Having written several published poetry books and lately three novels in collaboration with my husband Donough, covering crime, sci-fi and war, I’ve often been asked how we work together – and manage to do that without any arguments. The very concept of such collaboration astonishes some people, whereas I’m surprised that more couples don’t attempt it.

From One Hell To Another

From One Hell To Another

Writing a book alone is, I think, far more likely to lead to problems, especially if the writer is glued to his or her ‘den’ all day, only turning up for meals.

Of course, a great deal of success depends on how similar you are in outlook and temperament, though not necessarily in passions and interests. For example, my old man is infinitely more knowledgeable than me about warfare. Our answer? To let him do the battle front while I do the home one. For instance, in From one hell to another, Donough describes our heroine Carmen shooting Germans and I have her sister falling in love with one, creating intense family friction. This contrast has the added benefit of achieving a nice balance, hopefully appealing to both male and female readers.

My top ten tips for co-authors?

1. Collaborate, but not in close proximity. Far better to work in different rooms, and hand over what you’ve written, perhaps the next day, regularly dovetailing with each other.

2. Don’t try to map out the whole story in advance. Let it develop as you go along.

3. See the project as fun, not a task! What’s the point of it, if it’s an uphill battle? If it stops being pleasurable, leave it for a bit, and don’t even attempt to write together if you argue about other things. Collaboration – nice, of course, but never if it means divorce!

4. Don’t bang on about the book to anyone except your co-writer – and leave it off the menu when you go out to supper with other people!

5. Both of you should feel free to seek out advice. The detail experts can give (and are happy to give) can make all the difference. We’ve involved soldiers, doctors, botanists, psychiatrists, politicians and even ex-prisoners. (Sometimes these last two have been the same!)

6. Underline bits of your partner’s writing that you don’t feel easy with, and discuss it calmly to reach an amicable solution.

7. Write what you feel happiest writing about. If in doubt, count it out. Leave it to him! Action or reaction? I know where I am most confident – as does he.

8.If sex comes into it, don’t always make it amazing. Male writers usually do, perhaps reflecting their own perceived performance!

9. ‘See’ your audience. ‘Hear’ your audience. As an advertising copywriter, I was even trained to pin up pictures of the kind of people we were selling to.

10. Praise, where praise is due! Celebrate your partner’s efforts, as they should yours!

From one hell to another, by Liz Cowley and Donough O’Brien, is published by Matador, £11.99.