The Liebster Award

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Another break from the scheduled programming (maybe we’ll just hang the schedule and post as much as we like, maybe) this week in the form of an award! Eeee! I have never been tagged in anything before. This is incredibly exciting. I was tagged by the wonderful Not-So-Modern Girl, who I discovered recently as part of my unwritten (but now written) vow to become more involved with the blogging community instead of just sitting in my own little bubble, as lovely as my little bubble is.

The rules of the tag are

  1. Thank the person who nominated you.
  2. Answer the 11 questions they wrote for you.
  3. Nominate 11 people.
  4. Give them 11 different questions to answer!

So, without further ado, onwards to the questions!

What three words best describe your reading habits?

Fantastical, odd and… delayed.

I like reading books with a little bit of magic and whimsy, I like my books to be a little bit weird. I’m also kind of slow on the up take. I buy books when they are new but more often than not it takes me yonks to actually read them because I have so many books.

On average, how many books do you read a month?

For a while, I read an abysmal amount but at the moment I am trying to finish a book a week.

If you could visit any time in the past, where would you go and what would you do?

I wouldn’t go far, I think I would just go back to when my grandparents were young and get to know them a bit more. I’d love to have seen what they were like when they were young and what their lives were like. It’s something I always wonder about.

Which character in a book has the same name as you?

If we’re talking the name I use for my blog and creative exploits… no one. Because I am a special snowflake. However, my actual name is Emma. There are lots of Emmas. Emma from Emma, Emma from Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children to name a couple.

What is your best reading memory?

Oh. Oh, now this is difficult but I think I am going to go with a fairly recent one. My friends and I do something we call book-napping. It’s where we’re all in the same room but doing completely different things while enjoying each other’s company.

We call it book-napping because normally there’s at least one person reading and another person napping. This time was no exception. I was reading Deathless by Catherynne M. Valente, I think, my best friend was napping, and the rest of our little group were watching Downton Abbey. We were all on the same giant bed and it was just incredibly cosy and warm and lovely.

Who is your favourite classical author (if you have one!)?

Confession time: I find it very difficult to read classic novels. However, I love Lewis Carroll and really enjoyed Wuthering Heights. I don’t know if I’ve read enough to have a favourite.

If you could only have one type of weather forever, what would it be?

Mist and fog. Always mist and fog. It’s just so beautiful and wonderful and it inspires me so much.

If you could only wear one outfit for the rest of your life, what would you choose?

Oh god. This is almost impossible to answer right now. I’m currently on a weight loss journey and am fitting back into clothes I have long loved but have not been able to wear. I’m also trying to find the style that I like.

If I had to choose, it would definitely involve my Ravenclaw jumper and one of my three favourite pairs of leggings (pictured below). But which pair, I don’t know. It’s like choosing a favourite child. I might be leaning towards the starry ones (that entire outfit, perhaps…)

If you could swap places with one character from a book, which character would it be and from which book?

September from Catherynne M. Valente’s Fairyland series. I want go on a merry jaunt around Fairyland. I would like to go to the moon, I would like to cause trouble and fix everything and brandish a wrench. All of the above, please.

Have you ever borrowed a book and never given it back? Or has someone borrowed your book and not given it back?

Shamefully, yes but I think we both forgot. I found them under my bed years later (about three years ago now? So I’d had them for a good few years). Yes to the second question as well. But I don’t mind so much. I don’t think I was ever going to read it again.

Cats or dogs?

I love both but I don’t think my long-distance dog would ever forgive me if I said cats. He’s long-distance because he lives with my parents, and he’s always so happy to see me. Loves a good snuggle does that one.

So dogs.


Right! That’s all of the questions. That was fun, I enjoyed that.

My questions are as follows:

  1. If you had to write your autobiography right now, what would the title be, what chapter would we be in, and what would the cover look like?
  2. If you could only read the work of one author for the rest of your life, which author would you choose?
  3. If you had a dreamscape, what would it look like? (For people who haven’t read The Bone Season, a dreamscape is kind of where your subconscious lives. It is influenced by your past and often resembles a place – Paige’s dreamscape is a poppy field for example.)
  4. If you had to be a combination of two animals (i.e. top half cat, bottom half chicken), which two would you choose and why?
  5. You have to erase a genre of books from history, which genre do you get rid of?
  6. For one day only, you can bring any character to life, which character and what do you do with them?
  7. Who would play you if your life was a movie?
  8. What is your favourite music to read to?
  9. If you could make one rule that everyone had to follow for one week, what would the rule be?
  10. What is your biggest achievement? (Blogging, life, anything goes.)
  11. What is your go to book to recommend to people, why should everyone read it?

Phew! I hope my questions are interesting – I tried my best.

The first question is my favourite question to ask people. I ask it on a regular basis because the answer is always changing. For me, at the time of writing, the title would be What Exactly Do You Want From Me? (and other questions which don’t have answers), the chapter I’m in is ‘There’s no such thing as One-Size Fits All Feminism’ (owing to an email I had to send earlier) and the cover would have me standing on a road with my back to the camera and my hands in my pockets. The title would be in a blocky sans serif vertically down my back with each word on a new line. The subtitle would be on the road under my feet. By the time this entry is posted, it will be very different. (Hello, future me.)

