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Serial novelist

Imagine a book where even the author didn’t know how it would end.  That is the case for the new online book Run, written by Guelph author Josh Martin who posts a new chapter online at his website, www.plothinge.com, about a character named Will who is being pursued by a shadowy character named The Man in Charge.

At the end of every chapter readers are left at a cliffhanger ending which can go one of two ways, based on the outcome of real-world events. For example, at the end of the prologue chapter readers are left with the plot able to go in a couple directions, and whether or not Wiarton Willie saw his shadow on Groundhog Day on Feb. 2 decided which of those directions the story took.

“I think there’s a neat layer to this story where the line between the virtual story and the real world blur,” said Martin.

HOW’S THAT STORY GO? Guelph author Josh Martin is in the midst of writing an online mystery novel where each cliffhanger ending to a chapter is resolved by real-world events. The book is free online, and passwords for bonus material are available at 10 Waterloo Region libraries.

In addition to the chapters, Martin is also making bonus material available online via password-protected pages. These pages will help answer some of the reader’s burning questions about the plot, such as why Will is on the run.
The author has partnered with 10 libraries in Waterloo Region and others across the country, and they have agreed to post the passwords on their bulletin boards for readers to discover.

“I’m from the area, so I have some connections in this community. I went to school at Laurier, so I decided that I wanted to partner up with the libraries here in this area, and also across Canada.”
The author says that he was inspired by the Choose Your Own Adventure books that he read as a child, where the plot of the story hinged on decisions that the reader made, and he said he wanted to take it one step further by incorporating real-world events to add another layer of complexity and realism to the tale.

It also makes it more fun for him as a writer, since he has no idea how the story will unfold over its 25-chapter run, which wraps up in June.
“While I have a sense of the general narrative and who the characters are and what their motivations are, even I don’t know from one week to the next exactly where the story is going to go and how it’s going to unfold.”
He also said that he hopes readers will gain a renewed interest in real-world events as they want to learn how each cliffhanger will be resolved.

The chapters are only about 1,000 words long, relatively short compared to other books, and Martin said he consciously chose to keep it short to make it easier to read online, and to help keep readers engaged.
“It takes five minutes or so to read, and that’s what I wanted to make sure happened to ensure it was quick and easy but also suspenseful to keep the readers coming back each week.”

New chapters for Run are posted every Thursday. Participation is free, with readers able to subscribe to receive email notifications when the new chapter is posted. Martin also plans to publish the final story as an e-book, complete with alternate chapters that never make it to the final story, and a host of other extra material. Visit www.plothinge.com to follow the story.

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