Writing is a solitary endeavor, and save for some tweaking by an editor, the storyline and characters are the author’s own. The author is in charge of what happens when, what each character does, says, and even looks like. So how did seven of the region’s best authors, all tremendously accomplished in their own right, deal with having to share?
John L. Smith said, “In school I often got into trouble for failing to work well with others, so I wasn’t optimistic that I could cooperate on a story with six writers. Collaborating on a writing project was pretty new for me. But it was intriguing to participate in a collective creative writing project. And I think the story works.”
RESTLESS CITY will debut at this year’s Vegas Valley Book Festival. A signature project of the festival organizers, editor Geoff Schumacher invited seven of the area’s best-known authors to each write a sequential chapter in a yet-untitled book. The only provisions were it had to be set in Las Vegas, be fiction, and each chapter was limited to 3,000 to 4,000 words. Oh, and they’d have a short couple of weeks to write their chapter.
H. Lee Barnes. John Irsfeld, Brian Rouff, Leah Bailly, John L. Smith, Constance Ford and Vu Tran were game for this admittedly experimental project. Barnes set a high standard with the first chapter, and introduced his colleagues to a story we’ve come to label Vegas Noir. By the time John Irsfeld added his contribution, the title RESTLESS CITY was coined by editor Geoff Schumacher.
The concept of a serial novel was recently a bestseller in THE CHOPIN MANUSCRIPT by thriller-master Jeffery Deaver and a team of likewise bestselling mystery and suspense writers. I read THE CHOPIN MANUSCRIPT with great curiousity, wondering if I could sense the different voices from chapter to chapter. Yes, I could.
As I can in RESTLESS CITY. But not in a negative way. It is more of an undercurrent that something has shifted as the story moves on. Too, there was a greater anticipation as to where the story would go next as each new author took the reins.
According to author Brian Rouff, RESTLESS CITY required him to “step up my game”. Rouff said “Chapter three was a great opportunity because I got to delve into back story. John Irsfeld gave me a lot to work with. In turn, I finished my chapter with an old-fashioned cliffhanger for the next author. I hope the readers had as much fun as I did.”
THE CHOPIN MANUSCRIPT was such a success, that Deaver and his colleagues have produced THE COPPER BRACELET. Deaver was fascinted to “see how a group of authors with vastly varied writing styles and approaches to creativity produced such a cohesive thriller with a relentlessly fast-paced narrative”.
Vu Tran, the final chapter author said, “Writing the last chapter and trying to tie up everyone else’s plot and character threads was in turns a unique, infuriating, and fun experience. Complementing and resolving other people’s ideas was even more difficult than I thought it would be, but I ultimately found it very satisfying and educational.”
RESTLESS CITY is available at www.RestlessCity.com and will be available on Amazon and in local bookstores shortly. Both a print and eBook formats are being published. The book will debut at the Vegas Valley Book Festival with a reading by final author Vu Tran on Saturday, November 7 at 4:00 PM at the Historic Fifth Street School (on Fourth Street). Authors will be available to sign books.