Thursday, December 08, 2016

Chicanonautica: Once Upon a Time, a 12 Year-Old Chicana was Attacked by a Monster . . .

by Ernest Hogan

Things are so complicated these days. I miss the times when I could simply say, hey everybody, my wife, Emily Devenport, and I have just published a YA fantasy novel, with a Chicana heroine, and here’s where you can buy and order it. That would be so easy. 

Unfortunately, this is the 21st century, and 2016 to boot. Explanations are required. 

The Terrible Twelves by Emily Devenport and Ernest Hogan is not a physical or ebook in the traditional sense (I just realized that I just used the word “traditional” in reference to ebooks -- ay! ay! ay! Welcome to another brave new world.) It’s available through a website called Tapastic, and can be read on phones and other devices.

Yeah, a lot of you are probably thinking: What the hell is Tapastic, and do people really read books on their phones? 

Maybe I should go back the the origin story of The Terrible Twelves . . .
The Terrible Twelves cover art by INOGART
Once upon a time, there was a chain of bookstores called Borders. Emily and I worked in one. Because of Harry Potter a lot of young adult fantasy was selling. I had recently failed to sell both a detective novel and a “straight commercial” novel, my career was floating in the toilet. Standing behind a cash register, I contemplated the situation, frustrated that I couldn’t come up with something to take advantage of the trend.
Then I thought of the classic coming-of-age scenario: What if a monster comes to attack a kid as the hormones kick in? Maybe to go against the grain of the Harry Potter model, make it a girl instead of a boy – an anti-Harry Potter! Soon her parents give her the bad news -- she’s going to have to go live with her aunt and uncle in Arizona! 

Not bad, but that was all I could muster. More frustration. 

So I did what I usually do when I’m stuck -- talked it over with Emily. 

She liked the idea, and had some more of her own having to do with adolescent girl angst that I would have never come up with. We decided to work on it together. I had all this Chicano family stuff, and strange, exotic Arizona was all around us, and then there’s the usual magic that happens when the two of us start bouncing stuff off each other. 

The authors of The Terrible Twelves
Soon we had a novel, but then there was a collapse in publishing . . . Borders died . . . the world still hasn’t recovered. Also, New York didn’t seem to want to have anything to do with us. We retreated to the underground, and experimented with self-publishing. 

Recently, an opportunity came to put something up on Tapastic. We remembered The Terrible Twelves, so we decided to try it out. 

I’ve found that especially when you’re writing quirky genre-type stuff (I don’t mind the sci-fi label, because everything I do seems to be too weird for the mainstream) it pays to try strange new things that come along. Most of my favorite writers originally appeared in things like pulp magazines, paperback books, and other formats that aren’t considered legitimate. I’ve already done Brainpan Fallout that was written to be sent via fax. I’m assuming that this will continue as we cross the new electronic frontiers. 

And Tapastic is something new. It had me confused at first. I just turned 61. I remember manual typewriters, and other ancient technologies. But now that I’ve had a chance to study it, it looks like great way to get things out there. 

They chop the material into bite-sized sections that can be read on a phone. They are connected to the social media. They make it look like manga. Looks like this is a better place to connect with the younger generation than everywhere I’ve been published. They don’t call themselves a publisher, “we are an open platform. Think YouTube.” And they pay through an Ad Revenue Program. 

It’s an experiment. As that guy who recently won the Nobel Prize said, “When you’ve got nothing, you’ve got nothing to lose.” 

I’ll let you know how it works out. Meanwhile, check out The Terrible Twelves, it’s way beyond Harry Potter. 

Ernest Hogan is the author of High Aztech, and has been published by some of the most unusual publishers and publications ever, and will probably continue to do so.

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