You might remember me, a couple of months ago, mentioning The Story Adventure and its brilliance. Don’t worry if you don’t, because the project is fully underway now and I can’t resist telling you about it all over again. Here goes…
An author called Fleur Hitchcock, whose latest novel is Dear Scarlett, wrote a book called Shrunk!, published by Hot Key Books. This fabulous story – about a boy who moves to a model village and mysteriously gains the ability to shrink sheep, planets and, er, possibly people – totally captured the imagination of my children… and me. Then – hurray! – we discovered that the sequel was being written in an amazing, interactive way. Every week, a new chapter of the novel goes up, together with a series of related questions and activities. My little daughter buzzes with delight before she busies herself drawing, writing, cutting, sticking and otherwise completely involving herself in the latest story developments.
Wow. The Story Adventure is brilliant, and we love it. If you want to join in now, it’s not too late – catch up with the chapters here. I am filled with awe at the way that the author and publisher interact with the young participants and keep them involved and full of the joy of stories, while still turning out an exciting, polished chapter every week.
Now, you might also know that I’m not a complete stranger to interactive writing. The lovely people at Fiction Express approached me a couple of years ago and asked me to write a teen book with a difference. This innovative project meant that readers could vote at the end of each chapter and decide on the direction of the story, making novel-altering changes to the plot and characters. The project is still running, with new stories developing all the time. Have a look here, and ask your teachers and librarians about Fiction Express for Schools.
Writing my own interactive novel was a daunting task, but it was also utterly rewarding. Knowing that people were reading my chapters, believing in my characters and caring about their lives… well, I think there’s no greater incentive for writing. I’ve always loved seeing exchanges between authors and readers on Goodreads, on Twitter, on Facebook… everywhere. Authors are nothing without readers. We adore readers! What better way to thank them than by, ahem, getting them to decide the names and traits of our characters? Or, double-ahem, asking them to make plot decisions for us?
I was thrilled when my interactive novel, among other Fiction Express novels, was picked up for publication by a new imprint called Curious Fox. Check out their blog – they have some great competitions running, and lots of exciting books being released.
Diary of a Mall Girl will be out this month as a printed paperback and in full e-book format. It’s the story of a girl who lives in a shopping centre, a location I chose carefully for the project because of its many plot possibilities. (I wrote about my Birmingham mall research here at Girl Heart Books – read “Sweet”!) Some wonderful readers helped to shape this novel, and to say I’m excited about its release would be an understatement. Thank you very much to everyone involved for making this possible!
Now, if you could all just make a few important plot decisions for my next novel… 🙂
P.S. Would you like to tell an author what to write next? Or maybe you already write interactively yourself, asking readers for direction as you go along? Tell me all in the comments!