Bio:Storycasting.com is the creation of Jeff Reid, of Mesa, Arizona. Late 50's, long-married, stable employment; proud husband, father, and grandfather. I'm the oldest guy among my friends who is active on Shelfari, Facebook, and Twitter. I'm an engineer, so straight-line thinking works great, but I'm also an inventor with three U.S. patents, so I sometimes think outside the box. Although we've had dogs and cats and fish and mice, we're too independent to put up with a pet right now - but I sure like to visit kittens and puppies! I cry with good books, good movies, and good friends of both genders. I still play guitar and sing to my honey, read constantly, and want all my favorite books to be made into good movies.
VWC: How did you come up with the idea of making a website where authors and readers can provide a fantasy cast for books?
JEFF: I arrived at the website idea with two book series particularly in mind: the Harry Bosch novels by Michael Connelly, and the Crawford of Lymond novels by Dorothy Dunnett. I expected to see a website doing this "fantasy casting" thing, and was disappointed to find only text postings on a few author and fan sites. I gathered a few supporters, and we launched Storycasting in May of 2008. Our first author to cast, that very day, was Catherine Ryan Hyde. The site is always free and non-spamming, but we do limit members to 13 and over.
VWC: What drives authors to want their books on your site?
JEFF: Well, the main request drive so far has been the readers. We get contacted every day by readers who want to have fun casting an author's works. After the books are in the system, we contact the authors and give them the opportunity to cast their own work. The authors then send their fans through a blog post or Tweet. But many authors discover the site simply as a reader, and then ask to have their own works added.
VWC: Where does Storycasting fit in the book promotion picture?
JEFF: Storycasting probably won't drive initial book sales (yet), but it does give fiction authors a fun way to link with fans - and it's free. It's not really about the current book, but about the next book; and if you can get the fans to invest time and imagination into your characters through a casting process, you can hook them for that next book. Some organizers, like IndieGoGo.com, even suggest using the fan base as an investor base for an indie movie push, and it helps to start with fans who are already thinking "movie".
VWC: What are some of your favorite books, and who do you see in the main character roles?
JEFF: Except for when I was finishing my degree, I read 15-30 novels a year, including everything by Robert Heinlein and Stephen King. Starting with Harry Bosch, I wanted Kevin Spacey - he seemed the right kind of heroic, bitter, lonely misfit; wanting - but bad at - relationships. And he's not a tall guy, because Bosch was a tunnel-rat in 'Nam. These days I'm reading more romance, urban fantasy, and sci-fi.
VWC: You mentioned your hope that literature teachers can use Storycasting to inject some "movie fun" into books. Have you had any success stories from teachers yet?
JEFF: We've had a few teachers send a whole class to cast a work, but they didn't comment at the site, doing all that in the classroom instead. The next version of the site will have a "Teachers Start Here" link, with some lesson ideas. However, most teachers and librarians simply don't know the site even exists. We think that all group reading programs could benefit from the site, including classrooms, reading groups, book clubs, and the "One Book" community reading programs.
VWC: How can authors get their books listed on Storycasting?
JEFF: Send an email to email@example.com, and Holly Hughes will summon The Crew to start putting them in. Each author also gets an Author login, so that the system will let them cast their own works "authoritatively". We'll put anything on the site for which we have an author, title, and synopsis. That includes poetry, video games, short stories, graphic novels, and podcasts. If it tells a story and has a cast, it should be on Storycasting.com.
VWC: What are your plans for BEA? Are there any particular authors you hope to connect with?
JEFF: In the last year, nearly 100 authors have come on and cast their own work, and I'm checking with all of them to see who's going to BEA. I have good relationships with several of them, and with the reviewers and promoters who help us make contact with the author community. I'll also meet with any author who wants to see me and get their stuff on the website.