Border Field Blues - Front  Cover

Today, I’m happy to welcome Corey Lynn Faymen, author of Border Field Blues, to my notebook, talking about the interactive edition of Border Field Blues. A new way to experience mystery fiction, Border Field Blues – App Edition contains extra online elements at the end of each chapter that allow readers to selectively interact with various aspects of the book, including:

    • Author’s notes
    • Related videos
    • Interactive maps
    • Reader comment system
    • Direct email access to author
    • Facebook sharing and comments

 

Readers can download the book as an iTunes app or as an ebook on Amazon.com. A demo video of the app can be seen here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OAr501if-Jc&feature=youtu.be

Winner of the 2013 Hollywood Book Festival Award for Genre-Based Fiction and a finalist in the Mystery (Adult Fiction) category of ForeWord Reviews 2013 Book of the Year Award, Border Field Blues follows the 2006 release of Fayman’s critically-acclaimed first Rolly Waters novel, Black’s Beach Shuffle (ISBN 9780595402670).

When eco-vandals destroy the bird nesting grounds at San Diego’s Border Field Park preserve, Rolly Waters’ friend, Max, hires him to follow the tracks left behind. Feeling uncertain about nabbing the perpetrators, Rolly begins his due diligence, crossing paths with a hostile border vigilante, a tormented vaquero, and an aging rock groupie. A menacing house call from a scalpel-wielding orderly in pursuit of a prostitute confounds Rolly’s case even further. When police detective Bonnie Hammond hands him a coroner’s report and photos of the nude corpse of a teenage girl, he knows his case has turned deadly. Rolly and Bonnie team up to locate the killer in an investigation that takes them through the seedy night clubs of San Diego and the dangerous underworld of Mexican border smugglers and sex traffickers.

Purchase: Amazon

Q & A with the Author

1. What inspired you to create an interactive edition of Border Field Blues? I did a lot of research for this book, visiting Border Field Park and reading books (both fiction and non-fiction) that related to the Tijuana River Valley and the San Diego/Tijuana border. I’d seen some interesting interactive books developed for non-fiction titles, but they often involved what I’ll call “gadgetry” within the text, such as interactive graphics, charts, and videos. The fiction books I read were more like games, with text section as part of the game world. I felt like those kinds of things interrupt your reading, which may be okay in non-fiction since those features are often used to illuminate a key concept. But with fiction, you don’t want to interrupt the flow of the text. The author has worked hard to make it flow and capture the reader’s imagination. I wondered if I could include of those interactive technologies, while still keeping the traditional qualities that make a book a good read.

2. What’s included in this new App Edition? First, there are my author’s notes and photos on how I came up with plot, locations and characters, as well as some background information on some of the social and political issues touched on in the book. There are also related videos from YouTube and Google Map presentations for each of the locations in the book. Additionally, the app allows users to add their own comments to each chapter, which other readers will be able to read. Readers can also email me directly from the app or share the information on Facebook. And it’s very non-intrusive. There’s just one button at the bottom of the page that provides access to all of the features.

3. What role do you see technology playing in the book/publishing realm? I think books will remain books. They’re a proven technology, that’s lasted in basically the same form for over five hundred years. They’re still the most direct form of communication between one person’s focused thinking and another person’s focused processing of those thoughts. But I do think ebooks can expand the world of any particular book, so that readers can more easily follow up on ideas, themes, and topics touched on in the book. In a sense, the app edition of Border Field Blues is like the longest, most complete book club presentation I’ve ever given, but readers can choose how much of it they want to listen to. They don’t have to hear me talk for ten hours. And the additional material is updatable, so I can add to it as readers communicate with me. I think that’s the greatest value of this technology. Also, readers can email me immediately if a passage in the book was so wonderful they just had to let me know, or if it made them so angry they just had to let off some steam. Hmm, maybe that email function wasn’t such a good idea.

4. Can you describe what was involved in creating this App Edition? I started this project as part of a twelve-week sabbatical I received from the Art Institute of California, San Diego a few years ago. I was teaching Web Design there full-time and working on the text for Border Field Blues in my spare hours. Apple’s iPad had come out recently, and along with it the iBooks store. I knew from my background in web design that HTML5 and web technologies were part of the epub specification, but that most apps were built in specialized programming environments, like Xcode. Part of my sabbatical assignment was to investigate new technologies, so I could make an assessment of what we should teach in future classes. As usual, each system had its pros and cons, but I ended up working with Apple’s iBooks Author program and combining it with my skills in HTML5, CSS and Javascript. This is still pretty new stuff, so you kind of invent it as you go along. I’d think of a feature and try to figure it out. I didn’t get every thing I wanted, but that’s the software business. I’m pretty happy with how it finally turned out.

5. What are readers saying about this new, interactive version? The one thing I’ve heard the most is that readers really liked it when they found something in the app section that explained something they didn’t quite understand in the text, maybe a name or place that I referenced. They didn’t access the app for every chapter, but liked having it there when they weren’t sure about a reference or just wondered what each the locations was really like. Some people said the photos and videos from Border Field Park helped them picture the environment there better. Also, since my protagonist is a guitar player, there are a lot of musical terms and musicians mentioned in the text that your average reader might not know. For instance, Rolly Waters, my protagonist, visits a guitar store where he talks to the owner about the “Three Kings” of electric blues guitar. Most people know B.B. King, but not everybody has heard of Freddie or Albert King. So in the app section, I include some concert footage of them both. Readers will enjoy the story just as well without hearing them, but it does expand their appreciation of the characters’ world to see the videos and hear their music.

6. Do you think other authors will embrace the idea of multimedia books? And will these types of books play a big role in the future of publishing? I think that will really depend on the author. I think it works well for authors who have a lot of research behind their book. I think it would work great for historical fiction, so authors could provide some additional background. Now authors can include all that stuff their editors made them leave out! I have to say, it’s quite a bit of work putting together the additional material. I had lots of notes, and photos, and some videos, but I couldn’t just plop it in there. It’s still got to be in some kind of form the reader will be able to access easily and appreciate. It’s probably not for everybody. Writing a book is a big enough job all by itself!

As far as the future of publishing, I’m sure there will be more titles like this, but it’s still kind of an experiment for publishers now. It’s not their area of expertise, but most publishers know they need to be looking into this. When an interactive edition of a book outsells the standard edition, that’s when they’ll really take off.