Burning Old School Ties

If you’re wondering why things have been a bit quiet on my blog over the past several months it’s because I’ve been part of a crazy project to write a collaborative novel. Eight of us from Fosseway Writers got together in September 2018 and decided we’d produce a whole novel, between us, before the 2019 Newark Book Festival. And we’ve only gone and done it – a couple of boxes of our 250 page novel arrived on Wednesday ready for the Book Festival this weekend.

I wrote a foreword (because I’m Chair of the group and it was my stupid idea) and this is an excerpt:

As with many creative projects this book had its genesis in its predecessor, Gobstoppers, Shrimps and Sour Monkeys, a collection of poetry and short stories from Fosseway Writers over the last twenty years. In the process of pulling all of the content together I was struck by the different narrative voices that tumbled out. Clearly, they were all telling their own stories across a disparate set of unrelated pieces, but what if they were linked somehow? Initially this wasn’t even a consciously developed thought, more of a vague observation. It wasn’t until the summer was over and we were about to have our September AGM to plan the next twelve months that I began to mull the idea over properly. The topic of ‘what do we do next’ was raised and I threw onto the table the idea of a party or event viewed by a bunch of different people. Each character would narrate the evening from their own perspective and have their own agenda and story arc, but they would all interweave to an extent with a larger evening narrative.”

Yeah. Mad, right?

Apparently not. Eight of us ended up committed to writing around 8k words each (I got a little carried away and ended up with about 15k). We used a web forum to post our work online for other members to read and comment on and that’s when the magic began to happen.

We found that we were developing interactions with other characters that had authors and agendas of their own. It’s similar to discovering that your own characters are deciding how a story is going to develop and adjusting accordingly, but with the added complexity of asking another writer if you can borrow one of theirs or, just as likely, someone else’s character waltzing off with one of yours. The initial ideas for our stories were generally standalone plots but the more we saw of the others the more they flowed into each other.”

The main problem was sorting everything out into a cohesive order and ensuring that all events happened in the right sequence – with eight different voices all written in first person present tense we really didn’t want to complicate things with a jumbled timeline. Luckily, I’ve had a bit of previous experience in a former job working with homicide witness statements (as you do) and it all seemed to pan out in the end.

So, what’s the book about? Here’s the blurb:

Hercules Clay Comprehensive School is having a reunion to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Class of ’89. We follow eight former pupils as they return to a school they left over two decades ago and none of them are the same as they were.

Some have blossomed, some have lost their way, others have reinvented themselves and some are back for revenge.

One thing’s for sure – Danny Griggs isn’t going to be coming back. But what about the kid that caused his death? Karl Stamford wouldn’t put in an appearance… would he?

A unique writing project, this is a collaborative novel by members of Fosseway Writers: eight authors, eight voices, eight intertwined tales within one story focused on one night.

And you can buy it here!

14 thoughts on “Burning Old School Ties

    1. Thanks Peter. It sounded a lot easier at the start than it actually proved to be towards the end! Some great inspiration from seeing what others were doing but keeping references consistent and tying it all together took a while.

      Liked by 2 people

  1. I never want to speak to any of you ever again 😂😂😂😂 (not really – loved working with everyone, fantastic experience)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Suzanne. It was a crazy ride towards the end as we realised we were running out of time to get them printed and delivered before this weekend, but it’s all gone wonderfully well and we’ve sold about 35 copies.
      Knackered now! 😁

      Liked by 1 person

  2. What a great idea,Nick. I can imagine how complex it was to make it all work together without any (oops) glitches. I read Gobstoppers recently and will attest to the tremendous talents of your group. I’m looking forward to this one too. Congrats to all 8 of you.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Diana. Your review of Gobstoppers just as we were putting the finishing touches to the new book was perfectly timed and much appreciated because I was worried whether we’d managed to successfully pull off a very complicated story.
      One of the things that makes me quite proud of what we’ve achieved is the fact that 4 of the authors weren’t members this time last year and 3 of them had never written with any serious intent before this book. We’re literally turning last year’s members of the public into this year’s authors.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Success! I’m looking forward to reading the new one. Is it up on Amazon yet? I guess I could check, huh? — Hold on. — Just got my copy and I’ll read it next week! Can’t wait. 😀

        Liked by 1 person

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