What's The Word?
A Blog by R. S. Hill
Video rules! As a writer, the idea that video trumps text in the modern world is one I am reluctant to acknowledge, but understand it has a ton of merit. For better or worse, we have become a videocentric culture that thrives on images 24/7. The ease of video technology has made it important for writers to not only swim in the smooth waters of text but to wade into the depths of video. I recently posted what is sort of a ‘book trailer’ for Access Universe on my YouTube channel. The idea of a book trailer has never been that appealing to me, so I decided to deliver what is essentially a sample chapter on video. With the help of some recent graduates, we did just that. If you’re a writer who is on the fence about using video, I can’t guarantee it will lead to sales, but the process was easy and a lot of fun.
One of the hardest parts of the process for me was determining what to put on video. After finally coming to the realization that chapter seven was the best chapter to really communicate the power of this novel, I selected a handful of penetrating pages, wrote it up in screenplay form and got in touch with an old, less than productive student of mine named, Austin. Austin was the typical, intelligent high school student who didn’t have time for my boring Senior English class because he had already decided he wanted to be a filmmaker. So most of our time in class was spent talking about life, great films and the few stories in class he actually read. Truly excited about my book video proposal, Austin and I bounced around a lot of ideas. When we understood that, yes, we could actually do this and do it fairly well, we also realized we were missing an important piece. We needed an actress!
Silver Rainwater, the protagonist who is lured into a lucrative online adventure game by a quirky AI called SNIS—Systematic Network Infiltration system, aka Sneeze, is a complicated, emotion, scarred and very driven character who monopolizes the breadth of the novel. Austin and I really needed to find someone who could bring Silver to life and transmit the kind of energy I felt while writing this novel to the audience. That was when Clarissa, another old student of mine—I taught her as a freshman—caught wind of what I was doing through her old drama teacher, stepped up and became Silver Rainwater. Interestingly and appropriately enough, both Silver and Clarissa are Pascua Yaqui.
We filmed the entire five-minute promo in the library at Tucson High School over the course of a few weeks. And while trying to pin down young people can be a challenge, I haven’t had so much fun in years. I got to play Dennis, the high rolling banker who set up Silver with the cash she needed to play the game. And while it was rewarding to see my words come to life on the screen again, it was even more rewarding to see two former kids of mine all grown up into positive adults with genuine hopes, dreams and loads and loads of kindness.
Please take a few minutes to watch Access Universe come to life, and then add it to your summer reading list.
is question was put to me the other day by one of my high school students. She saw my new novel on Amazon and said, "Wow, mister. How's it feel?" I struggled for the right words, then settled on, "It feels great," which is true but doesn't quite capture the essence of the feeling. When I see my book on a book store shelf, online at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, iTunes, etc. it makes me feel special. Not in the sense that I am better, deserving or super competent, but just special because I have accomplished something important to me. Some will say, 'with today's technology a monkey could publish a book' (and that has probably happened). And while there are certainly more titles out there, that doesn't make it any less special for me.
Seeing my novel out there on the market being judged or ignored is like giving that perfect gift to someone you care about. And when that person lights up and you know she/he likes your gift, you both feel special. I suppose to a degree it is about getting it right and the feeling that comes with knowing you got it right. Whether I sell hundreds of copies or just that one my mom bought, it feels special because I finally got it right.