Friday, September 07, 2012

Reading matters

By chance and thanks to the ineffable logic of the Amazon 'suggestions' machine I discovered the work of the two ladies shown above. Both have four titles available as Kindle downloads and I am now reading the last of the combined eight.

Combined? Indeed! In both instances the storytelling is set in the county of Norfolk, Ms Bruce favouring the city of Cambridge, Ms Griffiths the wildness of the very atmospheric coast.

Both writers have a 'voice' which is in some ways comparable. The plotting is intricate, there is room for humour and the key  protagonists are far from any thriller genre stereo types. Damn fine reads.

And thus I consider my reading of these eight books adds up to a single, unified consumption of of fiction entertainment.

Mulling this over I found myself thinking of the way that the writers' room was was such fun in my days as producer of soap opera. I imagined Alison and Elly as members of a storylining crew. Out of the creative deliberation there always came wonderful cross-fertilization of narratives, fascinating exchanges of characters in the course of various story skeins. I can so easily imagine Alison Bruce's DC Goodhew involved in a case with Elly Griffiths forensic archeologist Ruth Galloway!

I wonder increasingly whether the writer's room is perhaps about to make a comeback... most probably in a virtual form... and particularly in the turbulent slip-stream of digital developments in fiction publishing.

In this regard I do not view the James Patterson approach as a template,in spite of the profitability of his 'story factory'. Entertainment Weekly asked whether he is to be seen as author or as brand manager...

"Are you still a writer if you subcontract out much of the actual, you know, writing?"

But ad hoc project -based groupings of independent writers could be part of the way ahead. 

Two factors could spur this kind of development. 

The first is the growing trend towards transmediality, with the latest digital devices allowing the insertion within a prose narrative of audio-visual and other elements. The 'Kindle Fire HD' introduced yesterday is just begging for content of this kind.

Secondly there is more and more chatter about seriality. The following is from a Gizmodo post of today's date...

"Back when Charles Dickens and his cohorts were publishing, books didn't come fully formed; instead, they came out in regular installments; that's why each chapter tends to end with a cliffhanger. Today, Amazon announced that it's bringing that proud tradition back with Kindle Serials.

The way Serials will work is that you pay upfront for an entire series, and receive all future episodes as automatic downloads as they become available. They types of books are what you'd expect from the format; mysteries, thrillers, genre pieces, etc. They'll be priced at a very reasonable two dollars, and while [Jeff] Bezos says it should spawn a new genre of books, in truth it's more of a blast from the past."

A Norfolk serial... fascinating insights from Goodhew's granny (pace Alison) in cahoots with Cathbard (pace Elly)! And photos of Ruth's surviving cat! 


Alison Bruce was kind enough to point out that I am a geographical moron... the city of Cambridge is not in Norfolk and is indeed about thirty kilometres distant from the border of that county. 

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