Guest Author Interview: Corey Lynn Fayman, Border Field Blues App Edition

Guest Author Interview: Corey Lynn Fayman, Border Field Blues App Edition

Corey Lynn Fayman is a San Diego-based musician and multimedia developer who has combined his skills to release an amazing, interactive book. His award-winning mystery novel, ‘Border Field Blues’, is now much more than a book, it’s an interactive app.

I’m a techno-nut so was thrilled to get the chance to interview Corey to find out more about his unique book. Here are his As to my Qs, as Marie Forleo would say!

Q: What inspired you to create an interactive edition of Border Field Blues?

I did a lot of research for this book, visiting Border Field Park and reading books (both fiction and non-fiction) that related to the Tijuana River Valley and the San Diego/Tijuana border. I’d seen some interesting interactive books developed for non-fiction titles, but they often involved what I’ll call “gadgetry” within the text, such as interactive graphics, charts, and videos. The fiction books I read were more like games, with text section as part of the game world. I felt like those kinds of things interrupt your reading, which may be okay in non-fiction since those features are often used to illuminate a key concept. But with fiction, you don’t want to interrupt the flow of the text. The author has worked hard to make it flow and capture the reader’s imagination. I wondered if I could include of those interactive technologies, while still keeping the traditional qualities that make a book a good read.

Q: What’s included in this new App Edition?

First, there are my author’s notes and photos on how I came up with plot, locations and characters, as well as some background information on some of the social and political issues touched on in the book. There are also related videos from YouTube and Google Map presentations for each of the locations in the book. Additionally, the app allows users to add their own comments to each chapter, which other readers will be able to read. Readers can also email me directly from the app or share the information on Facebook. And it’s very non-intrusive. There’s just one button at the bottom of the page that provides access to all of the features.

Q: What role do you see technology playing in the book/publishing realm?

I think books will remain books. They’re a proven technology, that’s lasted in basically the same form for over five hundred years. They’re still the most direct form of communication between one person’s focused thinking and another person’s focused processing of those thoughts. But I do think ebooks can expand the world of any particular book, so that readers can more easily follow up on ideas, themes, and topics touched on in the book. In a sense, the app edition of Border Field Blues is like the longest, most complete book club presentation I’ve ever given, but readers can choose how much of it they want to listen to. They don’t have to hear me talk for ten hours. And the additional material is updatable, so I can add to it as readers communicate with me. I think that’s the greatest value of this technology. Also, readers can email me immediately if a passage in the book was so wonderful they just had to let me know, or if it made them so angry they just had to let off some steam. Hmm, maybe that email function wasn’t such a good idea.

Q: What was involved in creating this App Edition?

I started this project as part of a twelve-week sabbatical I received from the Art Institute of California, San Diego a few years ago. I was teaching Web Design there full-time and working on the text for Border Field Blues in my spare hours. Apple’s iPad had come out recently, and along with it the iBooks store. I knew from my background in web design that HTML5 and web technologies were part of the epub specification, but that most apps were built in specialized programming environments, like Xcode. Part of my sabbatical assignment was to investigate new technologies, so I could make an assessment of what we should teach in future classes. As usual, each system had its pros and cons, but I ended up working with Apple’s iBooks Author program and combining it with my skills in HTML5, CSS and Javascript. This is still pretty new stuff, so you kind of invent it as you go along. I’d think of a feature and try to figure it out. I didn’t get every thing I wanted, but that’s the software business. I’m pretty happy with how it finally turned out.

Q: How is the interactive version of your book going down with readers?

The one thing I’ve heard the most is that readers really liked it when they found something in the app section that explained something they didn’t quite understand in the text, maybe a name or place that I referenced. They didn’t access the app for every chapter, but liked having it there when they weren’t sure about a reference or just wondered what each the locations was really like. Some people said the photos and videos from Border Field Park helped them picture the environment there better.

Also, since my protagonist is a guitar player, there are a lot of musical terms and musicians mentioned in the text that your average reader might not know. For instance, Rolly Waters, my protagonist, visits a guitar store where he talks to the owner about the “Three Kings” of electric blues guitar. Most people know B.B. King, but not everybody has heard of Freddie or Albert King. So in the app section, I include some concert footage of them both. Readers will enjoy the story just as well without hearing them, but it does expand their appreciation of the characters’ world to see the videos and hear their music.

Q: Do you think other authors will embrace the idea of multimedia books? 

I think that will really depend on the author. I think it works well for authors who have a lot of research behind their book. I think it would work great for historical fiction, so authors could provide some additional background. Now authors can include all that stuff their editors made them leave out! I have to say, it’s quite a bit of work putting together the additional material. I had lots of notes, and photos, and some videos, but I couldn’t just plop it in there. It’s still got to be in some kind of form the reader will be able to access easily and appreciate. It’s probably not for everybody. Writing a book is a big enough job all by itself!

Q: Do you think these types of books will play a big role in the future of publishing?

I’m sure there will be more titles like this, but it’s still kind of an experiment for publishers now. It’s not their area of expertise, but most publishers know they need to be looking into this. When an interactive edition of a book outsells the standard edition, that’s when they’ll really take off.

Wonderful. I agree that publishers need to look into more interactive technologies for eBooks. Personally, I research anything I read that interests me and an interactive book saves me going elsewhere to find out more information! Thanks for your time, Corey and best wishes for your book’s success.

Border Field Blues - app edition | Guest interview by Michelle Booth

The ‘Border Field Blues’ app edition is only an extra dollar on Amazon. To me, it’s certainly worth it and makes the book even more interesting. Corey’s book is a leap forward. If you don’t have his impressive technical/programming skills, you might want to check out the Snippet App. It’s a royalty-sharing platform that enables authors to make their books more interactive.



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