekker and I brainstormed from the ground up after our agents finished negotiating the deal. The story of The Long March Home, however, started when Marcus Brotherton gave me a call.

Marcus: I do a lot of collaborations, and I’ve seen firsthand how two authors can bring a unique power to a manuscript. Respect for a coauthor is vital. I knew Tosca’s work from having read and studied it. She writes lyrically and in layers, and her writing style can be a lot like mine. That helped from the start.

Tosca: Agreed. I’d endorsed Marcus’ Christy award-winning novel Feast for Thieves, and I was familiar with his bestsellers Grateful American (with actor Gary Sinise), and Voices of the Pacific. So we get on the phone, and he tells me about a project he’s had simmering on the back burner: a WWII novel about three best friends fighting to survive war in the Philippines and the Bataan Death March . . . and the girl they left at home.

Coauthoring A Novel
The Long March home, written by Tosca Lee and Marcus Brotherton

Marcus: Already I’d been working on the project on and off for seven years. I had a manuscript, but when I’d sent it out to early readers the response was good, but I knew it could be better. This subject matter deserved it. My characters and setting were strong, but my initial plot wasn’t singing like it needed. I was too close to the canvas. That’s when I called Tosca.

Tosca: I hadn’t heard about the Bataan Death March. I didn’t know much about the Pacific Theater in WWII. But I knew it would be an important story. “Let’s do it,” I said.

Marcus: The war part of the story was so gritty that we needed a parallel home front story running simultaneously. That required an incredible amount of finessing. Tosca wanted to create a new, extended opener that introduced readers to the main characters earlier. During research, I had discovered an incredible real life female commander of guerrilla forces named Filipa Culala. I asked Tosca to breathe more authenticity into her as a character.

Tosca: We dug in. I worked on the manuscript for several years by myself, then we passed it back and forth between us to bring it into one consistent voice. We both needed to be flexible and compromise, and we both honored each other’s non-negotiables. We trusted in the strengths we each brought to the partnership, the value of rewriting (and rewriting . . . and rewriting again), the importance of humor, and the power of prayer.

Marcus: I don’t think we ever argued about anything. We disagreed a few times, but we always talked it out. Tosca also taught me to appreciate bacon.

Tosca: Bacon is one of my non-negotiables. Between the two of us, The Long March Home took more than 12 years to complete, but it’s been so worth it. We know this story is personal to many of you—some of you have family members or friends who were part of this chapter in history. It’s such an honor to shine a light on the heroes that inspired this novel.


Tosca Lee

Tosca Lee is a New York Times bestselling author of eleven novels. Her work has been translated into seventeen languages and optioned for TV and film. She is the recipient of two International Book Awards, Killer Nashville’s Silver Falchion, ECPA Fiction Book of the Year, the Nebraska Book Award, and has finaled for several more. Lee earned her bachelor’s degree in English from Smith College. A former first runner-up to Mrs. United States, she lives in Nebraska with her husband and two of four children still at home.

Marcus Brotherton is a New York Times bestselling author and coauthor dedicated to writing books that inspire heroics, promote empathy, and encourage noble living. His commendations include the Christopher Award for literature “that affirms the highest values of the human spirit.” Born in British Columbia, Marcus earned a bachelor’s degree from Multnomah University in Portland, Oregon, and a master’s degree from Biola University in Los Angeles, where he graduated with high honors. He lives with his wife and their three children in the Pacific Northwest.

Marcus Brotherton
Don’t Miss a Thing!



  1. Lisa Black

    I can’t quite wrap my head around the idea of writing with someone else, but I’m glad you did! What a great book!
    But I can’t believe you had to be taught to appreciate bacon! Everybody loves bacon!!

  2. Karna Small Bodman

    I can’t imagine working so many years on a novel – but obviously, it pays off for you, Tosca and your collaborator – good for you. I know several authors who do have writing partners, although I have no idea how I’d pull that off myself. Thanks for the lesson!

  3. Alex Kava

    Congratulations to you both! Years ago, I co-wrote a couple of novellas with authors, Erica Spindler and J.T. Ellison, so I have an inkling of what it’s like. Working with authors you know and respect can be inspiring and actually fun. But for a project like yours…Wow! I can’t even imagine. I have the book on my summer reading pile. Looking forward to it.

  4. Isabella Maldonado

    As a bit of a WWII buff, I’m familiar with the Bataan Death March, but haven’t studied it deeply. I hadn’t heard of this female guerrilla leader and am thrilled you included a character inspired by her in the tale. The whole story sounds amazing and it’s next up on my TBR pile.

    More and more, I find inspiration in the sacrifices, courage, and grit displayed by so many who lived through that era, and stories set there fascinate me. I’m also pleased to hear you had such a great experience coauthoring a full-length novel. Are you two planning another venture???