Another blog-to-book deal! At least the guy behind this one's an accomplished illustrator and writer instead of some snot-nosed tween, right?
Lou Beach is an artist and an author who recently got a deal with Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for a book of stories that are under 420 characters, which happens to be the character limit imposed by Facebook on their status update feature.
I talked to Lou about his 420 Characters project, the challenges of the form and his unique approach to status updates.Tell us a bit about yourself.
I am best known for my illustration work for major magazines, record covers, publishers and collage art.
Where did the 420 Characters idea come from?
I was bored with the daily status updates on Facebook and began writing these short pieces of fiction for my amusement.
Do you find this short form particularly easy or challenging?
Well, as an illustrator I've always been restricted to the size allowed for the art on the page or the album package, or whatever the limitations are for the job. So it wasn't a stretch to have to conform to confines set by Facebook. It is challenging though to still have some sort of story arc occur within those limits....that's the trick.
How do you think social networking and status updates are affecting people's writing?
I don't know. I imagine our use of texting and email and such perhaps makes us more prone to a certain amount of shorthand. Also, we don't write letters as we once did. I received a two page letter the other day and it was a surprise and a pleasure.
The media have attacked social media-born books as the death of literature. What will you say to these people?
I'm not aware of those attacks nor of social media-born books (besides my own....I've signed with Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for a fall 2011 release of 420 Characters as a trade hard cover.) I don't give much credence to death knells. I didn't stop listening to Bach because the Rolling Stones came along.