Video Enhanced Ebooks--Oh My!

May is National Short Story Month! Short story writers are gaining an audience through Kindle, but I still think they are overlooked. This month, along with some regular posts, I will be interviewing short story authors and posting reviews of their work.

To start off the month, I bring you the author of the "Skate Crime" series. These are novels, but author Alina Adams has utilized an exciting technology in a novel excerpt (that's a kind of short story!) that I think will benefit authors who write in every form!

Alina Adams is the author of "New York Times" best-sellers "Oakdale Confidential" and "Jonathan's Story," as well as the Figure Skating Mystery series, including "Murder on Ice," "On Thin Ice," "Axel of Evil," "Death Drop" and "Skate Crime," and the romance novels, "When a Man Loves a Woman," "Annie's Wild Ride," "Thieves at Heart" and "The Fictitious Marquis." Her current passion is enhanced e-books with videos embedded directly into the story. The first, "Skate Crime: Multimedia" is available now on Amazon. She can be reached via her website . Welcome!

As the 2011 US Figure Skating Team prepare to make its debut at the World Championships in Russia at the end of April (relocated from Japan due to the earthquake), Alina Adams, author of the figure-skating cozy mystery series of books including “Murder on Ice,” “On Thin Ice,” “Axel of Evil,” “Death Drop,” and “Skate Crime,” takes experiencing her books to an unprecedented next level by adding skating videos courtesy of The Ice Theatre of New York right into the text!

When turning “Skate Crime,” the last novel in my series into an e-book, I decided to try something completely new – I wasn’t just going to write about skating. I was going to show it!

I got the idea after spending ten years as Creative Content Producer at TeleNext Media/Procter & Gamble Productions. While at P&G, I developed two on-line properties for them, and Mindy’s Twitter, which told serialized, romantic stories in a combination of words and video clips. I thought that if it worked for on-line soap-operas, it would be even better for figure skating, which is such a visually-oriented sport.

What made you decide to add video to a mystery?

I have been fascinated with the potential of enhanced books ever since the idea became technically feasible. However, most of what is currently available is either non-fiction or, if the enhanced book is fiction, it features extras like author interviews, music, special effects, or historical context. I was itching to make the added videos an integrated, vital part of the story itself, like I had with my on-line work. “Skate Crime: Multimedia” fits that bill. It’s not exactly a book and it’s not exactly a movie. I see it more as Storytelling for the 21st Century.

How difficult was the process?

I had no blueprint or precedent to follow. It’s not like I could say, well, this author did it this way and this publisher did it that way, let me see what I can learn from everyone and incorporate it into my own project. I had to start from, more or less, scratch. It wasn’t so much a matter of learning a new storytelling language as inventing one. And the only way to test out if it’s understandable is to see what an audience thinks!

Your protagonist is a bit unusual--not the first image people have when they think of professional ice skaters.

When writing for Black Diaspora Magazine, I did a piece on African-Americans in skating, including the legendary Mabel Fairbanks, who was the first Black ice show star, and initially paired up and coached future world champions Tai Babilonia and Randy Gardner. When I began writing my Figure Skating Mystery series for Berkley Prime Crime, I created the character of Antonia “Toni” Wright as an homage to Mabel and other skating pioneers of color.

To “play” the role of Toni, Adams turned to The Ice Theatre of New York and one of their principal skaters, Alyssa Stith (also a veteran of the “Ebony on Ice” show). It is Ms. Stith’s skating that viewers will see in “Skate Crime: Multimedia,” representing Toni.

When I wrote my original piece for Black Diaspora, it really opened my eyes to the hardships those first African-Americans in skating faced. It was a privilege to be able to retell some of their stories and triumphs through Toni. Hopefully, “Skate Crime: Multimedia,” as well as the successes of such athletes as World Champion Debi Thomas and European Champion Surya Bonaly will inspire other youngster to take up the sport – and the legacy.

While all five novels were initially published as trade paperbacks by Berkley Prime Crime, only one, “Skate Crime” is currently available as an e-book.

Skate Crime: Multimedia Edition” does not contain the entire text of the original but is, instead, a condensed excerpt enhanced with video clips. Was there a reason that you chose an excerpt for your video enhanced book rather than add video to the entire book?

I did it as an experiment to see what the response would be, as well as to test the technical possibilities. Enhancing all five of my skating books is next on my to-do list!

"Skate Crime: Multimedia Edition” retails for $.99 cents in Amazon’s Kindle store here,  and can be experienced through the Kindle app on iPad, iPhone, and your desktop.  Don't forget to check out the other Skate Crime books!

Visit Alina at her blog  and web site.

Thank you, Alina!


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