Various Media Enrich Marisha Pessi’s Night Film

Night Film DecoderMarisha Pessi’s new thriller Night Film was eagerly anticipated by fans of her debut blockbuster, Special Topics in Calamity Physics. I picked it up the first day it came out—and I’ve been plowing through its 600+ pages every chance I get.

A compelling addition to Pessi’s latest novel is her use of imagery and technology to both enhance and promote the story. Like many other books, there is a compelling book trailer—which almost feels more like a movie trailer in terms of production. (For more about book trailers, reference this previous article, where I talked about best practices for book trailers.) And Random House provides readers a great excerpt through Scribd.

But it is the inclusion of extra content that helps round out the story. Within the book, the author weaves faux news clips from familiar sources (like the New York Times, Vanity Fair and TIME), “found” images, and more into the narrative more giving the reader not only a familiar context for characters, but also a visual reference—unusual for a novel. Initially, I wasn’t sure how to feel about this—I usually prefer to first conjure the characters in my mind’s eye. But there was something about this that made the story even more compelling.

Perhaps the most compelling promotional tool is a smart phone app called the Night Film Decoder that readers can use to uncover clues about the story. Within the book, readers will find a subtle bird symbol on some pages. When you scan this symbol with your smart phone, a play button will appear on the screen. You can use this to unlock additional multimedia content not included in the book. Sample “easter eggs” include audio, a short story not included in the book, extra images, and more. This app works with both print and eBook versions of Night Film.

Although the response has been mixed (NPR compared it favorably to a DVD with extras to enhance the experience, but Gawker roundly bashed it as a distracting gimmick), it does beg the question of—if, in a world increasingly dominated by digital content—multiple mediums will play a role in the novels of our future.

Lisa Hazen is a Chicago-based Web Designer specializing in author sites. You can find her on Twitter, Facebook, or the WWW. [email protected]



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