Blog Tour: In Real Life by Cory Doctorow

13 October, 2014 Blog Tours, Interviews, Reviews 1 comment

Blog Tour: In Real Life by Cory Doctorow

Interview with Cory Doctorow

Cory Doctorow

In your opinion, what is the difference between writing a prose novel and a graphic novel? Is one more challenging than the other?

To be honest, Jen did most of the adaptation heavy lifting here. My experience with comics writing is limited — for me, the big difference (apart from the visual stuff, which is obvious and goes without saying) is that a novel’s big move is making you believe that you can be inside another’s head. It’s literally the only artform that does this.

What was the creative process like? Did you write the story first and then Jen Wang drew the art or did you have a discussion on the progress of the story before you both did your separate things?

The original story was published about a decade ago — it was called ANDA’S GAME. Jen sent me several drafts of her excellent adaptation for editing, review and notes, and we worked it through with help from our editors at Firstsecond.

Anda, the protagonist of In Real Life, is a female gamer and the discrimination faced by female gamers is well documented. Does the graphic novel address this issue at all?


Did you do much research for this novel? Did you play any games that you really liked?

My wife, Alice Taylor, is a retired pro Quake player who played on the English national team, then went on to run the games practices of the BBC and Channel 4, and is a renowned games expert. We have every console under our TV, and she judges the BAFTA game awards most years, taking over our sitting room and playing hundreds of games.

I play some games, though not as much as I did when I worked on this and the novel FOR THE WIN, which is another take on the theme — back then, I was playing WoW, SWG, Eve, and Second Life.

About Cory Doctorow

Canadian-born Cory Doctorow is the author of the New York Times bestselling young adult novel Little Brother, and the co-editor of the popular blog BoingBoing. His other YA novels include Pirate Cinema and Homeland (2013), the sequel to Little Brother. His adult novels and short stories have won him three Locus Awards and the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer. He has been named one of the Web’s twenty-five “influencers” by Forbes Magazine and a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum. He lives in London with his wife and daughter.


Blog Tour: In Real Life by Cory DoctorowIn Real Life by Cory Doctorow
Illustrator: Jen Wang
Series: Standalone
Published by First Second on October 14, 2014
Pages: 196
Genres: Childrens', Graphic Novel
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher
Amazon Good BooksBook Depository

Anda loves Coarsegold Online, the massively-multiplayer role playing game that she spends most of her free time on. It's a place where she can be a leader, a fighter, a hero. It's a place where she can meet people from all over the world, and make friends. Gaming is, for Anda, entirely a good thing.

But things become a lot more complicated when Anda befriends a gold farmer - a poor Chinese kid whose avatar in the game illegally collects valuable objects and then sells them to players from developed countries with money to burn. This behavior is strictly against the rules in Coarsegold, but Anda soon comes to realize that questions of right and wrong are a lot less straightforward when a real person's real livelihood is at stake.

Review of In Real Life

In Real Life is about Anda, a gamer, who gets swept away by Coarsegold Online, a multiplayer roleplaying game. If you have played multiplayer roleplaying games online, you will know how very addictive they can get. Their appeal is twofold: one, the actual game and two, the social aspect of it. You get to make friends in the game. In Real Life focuses more on the social aspect of the game than the actual mechanics of it and brings in a bit of social activism into the narrative.

The art of In Real Life is bleeding fantastic. I have read Jen Wang’s previous work and loved it so I was glad to see that she was true to her style. The colours are bright, the expressions feel and look genuine and the book is just fun to look at.

Doctorow’s narrative is compelling and evinces the power of the internet. In other words, the power one person has to change or catalyze change in a country thousands of kilometers away simply by talking to or educating a person of their rights. Anda meets a young guy while playing the game and after talking to him realizes that he has a tough life in China. His job is to play Coarsegold Online and grow gold to sell…I’m still not clear on the details. Anyway, point is, he leads a tough life with a tough job and very little pay. Anda talks to him about his issues and tells him about the rights he has. At the same time, she also makes pertinent realizations about, I’d like to say, the space she occupies in the world and the privileges she may take for granted.

I thought the novel was good but ultimately, I felt that it may have oversimplified some things. And okay, I must say this, I was a bit wary of the whole Western saviour thing. I was also a bit disappointed that the whole “girls can’t be gamers!” thing didn’t come up as much as I would have liked it to. Because  issues such as how sexist the game-playing fanbase(?) is, I think a more explicit discussion on them would have been timely but that’s just me. That said, the novel has great art and makes a person rethink their situation in life, and the power of words. I recommend it.

Nafiza is a misplaced Pacific Islander who loves sunshine, pineapple and flowers. Also, books. She loves books enough that she is working to make that passion into a profession. She is a candidate for a Masters of Arts in Children's Literature and is currently working on a thesis which might be driving her crazy...crazier. She has also perfected the art of speaking about herself in third person.

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