Monday, October 3, 2016

Indie Spotlight: Kathe Koja's New Project

Here at TNBBC, we are big fans of Kathe Koja. A few years back we reviewed her novel Under the Poppy and have been blown away by her storytelling ever since! 

Today, we want to share a unique opportunity with you. Kathe has launched a project that allows its backers to become part of her novel-writing experience. You have to check this out....


Sometimes our friends inspire us—dare us—to try new things, wild things. That’s how I wound up offering readers real-time, behind-the-scenes access to one of my novels. 

I’ve always been the kind of writer who believes you show the book only when it’s finished. Even with editors—though I listen with close attention to all editorial suggestions, I never send any drafts before the final. Even my longtime beta readers, perspicacious and helpful as they are (and they truly are), only get the ms when the ms is done.

So why did I launch a project wherein readers were invited to come along for the writing of a new novel, starting from page one and, as I write this, now passing page 200, and heading into its final third, reading excerpts as they go?  

The credit goes to Christopher Marlowe. 

Captivated by the voice of that great Elizabethan poet, playwright, and badass (thank you forever, Anthony Burgess and A Dead Man in Deptford), I knew I had to write about Marlowe. Reams of research followed, biographies and critical studies, interesting, maddening, enlightening—even the tangential stuff was pretty cool (Kit Harrington as Dr. Faustus; a Marlowe fragrance!). And I wanted some way to share all that intel, outside of the narrative—since a narrative is exactly that, not a carry-all for the research, no matter how interesting.

So I devised the Christopher Wild bespoke project. Every month, the 29 supporters receive an excerpt from the novel, and an essay covering some aspect of Marlowe’s work and life—writer, scholar, spy, atheist—with relevant links to each month’s topic, plus a playlist of the music in heavy rotation at my desk. 

To be honest, when the concept first came to me, I worried it might be too difficult: what if I want to edit, realize once I’ve begun that all of this part has to be cut, or that part expanded—will that change the way readers accept the finished book? What if I invite people, allow them backstage, and that somehow changes the way I work?

But in practice it’s been nothing but fun, and truly energizing, too, sharing the ongoing process with those first readers. And it’s my hope and goal that the finished book that their support helped make possible will communicate the excitement and pleasure I had while learning and reading—and writing—about Christopher Marlowe, to those first adventurous 29 and all its eventual readers, all of us companions on this very Wild path. 

A BoingBoing feature on the project is here: 

You can preorder the Christopher Wild trade edition here:   


Photo credit Rick Lieder

Kathe Koja’s novels include THE CIPHER, SKIN, BUDDHA BOY, TALK, and the UNDER THE POPPY trilogy. CHRISTOPHER WILD, her 17th novel, is forthcoming from Roadswell Editions. She creates performative fiction with her ensemble, nerve.

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