Voice Of A Generation: The Joys Of Collaboration

One of the interesting things about St Mallory’s Forever! is obviously the way it’s been written. Oh, don’t get me wrong, we’re not trying to sell it just because it was written by a whole bunch of different people. We like the plot too. But even if indie publishing is making collaboration more common, we still think that with St Mall’s, we’ve done something a bit unusual.

For a start, Charley and I are both teenagers. Perhaps working together might have been a normal thing to do, maybe under one name, but the very fact that we are working with Saffina Desforges as well makes us unusual. Why? Well, they’re best-selling e-book authors. Since when did they hang around with 15-year-olds? (As I was when we started, though I’ll be 17 before it’s published.)

That brings us to Saffina Desforges. The writing partnership have already released one YA book, but they’re primarily crime writers, at least so far. And that was a historical novel.

Now, given that neither of them are teenagers, neither of them are currently studying at either a boarding school or a London state school, and Mark actually lives in West Africa so, if anything, is even more behind on the ‘lingo’ than most others his age, there’s a fundamental problem with writing a book narrated by three teenage girls in a boarding school: you’re going to sound like an idiot if you use vocabulary that’s out of date.

This has happened a couple of times. In editing, Charley and I have picked up on phrases like ‘totties’ which, to be frank, I have never heard in my entire life. In consulting a dictionary (okay, my parents, but my dad reads dictionaries for fun so it’s basically the same thing), I discovered it to be a word that fell out of usage some time ago, and was always primarily upper class. Not really surprising that I hadn’t come across it, is it?

There are also words which have changed their meaning. For example, “fag”, used in the context of boarding school novels to talk about a younger student forced to run errands for older students. Obviously, these days it’s got a whole bunch of connotations, from the harmless slang term for a cigarette to the derogatory name for someone who’s gay, which wasn’t exactly what Mark was trying to say.

Plus, there’s the education system itself, which has changed rapidly in the last few years. While my mum has always kept up to date because she works in a school, my dad still gets muddled about what year is which and how old I am and things. What hope do they have without us? To sound like realistic teenagers is hard enough when it’s in normal first person, and this thing is written as blog posts, where voice is absolutely imperative. I daresay Mark and Saffi could have pulled it off, but it would have been incredibly difficult.

And that’s where you need superstars like Charley and I. Here to make teenagers sound like teenagers despite being ridiculous pretentious with our own language most of the time and supplementing curse words with Latin/Elvish/Esperanto/Anglo-Saxon ones instead (delete as appropriate for the two of us).

Yet Charley and I couldn’t have written St Mallory’s without the others. For a start, we couldn’t do the publishing side, or the cover design, or any of the logistics. But, to be quite frank, neither of us have enough experience writing (a) mysteries and (b) collaborating. We’ve done a few joke collaborations in the past, but nothing ever got finished.

Therefore, this is truly a collaborative effort. None of us could do it without the others, for all different reasons, and we wouldn’t want to! I’m fairly sure I had a point to this post that wasn’t quite so sickeningly adorable, but alas — it’s gone. I’ll have to leave you with the fluff and rainbows for now.

— M

(I’m hoping to create and upload a video promo for St Mallory’s Forever! this evening, and while I cannot guarantee it will be up today, hopefully it will. It would be great if a few of you could share it; I’ll be linking to it here as soon as it’s live.)