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Stratford Literary Festival to try group writing project

March 15, 2010 | 11:02 am

Hamletstatue For the first time, the Stratford Literary Festival -- held in Shakespeare's stomping grounds Stratford-upon-Avon -- has commissioned a novel. The book will be published by Scholastic in paperback in time for the festival, which runs from April 25 through May 3.

Titled "The World Turned Upside Down," the novel will be targeted at teens and adults who like reading young-adult fiction. Author and teacher Leila Rasheed will lead the project, the Bookseller reports.

The novel is set between the two time zones of the English Civil War in 1642 and a later civil war, caused by global warming, in 2042. Students at Stratford College have been commissioned to design a cover.

Rasheed will also work with students at local schools, using the title.

Festival director Annie Ashworth described it as a "community project," adding, "I'm not aware of it ever being done before."

Community writing projects may be rare, but they're not unheard of. The L.A. Times did one in 2008, in connection with our Festival of Books. Led by Steve Lopez, the online contest, "Birds of Paradise," was directed at a slightly older crowd. "Charlie Bonner went to the closet and shoved his wife's clothes aside, a small fortune worth of chic rags she'd never worn twice," it began. "He opened the safe and reached for his passport, two bundles of cash and the address of the dancer from Jumbo's Clown Room on Hollywood Boulevard."

-- Carolyn Kellogg

Photo: statue of Hamlet in Stratford-upon-Avon. Credit: Elliott Brownvia Flickr.