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Level 26: CSI creator’s new “digi-novel”

As if creating the CSI juggernaut wasn’t enough, Anthony Zuiker has now cooked up the concept for the first “digi-novel,” an innovative blend of novel, movie, and interactive website.

The blood-and-guts-soaked murder mystery Level 26: Dark Origins, co-authored with Duane Swierczynski, was released in book format in early Sept. Every 20 pages or so, there is a code that links to a website, where the reader can watch a short film clip featuring former CSI actors. The site, www.Level26.com, also features a discussion forum where participants can talk about the “digi-novel” and contribute to the story. 

CBC News reports that Zuiker hopes the “digi-novel” will change how readers consume books and revolutionize the publishing industry.

According to Reuters, Zuiker believes the “digi-novel” is the way of the future:

Every TV show in the next five, 10 years will have a comprehensive microsite or website that continues the experience beyond the one-hour television to keep engaging viewers 24/7 … Just watching television for one specific hour a week … that’s not going to be a sustainable model going forward.

I wanted to bring all the best in publishing, in a motion picture, in a website, and converge all three into one experience. And when the book is finished … I wanted the experience to continue online and in a social community.

 

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Twilight sequel script found in trash

It was a blunder worthy of CSIS. In 1999, Canada’s spy agency had egg on its face after top-secret documents were stolen off the back seat of a parked car while the car’s owner attended a Toronto Maple Leafs hockey game. Then, in 2008, top-secret counter-terrorist documents were discovered in a trash can in downtown Ottawa. Now, in what has to be an equivalent threat to national security (this time in the U.S.), the top-secret script for New Moon, the film sequel to last year’s Twilight adaptation, along with a treatment for the third film in the series, were left in a trash can outside of a St. Louis hotel, where they were summarily discovered by salon owner Casey Ray.

Okay, maybe it’s not as serious as a CSIS security breach (Twilight fanatics are welcome to disagree), but one has to wonder who thought it would be a good idea to dispose of the hottest property in Hollywood by dumping it in a public trash bin.

Fortunately for the sanctity of the film series, Ray ignored her initial impulse to sell the scripts to a tabloid and instead returned them to Summit Entertainment, the production company for the movies. For her honesty, Ray has been invited to attend the premieres of both films.

This is not the first time a Stephenie Meyer property has been inadvertently leaked. Fans may remember the incident last year, in which a partial manuscript for a novel called Midnight Sun was released online, prompting the author to cancel plans to publish the book. The 12-chapter draft was later posted on Meyer’s website.

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British lit prizes, reading habits, and more

  • The shortlist for the Dylan Thomas Prize has been announced, and six young writers are in line to win the £60,000 (approximately $114,000 CAD) prize. The global award, given biennially, was established to promote writing among young people.
  • A Montana judge has sentenced 74-year-old James Brubaker to 30 months in jail for stealing books and documents from over 100 U.S. and Alberta libraries. Brubaker hit the University of Calgary, and some of his booty included “an eight volume facsimile recreation of the original journals of the Lewis and Clark voyages worth more than $2,000.”

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Midnight express

The Turks were right. The film Midnight Express wasn’t an accurate or fair portrayal of Turkey. If it were, the hash smuggler wouldn’t get thrown into a hellish prison, a novelist would. A few months back, it was Orhan Pamuk who avoided trial for charges that were brought about because he talked openly about the Armenian genocide in an interview. Now it’s Elif Shafak, a Turkish-born novelist now teaching at the University of Arizona. Her latest novel, published in Turkey as Father and Bastard, has raised the ire of lawyer Kemal Kerincsiz, described by BIAnet, a Turkish website that specializes in human rights coverage, as “a leading member of the right-wing organisation of lawyers who call themselves ‘The Unity of Jurists.’” The local prosecutor in Turkey had decided not to pursue charges of “publicly insulting Turkishness” against Shafak, her publisher, and her translator. But a court overturned that decision after Kerincsiz’s appeal. A trial date hasn’t been set yet.

