So, what next?!?
With Roy Hanney’s approach to me to use The Snow Witch as the basis of a brand new transmedia story, we had to work out what to do next. We had the general idea we wanted to produce something. Now we began to fill out a new story. So, what was Roy’s idea at this stage?
!!!Please note: this and following blogs will include spoilers for the story in The Snow Witch!!!
The fascinating Mr Hanney
Roy had the idea that a key character who had died in the story had not found rest. Bear in mind that the story is mainly set in Portsmouth and the Balkans – but Roy wanted to draw in much wider influences. It was amazing to hear.
Roy is a fascinating guy with a whole host of interests, and one his main focuses is what would have been called in Victorian times “Orientalism” – that is, he absolutely loves and is intrigued by Chinese and Japanese culture. He’s an amazing adopter of ideas with a restless mind that’s never-endingly interested in new things.
An Onryo story in Portsmouth
So he explained his idea: the new story would be inspired by the Japanese idea of the Onryho. This, he told me, is a Japanese folk tale in which a traveller comes to a new place. He or she is usually a monk or spiritually enlightened person, and the place they arrive at is blighted by the malevolent spirit of a person who died and is not able to rest. The Onryho story invariably ends with the ghost being laid to rest in some way. One of my key characters in the book would thus be required to return and threaten the city of Portsmouth.
It sounded like a really interesting idea.
Scope and scale
I thought at first that Roy was asking me to work on it with him in a small group, but Roy’s ideas were far bigger than that.
The scope was amazing. We would need a big team, and we would need to co-ordinate them to learn how to create transmedia storytelling. As the jealous creator of the original story, I had my own doubts. What if the story didn’t work? What if the things they did with my characters interfered with my own perception of the characters? Would I be able to write a sequel if it was all changed in this way. Roy explained to me:
“This is a sandbox idea. We’re going to use The Snow Witch to learn how to do transmedia storytelling. Transmedia will be the next big thing, and I want to understand it, so the only real way to learn about it is to do it for ourselves. It’s going to require Arts Council funding and it’s going to require quite a lot of work. Are you up for it?”
My ‘yes’ that evening was the starting point of a year-long journey of discovery that would test me to the limits, but which would be surprisingly easy if I just focussed on my job. And that was thanks largely to Roy’s larger vision in which I could operate.
So, we began the whole process of getting funding and amassing a team. We were going to learn so much from this!