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22 April 2009 @ 09:13 pm
RUSSET : a twitter novel by kathleen duey  

i just had the pleasure of recently finishing SKIN HUNGER,
the first book in the RESURRECTION OF MAGIC trilogy
by kathleen duey. i'll be featuring an interview with duey
in august--just in time for her sequel release titled,
SACRED SCARS. cannot wait for that!

but our email exchanges led to a discussion about the
twitter novel that she is working on. i've seen her posts
off and on throughout the week on twitter, and am fascinated
by the concept as well as the driving force behind this.

the story is told from russets point of view :

Russet: Here's the deal. I can't go back. Not now, not ever.
I'll explain when I can. But first, I have to find a blanket.

and so it begins, duey telling the story in 140 character
tweets on a near daily basis. duey shares with us at the
enchanted inkpot her thoughts and feelings behind the
entire twitter novel endeavor.

what prompted you to write this?


A : I recently decided—after years of being a craft-sponge—that

I wanted to go back to the art-roots of my writing. I wanted to

experiment with interesting structures, storylines, experiment

with everything. The Resurrection of Magic trilogy is the first

published result of that decision. Volume one, Skin Hunger, was

a finalist for the National Book Award for Young People’s Literature.

Volume two, Sacred Scars, will be out in August. I am working on

the third book now—all three books have two stories, two protagonist.

The first story causes the second one and they go back and forth,

every other chapter. I  have several other exciting projects in the works.

All of these will be published in the usual way, and all are experimental.  


I opened a Twitter account and tried to think of something interesting

to do with it, some experiment.  The 140 characters-or-less limit for each

tweet was challenging and interesting and one morning I decided to begin

channeling a character there.  I knew his name, that he was in trouble—

and nothing else. I am not plotting the story. I have no idea what happens

next or how it will end. Or when.  I am letting Russet tell me what is

happening, every morning, and it feels very immediate, like he is calling

me on the phone and telling me what’s happened. He has just turned 18

and is trying to figure out his life—it isn’t easy,  his life has been very complicated.


My rules:

Russet talks, I listen and type.
Once written, no revision.
When he stops talking, I post the Tweets, all in a row.
Then I add them to the blog archive

Then I do other work.

What has the experience been like so far?


A : It’s been amazing for me. It seems to have dissolved a couple of

other creative log jams. My other work is more inspired, less mechanical.


And I have come to care about Russet.


how does it differ from writing a straight novel.

A : It’s freer, more exciting, way more terrifying, all the good stuff.

what are the challenges and the joys of this type of writing
for you?

A : The hard part was getting myself out of the way, but I am getting
better at it. Or maybe Russet is learning to talk a little louder. At first,
I heard his voice as a whisper. Now, it’s more defined, and I feel his
emotions more clearly.  He is so angry, so scared.  Most of the time,
writing Russet, I feel like a singer, head thrown back, breathing the music,
eyes closed, completely unaware of the audience, just living inside the song.
It’s a temporary and wonderful loss of self-consciousness. And I am pretty
sure that’s when art happens.

learn more about kathleen and her books at her website : 


follow russet's story on twitter :

twitter novel archives :

ellen_ohellen_oh on April 23rd, 2009 01:54 pm (UTC)
WOW!!! That is amazing! I'm going to follow her right away! And Skin Hunger is on my list of must reads!!!!

Great job Cindy and thanks Kathleen! This was fascinating! I just never even thought of tweeting a novel. That you can do it has me awestruck. I guess the OCD in me would never allow me to hit send but I can see how freeing it would be.
pjhooverpjhoover on April 23rd, 2009 03:40 pm (UTC)
What a great, fun idea!
I also read SKIN HUNGER and thought it was fantastic!
windsong5 on April 23rd, 2009 06:28 pm (UTC)
Thanks for the book rec. It sounds (title and series alone) like a really interesting read.

I love this idea! It's perfect timing, because I did the same thing yesterday. I love giving my characters a chance to talk, and me a chance to get into their shoes, or flippers. ;-) I also have a blog that I'm devoting simply to character essays. Topics that my characters blog about. It's been a blast!
kikihamiltonkikihamilton on April 24th, 2009 07:32 pm (UTC)
What a fascinating concept. I wasn't aware of Russet - thanks for the great interview Cindy!

I am one of those that don't outline...I write what the characters tell me to write (mostly) so I am intrigued with the idea of an on-going conversation with just a little bit each day. Might have to experiment with that one myself (but probably not in the public eye.....)
amarisglassstirlingbennett on April 24th, 2009 09:22 pm (UTC)
That seems like such a brave thing to do, tittering a novel, just letting people see it fresh...my work would not stand up to such immediate scrutiny! And the story is utterly compelling, though I'm half-afraid it'll disappear and I'll never know what the heck is going on. Is his dad good or bad, being taken advantage/control of at times or is he just crazy? Can't wait to find out!