Tapping into teen trends--vampires and the push towards interactivity--novelists Laura Moser and Lauren Mechling have launched a YA serial on Slate.com with a parallel online world where their characters update their Facebook pages, tweet, and post videos on YouTube. The story, which went live today, and marks the first YA serial Slate has ever run, will unfold in 11 three-chapter segments posted every Friday through August.
Mechling, a culture editor at the Wall Street Journal, said the idea for the novel started unfolding after her coauthor, who writes for Slate, was approached by editors at the site to do something in the YA vein. The result, My Darklyng, is about a 10th grader named Natalie Pollock whose obsession with a popular vampire series takes a scary turn after she auditions to be a cover model for one of the new books. Hoping to give the book a "360 degree feeling," Mechling said she and Moser always started with the story but found it rewarding and fun to build online components that complemented and expanded upon the world they were creating.
The novel, which Mechling said their agent Sarah Burnes at The Gernert Company will likely shop to publishers once the serial is ended on Slate, is also not a vampire book. Instead, Mechling and Moser play with the current obsession with the genre and, in their thriller, make what she called "playful references to paranormal fiction."
For all the various and whistles off the page--they run the gamut from heroine Natalie's facebook page to the Twitter feed by the author of the fictional vampire series, Fiona St. Claire--readers don't need to indulge in any of the social networking to follow the story. While Mechling, who's written five print novels, said working on My Darklyng was "an incredible challenge," she also found it fun and liberating. "I felt like a kid goofing around with a new toy," she explained. Now, with the possibility of seeing this book turned into an interactive e-book, she and Moser may not be abandoning interactive storytelling anytime soon; Mechler said the pair is thinking about a sequel to My Darklyng as well as "a couple other projects in the same vein."