This month’s Teens Can Write Too! blog chain prompt is: “If you could co-write a book with one author–living or not–who would it be and what would the book be about?”
Oh, co-writing. That’s old hat.
In all seriousness, having already collaborated on a novel (if you’re new here, that was St Mallory’s Forever! and you can find details under the ‘Books’ tab) and being currently in the process of slowly, slowly writing its sequel, my attitude to the idea of teaming up to write has changed. Back in the day, it seemed like it’d make everything easier, faster, and more exciting.
Though there are loads of positive aspects to collaborating and it allows books like St Mall’s to get written when they otherwise wouldn’t have done, as a way of working in general, I could take it or leave it, you know? School projects aren’t the only time I like to be a lone wolf. It’s mostly that I’m a fast, obsessive writer who likes to completely rewrite her novels multiple times in a completely different way, which you can’t exactly do with collaboration.
But one of my favourite books, Good Omens, was a collaboration between Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett, and it’s an example of collaboration being used incredibly well. That book is totally hilarious.
So, who would I like to collaborate with? To answer a question like that I have to take into consideration a couple of factors: do we write in a similar or compatible style? Do we write at a similar speed? Do we have similar values and ideologies? Because, I mean, if a writer spends twelve years writing an intricately plotted-out work of literary fiction with a happy ending that sends a message that young people are worthless and growing up as quickly as possible is desirable, we’re not going to get on too well.
When I was younger, I had an email correspondence with Kate Thompson who wrote, among other things, The New Policeman. She was in important influence on me, and I actually met her last summer, which was awesome. At the time I was emailing her, my interest in all things Celtic had just been born and I was researching everything I could. I’d probed my father about our (distant) Irish heritage and I had come across a peculiar historical personage.
His name was Niall Noigilleach, the epithet meaning “of the Nine Hostages”. Unsurprisingly, he was named so because, shock horror, he took nine hostages. I know. I’d never have guessed. He was a historical/mythological king of Ireland from the fourth century, whose story is centred in history but clouded by fantastical creatures and a personification of Sovereignty and other things belonging more properly to the mythological realm.
I suggested to Kate Thompson, who wrote novels based on Irish myths and legends, that she should write a novel about him. “Yes,” she said. “One of us should definitely write a novel about him some time.”
I’ve probably mentioned this on my blog before, but I will cite that moment as one of the most encouraging things anyone could say to an eleven- or twelve-year-old writer. “One of us”, like I’d already made it and we were equals. It wasn’t patronising or condescending – it was honest and inspiring and hey, that kind of thing is why I write these days.
Kate Thompson stopped writing a few years ago, but before then, I’d already made my first, abortive attempt at a novel about Niall. I was twelve and I’d never yet completed a novel, so it’s no surprise that it never got further than 23,549 completely terrible words. (Okay, so they’re decent words, just in a terrible order.)
When I was fourteen and taking part in NaNoWriMo for the second time, I wrote my second attempt at a novel based on the life of Niall. This one was actually completed, at least a very rough first draft, and totalled 127,000 words of … again, pretty awful writing. But it was progress. Nevertheless, the novel wasn’t worth the effort of rewriting and I finally let go of that ‘one day I will…’ idea just a few months ago.
I think Niall of the Nine Hostages is an interesting person, straddling as he does the border between history and myth. (He also happens to be a very, very distant ancestor of mine – fourth century, mate.) And I think Kate Thompson, whose works first triggered my love of Ireland and Celtic mythology, as well as whose words encouraged me in my first steps towards becoming a writer, would be the author I would choose to write it with.
I very much doubt it will ever happen. However, given that we’re allowed to write about dead people for this prompt, I supposed it’s more likely than some of the other responses might be. Who knows? Perhaps just such a collaboration, one day in the future, would be the novel to bring Kate Thompson back to writing from her current existence of making and repairing fiddles and entertaining overly obsessive fans who email her to say they’re in Ireland and can they please meet her.
Yes. I did that. Shhh.
So that’s my answer to this month’s blog chain. Please check out the rest of the posts!
5th – http://thescribblingbook.wordpress.com/
6th – http://thelittleenginethatcouldnt.wordpress.com/
7th – http://miriamjoywrites.wordpress.com/
8th – http://www.oyeahwrite.wordpress.com/
9th – http://musingsfromnevillesnavel.wordpress.com/
10th – [Andrea. No link for her yet.] … thanks John. Very helpful.
11th – http://randomofalife.blogspot.com/
12th – http://www.lilyjenness.blogspot.com/
13th – http://maralaurey.wordpress.com/
14th – http://insideliamsbrain.wordpress.com/
15th – http://unikkelyfe.wordpress.com/
16th – http://www.brookeharrison.com/
17th – http://nasrielsfanfics.wordpress.com
18th – http://teenscanwritetoo.wordpress.com/ (We’ll be announcing the topic for next month’s chain.)
Sneaky self-promo while I have you here: I’m poised to release my first non-collaborative publication, a poetry collection called Crossroads Poetry. It’ll be coming out sometime this month, so watch this space!