Barry Hutchison is a write you may know as the brains behind The 13th Horseman but he's also what I'd call a creative thinker and if he has an idea and believes it he just goes for it. With this in mind I flew over a bunch of questions at him about his newest project that just sounds amazing.
Welcome to Barry and the world of Dark and Sinister
Tell us a bit more about Dark and Sinister and why you decided to start it?
I'm a bit of a techno-geek, and over the past few months have become really excited about the opportunities that the internet and digital technology present to artists of all kinds. Film-makers are no longer limited to TV/feature running times. Musicians are producing entire albums in their spare bedrooms. There are enormous opportunities for writers, too. We can now write stories which may not fit into traditional publishing models, but which have suddenly become financially viable.
I wanted to go further than that, though, and really push the boundaries of the way stories are told. Rather than simply write a "novel length" book and convert it to digital I wanted to try out different approaches, and embrace different media the way webpages do. On a single web page you have photographs, video, text, interactive elements and often more. Why not do something similar with stories? Why not make the book (or ebook in this case) one cog in the wheel of a much larger story? Why not create stories that incorporate websites, audio, video - even smartphone apps?
I couldn't get past that question - "Why not?" - so decided the idea was worth exploring further.
How can people get involved?
Right now, I'm trying to raise some funding through crowdfunding site, Indiegogo, so there's a way to get involved right there. Going on, though, people can get involved by reading the ebooks and following our stories across the other platforms. There will also be opportunities to actually play a part in some of our stories. For our first series, THE BUG, we have plans for a whole online community based around the ebooks, with readers actually becoming writers as they flesh out the world the story takes place in via a dedicated social network and blog system. It's early days, but it's potentially really exciting.
The Bug is the first thing to come from Dark and Sinister written by yourself. What's it about?
It's about whispering parasitic bugs! A billion-strong army of the things suddenly appears around the world and starts burrowing into human hosts. Once inside they drive the hosts to horrifying acts of violence, often against those they love the most. As the bugs spread, so does the chaos and death, until only a few million uninfected people survive. The series focuses on a few of those survivors as they try to escape both the crazed humans and the bugs themselves.
I chose to focus on horror, because I think horror is one of the most interactive of all genres. It pulls you in like few other genres can. It'll be told in "episodes", with a new episode released each week. I'm trying to write it almost like a big budget TV show, with a big opening at the start and a cliffhanger at the end of each instalment.
What does the future hold for the project as the funding grows?
Beyond The Bug and the community we're looking to build around it, we've got a number of other projects we want to start working on. There's more original fiction in there, of course, but we also want to bring some classic horror tales to a new audience. I love the idea of retelling stories from the 19th Century on 21st Century technology. The trick will be to bring them right up to date, while still staying true to the original stories. The story is king, regardless of what gadgets and gizmos you might use to tell it.
Dark and Sinister focuses on horror and the dark and scary side of books. What scares you?
Squirrels. Squirrels with guns even more so.
How did the name Dark and Sinister come about?
I was hunting for domain names one night, trying to find something that was memorable but also left no doubt about the sort of stories we were going to produce. I went through about a hundred names, and none of them were free. Right at the start I'd scribbled a little note to remind myself of the sort of thing I should be searching for. The note said "Look for something dark and sinister." I was literally on the brink of giving up for the night when I decided to search for "DarkandSinister.com". Lo and behold it was free. I jumped on it like a squirrel on an unsuspecting pensioner.
Anything else you want to share about Dark and Sinister?
I've just decided right this second that the two characters in the logo - Mr Dark and Mr Sinister - are conjoined twins. There, that decision happened right here before your very eyes. It's a world exclusive!
Thanks a million to Barry Hutchison for answering my questions and if you want to donate to the funds or learn more then head to the Indiegogo page!