Would Eeyore and Ebeneezer Scrooge make good pen pals? What would Frankenstein and Fido discuss, given the chance? Soon enough, we’re going to be treated to a whole host of literary pairings, thanks to one of our latest projects, Dear 26. Paul White shares the inspiration behind the project.
It was a dark and stormy night. No
really, it was. It was also a great beginning, for once. Warming myself on the
inside with a glass of Clare Valley’s finest Shiraz, the idea of writing a
letter to a character in a novel swam into my midwinter brain. Quick as an
email, I bounced the idea off John Simmons 12,000 miles away. John warmed to it
immediately, so I bounced the idea off my somewhat nearer, fellow New Zealand
26ers – Jane Berney and Jayne Workman. They liked it too. And so began the Dear
Thanks to John’s and the two J’s input
Dear 26, launched this month, and it’s already got us excited. Us now
being 13 writers from NZ, and 13 writers from around the world (UK, USA, India,
Ireland – Dublin and Belfast, Switzerland, Prague, and Australia).
The inspiration behind Dear 26,
is that talented writers are also avid readers. And we all know what happens
when we’re engrossed in a good book: we often become totally engaged with the
characters that while we’re reading the book, those characters are as real as
our closest friends and relatives.
The Dear 26, concept is that
each writer is allocated a letter of the alphabet and then chooses two
fictional characters whose names (first or last names) begin with that same
Each of our Dear 26, writers
will create a letter written by a character in one book and addressed to a
character in an entirely different book.
It doesn’t matter if the books are not contemporaneous, but they can be.
Thus, if anyone had wanted have Bridget Jones write to Betsy Trotwood they
But we have ended up with more
interesting correspondents than that. Ebeneezer Scrooge and Eeyore, Quasimodo
and the Queen of Hearts, Frankenstein and Fido, for a start.
And although we pitied the three
writers who drew X, Y and Z, they each came up with six fantastic
correspondents: Xaphania (The Amber Spyglass by Philip Pullman) and
Xanthe (Indigo by Marina Warner); Yunioshi (Breakfast at Tiffany’s
by Truman Capote) & Yorick (Hamlet by W. Shakespeare); Zorro (Don
Deigo Vega, The Curse of Capistrano by Johnston McCulley) and Zaphod
Beeblebrox (The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams).
There’s still a lot of work for us all
to do but in October we’re aiming to publish Dear 26, online in a
website gallery before publishing a book of all the letters. And we’re aiming
to to launch the book at the Auckland International Writers Festival in May
Meanwhile, I shall remain your humble
and most obedient servant,