Pub Ex Machina: The Revolution Will Be Digitized
A look at the ebook conversion process of one of America’s most trailblazing authors.January 8, 2013 By Brian G. Howard
This article will appear in the January issue of Book Business.
Mark Z. Danielewski, the author of mind-bending, paradigm-busting works House of Leaves and Only Revolutions, has made a career of turning the novel on its head. So it should come as no surprise that he’s attempting the same with ebooks.
“I was in many ways the art director and [ebook producer] Lillian Sullam was the technical director,” says Danielewski on the phone from Los Angeles.
The author takes a very hands-on approach to the design of his books, which is why he was intimately involved in converting The Fifty Year Sword, the first of his books to be rendered digitally.
“My role was to take what I had designed in InDesign, [and] things as crude as paper and thread, and help transfer all of that to a format that seemed amenable to an ebook format, and then to actually begin to deepen that experience. Lillian and I worked very closely. I’d suggest possibilities for a certain sequence and we’d look at how that would resonate thematically while not being an example of using one too many tricks.”
The book’s original music, which is cued by specific page turns, was written by Danielewski’s friend Christopher O’Reilly, who’d composed the pieces for a staged shadow play of the story when the book was first published in limited Dutch release in 2005. “I’d got a grant to support Chris’ role [in the live performances]. It dawned on us: Why not use it for a score for the ebook?”