Annie On Writing

September 13, 2011

“History’s Keeper” Launch

Filed under: Giveaways,Interview,published works — Annie Evett @ 11:00 pm
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Interview with The Mystress Weaver  of CYOA  on the next series CYOA ( Choose Your Online Adventures) about to be launched.

Briefly – what’s this story called and what is it about?

History’s Keeper. A sort of feminist Sci Fi, time travelling mystery.

Give our readers who don’t know about the project  a brief description of what its all about.

12 weeks, 9 writers, 4 editors, 3 beta readers across the globe, working in smaller teams, using skype video chat to conference call and collaborate on a Choose Your Own Adventure style story.

Choose Your On Adventure?  Those tacky little kids books from the 80s?

Most of the writers have fond memories of those books. Most of us discovered a love of writing when we tried to cheat out way through them by re-writing some of the endings.  A few things became clear to us. The characters tended to be two dimensional and generally masculine – and we died alot. It became a mission to equalise the sexes of the main character ( This series  has  predominantly strong female characters; where as although the last series’ main character was male, many of the strong secondary characters were female)

It was important to the team that characters were presented with depth and shades of emotions. Every character has a rich background filled with secrets. It depends on which thread the reader takes as to which secrets they uncover. The series is designed to be read a number of times in order to pick up different clues; some making it easier to ‘win’; others will cloud the readers judgement or lead them astray.

What made this story even more interesting was the interweaving of timezones, time travel and alternate history; integrating mythology and legend.

Collaboration? Across the globe? Sounds a bit frantic.

I am passionate about collaboration in all forms.

Within the creative circles its just so exciting! Nuances grow to new story lines in the breadth of a conversation. The sum is always greater than the individuals. The ability to bounce ideas off other creative minds is something that can only be created if you were all in one spot a the same time. With the gift of Skype video chat – we could sit in our pyjamas and attend brainstorming sessions with a group of writers across the globe. As a group – we came up with amazing ideas and insights – things that one person couldn’t do by themselves – and it was all built upon as the stories were written.

We used google docs to collate research and to plot ideas, but the real time chat was the most valuable in nutting out characters, motivations and threads of the story.

So how did it all work?

We had three teams – each consisting of an editor, a beta reader and three writers. With a time line for stories to be written, edited and then discussed, it was an intense time for all involved.

So you had a plot drawn up of the story and you just got writers to write the chapters?

Not at all. At most stages of the writing, no-one had a clear idea of where the story would go, the turns and twists it would take.  I wrote the premise – the first story. I asked the editors which periods of history most interested them and wove these into the options for the main character to take.  Each editor took the option they liked the most and carried the story on – after collaborating on characters and ideas. The story was handed round, discussed and written over 12 weeks; after which it was handed to me to be further woven together to create a real spider web of intrigue.

So you didn’t know where the story was going to go – or what the main character was going to do?

Thats right – The main character presented herself to me on the page as a lady with a deep secret – tortured with the belief she held the worlds destiny in her hands.  It was only after many of the other stories were written that I could go back and insert new paragraphs and clues in – which fleshed the whole story out even more.

This sort of collaboration is about trusting the characters, trusting the process and trusting the writers to do the best by the group and the characters.  There was alot of sharing of characters and discussion on specifics, which built these people as real in our minds.

I basically wrote the premise and waved the characters farewell while they went and visited other writers pages.  For many writers – I understand this is a very scary thing to do – but again – its about trusting the people within your group and the process.

Its a sort of mystery with time jumps ?

I guess thats a close approximation.  It does draw upon the spec fic and sci fic genre heavily – though it is deeply infused with feminist themes.

CYOA is a working, living project, intended to stretch the abilities of writers and editors.  The people involved were pushed out of their comfort zones and hopefully this has assisted in their journey and craft.

But you knew how Selene was going to save the world and hide her guilty secret didn’t you?

Thats the beauty of this project and the way the collaboration was structured.  The story went in places I could not have dreamed it explore – or of story lines I would never have come up with.  The story took on a life of its own and readers will be rewarded with a rich experience as they explore threads, finding out more about Selenes secret.

But you had the last say?

Not at all. I had *thought* the story would go in one direction – but it shot off into  areas, times and spaces I never envisaged.. It was so exciting and humbling to work with such creative thinkers who were passionate about the characters and the world they helped build.

What does this sort of story offer a reader?

There are literally hundreds of combinations and threads that the reader can take as they read the story. Some will lead you on a wild goose chase, others will give you an insight into a character or motivation. Even after the main character has died and the reader starts again, with the amount of options available and the variety of very different stories, this is a rich reading experience.  Even if you ‘kill’ Selene off – or end the world, you can start again – but this time with knowledge of motivations or events which will help you make better decisions as you go.