To answer these questions (should they wish to) and win this award I choose:

  1. My lovely Mel from Les Deux Lapins
  2. My favourite wanderer, Bethan, from Vagabondage
  3. The fab Jane from Books With Jane
  4. Stacey from Pretty Books
  5. Emma from Emma’s Blog
  6. Becky from Adventures of a Blue-Haired Girl
  7. Avi and Vishwa from Panic at the Bookstore
  8. Kate from Writer in Residence
  9. The mystery behind Gold is From Aliens
  10. Sofii from A Book, A Thought
  11. And finally, Caitlyn from Words and Other Beasts

These are all either people I know, or have known, or blogs that I have found and enjoyed recently, whose authors I think might have some pretty neat answers to these questions. :) I have no idea if they will want to answer them but they are here if they do! Either way. You should go and follow them all.

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On Interactive and Enhanced Fiction

I’ve been reading a lot of articles lately about interactive and enhanced fiction, how hard it is, how it’s reaching critical mass, how to rewire fiction and I am finding the commentary really interesting to follow. Despite my ongoing lack of iPad and my major project being a direct print response to digital in publishing, I am incredibly interested in these products and the struggles faced by the publishers who create them, as well as the opportunities they present.

I recently watched Neil Gaiman’s keynote speech (video below) from the Digital Minds Conference at the London Book Fair (which has provided me with a wonderful quotation for my major project report). It detailed the possibilities created by combining social media and digital publishing with the brilliant example of the A Calendar of Tales project, which culminated in an absolutely beautiful website with the author line ‘by Neil Gaiman & You’. It epitomises something which I think is really important in this new and very digital age: reader involvement, collaboration, community.

The project started on Twitter with Gaiman posting prompts and his followers responding. The responses led to stories which led to art. The Calendar created a community of artists and readers all driven by the concept of creating something. While this is not interactive in the same way as the products referenced in the articles I have been reading it was still an interactive experience – not an interactive reading experience but rather an interactive writing experience.

Another interactive writing experience, which I have mentioned briefly before, is Hot Key Books’ Story Adventure in which children were able to help write a book, with prompts and challenges. The idea proved really popular with schools across the country taking part. Both projects show the importance of reader involvement and not only that but show that the reading community whether children, adults, young adults or otherwise, love getting their teeth into the publishing process in whatever form it may take. Digital media makes this possible and even though I am still addicted to the printed book this can only be a good thing.

Perhaps the future of interactive fiction is not down the ‘choose your own adventure’ vein (though I have been thoroughly enjoying the Black Crown project) but rather in collaboration and community experience.

In this discussion of interactive fiction, I have not factored in enhanced fiction (which is also sometimes termed as interactive) with videos and audio and images. This, to me, is whole different world of digital media; its aims are different. The interactive fiction I have addressed above is all about the creative experience whereas enhanced fiction aims at creating an innovative and interesting reading experience. Black Crown is very game-like in its interactivity (there is a game developed by some of the Black Crown collaborators, Story Nexus, which works in exactly the same way) and in some ways it defies definition. Interestingly, these, like A Calendar of Tales, employ Twitter with the ability to tweet what you find as you move through the experience.

The cross-purposing of the term ‘interactive fiction’ is undeniably confusing so for the purposes of this and future entries, I am going to define my terms (as I, perhaps, should have done earlier):

  • Interactive Fiction: Fiction which is created by interacting with its audience or fiction where the outcome is dictated by choices made by its audience; in which the audience has the power to change the fiction with their interaction.
  • Enhanced Fiction: Fiction with added extras such as videos and audio (these can either be used to tell the story like The Numinous Place or simply add to the experience of the writing).

Enhanced fiction is not about the community, enhanced fiction is a singular experience and while it can be shared it can also be awkward to share (not unlike having someone read over your shoulder). Enhanced fiction is only just beginning.

As I have said, I am addicted to print but that does not mean I am against ebooks (in fact, I really enjoy creating them and having a career in ebooks would be brilliant). If I had to choose between a normal ebook (with nothing other than the text) and a print book I would buy the print but if I had an iPad (when I have an iPad) and was presented with the option to buy an enhanced version I would definitely buy both.

I adore Maggot Moon by Sally Gardner, Maggot Moon is a brilliant book and one which I could read over and over. It is a book which, when I finally acquire my iPad, will be one of the first things I purchase in enhanced, multi-touch form (along with Hot Key’s other digital innovations). There is a lot of selling power in enhanced fiction.

Towards the beginning of this entry I wrote that reader involvement is incredibly important in this new digital age, especially true of interactive fiction but also true of enhanced. Enhanced fiction is a great way of getting readers involved without asking anything of them; they do not have to participate but they are able to become immersed in the story in a greater way than if they were just reading it. Videos, audio and images help to cement the story in the mind of the reader. You can hear it, you can see it. That is reader involvement.

I am incredibly excited about the future of fiction as the digital experience develops, I am excited for readers, publishers and authors alike. I want to be involved. It may be hard and there may be naysayers but it’s an experience too important to miss. Digital is important. Digital is incredible.