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David Mitchell Publishes Story Live Online, Echoing Silvia Hartmann's The Dragon Lords

David Mitchell Publishes Story Live Online, Echoing Silvia Hartmann's The Dragon Lords

In 2012, DragonRising's Silvia Hartmann became the first author to write a full length novel live online, with thousands of people watching every keystroke, every word, every chapter come to life.

Since then, many authors have begun to do similar online stunts to help promote their work. The latest is none other than 2-time Booker Prize short-listed author David Mitchell, who's best known work Cloud Atlas has sold millions of copies worldwide and is now a feature film starring Tom Hanks and Halle Berry.

Mitchell's attempt at digital innovation is publishing a serialised short story, specially written in 140-character bursts, on the social media platform Twitter. The Story, The Right Sort, is narrated by a teenage boy who discovers the drug vallium.

Unlike Silvia, who has been experimenting with and working on the internet and social media since the mid 1990s, Mitchell is not a regular tweeter or social media user. He has admitted that it would be "disingenuous" not to acknowledge that using Twitter, which he only joined in April 2014 at the urging of his publisher, in this way is a clever marketing gimmick for his upcoming novel, but believes his story is right for the medium.

Mitchell isn't the first to use Twitter for publishing, Pulitzer-prize winning author Jennifer Egan also published her short story Black Box on the site in 2012 and best-selling fantasy writer Neil Gaiman has used it to source story ideas.

Silvia Hartmann's project, which was called "the best technological-literary stunt in recent memory" by The New Yorker, used Google Drive, a cloud based technology that lets users share documents. This way, viewers could see the words appear in front of their eyes as Silvia typed. The Naked Writer project, as it became known, culminated in the release of the novel The Dragon Lords and a glitzy launch party at Google's UK headquarters in London.


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