As well as marking ten years of blogging, December 2017 also marks the tenth anniversary of the online publication of my very first novel as Huckleberry Hax: AFK.
AFK, is set in SL and follows the exploits of a Second Life detective. It was written for the November 2007 NaNoWriMo and published online very soon after. You can still read it for free right here and that includes the Kindle or ePub versions. It was a transformational piece of work for me: because AFK got read and liked and commented on, it turned me from an aspiring writer to one with an audience. It changed the way I think about myself and my limits, and I will always be grateful to it as a result. I will always also be grateful to SL for both inspiring me to write it and then providing me with the space and audience to grow my new identity as a novelist.
It also has – I think – the best twist ending I’ve ever written. It’s been downloaded thousands of times and I still receive messages from readers about it today. I’ve written and published three sequels to date and all four have received four stars or more out of five at amazon.com.
If you’ve never read it, and would like to browse, all you have to do is visit this page and scroll down to the bottom, where you can have a browse through the online version, courtesy of Issuu.
If you have read it and its sequels, stay tuned over the next couple of days for a MAJOR announcement!
In the meantime, here are a few fun facts about AFK:
- 25 paperback copies of the novel were left in random locations at the Second Life Community Convention 2009 in San Francisco.
- The novel was set as a text to study by a professor of English Literature in an American university one year.
- A number of readers contacted me in the couple of years following AFK’s publication to ask if I was an alt of someone they knew (since the SL dialogue so closely mirrored situations they had experienced).
- A number of readers came to the conclusion that I had to be a woman in real life.
- The twist ending did not occur to me until I was about halfway through the novel.
- Topics covered in the novel and its successors include playing SL in the opposite gender, detecting alts, falling in love (and getting married) in SL, the use of SL to communicate covert information and the use of one account by more than one person.
- One of the ideas presented in the novel was of a scripted watch to be given to a partner which would then listen in on his/her chat and send a copy of this to the original owner: many years later a friend of mine showed me a piece of SL jewellery given to her by someone and designed by an actual SL detective which did exactly this.
- Another idea proposed was that intelligence agencies might be active in SL. Several years later, a memo leaked by Edward Snowden revealed that both the CIA and the FBI had indeed been carrying out operations in SL.
- The original front cover image – used until a redesign in January 2016 – was a photograph taken (an actual photograph taken with a physical camera of my computer monitor in order to get a more blurred pixelated effect) of an avatar actually called Inch Sideways (see the never-before-published image below for proof).