The Dark Tunes story was originally T.M.’s idea. She had never written a novel, but she did create an outline. She soon asked Joe if he would be willing to work with her, knowing he would be able to write it since he had already published supernatural books of his own, such as Moonrise. He read her outline, and found it interesting. They then discussed characters, plot arc, and motivations, which got them both excited over the project.
Joe and T.M. originally referred to their project as Bad Penguins, which is a play on the nuns’ habits. They soon realized the comical nature implied by that title did not fit the tone of their book. Joe was, however, happy to include this name in the text of the novel. The band members occasionally refer to Sister Sharon and the other nuns as penguins, but you will find the full title mentioned late in the story. Joe took T.M.’s detailed outline and wrote a first draft of two chapters, which introduced characters, locations in St. Louis, and the band’s reasons for coming there. He then gave the chapters to T.M. and waited for her to read and determine if she liked his writing voice and vision for the story. Gratefully, she did because her decision allowed them to proceed with what became an interesting and fun project and a great book.
Joe and T.M. proceeded with T.M. sending Joe her latest batch of notes, Joe making it into a coherent chapter, T.M. reading it, and then they would go over the chapters together once written. This helped them ensure they were staying true to their envisioned story. Of course, they were not always on the same path. Joe and T.M. would occasionally have different ideas how a character should behave, or a plot line proceed. Those moments triggered discussions which clarified the story and their path.
In their sequel, Darker Tunes, T.M. has again taken the lead with the outline, although Joe is involved this time as well. T.M. is handling much more of the writing, however, after her experience with Dark Tunes. She has written in the past, but Dark Tunes has boosted her confidence and their interest, for Joe and T.M. also want to know how their surviving characters proceed and what evil still lurks in the minds of their unholy nuns.