The Next Big Thing

Last week, Kate Tough tagged me on her blog as part of a book and author chain called THE NEXT BIG THING. So now it’s my turn.

By day I work at Quietroom, by night I work on 26 projects and fall asleep on the sofa. You can read the answers to questions about my latest project below. I’ve also tagged five excellent writers, who’ll tell you about their work in a week’s time.

The Next Big Thing!

What’s the title of your project?
Throwaway Lines.

Where did the idea come from for the project?
It started with an abandoned handwritten letter I found on Blackfriars Bridge in 2009. This was the first of many throwaway handwritten scraps of paper I rescued from London’s streets.

I took this hoard of trash to 26, the writers’ collective, and they got involved. A stash of 26 stories, written by 26 writers, was published at

Then things turned three-dimensional: Fifteen top London designers created frames for the scraps that inspired the stories, taking visual cues from the stories too. Rubbish become art. An exhibition is now running at the Free Word Centre until Monday 26th November, inclusive.

What genre does your project fall under?
A new one – ‘Litterature’ – a term coined by one of the editors and writers, the author Elise Valmorbida.

What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?
It would have to be a large throwaway cast: Anyone who wasn’t anyone. B-movie stars and low profile extras would be particularly welcome. It would have to be directed by the master of ensemble moviemaking, Robert Altman. I know he’s dead, but that shouldn’t be a problem.

What is the one sentence synopsis of your project?
A varied collection of sharp short stories inspired by scraps of handwritten rubbish, which in turn have inspired 15 contemporary works of art.

Will your project be self-published or represented by an agency?
This is a self-initiated project, but wouldn’t have happened without the initial support of John Simmons, the endorsement of 26, and the contribution of four great editors, over 30 brilliant writers and 15 fabulous designers. We’ve produced a short-run book of the event available on request as a hard copy or pdf. Just email me, Andy Hayes at for details.

How long did it take the writers to create the first draft of their stories and the designers to develop concepts for their frames.
The writers were given 26 days and the framers had three weeks to come up with their initial ideas.

What other books would you compare the stories to within your genre?
Anything by Charles Bukowski: He was particularly good at noticing and writing about the discarded scraps of humanity left on the streets of West Hollywood.

Who or what inspired you to start this project?
Curiosity, Bukowski, and two other artists in particular: the singer/songwriter, Tom Waits, and the great Magnum photographer, Henri Cartier-Bresson. Like Bukowski, they’re curious about people, places and situations that pass most people by.

What else about your project might pique the reader’s interest?
The stories inspired by the scraps cover a huge range of subjects and emotions. There’s love, loss and laughter. False claims of rape leading to imprisonment for murder, and actual rape, gone unreported and only revealed years later on the victim’s deathbed. There’s chocolate, wet paint, jigsaw puzzles and a huge pulsing oversized package.

The works of art are fantastic, created by a brilliant bunch of designers.

Finally, you can still take part. My mucker, Malcolm Blythe, has a big plastic bag full of discarded dockets, lists and post-its just waiting to transform into stories. You can contact him here – – for more info.

Here are some hugely talented writers I’m fortunate to be connected with. I know them all through 26. You can join online at for a mere £26 per year. Their answers to the above questions will go live on their sites around 19th November 2012.

Neil Baker is a widely published writer of short stories and flash fictions. By day – and sometimes at night – he works as a journalist and business writer, helping people to share their ideas and tell their stories.

Martin Lee is currently deciding which of two fiction manuscripts to devote himself to – neither one has been accepted by publishers yet, but both have received enough encouragement for him to feel encouraged.

Landing Page

Nick Parker’s first collection of short stories, The Exploding Boy and Other Tiny Tales , came out last year. Several people nodded approvingly. The Guardian said it was ‘astonishing… proof that the short story remains a public good.’ Which was nice of them. By day, he’s creative director at The Writer.

Mike Reed’s
been a copywriter for 20 years, starting out in ad agencies and now working freelance in the design and branding world. He also manages to produce the odd bit of personal writing, but not as much or as often as he’d like – something he’s actively trying to redress.

John Simmons has written a bookshelf of books about writing for business, as well as fiction, and he keeps writing at


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