Cathy’s Book is a transmedia storytelling experience written and produced by Sean Stewart and Jordan Weisman (with illustrations by Cathy Brigg). First published in 2006, the book includes an evidence packet filled with letters, phone numbers, pictures, and birth certificates, as well as doodles and notes written by Cathy in the page margins.
Cathy’s Book is a huge success and now two more books, Cathy’s Key and Cathy’s Ring round out the trilogy. All three are presented in print and online in a complimentary and overlapping fashion.
One of the author’s, Sean Stewart of Fourth Wall Studios, spoke to ARGNet about building â€œinteractive arcsâ€ into the stories, so that a reader might send an email and go through a 3 or 4-step investigation to arrive at a satisfying endpoint.
Online or off, the magic here is the series of interactions taking place between readers/followers/fans and the storytellers. Stewart explains:
MA: What was your favorite out-of-book element in the trilogy?
SS: Actually, I think my favorite thing we did was to build a gallery for readers to post their artâ€¦and then put some of those pictures in the printed books. There is something very beautiful to me about closing that circle: the books invite you into Cathyâ€™s life beyond the page, and then, eventually, circle around until your life is part of her printed world. That for me is a lovely version of The Dance â€“ that cooperative give-and-take between artist and audience that is seems so clearly to be part of what the next evolution of art will be.
With the rise of digital culture, writers are now required to think beyond their manuscript. And while the writer remains the architect of the story, as the larger experience of the story unfolds, others with a deep interest in the story emerge to help bring finishing touches and/or new ideas to the table. This could be somewhat off-putting to the storyteller, put in needn’t be. When you tell a story in the ancient tradition–around a campfire!–the people gathered there clearly impact the pace of the story, the details left in or taken out, the ending, etc. Thanks to the interactive abilities of today’s always-on mediums, we’re getting back to that more familiar model.
Read more about transmedia storytelling on AdPulp: Brand Narratives Will Benefit from Transmedia Storytelling