Some two years ago I had the privilege and joy to share in a collaborative writing project called Chinese Whisperings: The Red Book. This was an anthology with a difference. It consisted of ten interrelated stories. Each author set out to create at least two secondary characters in their story, and the next story transformed one of these secondary characters into the main character for the new story. Originally published in electronic form, it is soon being published in book form. To celebrate this some of the authors are revisiting the anthology and asking themselves: what would I do differently, who would I pick.
I was following on from Annie’s story, Kraeplin’s Child and to be perfectly honest I was very nervous about it. We just had ten days to come up with our story and I wondered how on earth I was going to cope with that sort of turnover. So I cheated. About half way through Annie’s ten days I mailed her and asked her if she could give me a few details about her secondary characters. Of course, I didn’t tell her I was nervous. I just made it seem as if I was being super professional and preparing everything well in advance. I’m not sure if she believed me, but she did give me two names and a brief side comment that one of these was her protagonist’s friend. I hooked onto that for the time being and a story began to germinate in my head. The day I received Annie’s story, I was pretty excited. Was I going to be able to run with the idea that was now truly revving up in my head? I was. Lizzie played so minor a part in Annie’s story, so as nothing would contradict mine. So fast forward some ten years and… but for the rest you’ll have to buy the book and read the story.
So were I doing this now… cool, calm, collected with a hundred or so publications under my belt and no trace of nervousness who would I have picked? Yes, well I’ll admit, that’s not quite me, but the question remains valid. Still, with just Annie’s story to choose from, then I think I’d go for someone who barely gets a mention. Either Abby or Max.
Abby is not very popular. Tanya speaks quite disparagingly of her. Why, I ask myself? Is it her fault, or is Tania just being mean? What’s it like to be unpopular and is there a way out? Is it an opportunity for change?
And Max? He sounds like a pretty bit of stuff. Get others to do all the dirty work for him and cash in on 50% of the profits. What’s made him like he is? Does he have any redeeming features? And how strong is he really? What’s his hold on Clint (one of the bad guys in Annie’s story)? These are the kind of questions I like to ponder in my characters.
But if I had the whole anthology to choose from, then my choice would be Detective McNally who appears in Innocence, the story after mine. He suspects Robin is guilty of murdering the guy who tried to rape his sister Tania. But he can’t put together the evidence and he doesn’t succeed in breaking down Robin. Eventually, Robin is cleared by the testimony of a pretty shady character. Questions remain.
A policeman in search of the truth, yet torn between duty (catch the criminal) and justice (the real criminal only got his just desserts). And what makes him decide for the one or the other? There’s a story in the making here.
For more information about the Chinese Whisperings anthologies visit the website. This is the fourth in this series of articles asking the authors which character they would choose now. You can also read the others: Jodi, Dale and Rob. I’ve asked Tina, the writer of Innocence to carry on from here. So keep a lookout for her piece.