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Novel Idea

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Prestige Animals: the Grand Finale!

Do Not Eat The Humans!! Completely exhausted by the US presidential race? Peruse this over your leisurely Friday lunch. Click here for Installment 1 and Installment 2 of Sam’s hilarious, Novel Idea-winning adventure tale. The suspense has been killing you, huh?

Dennis impressed me by thinking quickly. Unfortunately, he didn’t think well. “We’re crocodile inspectors,” he said. Charlene pushed him aside. “What he means is, there’s been an outbreak of avian ’flu in the neighbourhood, and it’s a strain spread by reptiles.” “That’s right,” I said. “Dr Charlene here was telling me that there couldn’t be any crocodiles around here and I was saying that I had to check. Lives are at stake.” Golden Boy looked at us, one at a time, like he was working out who to hurt first. » read more

Prestige Animals: Installment 2

Dog with ConeClick here for installment 1 of Sam Wilson’s winning Novel Idea story, “Prestige Animals”.


It was only a small tree. It took out a headlight, bent the bumper and gave the engine a whole new sound. Dennis agreed to drive to a lay-bye and call it a night. We sat side by side in the dark, and a couple more questions came to mind. “Why did he want an animal?” “You know these drug lords. They aren’t worth a damn without a leopard. This other guy he knows has a crocodile, and they’ve got a one-up thing going. So I said, hey, my brother’s a vet at the game park -” “I’m not a vet.” “No?” “I’m writing guide books,” I said. » read more

Presenting… Prestige Animals

For those with mo-bricks who couldn’t read Sam Wilson’s winning story during Novel Idea, here it is in all its rollicking glory. This is the first of three parts, which I’ll be dishing out over the rest of the week (the mini cliffhangers are too much fun for me to post it all at once, of course!)

Here’s the truth, a badger is no substitute for a parachute. I hoped I wouldn’t have to prove it while accelerating towards the ground at two hundred kilometers per hour holding nothing more than an irate striped mammal. » read more

Novel Idea in The Bookseller

Hurrah! Gary Cumminsky wrote about Novel Idea for leading international industry magazine The Bookseller. The story was held back from online for a while, Gary tells me, so that it could be “broken” in the print edition first. A couple of weeks ago, I had a long chat to James Long, one of the bloggers on Pan Macmillan’s site The Digitalist, about Novel Idea (they’ve have been thinking about rolling out similar projects – we did it first, though). This interest from the UK market shows that South African publishers are doing innovative work in a global context – something to feel proud of and to build on.

Prestige Animals on the streets…

The new issue of the Big Issue hits the streets tomorrow, and includes the first few chapters of Sam Wilson’s Novel Idea-winning story Prestige Animals. Get it in print!

All the amazing Novel Idea stories – including ones from Henrietta Rose-Innes, Lauren Beukes and Diane Awerbuck – are up on the Novel Idea WAP site in full until the end of September. Type into your phone browser to go to the WAP page. If you’re not already registered, it’s a quick process through the “New users register here” button. If you’re already registered, go to “Chose your stories” to read the synopses and chose any of the Novel Idea stories to read. (You may be prompted to enter your number.)

(For those with HTC and Blackberry phones – sorry, but there are compatibility issues we can’t work around. Anyone else with problems, mail me on

If I can make it there…

USA-2303 Novel Idea is in the New York Times! Okay, it’s a shameless promotion plug in a comments thread on a New York Times blog, but… w00t! anyway.

“Start spreading the news…” pum tiddly pum pum!!

Michelle on YouTube

This is a little video Ben helped me make. It was requested by my friend Octavio Kulesz for a presentation he’s doing at the Metropolitan Centre of Design in Buenos Aires, about “The academic book in the digital age”. It gives an overview of Novel Idea and demonstrates what the stories look like on the phone (those who have pre-historic [i.e. pre-2006] mo-bricks can check it out now!)
» read more

Novel Idea: The winner is…

Sam Wilson

Sam Wilson is South Africa’s first award-winning mobilist with a clear majority: 38.5% of the readers’ votes. Sam’s story “Prestige Animals” is a rollicking comedy adventure involving an animal smuggler, his reprobate brother, an angry badger and a crocodile-coveting drug lord. Packed with gags and cliffhangers, it kept Novel Idea readers hooked to their phones for their daily updates. Sam Wilson wins R8000, sponsored by Vodacom. Congratulations Sam!
» read more

The King

Stephen (King, that is) is always way ahead on this “new delivery” thing (remember when he sold Riding the Bullet as a digital download way back in 2000 [SUCCESS!], or when he tried to sell The Plant chapter by chapter [FAILURE! Maybe he was a little too way ahead there...]).

Now he’s got his publishers Simon & Schuster and Marvel Comics semi-animating 25 episodes of a new short story for viewing on mobile phones. It’s even got an ad from Colgate at the end of it. Gotta love big budgets.

I first read about it on The Guardian where the video player is embedded on this page (yup, it’s not only available on mobile, but it’s embeddable in social media too – book publishers are getting smart, hey!)

Stephen has the kind of geek-pop culture appeal that allows him to do these forward-thinking things and draw an audience. Somewhere before the middle of the scale between “early adopters” and “mainstream” is Stephen, a kind of “bridging producer”. So, watch where he’s going, because the rest of us will get there eventually…

En Francais

My standard 8 French has served me relatively well in deciphering that this is a glowing write-up about the Novel Idea concept:

They even say the winning author will be scooping “le premier prix littéraire mobile au monde”. Au monde! That means “the first prize for mobile literature IN THE WORLD”! At least, it did 15 years ago…

Right now (2pm on Tuesday) Prestige Animals by Sam Wilson is back at the head of the pack. Voting closes on Thursday and THE WORLD’S FIRST winner of a mobile literature prize will be announced on Friday.

(Thanks for the link Ben. That’s some impressive surfing you’re doing there…)