20 Jun, 2010

The New Goodbye, a multi-arts app

Posted by: admin In: Creative Review

Our very own web director, Neil Ayres, is also an author and has just published his latest novel The New Goodbye as an iPhone app. Other than being a great read, what’s of particular interest is how producing a novel like this became a truly collaborative effort, employing the talents of a whole range of creative people…

The New Goodbye is a multi-arts app which encompasses literature – in the form of Ayres’ novel and two short stories – but also photography, illustration, music and moving image.

Ayres originally approached Russell Quinn, designer and developer of the lauded McSweeney’s app, CR’s Annual app and the Wallpaper* City Guides apps, to work on transferring his novel to the (very) small screen. Quinn’s resulting design threads the many different elements of the app together.

The central navigation revolves around an image of the book’s main character, Mila, as played here by fashion photographer Cat Lane, who won a competition Ayres ran on Flickr late last year to become The New Goodbye’s cover model.

At Street Studios, Lane was shot by London-based Brazilian photographer, Nicole Heiniger, who was helped by stylist Saskia Price and hair and make up artists Fumi Noyose and Caroline Sims. During this bout of intense creativity, Ayres apparently helped distribute the sycamore leaves on the studio floor. (Pen pushers eh?)

A section from Joanna Basford’s illustration, based on the Cervantes story that precedes Ayres’ novel

A certain Miguel Cervantes also helped out. His Dialogue of the Dogs (1613) acts as a preface to Ayres’ novel. Illustrator Joanna Basford produced a two-metre-wide pen and ink illustration based on the Cervantes text, as well as creating chapter openers for The New Goodbye itself.

In a section of the app called Romantic Gestures, readers can also email friends an image created by Basford, along with a personal message, that encourages people to share their experience of the book. Musician Rich Watson has contributed a song for the app, too, with an accompanying video from creative collective Order coming soon.

One of Basford’s illustrations that accompanies one the ‘Romantic Gestures’

Ayres cites the Enhanced Editions version of Nick Cave’s The Death of Bunny Munro as the digital book that demonstrated just what was possible with a good story and an emerging medium. While ereaders have proved popular in terms of their functionality, it was the bland nature of such a reading experience that pushed Ayres towards the more immersive capabilities of smart phones.

Indeed, it looks to be a great time to be publishing fiction without having to print a single word.

The New Goodbye is available at the Apple app store in two editions: a free ‘lite’ version, which includes a sampler of most of the content along with the Romantic Gestures feature, and the full version which is £1.79 ($2.99). Ayres’ app is also compatible with the iPad.

And, to whet your literary appetites, here’s the official blurb on The New Goodbye from the author himself.

The last time Alex Mooney saw his friend Mila was twelve years ago. Now she’s turned up on his doorstep looking for a place to stay, but Alex knows his wife and brother-in-law won’t be as thrilled to see Mila as he is. A quiet, introverted man, Alex is a world away from property corruption, Balkan gun-running and Mexican drug dealers, but these appear to be the reasons Mila is back in his life.


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