This is an exciting interview as I am interviewing Iain Grant, creator of what will certainly be a great writing competition. It is called Ten to One, where the aim is to write a character that will stay in the book until the end, and does not leave the story. Interested? Good! Here’s more information!
1. Could you briefly explain what Ten to One is?
Ten To One is a collaboratively written novel which we, at Pigeon Park Press, intend to publish in 2014. We’re looking for ten contributors to participate. Each of them will write chapters from the perspective of a character they create. These characters will interact with each other over the course of the novel but through the course of the story, they will be removed one by one until only one surviving central character remains.
2. Are there any limits as to who can take part? (Do they have to live in the UK, be over 18, etc.)
Ten To One is open to all writers from all backgrounds. I would really like to bring together a truly diverse bunch of writers and hope there will be an international flavour to our team. The only limitations are the abilities of the writers. I’m looking for ten people who can write competently, meet deadlines and carry and develop a storyline through the skill of their craft. People who’ve already shown an interest are men and women of all ages from across Europe, some just starting out as writers and some of them established professionals in their own right.
3. Why do you consider collaborative writing to be important?
Collaborative writing is a very different experience to solo writing. Writing alone (as I have done for much of my writing career) is solitary, introspective and personal. Collaborative writing requires the individual to share their thoughts and processes with others. Stories developed collaboratively present challenges and surprises for those involved and generate finished stories that perhaps no one individual could have produced by themselves. I wrote my first collaborative novel, Clovenhoof, with Heide Goody in 2011/2012 and, despite my initial worries about what would happen, the result surpassed all our expectations.
4. What inspired you to create Ten to One?
I think the idea for Ten To One came from a number of different sources. Certainly, my own collaborative writing experiences were a spur. I had read a collaboratively written horror novel, Draculas, produced by four American novelists and thought that it was brave to spilt a novel between four people. I then got to thinking how far we could push that. How many people could write a single meaningful novel?
The other inspiration for me, as a movie-lover, came from that weird little sub-sub-genre: the movie with the diminishing cast. The most obvious examples are horrors movies (Alien, John Carpenter’s The Thing, etc) and sadistic kill-or-be-killed actioners (Hunger Games, Battle Royale, etc). And then there are the murder mysteries, notably the archetypal example, Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None (I love the 70s version with Oliver Reed, Dickie Attenborough and the cool Italian soundtrack). And then there are the oddball varieties in which the characters are not necessarily killed off but removed in other ways, such as the American thriller, Identity, or the British film, Exam.
Ten to One can be considered of having a similar format to that of The Hunger Games, where people are eliminated throughout the novel. In The Hunger Games, people have to fight in a kill-or-be-killed scenario. In Ten to One, it’s the same challenge for the writers.
5. How long will the competition last for/what is the competition process?
In terms of how long it will take, the maths is simple. I hope to get the writers to produce a chapter each every four weeks. We will start with ten characters and lose one per round until there is only the one left. So, that’s ten lots of four weeks which is – hang on, I can do this – 40 weeks, or 280 days or just over 9 months. Oh, it’s like a baby!
Of course there’s the planning and preparation which will need to go into it beforehand and I do want the ten writers to be fully involved with that. Essentially, with the entry deadline on 31st March 2013, we should be underway by summer 2013 and done in early 2014.
6. Who will decide the winner and who leaves the process each time?
I’ve decided to use a combination of judging panel and a public vote, like the very worst reality TV shows. Each of the chapters, once written will be viewable on-line and I am going to ask readers to pick their favourite in a web-based vote. At the same time, the chapters will be assessed by a judging panel of writing professionals. The results of the two will be combined to determine an overall score and decide which writers’ characters will be leaving the story next.
7. How can people spread the word?
With collaboration as the key, we’re really relying on collaborators, friends and well-wishers to help promote Ten To One via word of mouth. The public voting aspect will involve readers following us on Twitter and Facebook. What we’d really like people to do is go find the Ten To One Facebook page (www.facebook.com/TenToOneNovel) and ‘like’ it and get their friends to ‘like’ it too. We also hope that writers who have expressed an interest will share the details with their writerly friends. We’ve already gained a large number of interested writers through networking /social media links.
8. What will be done with the finished idea?
The final novel will be published by Pigeon Park Press in 2014 both electronically and in paperback. We are hoping that the interest in the project during the writing process and the sheer brilliance of the story (whatever story the contributors end up writing) will sell the book! However great or modest the success of the finished book, I know it’s going to be an exciting rollercoaster ride for everyone involved in its creation.
9. What tips would you give to aspiring writers and anyone who would want to take part in writing, particularly Ten to One?
As a writer myself, I have always clung to one golden rule: writers write. A writer is someone who spends their time thinking about what they’re going to write, writing the thing they want to write, be it poetry, prose, journalism or whatever and reflecting on what they have written and planning what they’re going to write next. There are some many writing challenges and opportunities out there, whether they are personal writing challenges one sets oneself or the challenge of achieving publication and recognition in your chosen form and genre. My advice to anyone with a passing interest in Ten To One is leap in, get involved, take up the gauntlet and give it a go. Is it the right project for you? Maybe, maybe not, but you won’t find out until you give it a try.
10. What should people do if they are interested?
Go to the Pigeon Park Press website (www.pigeonparkpress.com) and click on the Ten To One link. That page will give you the best overview of what Ten To One is all about. And the next step is simple: get in touch. Mail me at TenToOne@pigeonparkpress.com and say, “Hi Iain, I’ve heard about this crazy collaborative writing project of yours…”