Tag Archives: Circ

Circ: Separated by a Common Language.

On Friday when I posted my review of Circ I mentioned that I was planning on attending an event about it today.

Separated by a Common Language was all about the process of writing a collaborative piece and the sorts of barriers that you would have to overcome to do so, including cultural barriers (and the writers  were international). It was designed to be accessible to someone who hadn’t read Circ, so having read Circ is not really a requirement to understand this post either.

It was an interesting session to attend. It was interesting to see how the writers had experienced the process, and got me thinking about sides which I hadn’t considered. Plus it reminded me of parts of the novel that maybe I should have mentioned in my review (just goes to show that maybe I should start writing notes when I finish a book). I am going to add these bits splattered about

I’m going to give a little information about Circ and the process so things can be understood, no spoilers!

Circ was written by ten different authors, each author wrote a different character and characters were gradually voted off ‘X-Factor style’.as such it was a competition, although the contestants did have to work together at least to an extent, because the story had to work and the characters had to interact with each other.

One author in particular spoke about how sometimes these interactions meant that a character getting voted out could be as much of a bother to an author who was still in the process as for the author who had actually been voted out. He gave the example of his own character (which makes sense). His character was a teenager who worked in a shop and didn’t attend school, pretending to be older than school age. Another of the characters was a social worker so the author could see lots of interactions happening between his character and the social worker, which of course couldn’t be fulfilled once the social worker was out of the picture. He still had ways he could take the story, but this was a big chunk of what he could have done.

Another author (the author who won, as it happens) talked about what he had done to guard against this problem. He said that he had tried to make it so that his character had  connections with lots of other characters, so when one character ‘gets lost’ he had plenty of other characters to follow. Plus his character had his own loner related storyline. Not a surprise he won really, he had his finger in lots of pies, plenty of storylines for readers to want to discover the end of.  One of the characters he had an early interaction with was actually a character I wished we could see more of, she seemed to have lots of back story which I really would have liked to find out about. Let’s say she was my type of character, the type I like to read about.

The author who wrote the gangster character had a different approach to staying in the game. He decided to make all his character’s scenes as exciting as he could, in his first scene he killed someone by poking a pencil in their eye. That worked pretty well too. The gangster was one of the last characters to go.

The author who wrote the gangster was also the only person on the panel who didn’t live in the UK (he wasn’t the only author who  didn’t live in the UK but not all the authors were there) so he gave the best varied cultural insight. It seemed that his only real ‘problem’ was that he would use words and phases that British people wouldn’t use, and his character was meant to be British. He had to change other aspects of his character too, to make him more British. He wanted him to have gone to Sandhurst, but he was black, so him having gone to Sandhurst was very unlikely. Him  living in Skegness (where the book is set) was also somewhat unlikely, but that was too major to change. I actually really liked the gangster character, especially his interactions with the clown (the winning character). He was funny. He somehow seemed more funny when the author read an extract.

I feel this post is getting too long, but I wanted to comment on one more thing. I asked about how the writers managed to make things so cohesive, seeing as they all had their own backgrounds and styles. I found it interesting that they could tell the differences in styles, where I couldn’t. Maybe that was just to do with the familiarity with each other’s work. It’s a bit like how I  could tell that The Cuckoo’s Calling was written by J.K Rowling, because I am so familiar with and expected her style. They said they did occasionally need a push in the right direction when writing each other’s characters, because a writer will know more about their characters than what you can read, or what a description can really show. It’s part of the reason that they really needed to work together.


Filed under general, Musings

Circ- Various Authors

Disclaimer: I was given this book free of charge (by the publisher) in exchange for an honest review

Synopsis (from amazon)

Razvan Popescu lives in a flat overlooking the seaside town of Skegness. He keeps himself to himself and few know the man at all. Even fewer know his past, which he has tried to leave behind in the Romanian woods.

But when a tattooed man is found murdered on the beach, it is clear that some of that past has followed him to this tacky seaside town. As battle erupts within the criminal fraternity, dark forces gather around the town and Popescu’s acquaintances find themselves dragged into a world of violence, fire and fairy tales.

One thing is certain: the circus has come to town.

Ten To One is a novel writing project in which ten authors write a novel together, seeking the approval of a judging panel and a public vote to keep their character in the story.

Circ, the first Ten To One novel, is written by Simon Fairbanks, Maria Mankin, Yasmin Ali, Jason Holloway, Livia Akstein Vioto, Luke Beddow, Danielle Rose Bentley, William Thirsk-Gaskill, Sue Barsby and Giselle Thompson.


The main reason I agreed to review this book is because of the concept. I was interested to see how a story could be pulled off with so many different authors, when the author changed not just from chapter to chapter but within chapters. And where nobody really knew where the story was going t go, because they didn’t know when they would loose different stories. Of course it would mean working together, and knowing each others plans for the characters.

I had had the concern that the story wouldn’t be very cohesive, that the writing styles of the different authors would be too different. It gelled much better than I had dared hope though. The first chapter, admittedly, took me about the same amount of time to read as the rest of the book as a whole. I think that was just because so many characters needed to be introduced, it was a lot to be crammed into one chapter. From the second chapter on however things continued to get better, until I was enthralled by the end.

As you would expect from a novel where characters were voted out some stories remained somewhat unfinished, and I would have liked to see what would have happened to some of the characters later. I think that shows good writing though, that I became interested in the characters.

The story itself was sometimes a little strange, which may be due to the nature of the peculiar writing process. However it was exciting, and had a lot of twists (not shocking really as even the authors could be sure what they would get). It kept me reading, and at times on the edge of my seat.

I am interested to find out more about the writing process, so to that end I’m hoping to get to the Separated By a Common Language event to see what I can find.


Buy it:

Kindle (£3.09)

Paperback (£7.99)


Filed under Contempory, Crime, Fiction review