Related links:
Click here for the story
Click here for Shafak’s website

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Beach reads

It’s one of our culture’s most cherished beliefs that since people don’t want to think too hard or get too bummed out in the sunshine, mass-market commercial fiction will hold sway in the summertime. So as we leave spring behind, Slate is right on time with “Pulp Fiction week,” which includes stories about true crime, the history of pulp, and the work of Donald Westlake and Patricia Highsmith. (It would be nice to see some discussion of how the pulp form has basically migrated to TV with CSI & Order and the like, but perhaps that’s still to come.)

Slate also does the obligatory summer reading poll, asking a number of authors about their favourite “beach reads.” Canadian author Lori Lansens, for example, picks Anita Shreve’s All He Ever Wanted, while Rick Moody goes for the Motley Crue autobiography, The Dirt. At the other end of the scale, Francine Prose recommends Alan Hollinghurst’s The Line of Beauty, while Random House bigwig Daniel Menaker has on his agenda Daniel M. Wegner’s The Illusion of Conscious Will. “It’s a brilliant dismantling of the idea that conscious mental decisions cause physical actions – which I have been trying to finish for four months now.”

Related links:
Click here for the Slate article about authors’ summer reading choices
Click here for a listing of other articles in Slate’s Pulp Fiction week

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CSI: Litter Box

In Other Media probably isn’t the place for this, but it makes fun of David Caruso’s tremendously cheesy performance on CSI: Miami, which is the most hilariously over-the-top acting just about anywhere. And it’s from McSweeney’s, so that’s book-related, right? (To ensure there is some direct book-content in this post, check out the other link to another McSweeney’s piece that imagines the feedback Joyce would have received had he submitted Ulysses in a creative writing workshop.)

The premise of Brian Graham’s piece about Caruso is summed up in the title: “David Caruso Scolds His Cat About Its Lackadaisical Litter-Box Use.” Writes Graham, in the voice of Caruso’s character Lieutenant Horatio Caine: “You can purr all you like, but I know that the purr is a lie. I trusted you to use the litter box. The rule was clear and indisputable, and yet you broke it. Again and again. Right on the kitchen floor.”

Related links:
Click here for the McSweeney’s piece on Caruso and his cat
Click here for the McSweeney’s piece about Joyce

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We’re on a road to nowhere

Following his participation in Humber College’s first summer publishing workshop, writer Hal Niedzviecki has turned his experiences — he served as one of three judges of the students’ final projects, along with Kim McArthur and Scott Griffin — into a Globe and Mail article lamenting the state of Canadian letters.

“Students were given a budget and asked to come up with a theoretical, yet viable publishing model, including a sample catalogue of titles, the covers of those titles, how the titles will be marketed and publicized, and a detailed budget showing expenditures and predicted income,” writes Niedzviecki. The problem? None of the student groups proposed to publish fiction, and all of them concentrated on books that would do well in the international market.

Niedzviecki argues that this bodes ill for Canadian publishing, which “will fall easily into step with the rest of the multinational corporate publishers who see books as a peripherally profitable sub-genre of entertainment. Books will capitalize on trends — not create them. Clever ideas and excellent packages will dominate, but only occasionally will real depth and substance — what books give us that no other medium offers — emerge. As the giants of CanLit retire, they’ll be replaced by their non-fiction facsimiles.”

Lamenting the state of Canadian publishing and fearing the growing reliance on global-market-friendly books? We’re right there with Niedzviecki. But are publishing-course projects — which are inevitably going to focus on packaged titles rather than author-driven ones (how can you show off your book-biz acuity if your plan is simply to publish great fiction writers?) — really the most ominous harbinger of our doom?

Related links:
Click here for Hal Niedzviecki’s Globe and Mail article

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Eva Stachniak's Empress of the Night

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Eva Stachniak talks to the audience about the best and worst of Catherine the Great's favourites

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