With Andrew Tolson's agent submitting his YA manuscript ,The Girl Who Saved Kafka, to prospective publishers, he wanted to entice editors with something extra, a taste of the novel before they had read the first page. He decided to launch a blog that was in the voice of the main character:
An explanation from Andrew:
In my daily work as a photographer, I use big expensive cameras. For personal work, I’ve been using my iPhone and the Hipstamatic app. I’m fascinated by the lo-fi approach to many digital applications and Hipstamatic gives you all the beautiful and unpredictable results you’d get from a crappy film camera. The kind of low budget camera you might find in the Linfield Thrift Store. It’s a perfect tool for someone like Zoe Burns to express herself. She’s the fifteen-year-old heroine of my novel, who shops at the thrift store and uses a typewriter because it makes the letters sound loud. She’s desperate to break out of her outcast’s existence. But she must also come to terms with her crazy mother, her best friend’s growing allegiance to the popular girls and the pending appearance of teen pop star Tyler Sharp. Then there’s the school talent show which Zoe is being forced to enter. Can she combine her growing obsession with Franz Kafka’s existential masterpiece, The Metamorphosis, and her talent show performance? She’s certain she has the potential for extraordinariness but–
Wait a minute. This is starting to sound like a synopsis.
Just look at the blogopsis: http://kafkagirl.com
What gave you the idea for starting your Kafka Girl blog?
The idea was two-fold. First, I really enjoyed writing in Zoe’s voice and wondered what it would sound like if I transferred that voice to another medium and then added visuals. Since I’m also a photographer, I wondered what kind of things Zoe would take pictures of. How would she document her environment and her life? But also, I wanted to give prospective editors who are considering the manuscript a unique way of marketing the book to readers.
How often do you update?
At the moment I don’t update it all and that’s intentional. I’ve set up the blog so it has a narrative arc as Zoe introduces herself and her world. If the book sells, and the publisher is interested, I’d love to expand into regular updates with photos and video. Zoe already has a Facebook profile, but I’ve not done anything with it yet. It was a lot of fun putting together the stock images and shooting elements from the story, like Zoe’s Mom’s postcards. I hope the blog will intrigue readers enough to want to check out the book.
What has the response been so far?
The response has been great. I’ve even had a few people get to the end of the blog and not realize it’s fiction. I just hope no one will feel duped.
Who's the man in the picture? (beside "I'm Zoe Burns...") I thought Zoe was a girl?
The man in the photo is Franz Kafka, he of the book’s title. Nowhere in the blog is there a clear photo of Zoe. I want the reader to leave it up to their imagination as to what she looks like.
What's your "elevator pitch" for your book?
Fifteen-year-old Zoe Burns is desperate to break out of her ordinary existence, so she mounts a one-girl show, performing her version of Franz Kafka’s Metamorphosis at her high school talent contest. Meanwhile, she must come to terms with her crazy mother, a burgeoning relationship with a fellow outcast and the imminent arrival of the insanely popular teenaged heart throb Tyler Sharp, who will be judging the talent show. It sounds like it could be dark and depressing, but it’s really quite funny.....
What other projects are you working on now?
I’m hard at work on a new book, a MG fantasy called ‘The Knife Of Lost Souls’, about an orphaned 12-year-old girl who discovers that she comes from a long line of demon slayers.'. Very different from the Kafka story, but hopefully just as much fun. It’s really important, I’ve found, to start work on a new project when your ms is making the rounds of editors. Otherwise you’ll go crazy with anticipation!