Landing Gear - API

30 October 2013 in Landing Gear | Comments (0)

The digital development team at Random House Canada has created an API from an extract of my new novel, Landing Gear. Find it here:

We offered the API (application programming interface) at Books in Browser’s first ever HackDay in San Francisco on Saturday 26 October. I’d very much like to offer the API to other developers who might want to engage with it, play with it, hack it, and see what happens. I’d very much also like to be involved with further hackdays for developers interesting in engaging with my novel via the API. 

Here’s a report on the San Francisco Hackday from Quill & Quire:

At the San Francisco conference Books in Browsers this past weekend, Governor General’s Literary Award–winning author Kate Pullinger and her publisher, Doubleday Canada, launched an experimental digital project. An excerpt of Pullinger’s forthcoming novel, Landing Gear, became raw material for the e-publishing event’s first “hackathon.”

In advance of the conference, Random House of Canada’s digital development team created an API (application programming interface) for an excerpt of the novel, which essentially means creating manipulable tags for its characters, locations, events, and timelines. “[The API] makes the text searchable and re-mixable, which opens it up to other developers coming in with ideas about new ways of interrogating the text other than simply reading it,” explains Pullinger.

Pullinger and Random House of Canada digital projects manager Meghan MacDonald were on hand at the conference to help with the experimental applications. One developer created a Twitter bot that could interact with one of the characters by tweeting his dialogue and collecting responses. Another invention, which MacDonald refers to as an “art project,” featured an iPad “mini-app” that animated a portion of Pullinger’s handwritten text.

Once the projects are complete, they will be posted at, where the API will remain available for use.

Pullinger, who has been involved with digital storytelling for more than a decade, says, “This is the first time I’ve done anything that looks at the potential for the novel online, as opposed to a book or an ebook format.… I’ve never succeeded in interesting my book publishers in my digital work until now, so that’s tremendously exciting for me that Random House was willing to experiment.”

For her part, MacDonald says the Random House of Canada digital team has approached the online endeavour as research and development. “I don’t know what this project is going to look like in the future, but I think it’s important that we as [a] publisher are experimenting and trying new things.”

Landing Gear - copy editing

9 October 2013 in Landing Gear | Comments (0)

I’m working on the copy-edit of my novel. The manuscript passed from the hands of my Canadian editor, Nita Pronovost, to the copy-editor, Shaun Oakey, at the beginning of September, and was sent back to me last week. Shaun has done a lovely and perceptive read-through of the ms, doing that thing that copy-editors do, saving me from myself.  Despite the fact I’ve been writing and publishing for more than two decades now, I seem to be as confused about commas and semi-colons as ever.  My American editor had already pointed out to me that the third part of the novel used the phrases “she laughed” and “Emily laughed” about a gazillion times - I was using those phrases so often, the novel could have been called Emily Laughed, if I was aiming for a post-modern take on repetition (I wasn’t). This time round, Shaun pointed out that I use the words “he paused” and “she paused” maybe not a gazillion but at least a billion times so, luckily, those have gone as well.  This is the final stage before the book is typeset: after that, any further changes become much more expensive and fiddly to do. So, the book - at least the book that will be typeset and published in various editions - really is nearly done now. Gulp.

The image you see above is of the cover for the Canadian edition - not so different from the American cover, which I’ve added below, but different enough to meet the demands of the Canadian market. Despite the fact that we live in an increasingly global economy, publishing remains strongly territorial: covers for the same book can differ widely from one country to the next, of course, but, perhaps more importantly - and more vexingly - success in one market is no guarantee of success in another. Strong sales in Canada or the UK do not always guarantee strong sales in the US, and vica versa. More on this later no doubt.

I’m off to the US and Canada next week, for a series of speaking engagements, university visits, and a conference. The events are detailed on the Events page of this website. At Books in Browsers in San Francisco I’ll be talking about the project that the Doubleday Random House Canada development team and I are working on with Landing Gear - creating an API version of an extract from the novel that will be offered to developers to play with at Books in Browsers first ever Publishing HackDay. I attended Books in Browsers for the first time last year, and found it a fantastically inspiring and exciting conference - small and intense, one of those rare conferences that enables you to push forward the way you are thinking about things, in my case, fiction and new developments in digital publishing.  I met Meghan MacDonald, a digital publisher from Random House Canada, for the first time at last year’s Books in Browsers, well before her company bought my novel, so it will be fun to be together at the conference once more, launching the API version of Landing Gear, which first occurred to me as a potential approach to publishing at that conference.  There are other novel-as-API projects out there, but ours might be one of the first to create a writable API - an interface that will allow readers to write back into my story.  So while the book itself - the typeset version - is nearly finished, our digital experiment with Landing Gear is only just beginning. More on that later too!