|Here is Professor Sue Thomas (left), Kate Pullinger (next to Sue) and moi. We were being very transliterate with our Nintendo DS game playing.|
A bit about Kate:
Kate Pullinger’s most recent book, The Mistress of Nothing, won the 2009 Governor General’s Literary Award for Fiction, one of Canada’s most prestigious literary prizes, and was long-listed for the Giller Prize. Her digital fiction project Inanimate Alice has also won numerous prizes, reaching online audiences around the world. She is Reader in Creative Writing and New Media at De Montfort University where she co-founded TRG, the Transliteracy Research Group, and she also offers private 1-1 mentoring for emerging writers in both print and new media.
Kate Pullinger is currently working on a new novel that builds on themes developed in her collaborative digital fiction project, Flight Paths: A Networked Novel. You can also read Kate on My Secret Blog.
Read more on Kate's site: http://www.katepullinger.com/
Kate's Guest Lecture:
‘Inanimate Alice’ and Her Other Lives: a mini-case study
I came across this a couple of weeks ago and was amazed by it: it's a fictional
podcast in the style of a radio interview. In it, Alice, the character we created for our online episodic multimedia digital novel (gasp) 'Inanimate Alice',
is interviewed by the host of a show called 'The Daily Dose' about a 'giga pet' she's created, 'the Brad Bud'.
It's just over three minutes long but I'm amazed by it on many levels, but mainly on the level of 'wow'. These students have taken the Alice stories far beyond what exists online, developed Alice's character into young adulthood, created a business for Alice that includes a piece of tech kit that Alice has designed herself, the ‘Brad bud’. Then they've gone one step further and created a talk show for Alice to appear in, with its own host, and they've recorded the talk show interview, and broadcast it, along with the transcript, online.
There's very little information on the podcast webpage itself, but I can see from the url that it comes out of 'pitt.edu' which is the University of Pittsburgh in the US. A few tweets later, I'd figured out that these students are working with Jamie Skye Bianco, who is Professor of Digital Media at Pittsburgh (also known online as @spikenlilli). Jamie teaches both 'Inanimate Alice' and 'Flight Paths' to students on her 'Narrative & Technology' class; her students wrote a series of interesting blogposts about Alice and FP earlier this year.
It's been nearly two years since new episodes of Inanimate Alice, created by readers, first started appearing online, and these new episodes continue to proliferate. The pedagogical community around the project continues to grow; if you are interested in having a look at it, a good place to start is the Facebook Inanimate Alice group page. Recent developments include a Scottish teacher, Hilery Williams, who has written a series of wonderful blog posts about using 'Inanimate Alice' with dyslexic teenaged readers; the post linked to here is number four in a series on Alice.
As well as that, another Scottish teacher, Kenny Pieper, has been using Alice in his secondary school classroom and, again, blogging about it in a way that I've found both useful and inspiring. Both groups of students are working on their own episodes of Alice, and Mr Pieper’s class has started posting these online at the class ‘Inanimate Alice’ blog - https://blogs.glowscotland.org.uk/sl/InanimateAliceBlog/
For writers who work in the genre of science fiction, this kind of reader-story interaction is fairly commonplace via 'fanfic', or fan fiction. But for a writer like me, working in both the genre of literary fiction, and with new forms of digital fiction, having readers talk back to my story in this way is an extraordinary experience. Every time I see a new episode, or a new blog post from people working with 'Inanimate Alice' I feel absolutely amazed. To me it seems a very meaningful form of interactivity and I'm thrilled that these stories are being used by students and teachers around the world to find new ways of talking and thinking about storytelling in the 21st Century.
I was interviewed recently for an article called 'Are Midlist Authors An Endangered Species?' that appeared in the Globe & Mail newspaper yesterday - somehow I've become one of the go-to-girls for journalists who want to talk about the future of the book and the future of stories. My conversation with the journalist was, of course, vastly reduced in the context of the article, and I ended up being quoted in the final paragraph, given this as a not-very-bright-sounding last word: “Writers will make a living in a lot of different ways, only some of which are writing,” Uh-huh. I was described in the article as a writer who "publishes both conventionally and online, where she posts fiction for free." While, strictly speaking, when it comes to 'Inanimate Alice' and 'Flight Paths', this is true - these works are available online for free - to see the vast interactive community project that Alice in particular has become reduced to 'fiction for free' is infuriating. This is not to fault the journalist; my point here is that at the moment the argument about the future of publishing seems to be focussing on self-publishers vs real publishers, on 'free' versus 'paid' content. To me this feels like I'm watching a couple of mice argue over a tiny piece of cheese while around the corner a big fat cat (representing the vast potential for multimedia, interactivity, mobile delivery, etc etc etc that digital platforms offer to writers) sits calmly licking her paw.
I’d be interested to hear from you all about what you think about this kind of thing. What are your thoughts about how writing and publishing are changing? Have any of you been in touch with writers you admire via social media? Would you feel able or inclined to contact a writer you like through their website, or their twitter feed or facebook page, for example?