First-time novelist Darin Bradley, guestblogging on Omnivoracious this week, has taught courses on writing and literature at the University of North Texas, Furman University, and East Tennessee State University. His short fiction, poetry, and critical nonfiction have appeared in a variety of journals, and he served as founding fiction editor of the experimental e-zine, Farrago's Wainscot.
Noise takes as its premise that, in the aftermath of the switch from analog to digital TV, an anarchic movement known as Salvage hijacks the unused airwaves. Mixed in with the static's random noise are dire warnings of the imminent economic, political, and social collapse of civilization"”and cold-blooded lessons on how to survive the fall and prosper in the harsh new order that will inevitably arise from the ashes of the old. Critically acclaimed writer Paul Jessup has called Noise "Little Brother meets Lord of the Flies meets Heart of Darkness meets Mad Max and the Road Warrior meets Letham."
Bradley returns on Thursday with a new post...
A central idea in Noise (the central idea, really) is that after the general broadcasting switch from analog to digital in 2009, government agencies eventually surrendered some of the now-unused bands over for public use. A fair portion of these bands were reserved to establish a Nationwide Public Safety Network to better network first responders, emergency personnel, and the police--in the event of an emergency. (This is true both in real life and in the novel). The novel's idea that the bands were surrendered to public use (my fictional "Citizens' Television Band") is pure fiction. The reality is that (some believe) there was money involved..
So, issues of conspiracy aside, the Citizens' Television Band (CTB) became one of the main actants in the story. This devil-may-care, net-neutrality-esque broadcasting environment gave rise to the movement known as Salvage, which is the amorphous counter-cultural movement that predicts the collapse of society before it happens. Omni's own Jeff VanderMeer explains it pretty well in this clip:
The Book". While this is all well and good, Salvage and the CTB accidentally opened up an interesting venue for marketing the novel.
Often, new novels come dressed with book trailers, promotional giveaways, free postcards, a fruit cake, and the kitchen sink. It's the name of the publishing game--saturating the hive-mind with the title of your book in the hopes that readers might unconsciously reach/click for it the next time they're shopping (don't worry, it's not lost on me that I'm doing just that now). In the case of Noise, however, I accidentally created a multimedia simulacrum to go along with the book: Salvage Country.
Salvage country uses faked versions of the very broadcasts, answering-machine recordings , graffiti tags, and vandalism that the "real" Salvage uses in the novel. It's a promotional site that, unlike a lot of others, really doesn't "say" much about what the novel (or the site) is about; rather, it brings you right into the novel's central idea and just leaves you hanging--presumably, of course, in the hopes that you'll want to know more. The transition from the CTB, to Salvage, to Noise, to Salvage Country isn't the most original thing on the web, but it did allow for marketing and promo support in a way that was a little less direct--basically, it offers more entertainment in exchange for your attention than a typical promotion might do.
And lest I leave you with the impression that this is all about me and Noise, I think it's just a good example of how hybridized creative content is going to become. The net, streaming video, infinitely replicable mp3s, text-messages: they're all a part of our current cultural story. It's a fun mess, but it's a new mess, and watching how writers wrestle with this is going to be half the fun of its development.