Calling Digital Writers!

Apply for up to £5000 to develop your work through…

Beyond the Book

A Digital Writing Commission

**Commission now CLOSED. Winners will be announced by the end of October 2019**

Are you a writer who wants to experiment with telling stories via a smartphone?

Do you want to be part of the conversation around how technology can disrupt and innovate?

Storytelling is a vital part of being human. From the campfire, via the pen, through the book, the screen, and smartphone, we tell, read, and hear stories. But the ways we do this are changing. How can storytelling keep up? How can we use digital tech to write stories in new forms and in new ways?

Beyond the Book is a new scheme that aims to develop innovative models for writing and publication, promoting dialogue between writers, technologists and new publishers. We want to help writers work with technologists to go ‘beyond the book’ – developing writing for media such as phones, games and immersive technology. We want to subvert the mainstream, with a wider range of voices and new ways of writing.

Our first round of Beyond the Book commissions will focus on developing writing for smartphones.

pencil, notepads and mobile phone
computer circuits
woman in sunglasses

How will it work?

Beyond the Book will support three writers with a connection to Somerset, Gloucestershire, or Wiltshire over six months to experiment with the possibilities of telling stories using a smartphone.

We’ll offer support to develop text-based digital projects and the opportunity to reach local, national, and international audiences.

Who Are We?

Beyond the Book is led by writer, Professor Kate Pullinger, and delivered by Paper Nations.

Based at Bath Spa University, the Paper Nations team has partnered with a panel of experts who want to see work that is innovative, experimental, and shows a curiosity about the potential of smartphones.

The Selection Panel

Louisa Adjoa Parker
Photo credit: Robert Golden

Louisa Adjoa Parker

Louisa is a writer, poet and consultant based in the south west. Her first poetry collection and pamphlet were published by Cinnamon Press, and her work has been published widely. Louisa’s third collection, How to Wear a Skin, is to be published by Indigo Dreams later this year. She recently produced a podcast and blog exploring the experiences of people of colour in the south west as part of her New Talent Immersion Fellowship with SWCTN.

“I am delighted to be on the selection panel for the Beyond the Book commission. Writers from rural areas often miss out on opportunities. Paper Nations are working to address this, and their new programme, Writing for All Call for Action, with its themes of diversity and innovation, is very close to my heart. As a marginalised writer, I’m passionate about making literature accessible to all.”

Louisa Adjoa Parker
Steve Hollyman

Steve Hollyman

Dr Steve Hollyman completed his MA and PhD in Creative Writing at Manchester Metropolitan University. His doctoral thesis The Self-Begetting Novel: Metafiction in the Twenty-First Century explores the new potentialities opened up to experimental metafictional narratives by interactive transmedia storytelling. His debut novel was published in 2010, and his writing has appeared in The Journal of Literature and Trauma Studies, Brand Literary Magazine, and The Routledge Companion to Critical and Cultural Theory, among others. He currently works as Programme Co-Ordinator and Senior Lecturer in Creative Writing at Bath Spa University.
Maya Thomas

Maya Thomas

Maja Thomas is The Chief Innovation Officer of Hachette Livre, and the Director of the Hachette Innovation Program, focusing on the intersection of publishing and digital innovation. Maja works internationally across divisions and sectors, facilitating collaboration with start-ups and established global players, to get books into the hands, phones, and ears of readers. The team she leads designs and creates experiments with augmented reality, tap to read interfaces, social messaging platforms, bots, and voice assistants, and pilots projects to use machine learning and big data in publishing. Her passion for storytelling—and the future of storytelling-- animates everything she does.

“As both a book lover and digital enthusiast, I am excited to see how mobile technology and the writer’s imagination can create new and compelling experiences and advance the art of storytelling. Beyond the Book will bring fresh perspectives to this creative frontier.”

Maya Thomas
Andy Wood

Andy Wood

Andy specialises in web development and has written software for a variety of business and cultural sectors, including interactive TV and immersive art. Andy currently works part-time for Kaleider on the South West Creative Technology Network project, an R&D programme for the creative industries that aims to build connections between the various pools of excellence in the region. He has a keen interest in design, storytelling and gameplay.

What Are We Looking For?

Storytelling via your smartphone. Your stories have to be engaging. Beyond that, there are few rules. We’re looking for new ideas and thinking! Your projects could look at how text is experienced on a screen, or how the functions of a smartphone – such as sensors, cameras, or GPS – can be used to tell a story.

You may develop a work of ambient literature, an experiment in augmented reality, or a poetry film. Or something completely new. We are looking to support text-based works, which could include text shared through audio, (but aren’t looking for films that focus only on visual images, scripts, or plays.)

That’s the brief. What you create is up to you. We’re not looking for novels or film scripts on a screen. We’re looking for innovation and experimentation; we’re looking for a new way to tell a story.

person typing on a keyboard
woman and man looking at mobile phone
mobile phone morphing into road with cars

What Are We Offering?

We are offering three writers commissions of up to £5,000 each to develop their work. This is a chance to realise an ambition, experiment with a new form, take an idea in a totally new direction, and create innovative partnerships. The commission should be used, in part, by writers to access a creative technologist or to gain digital skills that bring ideas to life.

Writers will also create a series of short articles for The Writing Platform –a collaboration between Bath Spa University and Queensland Institute of Technology, which shares digital knowledge with writers.

Paper Nations will support writers to create a finished digital work, which will be showcased at a premiere in Bath in spring 2020, and at Bath Spa University’s MIX 2021 – a leading conference on writing and technology.

Who Is Eligible?

Writers need to have a meaningful connection to the upper South West region of the UK (Somerset, Gloucestershire, and Wiltshire). It is not a requirement to be based here, but you will need a demonstrable connection, history, or commitment to the region.

We will accept applications from collaborations. These could include a writer and a technologist or a writing team.

You must be aged over 16.

Writers need to be available to start work in November 2019 and have their final piece ready for a public audience in April 2020.

Applications opened on 1st July 2019 and ARE NOW CLOSED. Thank you to all of those who shared Beyond the Book and applied. Our selection panel can’t wait to read about your projects and ideas.

Successful applicants will be announced by the end of October 2019.

Email for more information.

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