Pick Up a Call From ‘Red Phone Box’


What do a druidic talisman, shape-shifting cat people and Warren Ellis have in common? The answer is Red Phone Box, a fiction anthology currently seeking funding on Kickstarter. Led by Salome Jones and Tim Dedopulos, Red Phone Box features stories from Ellis, comics writer Dan Wickline and 26 others, including myself. Speaking with Tim and Salome, I try to get to the bottom of this unique anthology.

How did Red Phone Box come about?

Salome: It started as a web series. I wrote the first story and put it on my website. I got a few people wanting to write for it right away, but it really took off when Warren wrote a little blog post about it. The best thing that came out of that blog post was Gethin Lynes finding us. I shopped for other writers. Asked for names and tracked people down, asking them to contribute stories. For example, Peter Dawes writes vampire novels in his real life. So when a vampire character came up in the book, I got in touch with him and asked him to write a story about that character. I wanted something erotic, so I sought out a writer of erotica.

The biggest epiphany I had was in realizing that Tim could use his puzzle-making skills to help me weave the stories together better. This was the moment when the story cycle was born. Before this bulb went off in my head, this was just an anthology. It became something bigger when Tim agreed to help me fill in the missing pieces.

Red Phone Box draws on writers from around the world. Where did you find them all?

Salome: I can really answer this in one word: Twitter. This is a novel made possible by social media. Everyone who worked on the book is connected to me or one of the other writers by Twitter. This is what creative collaboration and meeting people is in the twenty-first century. We’re living in the future and it’s really a great place sometimes.

If you mean more specifically where were they found… Well, all over the United States, Canada, the UK – both England and Scotland, France, Hungary, the Netherlands, another mystery country, Australia, and the Middle East.

Limited Edition RPB print by Ben Templesmith

Limited Edition RPB print by Ben Templesmith

You’ve described Red Phone Box as a story cycle. How do they fit together?

Tim: Story cycles are collections of independent stories that work together to provide some overall narrative or contrast. This can range from very tightly linked material like James Joyce’s Dubliners down to widely-dispersed collections of material, such as Lovecraft’s Cthulhu Mythos tales. Academics argue back and forth about exact definitions incessantly, which makes for a decent career I guess.

In our case, the unifying pivot point is the Red Phone Box itself – and the history (and fate) which are attached to it. The Box is, well, it’s many things, but it’s often a gateway. The thing about gateways is that sometimes they suck you in, and sometimes they let things out…The different stories permit illuminated glimpses through, so you can see a bit of what is going on. So as well as often interlinking and feeding into each other directly, they also give you changing views into the events happening in the background. Bad things are building, and the future is reaching out to the present.

So while you can enjoy the stories as unrelated tales in themselves, they also work as a jigsaw, slotting together to give you a vision of something much larger and darker. It all takes a lot of shepherding, of course. But the end result is something really rather special, I believe.

How on Earth you did nab Warren Ellis?

Salome: Warren and I have been friends for years. When I was a graduate student studying writing in the US, he was my guru. I even dedicated my thesis to him. When you study writing in an academic setting, there’s a lot of bias against writing genre. I really sought out writer friends who called bullshit on that and Warren was at the front of that line of people for me. So when I started this project, he was very supportive. I was a bit terrified to ask him to write for it. I remember trying to come up with a persuasive argument for how it would benefit him. Finally I just asked him. He really is a nice man and in spite of his protestations, quite brilliant.

At this point, the book is funded. Do you have any stretch goals in mind?

Tim: Of course! The Kickstarter goal is the amount we require to fulfill all the pledge rewards and to get the book actually printed. Our next aim is to set up a distribution deal and get the book into brick and mortar stores. There’s quite a lot of hoops to leap through there, many of which take fairly substantial amounts of money. So that’s our first aim. If we cover that, then we’ll consider bribing another big-name writer to join Warren Ellis in the contributors list. We’re looking into possible candidates at the moment, just in case. After that… Hm, we’ll think of something. A Red Phone Box comic cycle, perhaps?

What’s next?

Salome: We plan to do a second book. We’ve signed up some new people to write it. Some of the current crop of writers will be back. We hope to recruit some big names. We’re still looking for good writers. The second book will be a little more planned out. We want it to take what we have and draw to a kind of finale.

This book is very comic book series like in a way, more episodic in the way of a serial like a comic book. It’s more like life than the structured, plotted out novel or film script. That’s one of the interesting things about it. There are moments where you go, “Oh, those are connected.” That’s one of my favorite aspects of story cycle versus novel. But it’s a bit like herding cats to make it do what you want. So for the purposes of giving a big finish that resolves most of the threads, we need to give writers more specific assignments. This whole thing has been a big, gorgeous experiment. The second book will be a different kind of experiment.

More information about Red Phone Box can be found at


Author Zach Lawrence wow’ed us all with his first book, Reclaiming the Soul of Halbert Halburt, Book I: The White Book.  The book came out in March of 2008 and found an underground niche of success that kept its readers salivating for the next book in the series, aching to find out just what happens next!  Well the wait is finally over.  You can now own your own copy of Reclaiming the Soul of Halbert Halburt Book II: Silver in hardcover or bound softcover.

Here’s a little excerpt from the prologue of the book just to whet your appetite and give you an idea of what the book is about.

When we last left our unlikely hero, Halbert Halburt, he had said goodbye to his friends to keep them safe and to trudge on to fulfill his destiny as the Scale of Humanity.  Hal had just been minding his own business in his hometown of Staggport when a talking bird who called himself The Prince of all Hawks had flown to Halbert’s house and started him on his journey.  The hawk had imparted to Hal that the reason he never felt much in the way of emotion was because he had no soul.

Don’t hesitate, go buy yourself a copy immediately, and don’t forget to pick up your copy of the first book so you can catch up on what you might be missing.  This book has it all; romance, intrigue, intricately written action scenes and comedy.  You’ll fall in love with Zach’s characters all over again if you’ve read the first book, or for the first time if you haven’t.  This is not to be missed!


You really cannot call yourself a nerd if you haven’t read this book yet.  Reclaiming The Soul of Halbert Halburt- Book 1: The White Book was this century’s introduction to a book series right on par with the fantasy writings of the 20th century greats.  (Do I need to tell you who the greats are?  C’mon, you’re a nerd!)

The book was written by our very own Zach Lawrence, one of the head writers on In this first installment of what will be a several part series, you meet the title character, Halbert Halburt.  Nothing pleased Halbert more than a great pair of shoes, so simple was his provincial life.  That is, until a talking bird appears on his doorstep and insists he go on a quest!

You will laugh with and pity the main character as he stumbles through his quest; meeting heroes and villains along the way, as he slowly learns that he isn’t like other people.  He doesn’t have a soul.  The quest is to find the pieces of his shattered and scattered soul that lay about the vast world, waiting to be found by him before they are found by the evil Demonon and his minions and put to bad use against the human race.  The book was plugged by Howard Stern on Sirius XM radio and found a cult following niche.  Don’t you wanna be one of the cult?  I should say so!  Here’s your kool-aid.

This book has been out since March of 2008, so check it out, buy it on Amazon.  Also, check out the site dedicated to the book series.  Even better news, the second book in the series has just been given the finishing touches and sent off to be published, so keep your ear to the ground for it.  It’ll knock you on your ass with its greatness!  You will bow before Zach in trembling awe!  (Or if nothing else, you’ll be thoroughly entertained.  Who doesn’t like that!?)  More updates to follow on this amazing book series right here, on Nerd Bastards!