Yes you read that right. Hotel Angeline: A Novel In 36 Voices is the product of The Novel: Live! The project was born out of a desire to avoid yet another arts festival full of reading after reading. Not that people don’t enjoy readings but Seattle7Writers wanted something a bit different.

“On October 11, 2010, at 10:00am, Jennie Shortridge typed the first word. On October 16, 2010, at 6:00pm, Susan Wiggs typed the 73,535th word. In between first and last words, great fun was had: from Mary Guterson’s record-setting stint (4,560 words!), to Erik Larson’s record-setting cups of coffee (four!), from Kit Bakke’s Long Distance Award (Shanghai, China!), to Susan Wiggs’s costume changes (four!).”
Each writer wrote a chapter in two hours and the whole novel was completed in just six days! Now I’ll forgive you for thinking, that’s great entertainment but surely the book is a bit hit and miss? No, no, no. It turned out a wonderful story about a girl called Alexis who has an absent mother and is trying to keep a residence hotel running whilst there’s a terrorist plot afoot and a body in the basement.

There are of course changes in style but, with a handful of exceptions, you can barely notice the changes unless you’re looking for them. I was too absorbed in the plot which is how it should be. I may be tempted to go back through the chapters and match up the writers at a later date. I’m not familiar with the majority of them but this book will definitely make me look out for their work.

A fitting quote from Garth Stein’s chapter, I think it sums up the whole writing process:

“There is no control over the past and none of the future. But there is control of the now.”
It’s a bittersweet, sometimes darkly comic, charming, coming of age story and I had a teary-eyed moment towards the end.
Hotel Angeline is being published in ebook format only by Open Road Media and is available from 3rd May 2011. 50% of proceeds will go straight back into the writing and reading community, providing grants for literacy and arts projects. You can read more about Seattle7Writers on their website.
Thanks to Open Road for providing me with a review copy.
P.S. Open Road have alluded to some additional videos about the project so I’ll be doing a bonus post when I’ve got the details. I just couldn’t contain myself any longer!