Allan Mayer’s Weblog

greyling bay

Posted on: January 4, 2009

 I received an e-mail today from Jane Smith of ‘How Publishing Really Works.’  She has launched a collaborative novel called ‘Greyling Bay’ at:   http://greylingbay.blogspot.com/ . Anyone can contribute, but writing will have to be of a high standard. Jane is aware of the pitfalls of such a venture, but is positive that it will be a fun project.

Although writing is mostly a solitary experience, there have always been examples of works which are the result of more than one pen. When I say ‘always’ I am thinking as a former biblical critic of the multiple author hypothesis of the first five books of the Old Testament, the three hands detected in Isaiah. Later we have schools involved in playwriting, which means that parts of Macbeth were not actually Shakespeare‘s.

One of my favourite modern collaborations is that of  Kevin J. Anderson and Brian Herbert. Herbert’s father, Frank, wrote the award winning ‘Dune’ series. After his death there was speculation about loose ends, and it turned out that ideas for further novels had been placed on disc. Floppy disc- which required a compatible pre-windows computer to retrieve it. The resulting collaboration does not compare to vintage Herbert, but it was good to move again in that meticulously constructed world.

But the internet age allows a new type of collaboration. The experience of some experiments such as Penguin Books ‘One Million Penguins’ does warn us that a project which is too sprawling can only end in confusion, but done properly we are surely witnessing the emergence of a new form.

I am fascinated by the fact that as we see the world of ‘Greyling Bay’ emerge it will do so as a virtual reality where authors will add characters who will grow and change in interaction with other people’s inventions- a sort of literary ‘Dungeons and Dreagons.’

I am very tempted to contribute- the only problem I have is that when I write it goes through so many revisions that it is years before I show my work to another person, and what with other commitments at the moment I may not have time to do it justice. But as contributors are being asked for a maximum of 500 words, this should not be a problem.

An intriguing first passage has  been added to ‘Greyling Bay’ as I write- a passage which gives glimpses of the characters’ back stories and which ends on a page turner. 

So I will be following this project with interest.

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2 Responses to "greyling bay"

Allan, thanks for the plug–it’s welcome. I’m rather taken aback by the huge number of hits the blog has had in its first few days: it’s only been up for just over two days, and it’s had over 400 visitors already.

Do send me something: the worst that could happen is I might reject it, but you never know! The writing that’s been submitted so far is of a very high standard: although I don’t like to single anyone out, my favourite piece so far is “Whitey” which is just brilliant, and there’s another star called “Owen” due up tomorrow.

I’m hoping that it won’t ramble out of control like the Million Penguins did: it does have a little more editorial control than they did, so fingers crossed. And thanks again for your support: it’s appreciated.

Yes, I was particularly impressed by that contribution. I’ve sent in a contribution, and even if it doesn’t get in I have enjoyed the exercise of producing a piece to specific guidelines. Good Luck with the project.

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