This book tracks your journey and presents different moods, characters, genres and styles depending on the choices you make. You can read more about it here.
We've been chatting with some people who have been kind enough to give the text a preliminary proof-read and found that it might be a good idea to give you a basic run-down of what Bus Station is and why, in our humble opinion, you should give it a read.
There are lots of different types of interactivity, and writers use the phrase ‘interactive fiction’ in many different ways. What we mean is that Bus Station: Unbound is a book that offers you choices, a book that asks you questions, and a book that is very slippery about where the beginning and end of the story is. Put more prosaically – the narrative branches out, offering you lots of different options, and you get to decide how the main character navigates around the bus station and what she says to the people she meets. If you ever read a ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’ style novel as a child, you’ll have some idea of what’s in store.
Is Bus Station: Unbound a book or a game?
There are game-like elements to this book – there is choice, there is risk, there are several objectives and a set of rules you have to play by. The book is also much more unstable and slippery than any standard novel – there are fifteen different versions of the opening paragraph and you’ll get a slightly different perspective on the location and the character every time you play. It just wouldn’t be possible for us to publish this novel as a traditional printed volume. Having said that, the experience itself is conveyed through text and photographs - there’s no sound and animation, so we’re calling Bus Station: Unbound a novel, though it isn’t like one you’ve ever read before.
How do I know when I’ve reached the end? / How will I know if I’ve won?
There are over 20 different endings to Bus Station: Unbound. Some of them happen fairly early on, before you’ve had chance to explore much of the building and find out what’s going on – but the ending itself provides you with some information that will be useful to you on your next read. The objectives of the main character, however, are up to you. Do you want to get home to your parents? To discover what is happening with the mysterious local politician? To build bridges with your older brother? To rescue some teenagers who need help? Bus Station: Unbound is as much about location as it is narrative, and like all the best places, it is going to take more than one visit before you unearth its hidden treasures.
Why set it in the bus station?
Both Jenn and Richard are from Lancashire - Jenn from Preston, and both spent a lot of time in the station as teenagers. It’s a local landmark, controversial and infamous – voted both Preston’s most hated building and described as monstrous in the popular press, as well as recently saved from demolition and given Grade II listed status thanks to the efforts of a group of local creatives, academics, architects and journalists.
How did you write it?
The novel was a true collaboration – we leapt into the process without too much planning or discussion, and let the book occur – being guided by the layout and architecture of the station rather than by any preconceived idea of plot or narrative trajectory – these seemed to occur from the building itself. Weird, eh?
In practical terms – we used Inkle Writer, which is a free piece of software from Inkle Studios, the gaming studio behind Dave Morris’ Frankenstein and 80 Days. It’s accessible, simple to use and makes projects like this possible for writers and artists with big ideas and little programming know-how. As far as we’re aware, Bus Station: Unbound is the first novel-length work created using technology made available by Inkle. Thanks Inkle!
WHY did you write it?
There are three values that guide our work at Curious Tales. The first is creative collaboration – we write and make art together and we try to produce things that are more than the sum of the artists working on them. The second is experiment and risk – we’re not beholden to big publishers or distributors, we value our work but the bottom line isn’t the only thing we care about, and we’re small enough to make decisions fast. The third is form – our anthologies are beautifully illustrated and couldn’t possibly be e-books. Our e-books are fully interactive and couldn’t possibly be printed volumes. The Unbound imprint is a perfect expression of each of these values.
When will the rest of the trilogy be published?
We have plans, eventually, for another two Unbound volumes – they will stand-alone, but link to each other in varying interesting ways. All will take place during a specific period of time, in a specific building or location, and allow the reader to explore a building as well as co-create a plot. The Curious Tales team is currently working on the next volume but we’re keeping the location of it under our hats for now. Sorry. You can always sign up to our newsletter (on our homepage) if you want to be one of the first to find out when we’re publishing it.
I don't own a Kindle. Can I read this book?
YES. If you don't own a Kindle, but have a computer, a smart-phone, tablet or any other similar device, you can download the Kindle app for free here. All you need an Amazon account.
Jenn & Richard
Bus Station: Unbound is available to pre-order at £ 3.84 for Kindle now.