A group of writers from around the world were pulled together by an American and a Brit to create a very unique project: Red Phone Box. Salome Jones, a professional editor and writer move to England and teamed with Tim Dedopulis, the insane genius who wrote the Great Global Treasure Hunt On Google Earth, to put together an anthology with a single story thread. That’s right, twenty-eight artist collaborating on a single story, each done in short segments then sewn together. And if that isn’t enough to tempt you, it was enough to tempt Warren Ellis as he participated in the book.
I got to ask a few questions of Salome Jones recently about this unique project.
BLEEDING COOL: How would you describe Red Phone Box?
SALOME JONES: Red Phone Box, apart from being a little kiosk designed in nineteenth century Britain for people to make phone calls from, is a book. We’re calling it a collective or a collaborative novel. It really is kind of an interesting thing, a novel made out of stories. You can think of it as two things: its original pieces, and the novel we made out of them. It’s like we took a bunch of puzzle pieces, devised the picture we wanted to make out of them, and then with selective trimming and tiny bits of emphasis, put them together into a frame to make a picture you wouldn’t have seen otherwise.
BC: You were able to pull together twenty-eight different writers from various levels of experience. How did you get so many people involved? And how did you get it to the point of being a collaborative novel?
JONES: I started out by writing a story myself. I tried to make it as evocative as I could, something that would give people the feel I was looking for. I put it up on my website and asked people to write connecting stories. To my great shock, I got a lot of takers. I ended up putting them in a schedule with deadlines. It just evolved from there.
Part of its evolution was a major reworking of all the stories, enhancing the places where they intersected, figuring out their natural order. Finding through-lines of plot that we could delineate to pull readers through the book as a whole. I got some of the writers involved in the process by assigning them new stories. There’s some serious talent in that group.
JONES: He’s actually a friend of mine. I’ve known him since I was in grad school in the US. He said yes when I asked him but it took him about six months to do the story because he was working on Gun Machine at the time. I’m not going to say he’s really nice. (He’s really nice, though.)
When asked about Red Phone Box, Ellis gave the following quote:
“I’ve known Salome for years, and she always has interesting things going on. I’d never done this kind of collaborative novel, and when she was kind enough to invite me in, I really had to give it a go. Plus, red phone boxes. Everyone loves and misses red phone boxes, right?”
BC: At one point you decided to do a Kickstarter to get some copies printed up. How did that idea come about and how did it work out?
JONES: Doing a Kickstarter for the book was actually Warren’s idea. I told him I wanted to do a Kickstarter for a project but I wasn’t sure what. He said, well, why not this? I spent a long time planning it, because I really didn’t want to fail. It’s a bit terrifying putting yourself directly in front of your potential audience and selling them on an idea. I had a lot of help. Tim Dedopulos, my partner in crime, all the writers, Warren, the artists, and one of my editing clients who’s a marketing person. Ben Templesmith even did some artwork for us. He’s a peach. I’m so grateful to everyone who helped, everyone who pledged. And I owe Ben alcohol.
BC: So Red Phone Box is now available for pre-order, but what are you going to do next?
JONES: We have big plans for this book. The publisher, Ghostwoods Books, is putting it through all the things publishers make books do. Jump through hoops. It’s harder than herding cats actually. I can’t tell you about all of them yet, but we’re already in the process of planning the second book. After the second book, we’re considering a spinoff about the coolest character.
Red Phone Box is available from Ghostwoods Books.
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