From the blog of Nicholas C. Rossis, author of science fiction, the Pearseus epic fantasy series and children's booksThis is a guest post by R.J. Madigan. Rae has written The Sword of Air, a very well-written fantasy book, to judge by this excellent excerpt on Ali Isaac’s blog.

What’s more unusual, though, is that she published the book on iBooks as a Multi-Touch iBook.

This is a technique that crosses the boundaries between books and movies, to create a unique experience. As I had never heard of it, I asked her to give us a presentation. How’s The Sword of Air different from any other book?

Let’s hear Rae explain it all for us.

Multi-touch iBooks: Changing the way people consume stories

When I was a child I read my way through the 1,000 pages of the Lord of the Rings with only my imagination, one or two illustrations and Tolkien’s writing to make it real.  Today kids want more.  Pharrel Williams said it best, ‘Kids today need a visual.’

From the blog of Nicholas C. Rossis, author of science fiction, the Pearseus epic fantasy series and children's booksChildren are brought up with broadband wireless internet and touchscreen technology.  It’s not just that they know how to use it from a young age.  It’s in their mind, part of their consciousness and it affects the way they think.  In schools teachers use internet enabled, interactive touch screen whiteboards instead of blackboards and chalk.  Think about that for a minute.  Children expect everything to be linked to the greater hive mind that is the internet and something that isn’t interactive is almost bizarre.

Decades ago Isaac Asimov in his short story ‘Robbie’, was writing about books you interact with and talk to.  More recently Neil Stephenson based the core of his story ‘The Diamond Age,’ around a book that changed as the little girl who owned it grew up.  Both writers envisaged a world where books are more than just print, they come alive and talk to you, react and interact with you.  That world is now. The iPad has brought science fiction into reality.

No one’s really taken advantage of this new technology yet and I wanted to use it for my storytelling.  This is why I have taken slightly different path to other author’s by publishing my first YA fantasy novel ‘The Sword of Air,’ as a multi-touch iBook.

View the trailer here!

From the blog of Nicholas C. Rossis, author of science fiction, the Pearseus epic fantasy series and children's booksDon’t get me wrong. I love printed books as much as you do and own many beautiful editions. I just believe we are on the edge of a paradigm change in the way people consume their stories.  In the distant past there was oral tradition, then stories were written down, then printed in mass production, now blended with cinema iBooks and distributed at the speed of light all over the globe, available 24 hours a day.  The medium changes, but the stories remain.  Sales of printed books are falling every year, whilst the sales of ebooks are rising.  The technological tide is rising and taking all of us with it, no matter how much we want to hold onto paperback books.

Apple has given everyone the iBooks author software for free because they have a very forward thinking strategy towards their users.  This software enabled me to take my story and illustrate it in a way that isn’t possible in normal printed books.  It’s given me lots of world building creative options like music, video, 3D modelling and photography to colour my world so the reader has a much more visceral experience.

Characters such as The Raven Queen, the brutal ruler of Ireland, and the loveable grogoch spring from the page with hundreds of beautiful photographs, that go full screen at the tap of a finger.  Sound effects put you inside the action instead of just being told about it.  The cinematic soundtrack adds another layer telling the story and giving depth to the characters as the book progresses.  Short movies built right into the story put you inside the characters head, let you see what they see and feel their emotions.

See inside ‘The Sword of Air!’

iFrom the blog of Nicholas C. Rossis, author of science fiction, the Pearseus epic fantasy series and children's booksBooks allowed me to build a character map, which appears at the end of each chapter.  It’s an interactive guide for the reader.  As they come into the story each character and location is described in the pop up gallery at the end of each chapter.

The Sword of Air is unlike anything you have ever experienced before.  It’s new, different, exciting and I promise you won’t be able to put it down. This is Punk publishing at its best.  Pushing the boundaries of the publishing medium to create something new.

What’s the Story?

From the blog of Nicholas C. Rossis, author of science fiction, the Pearseus epic fantasy series and children's booksThe Sword of Air is an epic fantasy story set in an altered reality of medieval Ireland.  Sixteen year old Niamh Kelly’s village is burnt to the ground by the Raven Queen’s Fomor army, and her adoptive grandmother is brutally murdered right in front of her. She is forced to flee into the forests of the Nadur with only Fergus an old storyteller, her best friend Rauri and his wolfhound Bran for protection. 

But why is the Raven Queen hunting an ordinary girl like Niamh?  Maybe there is more to her destiny than she first thought.  It turns out Fergus is more than old man with an impressive collection of books.  When he gives Niamh a magical cloak of eagle feathers, she learns she must win the trust of the grogoch, the only living soul other than the Raven Queen who knows the location of the stone circle, the magical portal to the forgotten Fae people.

From the blog of Nicholas C. Rossis, author of science fiction, the Pearseus epic fantasy series and children's booksBut will the Fae prove to be Niamh’s foe or friend? Can she really trust the arrogant but handsome crown prince of the Fae, Jareth, when he offers to accompany her on her journey to Tara, home of the Raven Queen? Niamh must find allies and the power within herself if she is to survive against the dark powers of the Raven Queen.

Once you’ve read it, I’d love to hear what you think of the story, the technology and how you think this will all develop in the future.

Who is R.J. Madigan?

From the blog of Nicholas C. Rossis, author of science fiction, the Pearseus epic fantasy series and children's books

R.J. Madigan’s persona, the Raven Queen

As a child, R.J Madigan lived in books, hungrily devouring the works of C.S Lewis, J.M Barry, Lewis Carroll, Roald Dahl and J.R.R Tolkien. Libraries were a place she could escape to and truly be herself.

Her first book, ‘The Sword of Air’, is a stunning multi-touch iBook that includes breathtaking photography, cinematic soundtrack and HD video. Already gaining 5 star reviews, ‘The Sword of Air’ may be the first book to prove that multi-touch is the future of publishing. Why should books just be pages of text and not more interactive?

You can find out more about her and download the first three chapters of The Sword of Air on her website or read an excerpt on Ali Isaac’s blog. You can also follow The Sword of Air on Facebook and Pinterest.

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