Its carefully crafted so that a reader doesn’t go over the same path as they go – in some stories there are 6 options – each leading in very different ways.

Who is is suitable for?

Although we say that the story is for adults, it would appeal to the higher end of the Young Adult spectrum.  There are a few swear words and blood is spilt on a number of the stories, but on the whole, its a pretty ‘clean’ story.  Even the ‘romantic’ scene is glossed over without much detail.  With the way the ratings are going – it probably holds a PG!

Where did it all start?

About 15 years ago I stood on the cliffs of Moher and heard the story of how a whole army was driven off cliffs close by. They had a choice of going mad or leaping to their death. The legend is based around The Battle of Mag Tuired, where the Morrigan –  three witches/ goddesses were sent out ( or forced out depending on which story you read) onto the battle field and basically the enemy (the Fomorians – 100 000 of them ) keeled over and died or were driven into the sea/ over a cliff. After this was done, The Morrígan prophesied the end of the world.

It was difficult to stand on those cliffs to begin with – the sheer drop and energy surrounding them is suffocating -but once the story begins to play on your mind…. well -you may say its been brewing in my mind for a long time.. what if…

Dust and Death – the first series published had quite a few Easter Eggs – does this one have them too?

A few here and there – readers will have to look out for them – but not as many as our western themed one. They are geeky bits of trivia, snippets of information, extra stories or insights to enrich the reader’s experience.   Readers will find the links at the bottom of the stories.

Where do I start to read this?

The series will be launched at 7 am AEST on Thursday 15th of Sept with a special events page on Facebook. There will be ‘passes’ given out and each of the team members are running a competition on their own blogs or facebook to give away a pass into the series.  Pop over to http://chooseyouronlineadventures.com  where readers can check out the great book trailer or read some teasers.

Teasers?

Parallel stories, written by some of the writers from the series, which will introduce readers to some of the characters and concepts held within this series. These are free to read and are available right now.

So how does this all work?

When its launched, readers will be able to read the first story for free and then decide if they want to continue – if so they pay for a key – or a password, which will unlock the whole series. They will be able to access History’s Keeper for a year, able to read it at their leisure. Basically, the reader reads an episode and will be presented with a few options at the bottom of the page. They click on an option – which takes them to another episode.  There are literally hundreds of combinations and stories.

How much?

AUS $1.90, US $1.99, UK 1.25 – payable through paypal. Once paid, the reader will receive an email detailing how to gain access.( a password)

Aren’t you worried that people will just share that password around and not pay?

You can’t fail safe everything.  Our team’s wish is for their work to be read, for their contributions to be recognised and for our work to be enjoyed. Whilst it would be disappointing to find that someone has done this – isn’t it better that our work is read rather  than slumber behind doors?  Besides – its not much – seriously… and its all distributed amongst the team members on their own journey to making millions!

What are the plans after the launch?

Phew! Have a bottle of champers!  I plan to formulate the series into an ebook (with hyperlinks) and get it ready for smashwords or similar.  I’d love to see it in a printed version, but one step at a time.

Any other Series in mind?

Oh Heaps!! The next series we will write is a a zombie themed one – so keep your eyes out for that!  We will begin writing in February next year – but the call out and initial ground work will being in November.

For more information on the series – check out

the Facebook page 

the book Trailers on Youtube 

the site itself 

or invite yourself to the facebook launch party 

Are you running a competition?

Sure am!

Prize  – a pass into Series 1 History’s Keeper

Rules

1.Choose as many of the options to get an ‘entry’ into the competition as you like.

2.Come back here and post a comment with the amount of entries you are submitting and a link or some evidence you have done what you have said you did.

3. enter as many times as you like.

4.On Thurs 15th of Sept, all entries will be tallied and placed into a big bowl.

5. Winner will be chosen by my 6 year old thrusting her hand inside the bowl and grabbing name

6. Winner will be emailed with a pass.

How do I earn entries?

5 entries – copy and paste this interview onto your blog

3 entries – run a competition on your blog ( contact me with the winners name and I will supply them with the pass)

2 entries – join the launch party

2 entries – become a fan of CYOA on Facebook or google +

2 entries – tweet a link to this interview

1 entry – tweet a link to the interview on your blog

1 entry – use the hashtag #historyskeeper  or (and)#CYOAauthors

1 entry – follow @cyoaauthors on twitter.

1 entry – mention @cyoaauthors in a tweet.

*remember  – add up how many entries you earn and POST a COMMENT below!!!!*

Ok – and for those ‘in the know’ – yes – its a bit weird and ‘split personality’ to interview yourself on your own blog…. but this is meant to be sent out to the team so they can post it up on their own blogs..

Do you have any other questions you’d like to ask?

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