Is there an app for that? – Paul Callaghan, John Flanagan and Fiona Wood talk stories and communities in a brave new world
This was a really interesting session that looked at the extensions to the book world, including apps, websites and social media. John Flanagan is the author of the Ranger’s Apprentice and Brotherband series and there is a huge fan base for his books. As well as numerous websites and apps there are events held all over the world that offer fans real life experiences of the world of the books. Fiona Wood talked about expectation and desire for writers to be accessible, both from their publishers and from readers. She says that having this presence online will attract interest from readers too. There are challenges with setting up an online presence with blogs and social media, because you have to construct a persona that is who you are, while also respecting the privacy of family and friends.
John and Hank Green’s Nerdfighters was held up as a shining example of how well this online presence can work. They have millions of fans and followers from all over the world. Fiona agreed that the Nerdfighters do alot of good, but she want ‘to see a movie where the Green brothers turn evil’ (I would definitely love to see that). While these authors could only dream of the Green brothers’ massive success, they all agreed that audiences want a sense of connection to another person, no matter what the format.
The most interesting question of this session was ‘Are apps the death of the imagination?’ John suggested that there are a raft of games with instant gratification. You get a medal of some sort each time you finish the level so you’re not striving for anything. John was very pleased that, through his books, he managed to get a kid ‘off his bum and away from a computer.’ He got an email from a reader who got so into the Ranger’s Apprentice books that he was always out in the woods behind his house with a crossbow, instead of sitting in his room playing computer games. However, John fears the inevitable Ranger’s Apprentice movie. He loves that every reader sees the world of his books differently inside their head and a movie could change this. Paul Callaghan believes that games can expand imagination in completely new ways.