Weighing my way through Jerome de Groot’s The Historical Novel, I read of an interesting phenomena which he calls ‘extratextual elements’ designed to serve a community of faithful readers.
“The books of O’Brian and Cornwell, for instance, are marketed as part of a series, branded so that the readership can purchase familiar books and collect the entire set. There are numerous official fan clubs, and those who are interested in Cornwell’s creation can read Mark Adkin’s Sharpe Companion (1998) and his Sharpe Cut (2006), an introduction to the television series. Adkin’s text is an historical guide to the military elements of each Sharpe novel … with images, maps, factual narratives and biographical accounts.”
Apparently, another writer offers similar materials to augment O’Brian’s naval stories. De Groot goes on to say that “these secondary materials buttress the authenticity of the novels, ascribing them a gravitas and a meaningfulness … crucial to the male historical novel”.
Often writers do this with blogs and websites – for free – but what I thought interesting was the opportunity to bring such material together as a product to be sold alongside your novel. If companion materials work for a writer leveraging the novels of someone else, would they not also work for the original author?
Just wondering. What do you think?
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