[Guest blog] An author’s view: Sally Gardner on Maggot Moon Digital

Personally I don’t think it matters how you read or what you read with, as long as you read. The book will always be there, I don’t believe it will disappear or be frightened away by technology. No, it is far too magical for that. I think the interactive book has arrived as a loving bridegroom to take away the book’s virginity. Its role is to enhance the reading experience and it does do something extraordinary. It gives the author a chance to add to an idea they have created, to share their story in an incredibly personal way.

I have been longing for years to try and show the non-dyslexic world what it is like to be dyslexic, how we see words, what the gift it is and to try and make it seen in a positive light rather than as a disability. At last here is the technology that allows me to that, here is the vision I can share.  It has also pulled in and expanded various inspirations behind the book, including primary sources, like Churchill’s letters, a timeline of some of the world’s cruelest tyrannies, unwritten histories, animated sentences, characters as interpreted by sculptors, independent videos made by youth groups, theories about the brain, puzzles…the list goes on.

All this wouldn’t have been possible without the amazing Sara O’Connor. The minute I met her I felt here was someone who was going to fight to make this idea work. She understood straight away what I wanted to do and we worked together closely from start to finish. The next thing I knew she and her team where buried deep under piles of research into dyslexia. She was horrified by all the rubbish that is talked about dyslexia and the money that people try to extract online for supposed ‘tests’ to see if your child is or isn’t dyslexic.

The more we all talked, the broader and more ambitious our ideas became. Together we began to see what we could and couldn’t do. It has been an extraordinary learning process for both of us and the end result has made my toes tingle with delight. I am so proud of the Maggot Moon Multi-touch edition; I really love the way it’s laid out with a very clever signage system for image, music and video.

I still believe that above all you need a well-written story, the digital version in no way diminishes that, far from it. In my humble opinion it demands it. For if the story doesn’t grab you, all people will do is shimmer through the iBook, tap on all the extra content, and leave it. When the story is strong, the extra content allows for an almost four dimensional experience of the book.

I remember in the dark ages after I left Central St Martins, a friend of mine went to work on music videos. A lot of people told him he was wasting his time, no one would be interested in that, it was the music counted.

This then is a gauntlet thrown down to novelists in the digital age. In fact, I can’t wait to take up the challenge again. I will just have to hurry up and write the next book. For the possibilities are endless, or, as Standish Treadwell would say, they are as boundless as the stars.

Come and hear Sally talk about Seeing the World Differently, and see the digital edition in action, at our special event with Booktrust at the Freeword Centre, London on 11th October. Click here for more information and to book a FREE ticket.

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2 responses to “[Guest blog] An author’s view: Sally Gardner on Maggot Moon Digital

  1. Dyslexia fascinates me. I did Teacher Training a few years ago and during research for one project, I ended up straying into Dyslexia research and I’ve had a big interest ever since. I hate the idea of someone not being to find a book for them, which is why my ears have perked up with your new digital book. I’ve been thinking hard but I have to confess, I haven’t come round to really understanding it as a gift yet, although I’m researching to try and find out why it can be seen that way. I don’t like not understanding something!

    I’m looking forward to the event and seeing the digital book in action – I wonder if it’s principles can be used elsewhere for people who have a difficulty with words other than dyslexia? Or could it be used sideways, and not necessarily be used just for stories? From the sounds of it, what you’ve created could be revolutionary! So excited to see it!

  2. Pingback: Maggot Moon by Sally Gardner (Hot Key Books) | emmareadsstories

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