The paperback releases of the Chinese Whispering collections The Red Book and The Yin & Yang Book are almost upon us. Those of you with long memories will remember I reviewed the digital release of The Red Book and before going on to become one of twenty emerging authors, ten male and ten female, selected to write a story for the second collection, producing This Be The Verse for The Yang Book. I have blogged in some detail already about the intriguing concept of CW and the writing process involved. As the launch date of the paperback editions approaches I will be slapping up a few posts related to the collections, of which this is the first, including an interview with my main collaborator Claudia Osmond. Today’s post, however, is all about The Red Book.

The Red Book focuses on the lives of ten individuals (Miranda, Mitchell, Clint, Elizabeth, Robin,  Simon, Sam, Susie, David and Jake) living in (or originally from) the same Northern American University town.  They all began life as secondary characters created by another author (except Miranda – given someone had to start the chain) and as such, belong to a much larger cast of characters who exist in the periphery of the main narrative arcs, on the fringes of the lives of the ten main characters. Each author had their reason for choosing the character they pulled from the side and put centre stage.

CW editor and all round publishing goddess Jodi Cleghorn has posed an interesting question over on her blog – given your time again, which of the characters would you have chosen? Now I didn’t write for The Red Book, arriving on the scene too late to take part but just in time to shout about the collection on twitter. At the time, I made no secret of the fact that my favourite contribution was Dale C. Roe’s story, Not Myself, the tale of sleep deprived Simon who spends his time chatting to two Gargoyles named Carl and Sigmund. I remember being amused and enthralled as the conversation unfolded between them, as Simon attempts to understand what is really behind his inability to sleep. The ending is both touching and apt, and avoids over-complication in favour of a pure simplicity.

If I had taken part in The Red Book’s creation, I would have liked to have a crack at writing a story with Carl and Sigmund at the forefront. It would have pleased me no end to take these figments of Simon’s tired and addled brain and spin them out into a further adventure, playing with the reader’s previous assumptions about their nature. Whether I would have got away with placing such a magical realist effort in the midst of The Red Book only editors Jodi and Paul could say. One thing is sure though, it would have been great fun to spend more time with Carl and Sigmund.

Dale C. Roe has posted his own response to Jodi’s thought provoking prompt on his blog roughdraft. You can read an extract of Dale’s CW The Red Book story Not Myself here.

The Red Book and The Yin and Yang Book will both be released in paperback on Oct 11th 2011.