Through the Internet Looking Glass
I'm in the process of updating my website with the help of my good friend and wonderful web designer Greg for the release of Vienna Waltz and the Kindle release of The Mask of Night. As I blogged about a while ago on my own website, websites are becoming seen as more and more essential for writers. And that writers are using websites not just as static promotional pieces but as a dynamic way to engage in a dialogue with readers and to expand the world of their story beyond the pages of the book itself.
One of the things I love about my website is the way it allows me to play in Charles & Mélanie’s/Malcolm & Suzanne's world every week. Besides blogging, each week I post a letter in what I call the Fraser Correspondence. These are letters between the characters from various points before, during, and between the books. I can explore events that happened in the past or “off camera” or get the POV of a minor character or even an historical figure on the action of one of the books. While I was writing Vienna Waltz, I could weave my research into the letters each week. Some bits in the letters, such as Malcolm's thoughts on Talleyrand's behavior at a key meeting, found their way directly into the book. I did the same thing with the research for the Waterloo book I just turned in to my editor. I love talking to readers through my blog about my books and other books and book-related topics. Choosing pictures for the Gallery lets me showcase settings from the books and Charles & Mélanie's/Malcolm & Suzanne’s world in general.
I know so many writers who use their websites in creative ways to explore the world of their novels. Lauren has a fabulous, highly interactive website with a Behind the Scenes section, Outtakes, and Historical Links. Candice Hern has a Regency World section filled with fascinating Regency historical information, Collections that showcase Regency clothing and accessories from her own collection, a Regency Glossary, and Discussion Boards. Veronica Wolff has a Gallery, with photos of the settings of her books and her own writing life. Monica McCarty has a Special Features section that she describes as “like extras on a DVD.” It includes Cut Scenes from her books, a Picture Book, a Timeline, a Glossary, and other great fiction that bring to life the sixteenth-century Scotland of her books.
All of these features allow the authors to enrich the world of the books and sometimes embellish or continue the story beyond the novel (as a story I heard on NPR pointed out, a novel has a beginning, middle, and end, but websites allow the author to play with the story and character in myriad directions). What features on authors’ website do you particularly enjoy? What are the implications of websites for the ways authors tell stories and readers respond to them?