Below is an interview that Michael Andersen conducted with prolific multimedia author Patrick Carman. Â Over the past few years, Carman has released a number of projects that seek to redefine the novel. Â In addition to his Skeleton Creek series, Carman wrote The Black Circle, book five in the 39 Clues franchise. Â Carman released ThirteenÂ Days to Midnight in April and TRACKERS in May.
MA: What lead you to start writing transmediaÂ novels?Â (Also, is there another term you prefer for the format?)
PC: Iâ€™m just going to come right out and say it at the top: Transmedia, as a unifying term, is beyond lame. And it points to a challenge weâ€™re facing in this space: coining a term is a tricky business. What the heck do we call what weâ€™re doing? I tried vBooks (also lame), others have tried Diginovel, iStories, Vook, cross-platform â€“ the list goes on, and I think they all fail to inspire at a level that will bring everyone under one tent. You guys did better with ARG â€“ Alternate Reality Game â€“ it stuck. Howâ€™d you do that?
To our credit (and by â€˜ourâ€™ I mean everyone trying to explode books into the 21st century landscape) weâ€™re talking about a brand new way of telling stories. Weâ€™re probably supposed to fumble around in the dark for awhile, but I think weâ€™re getting closer. My two cents as of today is that weâ€™re basically talking about something thatâ€™s been around for a long time, namely multimedia. And really, thatâ€™s a pretty good term to describe whatâ€™s happening to with these books; theyâ€™re becoming something broader, encompassing different medias. Itâ€™s interesting that movies and TV shows and web sites donâ€™t have the same challenge. Creators of those mediums arenâ€™t sitting around debating what they should call something when a movie has an ARG and spawns a TV show. Itâ€™s simply multimedia. The difference with a project like Skeleton Creek or TRACKERS is that Iâ€™m committed to a simple premise those other examples arenâ€™t interested in: for me, the destination is always the book. That means the videos, the games, the web sites â€“ they have a job to do, which is to get young readers turning pages. At PC Studio, where we make all these assets, a video is only as good as the pages it pushes a reader to turn.
Long winded already and I havenâ€™t even exited question number one. The short answer is MULTIMEDIA. Thatâ€™s what itâ€™s called, thatâ€™s what it is.