Creative Writing Projects
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Chapbooks and Novels, 1994-2004

From 1994 to 2004 I pursued a career as a creative writer, and ended up publishing three novels and around three dozen chapbooks of stories, performance poetry, essays, erotica, travelogues and more. Unfortunately I haven't updated the ebook versions of these since 2002, which makes them horribly out of date, so I've decided to take them all offline until I have a chance to lay them out with current technology and republish them all. Check back here at a later date for more.

Books Since 2007

I've also published several books since retiring from creative writing for a living, many of them in an editor position through my arts organization, the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography, and found at the CCLaP website instead of here. Below is the full current list.

The View From Here (2015; editor)
Chicago After Dark (2014; editor)
The King in Yellow (2014; introduction)
A Podcast Dreadful (2012; editor)
American Wasteland (2011; editor)
Now We Are Six: Photographs (2010)
The CCLaP 100, Volume 1 (2009)
The Great iPod Indie Rock Challenge of 2008 (2008)

Hyperfiction

Back when I was pursuing a career as a creative writer, the trendy '90s genre known as "hyperfiction" was one of but many areas in which I worked; among other accolades, in 1999 I was the recipient of a CAAP Grant for my work in hyperfiction (an annual grant for Chicago-area artists, sponsored jointly by the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and the Illinois Arts Council), the first time in the history of the CAAP program that the grant had been awarded to an online writer. I have also had my work singled out for recognition by the Electronic Literature Organization, and have had various projects of mine assigned to numerous reading lists over the years in college-level experimental-literature courses, as well as numerous papers and presentations written about my work.

The term had no universally-agreed definition; most would agree that hyperfiction involves the act of telling a story, in a way that's different from the traditional Western way of doing so, but it is there that serious disagreements would start arising. I myself chose to focus on three types of Western traditions in my own hyperfiction, and how they could be manipulated in new ways: 1) the tradition of telling a story in a linear order, with events A causing events B, leading to events C; 2) the tradition of presenting the story's pages in a linear order, with page 2 physically bound so as to come after page 1, read from the upper-left corner to the lower-right; and 3) the tradition of telling a story in a three-act structure, with a "climax" that is of more importance than the character set-up that led up to it.

Below is a full list of all the hyperfiction projects I wrote over the years, along with a brief summary of the project, what type of hyperfiction I consider it to be, and how the project came about. They are listed in order of what I think is their quality, with those I consider the best projects listed near the top. Note that none of the source files of these projects have been updated since the year they were originally published, now making them fun little time capsules of early web design as well.

Creamed Corn (1998). My only full "hypernovel" (or book-length hyperfiction project), although at 30,000 words it should technically be called a "hypernovella" instead. This is the story of six acquaintances who all attend the same seedy urban indie-rock club one rainy night, to see their favorite band "Creamed Corn," and all the trouble that develops as a result. It is told simultaneously from all six characters' points of view, with the story hopping backwards and forwards through time, much more like if you were actually in the club with the characters at the same time, learning the story bit-by-bit by eavesdropping on the conversations.

The Pillow Book of Jason Pettus (2000). 45 very short stories about being a kid, each on their own page and linked to the others through causally-related phrases. This was my first project to garner mainstream press attention, in that it was the first one available in hyperlink format for mobile devices (specifically as a custom channel at the pre-mobile-internet service AvantGo.com).

The Party Game (2001). A fun example of what can be done with hyperfiction besides traditional literary projects. Inspired by the A.I. related "Who Killed Evan Chan?" viral online game, in 2001 my friend Jude Baker and I decided to throw a costumed masquerade party in Chicago, for which one would be required to solve an online puzzle in order to learn its location and attend. This project is the puzzle as it appeared to the potential guests; the path to solving the puzzle has been left, although of course the party is now long-over and its location removed from the solution page.

The Heat Can Sure Do Some Crazy Things To You Sometimes (1997). An experimental "story cycle," in which each of the 25 very short stories relate to the others in strange, sometimes only causal ways; this is designed in a more simple style than later projects, with random stories linked to at the bottom of each page instead of contextually within the story text. This project was specifically envisioned during its creation as a simultanous hyperfiction project for the web, book project for print, and performance project for the stage; and indeed, a standalone book version of this project also exists, and I have indeed performed many of its stories live on a stage over the years.

The Tao of Now (1999). Another experimental book, this one combining the rhythm and pattern of slam poetry with the length and subject matter of traditional short fiction. Like the former project, this was envisioned simultaneously as a print, hyperfiction and performance project; the hyperfiction element is about as simple as hyperfiction gets, with a full clickable table of contents running at the bottom of every page found.

The Heatseeker (1998). A long-form performance poetry project, written in a formal style of my own invention called the "Jasonette," commissioned by the Mental Graffiti poetry slam for special performance at Chicago's Madbar in the spring of 1998. Like the previous project, the style of hyperfiction used here is about as simple as it gets; the entire table of contents is simply linked to individually at the bottom of each page found. Like the others, standalone print and ebook versions of this project also exist.