My plan, if you remember, was to write a series of blogs following the development of the World’s Collider anthology, inviting you behind the scenes to see how it all came together. No holds barred, and all that.
With the release of the book due in just a day or two, you’ll note that this didn’t quite happen. The book was largely put together via a private Facebook group, where developments could be tracked, commented on, and evolved. A great deal of chatter happened, alongside significant amounts of tomfoolery. Elise flaunted an obsession with mustard that may need to be recategorised as a fetish. Much thought was given to whether the book should be retitled Severance, in order to best capitalise on James‘s presence. Steve got knocked off his bike at a critical moment, and had to be bonded to Steve in order to wrap up the book. All good stuff, and a very entertaining way to put a book together.
However, there were other things that in the end don’t belong on an open blog. Luckily, none of these involved people falling out, but at the same time they’re perhaps better kept in-house. When you’re working in a closed group, there’s a freedom to chat about all manner of things, and once you’ve got to know everybody it’s easy to be less circumspect than you might be elsewhere. Our line-up changed slightly, our cover art has evolved, we’re no longer with the same publisher – on the face of it, not that dramatic, but it’s not really for me to publish a behind the scenes account of any of that.
So, mustard and Severance aside, what I can natter about is my own story, and how the group affected it. As I’ve mentioned, my story ‘Twitchers’ is placed towards the end of the sequence, leading into the climax and conclusion. I had a couple of things to carry forward from other stories – a train, a character, a few mentions of gasbags and the like – but nothing that didn’t fit well around the pitch I made to get into the book.
I wrote, wrote again, and submitted. I liked the story, which stayed true to what I said I was going to contribute. I particularly liked my primary character Findo Gask, a hard, cold man capable of surprising moments of valour. Our editor Richard Salter liked him too, and passed him around the group to see if he could be seeded into earlier tales. I patted myself on the back. Hooray for me! Hooray for Findo!
Then they made me kill him.
Actually, that’s overstating the case.
They made me cut his bollocks off.
Towards the end of the process, Richard began looking through the finished stories, looking for new ways to bind them together. As you may remember, World’s Collider isn’t your usual anthology, but rather a mosaic novel – a single novel told through many authors. Richard’s final task was to make sure it worked at that level, as more than the sum of its parts. One of the things he noticed was the gender imbalance.
All of the primary characters, the ones who recur throughout the book, were men.
There was some umming and ahhing. Nobody was comfortable with having collectively failed to put a single major female character into the book. Stories featured a natural enough gender mix, no problem there, but this is a novel, and the novel characters were all blokes.
Somebody had to change sex. This is a big ask, for anyone.
I offered Findo up for the chop, sent him kicking and screaming to the big shears. He was a good choice – in some ways one of the least feminine characters we could have changed, which avoids gender stereotyping.
Bye bye Findo Gask. Step forward, Natalie Murphy. It’s not a case of just swapping out some genitals. She’s a different character, and one I like a lot. She’s also born entirely of this book, rather than being a character I placed into it. I like that too. Nat Murphy rocks.
Do I miss Findo? Yes I do. By the time the change was made, he was already a developed character, with his own life and problems. He’s not dead though. At the moment, he’s trapped in a sophisticated underwater research station off the coast of Goa, with something enormous and deadly approaching.
That’s a story for another day though.
I hope you’ll grab a copy of World’s Collider when it comes out in a couple of days. You can pre-order the paperback and Kindle version right now, if you like. It’s a melting pot of voices, ideas, and stories, all bound together by Richard Salter into one apocalyptic mosaic novel. It’s going to be a lot of fun. Don’t miss out.