Alice Campion is the pseudonym of a group of Australian writers who have published two collaborative novels, The Painted Sky (Random House, 2015; published in German as Der Bunte Himmel, Ullstein Verlag 2015), and The Shifting Light (Penguin Random House, 2017). The group promotes collaborative fiction writing through workshops, public lectures, and the internet.
Alice Campion consists of four core members: Denise Tart, a Sydney civil celebrant with a background in writing and performance; Jane Richards, a senior travel editor with Australian media group Fairfax; Jane St Vincent Welch (full name Mary Jane St Vincent Welch), an Australian film editor; and Jenny Crocker, a communications manager specialising in behaviour change campaigns. For its first novel, the Alice Campion group also included Madeline Oliver.
The Alice Campion collaborators met as members of an inner-city book club in Sydney, Australia, The Book Sluts. In 2010, while discussing Crime and Punishment, five members of the group decided spontaneously to write a ‘bestseller’ in order to fund a trip to Russia. What began as a light-hearted attempt to write a run-of-the-mill romance soon developed into a more serious attempt to write a quality genre novel. The group was also motivated by the lack of collaborative writing in commercial fiction. While other forms of creative writing – notably screenwriting for television and movies – thrived on collaboration, multi-author novels were rare, and the few that did exist were experimental, avant garde works, such as Wu Ming, or spoofs.
Other successful collaborative pairs writing commercial Australian literature include Thomas Kenneally and his daughter Meg Kenneally as well as Florence James and Dymphna Cusack, who wrote the classic Australian novel Come In Spinner. Alice Campion remains the only multi-member commercial fiction group collaboration in the world.
The Alice Campion authors, as Group Fiction, have outlined their writing process in detail and with examples of key documents in their e-book How to Write Fiction as a Group. Generally, the group meets on a Sunday to develop the plot of the book. This involves breaking the existing story into short scenes of around two to four pages. The group collaboratively decides what will happen in each scene: the action, setting the point of view, impacts on the emotion and knowledge of the participating character and the tone. Each writer then takes a single scene away and writes it as a draft. Scenes must be written and circulated to the other writers ahead of the next meeting, which generally takes place on a Thursday. At this Revision Meeting, each writer reads her own scene out loud and other participants have an opportunity to suggest improvements, which are integrated or not by agreement. In subsequent drafts, scenes are re-written by someone other than the original author and edited collaboratively to ensure a smooth and seamless narrative. Disagreements are decided by a vote.
- The Painted Sky (Random House Australia, 2015), published in German as Der Bunte Himmel (Ullstein Verlag, 2015). In this family mystery/romance hybrid, a young urban designer inherits an outback property and is drawn into layers of family secrets.
- How to Write Fiction as a Group (2015), an e-book by Alice Campion members Jenny Crocker, Jane Richards and Denise Tart.
- The Shifting Light (Penguin Random House, 2017), a sequel to The Painted Sky.
Following its publication in 2015, The Painted Sky drew attention from the Australian media. The Alice Campion authors have presented at numerous events, workshops and festivals including the Japan Writers’ Conference, the inaugural St Albans Writers’ Festival, the New South Wales Writers' Centre, the Society of Women Writers (NSW), the State Library NSW, the NSW Writers' Centre, and for Writers Victoria at the Wheeler Centre in Melbourne. Following the publication of The Shifting Light in 2017, the Alices appeared at the Sydney Writers' Festival and ran a workshop on how to write collaborative fiction.
- "The Painted Sky | Penguin Books Australia, ISBN 9780857984852, 384 pages". penguin.com.au. Retrieved 2017-01-20.
- "Ullstein Buchverlage: Der bunte Himmel, ISBN 9783548612881". Ullstein Buchverlage: Der bunte Himmel (in German). Retrieved 2017-01-20.
- "The Shifting Light | Penguin Books Australia, ISBN 9780143781110, 368 pages". penguin.com.au. Retrieved 2017-01-20.
- "Denise Tart Celebrant". Denise Tart Celebrant (in German). Retrieved 2017-06-16.
- "group-fiction". group-fiction. Retrieved 2017-01-20.
- Richards, Jane (January 9, 2017). "Group fiction: The book club that wrote a book – well, two actually". Sydney Morning Herald.
- Morris, Linda (February 15, 2015). "Women of Letters: how five book club readers turned the table on publishing". Sydney Morning Herald.
- Sharples, Sarah (March 11, 2015). "The Booksluts write first novel called The Painted Sky under author name Alice Campion". Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 2017-01-20.
- Sullivan, Kath (March 4, 2015). "The book club of five that wrote its own book as Alice Campion". The Weekly Times. Retrieved 2017-01-20.
- "St Albans Writers' Festival | Alice Campion". 2015.stalbanswritersfestival.com.au. Retrieved 2017-01-20.
- "Alice Campion: How to Write Collaborative Fiction". Sydney Writers Festival:Alice Campion: How to Write Collaborative Fiction. Retrieved 2017-06-01.