Publishing Talks: David Wilk interviews Mark Teppo about The Mongoliad

In this ongoing series of interviews, called Publishing Talks, I have been talking to book industry professionals and other smart people about the future of publishing, books, and culture.  This is a period of disruption and change for all media businesses.  We must wonder now, how will publishing evolve as our culture is affected by technology, climate change, population density, and the ebb and flow of civilization and  economics?

I believe that these Publishing Talks conversations can help us understand the outlines of what is happening in the publishing industry, and how we might ourselves interact with and influence the future of publishing as it unfolds.

These interviews give people in and around the book business a chance to talk openly and broadly about ideas and concerns that are often only talked about “around the water cooler,” at industry conventions and events, and in emails between friends.  These conversations give people inside and outside the book industry a chance to hear first hand some of the most interesting and challenging thoughts, ideas and concepts being discussed by active participants in the book business.

It’s likely that most listeners of this podcast series are aware of the innovative storytelling project called The Mongoliad.  This project, a “transmedia” collaboration of several science fiction and fantasy writers, along with their readers, and others, is one of the more far-reaching experiments in digitally enabled fiction.  There are many interesting practical elements to this project, including quality control, story and character continuity, and other issues of control.  And there are economic questions as well.

There are all sorts of bigger issues in play here as well, including the notion of author, ownership of ideas and control issues in a collaborative crowdsourcing environment, and the nature of writer and reader in a community setting.  Hopefully these issues will continue to be explored and discussed in many other venues.

Mark Teppo is the Chief Creative Officer for Subatai Corporation, which is the operator of The Mongoliad project.  Mark plots and fabricates alternate versions of historical eras for this project and others.   He is also the author of the urban fantasy series The Codex of Souls (Night Shade Books) and lives in Seattle.  His other projects include: Darkline: An on-going research and commentary site dealing with esoterica and the occult and Psychobabel, a pair of non-linear texts—The Potemkin Mosaic and The Psychobabel Folio—the Psychobabel project explores the landscape of dream, the labyrinth of linguistics, and the deconstruction of mythology.

Just after I interviewed Mark for Writerscast, Amazon and Subatai announced that Amazon will be publishing the books related to The Mongoliad.  I asked Mark to comment here to provide some additional context for our discussion.    Here is what he said:

Regarding the deal with Amazon’s new SF/F imprint, we’re thrilled that they want to bring The Mongoliad to a larger audience.  One of the
things that we’ve always said is that, for many of us, a book doesn’t really exist until you can crack it open and bury your nose in its pages.  I grew up with books, and still have a house full of them. Rooms seem strangely naked if they don’t have books in them.  Digital technology is coming to books, and e-readers are definitely going to change the market, but they don’t make physical books any less a critical part of our being.  To that end, partnering with 47North (Amazon’s new S/F imprint) to be able to produce The Mongoliad as a physical book is simply part of what we always wanted to accomplish.

On a more practical side, the e-reading market is still in its infancy.  Those of us who spend all day on the Internet easily forget that a significant part of the reading audience prefers physical texts.  We’d be remiss in our efforts to entertain everyone if we didn’t make every effort possible to let them enjoy our stories as well. Amazon’s entry into the SF/F publishing space will allow us to put the entirety of the Mongoliad on the shelves in bookstores by the end of 2012, which–in publishing terms–is almost overnight.

I think you will find this discussion about The Mongoliad well worthwhile.  It is a really interesting project being done by a very smart and accomplished group of people.  I’ve enjoyed reading it as the series has evolved, and recommend it to anyone interested in historical fiction and visionary writing or who might be looking for inspiration to develop other innovative models for digital storytelling.

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  1. […] friend David Wilk at Writerscast conducts a podcast interview with the creator of the innovative and fantastical storytelling […]

  2. […] Writers Cast Podcast. David Wilk and I chatted a few weeks ago about the state of publishing. We touch on The Mongoliad, of course, and I soapbox a bit about the changes I see coming in the publishing industry. Given Amazon’s announcement about 47North earlier this week, you can better understand some of my longer pauses in the podcast. Oh, I wanted to share, but just had no idea when the news would drop. […]



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