Writing for the Improbable Bookshelf

This is an extract from an article I've written for The Bookseller's FutureBook blog:

I make stories for improbable bookshelves. I once came across this term in an Italo Calvino essay and I’ve held on to it ever since, as it so closely describes the way I work. I recently wrote a new version of the Persephone myth, but it can’t be found in a bookshop or online. Persephone’s Footsteps is an altitude-responsive story and map that has to be carried on a journey through a city. As Persephone climbs higher – first to escape the Underworld and then to escape the polluted city streets – the listener must climb higher to reveal more of her story. At the moment, there is only one version of this work in existence. Is it scalable? Perhaps, but my real hope is that it’s my approach to writing that’s scalable – that writers might be inspired to explore new ways of writing, bringing enlivened approaches to literary forms.

When writing short stories for print I’ve always known how the story will be shared. After I’ve sent off the Word document to an editor, my shaping of the story ends. The book is produced by the publisher. I love books, but I’m also curious about the many other ways stories can live in the world. We are becoming more used to encountering digital fiction through screens, and smartphones, but there are other options.

I work with tiny low-cost computers like the Raspberry Pi, the open-source Arduino, and Arduino-based boards (like the Lilypad, which you can use with textiles and conductive thread, and the Bare Conductive board, which you can use with electric paint to turn surfaces into touch sensors). To share a story, you can attach screens to these devices, but most of my work uses audio files. By attaching a sensor you can make a story that will respond to touch, light, temperature, movement, direction, wind direction… (the list goes on).

You can read the full article here: https://www.thebookseller.com/futurebook/writing-improbable-bookshelf-784571

 Images of Persephone's Footsteps