Alane Adams worked for years as an accountant at her family’s business, but she always believed that one day she’d get back to her first two loves: reading and writing. The wait partially ended in August when Adams—an entrepreneur as well as a mother, literacy advocate, and author—published The Red Sun, the first book in her Legend of Orkney YA fantasy series. Adams also plans to release a children’s picture book later this year.
Adams then turned her focus to reading. She’s a philanthropist focused on “kids, literacy, and writing,” and when she left the family business in 2008, she founded the Rise Up Foundation, a nonprofit that supports a variety of literacy initiatives. Now her book series has become one part of a transmedia project that integrates gaming technology with the book’s fantasy and adventure narrative. Partnering with veteran game designer Brent Friedman (Halo 4) and Artifact Technology, an independent Seattle video game developer, Adams has produced BattleKasters, a video game app based on The Red Sun, its characters, themes, and fantasy-world locations. The game is free and can be downloaded from the App Store. Adams said the game “is meant to enhance the value of the Legends of Orkney brand,” but added that it would be “easy” to monetize. She plans to evaluate monetization and “see what makes sense.”
BattleKasters uses location-based technology, drawing from the book’s content to attract and engage players. To initiate BattleKasters gameplay, game organizers place small Bluetooth digital transmitters (called beacons) throughout a comics or fantasy convention venue (for instance), turning the facility into a real-world fantasy adventure quest; guided by their smartphones, players move through the area seeking digital clues to the games’ rewards. Most recently, Adams deployed the game throughout the Gaslamp District, the lively neighborhood surrounding the San Diego Convention Center, during Comic-Con International: San Diego.
A first-time author, Adams turned to the hybrid publisher Spark Press to publish The Red Sun. Released in August, The Red Sun is the story of Sam Baron, a 12-year-old boy who discovers he’s the son of a powerful witch and the Norse god Odin, and heir to an array of magical powers that send him on a quest to a fantasy world called Orkney. Adams plans to publish The Moon Pearl, the second book in the series, next summer. Her first children’s picture book, The Coal Thief, with artist Lauren Gallegos, is coming from Spark Press this November.
Crystal Patriarche, CEO of SparkPoint, parent company of Spark Press, said the press published The Red Sun simultaneously in hardcover, paperback, and e-book formats. The press published a few thousand copies each of the paperback and hardcover—in addition to copies of both print formats to sell to fans on site at pop culture conventions, Patriarche said.
“I’m an entrepreneur, and publishing just makes no sense to me. Every publisher I approached said no,” Adams said. She originally published the book via Amazon’s CreateSpace, but pure self-publishing didn’t appeal to her either. “Self-publishing is easy, but I had no patience for figuring it out,” she said; she eventually signed on with Spark Press.
Adams said that after she began running ads for The Red Sun on her website, she noticed that the site was attracting a lot of gaming fans. “In my mind, there was a strong affinity between fans of fantasy fiction and gamers,” she said. “I thought having a game would be a great way to differentiate my series and be a readily accessible entry point, using a game as the draw.”
Adams called location-based video game technology “the new frontier in gaming” and said she and her partners at Artifact Technology are continuing to develop BattleKasters and the ways it can be deployed. “We began using BattleKasters inside convention halls, but now we’re active in moving it outside to the street,” she said, adding that she plans to deploy the game during New York Comic Con in October. Adams noted that when the game is deployed outside of a convention hall, she also works to convince local retailers and businesses to get involved. Businesses can sponsor beacon hot spots by offering product discounts and other rewards to the BattleKasters fans who show up looking for the beacons.
And while the BattleKasters game is based on the book, Adams said the game also “tells a parallel story. But all the elements of the books—the magic spells, digital cards, characters, and the images created by our artist, Jonathan Stroh—are all there, and kids can’t wait to read the book.”