Last week I was invited along to a local book group to talk about a book. The book was Keeping Mum, written by 15 different writers as a Dark Angels collective novel and published last year by Unbound.
I didn’t quite know what to expect. Would they all hate the book? Would I be banished into the dark night of Palmers Green in disgrace? Would they all have even read the book?
I need not have worried. Not only had the ten kind women of the book group read the book they had even read it twice. They loved it. So I was asked questions about how 15 writers managed to collaborate on the writing of a novel, were there any bruised egos caused by editing, was it easy to get the ideas started?
Yes is the general and true answer. Through Dark Angels we have a lot of experience of making the difficult much easier. Showing the flip charts, on which we had collectively started to create plot, characters and titles, brought back to me what a remarkable and joyful process it had been. Instead of one authorial narrator we had 15, each writing in the voice of a different character. It worked as I was delighted to hear from the readers in the book group.
Another great collaborative writing project was the book 26 Treasures, also published by Unbound. This is a collection of sestudes (exactly 62 words) written about objects in four national museum collections. 104 objects and writers, all providing a different approach to the same form. Again it might not have worked, but it did. The resulting book even won a prize for the year’s most beautiful design and production.
It will be no surprise to you that I love books and I believe we all should. It’s almost a civic duty to support books – unless we do, they might just go away. So in the lead-up to Christmas, with the awful Black Friday behind us, here is a special offer for you. Go to the Unbound site www.unbound.co.uk, go to the pages for Keeping Mum and/or 26 Treasures, buy a beautiful book to give as a Christmas present by using the code DARKXMAS15 that will give you £5 off the price. Look forward to giving a present that will bring pleasure on Christmas Day and far beyond. As I tweeted the other day, groaning a little at the thought of Christmas shopping #booksbeatsocks