In this post, Online Novel continues highlighting authors who are part of the Jukepop Serials family.
The second of the Jukepop authors to be featured is Nick Bryan , author of “Hobson & Choi” (http://jukepopserials.com/home/read/431), an ongoing black comedy/detective serial which began on Jukepop in February 2013 and has gone on to place reliably in the mid-20s of their monthly top 30. This interview was collaborative, meaning Nick had free reign to creatively interpret my questions…
Nick Bryan, you’re the author of detective saga Hobson & Choi from Jukepop Serials. Can you pitch us your serial as quickly as possible?
On the surface, Hobson & Choi is an OTT detective story, in which two mismatched partners – a worldweary detective and a teenage girl – look into a strange murder case where the perpetrator appears to be a large dog. There’s a lot of fun banter between them and some silly yet dangerous situations.
However, it’s also a little about roles – the characters are very self-aware, Choi in particular knows she’s a teenager trying to be an adult in a very grown-up world, and both of them have incidents in their past which have smashed them into certain roles. So there will be scenes dealing with that, but most of the time, it’s a fun adventure in which we swing from tense scenes in dark, bloody buildings to a whole chapter about Hobson eating breakfast in a terrible pub. It’s relevant to the plot, I swear.
Tell us more about yourself – what are your interests beyond detectives, roles and breakfast? Any other writing projects at the moment?
I live in London, I work part-time in computers, and am otherwise dedicated to writing, with short breaks for board games, TV, badminton and a nice pint. The stories have been a passion from an early age – I’ve got a masters in Creative Writing, not to mention four or five finished novels, although only one that I might consider putting out there.
Usually, I write genre fiction, often crime, superhero or sci-fi/fantasy, with a high-concept or black comedy twist. I’m currently working on a modernised twist on the Faustian deal concept, my maybe-finished novel is about an online dating site which doubles as a front for terrorism. That kind of thing.
How did you hear about Jukepop Serials? What made them the right home for Hobson & Choi?
Hobson & Choi is very geared towards the episodic format, I’m a huge fan of serialised stories with big cliffhangers, thanks to all the TV and comics I’ve consumed over the years. Jukepop seem to be all about bringing serials back (like a non-sexy Justin Timberlake chopped into pieces) and I liked both that concept and the idea of getting paid, I admit.
I do actually have a failed pitch to Jukepop in my past – one of the afore-mentioned abandoned novels – so there are quality standards to be met. Jukepop have always been good about replying to emails too, although they’ve only ever been technical issues. Beyond approving the first chapter, they’ve left content and schedule to the author, which suits me fine. Obviously, that does mean you need a certain self-discipline.
And in terms of how I found them, I was just cruising Duotrope. Sorry if that lacks romance.
That’s okay, it fits the Justin Timberlake analogy. So what’s the process behind it? Do you have a complete novel to divide up, or are you writing as you go?
I am writing Hobson & Choi as I go along, but have a detailed outline – particularly when writing a story based around a mystery, I personally need to know roughly where I’m going. In the great “plotting vs pantsing” debate I’ve seen on writing blogs, I have to side with plotting, especially because I’m British, so when you say “pants”, we think of our underwear.
My pants aside, I’ve had the John Hobson and Angelina Choi characters in my head for a while – they’re named after unrelated cartoon animals “Hobson & Choy” from an old Sonic The Hedgehog UK comic – and the current group of suspects are from an old urban sci-fi novel. I always use my characters, even just as crunchy dinner for a hungry wolf.
Have you had much feedback from readers? What information does Jukepop provide about engagement?
Well, there’s the much touted voting system, obviously, which I try not to obsess over but is at the core of the site. I don’t want to get a reputation as a spammer, as I know genre web fiction online is a small community – I try and have faith that readers will see the “Vote chapter” button themselves without me needing to command them to click every time I post a link. Maybe this is naive, I don’t know.
Aside from number of votes as a quick way of seeing interest, we get stats on how many individuals are voting on our serial. Outside of all that, it’s down to comments on Jukepop and other sites. I’ve heard from a few readers on Twitter who seem to be really enjoying it, a couple of reviews on our Web Fiction Guide page have given me both warm feelings and constructive advice.
So some feedback so far, I’m always up for more. If you enjoy the serial, do get in touch, leave a review or comment on Jukepop or WFG, tell your friends, etc. Even when I’m not worried about my votes, a comment from someone who’s clearly following the story means a huge amount. Still, I gotta add, do vote on Jukepop, it helps not just my bank balance, but the visibility of the serial.
And lastly, what’s coming up in the future? Is there an end in sight for Hobson & Choi? Will you do another serial? And if so, on Jukepop?
Hobson & Choi will end one day, but not yet. The current mystery is merely the first story arc – I’m looking forward to putting them through their paces on smaller cases before the next epic. However, Jukepop’s six-month exclusivity on earlier chapters will start running out soon, and I’m planning to splash them around, on other writing sites and maybe different media too, try and get some attention. I did a live reading of the first chapter in a London pub which went well, so maybe I could promote off the internet more.
No other projects in the near future – the Faustian novel might see the internet eventually, but I’m barely a third through right now. If I were doing another serial, especially if H&C was still going, I’d be tempted to try it on another site – either my own blog or elsewhere – to try and reach the widest audience possible. Either way, that won’t be for a while, and I’d seriously consider whatever Jukepop incentives existed at the time first, as they have been very good to me.
Nick’s story “Hobson & Choi” can be read at https://www.jukepopserials.com/home/read/431