Earlier this week, we were totally wide-eyed over Joshua Cohen, who is writing a “real-time serial novel” live, online, right now. Now, another author has decided to pen her work online — this time, via Instagram. And just in time for National Novel Writing Month!
Over the next nine months, Rachel Hulin, from Providence, Rhode Island, plans to publish her darkly funny novel, entitled Hey Harry Hey Matilda, on Instagram. The story — which centers around 30-something twins Harry, an English professor, and Matilda, an artist and wedding photographer — is being told through e-mail exchanges sent between the twins as Instagram captions. “It’s like livestreaming a novel,” Hulin told The Washington Post. “It’s like it became performance art.”
Though the photographs are mostly from Hulin’s career, she has also hired models and created images specifically for her livestreaming project. She often uses them as a way to evoke a certain mood to accompany the e-mails. “I love Instagram,” Hulin told The Washington Post. “I’m fascinated by this idea of everyone turning their lives into these daily visual narratives.”
Previously, Hulin was a photo editor and writer in New York, and six years ago, she started a blog about two characters, Harry and Matilda, before abandoning it to work on other projects such as Flying Henry, a children’s book where she edited shots of her son to make him look like he was flying. However, she kept on thinking about Harry and Matilda. . . until she eventually worked on a novel about the characters in 2014, finishing it in 2015. The novel is approximately 200 pages, but she decided to give her novel multiple dimensions by creating a newsletter, and building Matilda a wedding photography site.
“For years I worked as a photo editor, pairing images with text, and I’ve always felt that images enhance text,” Hulin told Wired. “I also love telling stories in a serial way, slowly introducing characters to readers, having them become involved and start to comment and further the story— I think the interaction of readers really enhances the telling of a story.”
Though she hopes to find a publisher soon, this is a novel (pun totally intended) way to tell a story, especially for a debut author — and it’s a little nerve-racking, Hulin says, because she has some “dicey” parts of the book coming up, and she’s not sure how her Instagram followers will react. “I like waking up and seeing what people have said. It’s very fun,” she told The Washington Post. “But that one I might post at 3 in the morning.”
That said, she did hint that because of the way she’s slowly feeding the story to her followers, her audience may have an influence on how the story plays out. “I could totally see adapting parts of the story as it progresses—unfurling it slowly lets me rethink certain passages and amend them slightly,” she told Wired. “It’s like a long, slow process of editing, with pictures.”
Follow @heyharryheymatilda on Instagram to see the story unfurl for yourself. We’re only a month into the story, so catching up will be easy!
(Images via Instagram.)