Friday, September 04, 2009

CSI creator releases 'digi-novel'

Anthony Zuiker, creator of the CSI: Crime Scene Investigation TV series, is creating a novel, movie and interactive website called Level 26.

With his crime story about a serial killer who wears a full-body latex suit he wants to push the boundaries of the traditional publishing world by realizing a new concept he calls the "digi-novel."

The novel which comes out on Tuesday in traditional book format will prompt readers to go to the website to view the videos and join the online community.

The idea for the first book Level 26: Dark Origins came to Zuiker during a three-month TV writers strike in 2007-2008. Duane Swierczynski wrote the novel and Zuiker wrote the book's outline and directed the videos.

Daniel Buran, formerly cast in CSI, plays Steve Dark, the hero who is out to get the serial killer named Sqweegel. Michael Ironside, who recently played General Ashdown in Terminator Salvation, plays Tom Riggins, Dark's mentor at the special investigations group. The female lead, Dark's wife, Sibby, is played by Tauvia Dawn who was another former actor on CSI.

The digi-novel is called Level 26 after the categorization system used by law enforcers, which classifies premeditated torture-murderers at Level 25. Sqweegel is a new kind of killer beyond even the most heinous murderers out there and he's called Level 26.

Readers can read the book and contribute to the story online. At Level26.com fans can create their own profile, read actor interviews and read blog posts about real crimes featuring Q&As with detectives and real serial killers.

Level26.com's latest contest invited readers to try out photo-storytelling with photos and captions. The top story winner will have their idea written into a 500-word short story by Zuiker.

The site also has a behind-the-scenes video explaining how the cinematic clips will link to the novel. Readers will be prompted away from the book to the videos and discussions online and then back to the novel, said Zuiker. "This may change how we consume books and maybe it will revolutionize publishing," he said in the featurette.

The future of the entertainment business will be the convergence of different mediums, said Zuiker.

People need more choices in how they consume their entertainment because their attention spans are becoming shorter, said Zuiker.

Zuiker imagines a world five years from now in which every TV show has a microsite that will continue to give viewers an experience beyond the one-hour show, engaging them 24/7, he said.

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