A different kind of book seems to call for a different kind of review. When I began to see posts about prolific authors Kathi Appelt and Alison McGhee writing a book together, I was curious. Since I can’t really imagine creating fiction with anybody else, I wondered how it would turn out. I requested the advance reading copy from Net Galley of Maybe a Fox, to be released on March 8.
Hoping my blog readers are also curious, I am doing this review as a Q and A.
Q: How did they divide up the work?
A: According to an interviews I’ve read in several places, each of them first wrote separate chapters for the fox and girl, emailing them back and forth, then worked together simultaneously using Google Doc. At one point they met in Texas for revision. Both revised the book solo. This very condensed version of the process took place over several years.
Q: Does the writing jerk back and forth between their two voices?
A: I had to think hard for the answer to this one and started to give myself a different question. Fortunately, I went to a Backdoor Coffeehouse concert and figured it out. I am fairly familiar with Alison’s work and very familiar with Kathi’s and could hear their distinctive voices as I read. Still the book was a unit. It was like a duet when a soprano and alto sing together. You can hear each voice, yet there is one song, made more beautiful as the voices blend.
Q: Were the two voices distracting?
A: Rather than distracting, I felt like I was listening to two friends give an account of an adventure that mingles real life sadness and struggle with a fantasy world as each interrupts the other to carry their part of the story.
Q: Who will enjoy the book?
A: I would recommend it to middle schoolers and to those who have not lost their ability to relate to a shadow world where foxes have emotions and thoughts, to those who like a book cloaked in the sadness of two sisters who have lost their mother, and to those who understand the need to disobey a father’s warning to stay away from the river when there is a dire need to throw in a wish rock.
Q: Since I’ve seen how this can work, am I going to try writing with a partner?
A: Not likely