So I’m writing a novel. I’ll try to explain the concept, but let me first explain – I know, I know, not Nine Inch Nails again… sorry – when NIN put out their Year Zero Album there was also an alternate reality game of sorts built around it.
Year Zero the album was a story about how the world might be in the not too distant future if things continued on as they were politically in the US and everywhere at that point in time. On the album (or CD rather) and in it, and on tour T-shirts, in files in flash drives hidden in different places, there were clues to the alternate reality game pointing you to different websites online that gave tidbits of info about the story of Year Zero, and links to other tidbits. It was kind of like there were hidden stories within the story.
Okay, so now about this novel I’m writing. (*SPOILER ALERT* I pretty much describe the entire story here, right to the end. I couldn’t help it.) In the spirit of Year Zero, and also in the spirit of NIN going independent, I am using blogs to write my novel. Yeah, I won’t make anything if people can just go to my blogs and read my novel, but maybe something else will come of it in the future.
The concept starts with a teenage girl who has an online blog. She has typical and not so typical teenage problems and she is determined to become a published author and get out of the town she lives in, and preferably out of the state. In the middle of a bout of writer’s block she tries to ward it off by looking for some different methods for writing. She goes to a used bookstore to look for story ideas and maybe some books on writing or writer’s block, and she happens to come across an old blank journal. The thought occurs to her that she had read one way of relieving writer’s block is to try using different media, so she decides to buy this journal and see if writing the old-fashioned way can actually help her.
Freaky things begin to happen when she starts to write in the journal. Entries appear out of nowhere. She is obviously scared, thinking ghosts, demons, whatever, and she hides the journal, sleeps with it under her pillow, etc. Nothing works – every time she creates an entry, there is another entry after hers the next day.
She also begins to have strange dreams of being reborn after having died and left someone she loved behind.
The more her exchanges take place with this entity in the journal, the more she looks forward to reading what he writes and writing back. She begins to think she is just crazy, because she is kind of falling in love with this – whatever it is – through his written words. Then at the end of the journal, each of them signs their last entries.
On the page, she sees the signature of Rex Terrell. Rex Terrell is a 40-year-old rockstar.
She signs her name, Lilah Gray.
After watching an interview where the rockstar discusses taking his song lyrics from his old journal entries, Lilah compares the journal with his song lyrics and decides she is going to somehow track him down on his tour and meet him, and show him her journal.
When she manages to find him and with much effort, meet him, some denial, rejection, and heartache happens and Lilah leaves the journal with him.
Then we find out Rex’s history. When he was 15 (he is 40 now), he had a girlfriend who died suddenly. When he began writing in a journal to work through his pain and loss, an entity, who he believed was her ghost, began writing to him. But at the end of his journal, the name “Lilah Gray” appeared. When he began using his journal for musical inspiration, he called Lilah his muse.
He believed Lilah Gray existed somehow, somewhere, at some time, and tried to find her to no avail (he didn’t realize then that she wasn’t even born yet). So their communication transcended time but neither of them had any idea.
Rex realizes that this girl who came to him with the journal might really be the girl he was writing with all those years ago somehow. Having been left no contact info for her, he sets out to try to find her.
So he finds her – in his own hometown, and after much talking, they realize that the girlfriend he had when he was 15, was Lilah’s aunt Delilah who died about a year before she was born, and who he had known as Dee. And Lilah’s dreams she’s been having about death and birth become significant. Crazy stuff huh?
So they are in love, she’s 15, and he’s 40. When Lilah’s stepfather finds out about them, he threatens Rex with publicity and blackmail centered around Lilah being his new teenage love interest. So he leaves her and goes back on tour, and they make a pact to write to each other every day. Not online, not by mail, no communication by phone – no risk. With their “magic” journals complete, and now writing to each other in real time, there are no more magically appearing journal entries. They vow to write to each other in their normal journals every day and on her 18th birthday, send them to each other.
Lilah doesn’t think he’ll even remember, but she sends hers to him as promised. A few days later, she receives his journals that he has written for her over the last few years. Along with a plane ticket to Italy.
Rex is on tour in Europe, and she is flown in just in time for his last concert on the tour. The last song he sings is one he wrote for her – she recognizes the song from one of the new journals he sent – then afterwards he yells to the crowd “will you marry me?” which makes the crowd go crazy because he always says that when he performs he gives so much of himself to the crowd that at the end he always feels like he’s had crazy sex with the entire audience.
Lilah knows the question was meant for her and when he exits the stage and comes back to greet her, she gives him her answer.
So I have a teenager’s online blog, I’ll have her entries in the “magic” journal, and the fiction novel she’s trying to write. I’ll have the Rockstar’s paper journal entries from his teen years (which appear to Lilah in her journal), and his current thoughts which he writes about after meeting Lilah, and his music blog and songs. I’ll also have the journals they write for each other after they promise to write. I will have hidden links to pieces of their story within their blogs.
I might be leaving some of my ideas out, but trying to condense it here. So the novel is being written as collections of entries within a collection of linked blogs to click through and explore and not even necessarily read in order. I would love to be able to link some real MP3s in Rex’s blog and a real Amazon page to order his CD. (Maybe I can get Ron to do some vocals? 😛 ) Right now the Amazon link goes to NIN’s Year Zero. I thought this whole idea might be interesting as people like to read online and read snippits of things. With things like Kindle and blogging, is the hard copy novel going the way of hard copy music?