Editor’s note: this is a companion interview for the article we ran yesterday on Personal Effects: Dark Art, the new transmedia novel written by JC Hutchins and produced by Smith and Tinker. Mr. Hutchins was kind enough to answer a few questions posed by Michael Andersen, and the responses are below. Picture courtesy of CC Chapman on Flickr.
MA: You’ve developed a strong core following through your work with The Ministry of Propaganda over the years — how will we see them utilized through the Personal Effects ARG?
JH: Thanks for mentioning the Ministry of Propaganda! I love connecting with my audience using the MOP, and giving them street team-style missions to perform. They’re amazing, generous people who volunteer their time to help spread the word about my work.
When it comes to Personal Effects: Dark Art, I’m certain I’ll ask them to evangelize the book’s release, as well as some special — and at present, secret — promotional stuff we’re cooking up. As always, the hundreds of MOP “agents” will be on the front lines, firing people up for the project. I’m lucky to have so many cool people in my life.
MA: A lot of the clues will be found with the book and its contents: how much can we expect to see from Personal Effects before the novel’s print release this Summer? And what can you say about your experience working with Smith & Tinker (and St Martin’s Press)?
JH: There’s already some content connected to the Personal Effects universe out in the wild, and I think it’s awfully cool. While longtime ARG players are accustomed to some of the stuff we’ve already released — fiction that’s being updated in real-time, in sync to when Dark Art’s events take place — the Personal Effects experience is ultimately designed for newcomers. We were careful to craft a tale that adult readers would really enjoy, and motivate them to pursue the transmedia experience on their own, solo-style.
That’s not to say we won’t have a “base of operations” forum available for players, or that we don’t welcome dedicated fans of ARG storytelling — we will, and we absolutely do. But we all know that most ARGs require what I call “bunches of brains” … lots of players … to unlock puzzles and push the story forward. Dark Art is different in that we’re aiming to allure folks who’ve never heard the word “ARG” to participate in this awesome breed of storytelling.
Speaking personally, it’s sometimes hard to remember just how remarkable and unique transmedia storytelling is … and how high its barrier for entry can be. The Personal Effects series is built to resonate with the individual reader. We absolutely hope — and totally encourage — longtime ARGers to read, play and share their experiences with the community, but we wanted to make the Personal Effects narrative to be a welcoming one for newbies.