This week on Creative Voice, I got to talk to the awesome JC Hutchins. JC built his career as a freelance transmedia writer from the ground up, podcasting his first novel, 7TH SON, and opening it up to collaboration, and then moving on to working with Jordan Weisman on PERSONAL EFFECTS: DARK ARTS, and many other projects — so his journey is a bit of an aspirational one for me. I had the pleasure of meeting him in person at ARGFest this year, where he keynoted, and again at StoryWorld, and let me just say he’s one of the nicest, most gracious humans on the planet.
Creators are often making history with every new project they release — everything is so new! We’re finding our footing, and inventing new ways to tell stories. It’s very exciting.
You got your start by producing your novel as a podcast, and then attracting a publisher from the large audience you gathered, and a lot of what you’ve done since works because you have that audience. But how did you get an audience in the first place, as you were starting the podcast?
I was a fan of podcasts and podcasting long before I used it as a distribution channel for my work. That meant I was savvy to the influencers and best practices in the space. I studied what the best and brightest creators were already doing, noodled on how to emulate or improve upon what they were doing, and moved forward. I also busted my ass reaching out to those creators. I asked them for help spreading the word about my work, and I tried to make that evangelism as easy as possible for them.
With savvy “zero budget” promotion and compelling content, I was able to quickly build a sizable, enthusiastic fan base.
What are you working on now (that isn’t covered by an NDA!) that excites you? Any personal projects forthcoming, other than the 7th Son sequels? What makes a project exciting for you to work on?
NDAs abound at present, though I recently completed some work on Dark Score Stories, an online prequel narrative to Bag of Bones, the A&E miniseries based on Stephen King’s #1 bestseller. It was a blast, working in the storyworld of my favorite author … and meeting and working with one of my favorite actors — Pierce Brosnan — was absolutely awesome. You can experience Dark Score Stories at http://DarkScoreStories.com .
At your ARGFest keynote, you talked about “shaking your ass,” getting out there and pimping your own stuff, and doing whatever it took to please your audience. And I’m all for that, and for labours of love, but for someone just starting out, where does the money come from?
I wouldn’t know; I didn’t spend much money at all when I was promoting my work early in my career. I spent around $100 for a microphone and mixer (for my podcast). All other expenses were measured in time, effort and sweat equity. It was a one-man operation, working with a nonexistent budget.
What drives you, as a storyteller? What are you interested in, and what do you hope to accomplish?
At its simplest, I love being able to entertain — and if I’m really lucky, emotionally move — an audience. That provides both my fuel and my creative goals.
What would be your advice for an indie transmedia writer/creator?
Stop talking about creating, and start creating. Make stuff. Don’t waste time pining for things to happen. Make them happen on your own.
Where do you want the transmedia storytelling industry to go? What would you like to see happen in this community?
I hope transmedia storytelling can find legitimization beyond the marketing space. Lots of great projects are being created thanks to marketing dollars … but I’m keen to see more stories developed, created and released independently — not as “loss leader” marking attractions for upcoming films or television shows.
And finally… any chance of a picture of lapkitty with the Dragonboots?
Be sure to check out our experimental fiction project Azrael’s Stop, about a boy who must learn to live when everyone he loves has died. Updated daily at azraelsstop.com