Last autumn, John, Stuart and I, the three Dark Angels (d’archangels as we’ve now been christened by the endlessly inventive Faye Sharpe – see link to the Secret Archaeologist in the blogroll below), had a mad idea.
It was a response to the question What next? from some of our more persistent students – although to call them students suggests something that’s very wide of the mark. They’re all skilled, experienced writers and communicators and they have as much to teach us as we them. But they wanted more Dark Angelry and we felt obliged to come up with something. So the collective novel was conceived.
In February we took ourselves off to Inverness-shire, 14 of us, and spent a chilly weekend in a large house figuring out how to write a book together. I’ve previously posted about it here, mainly in amazement at the collaborative spirit that broke out among us. We left at the end of the weekend with a plot outline and a rough notion of which of the 15 characters (one archangel had hit a snag with his weekend flight plan) was due to appear at which points in the story.
Co-ordination was clearly going to be critical, so the next thing was to appoint a project manager. One of our number duly put her hand up (there might just have been an archangel standing behind her at the time) and Claire Falcon-Windsor was appointed. Everyone approved. You don’t argue with someone with a surname like that.
Now it’s May, Claire’s cracking the whip, and the chapters are starting to come in. Very exciting it is, too. Characters are developing, voices are firming up, and the plot’s advancing nicely. The story is loosely (very, very, very loosely) based on As I Lay Dying, William Faulkner’s southern classic. Our novel, As I Died Lying, also follows the final journey of a dead woman and her family to her chosen resting place. But there all similarities cease – and for the moment I’ll say no more.
I will say, however, that we have a publisher. This is Unbound, founded two years ago by John Mitchinson and friends. John had a distinguished career in publishing before becoming the head of research for QI, where he sets the questions and writes the Quite Interesting books. His new venture, Unbound, relies very effectively on crowd-funding. It’s already had several successes and we’re naturally hoping that As I Died Lying will become another.
So here comes the pitch. For our mad idea to see the light of day, later this year, we need pledges. They can be big or small, but they all count. Once enough people have pledged enough money, Unbound will press the button and we (and hopefully you too) will have a book. If we don’t get enough pledges it will be consigned to the dustbin of publishing history, but we’re not even thinking about that.
There’s everything you need to know about it here – a brilliant short movie, a short sample chapter, a description of how it all came about, and most importantly an invitation to pledge.
So please, Dear Readers, take this in the spirit in which it was intended – as a brazen plea for you to put your hands in your pockets. In just a few months you could be holding in that same hand a copy of what may be the world’s first collectively written novel. Imagine that.