Late last month, via scribd, Rachel Bell published The Islamic Takeover of 2013, a collaborative e-book between herself and man of many words, Austin Islam. Curious as I am, I asked Rachel a few questions about the book, and in return she gave me this exclusive video to post alongside the resulting interview.
How long did you two work on this project?
It’s hard to say how long Austin and I worked on the project, because I feel like it progressed, conceptually and actually, as our relationship did. There are several times in our conversation history where we said ‘ebook. definitely ebook’ in a sort of self-admiring way of complimenting our own clever back and forth.
Was Austin active in the physical creation of the book?
Austin helped physically make one page, the very first page, when I was staying with him in Texas. Obviously the book couldn’t have happened without him loving me and talking to me for a long time, so I would certainly say he’s integral to it.
Was this book initially conceived as a record of your entire relationship, or did you have to adapt the tone of the book as things ran their course?
The book was initially conceived to be a way of documenting how we fell in love and how two humans relate to one another in a world of new communication greatly facilitated by the internet. After talking about making the book casually for a long time, I exported to .csv our entire conversation history from text message, facebook conversation and took screenshots of our interaction on the Voxer walkie talkie app. I made the pages with magazine clippings before we ended our relationship, and then decided that it would tell a more moving/conclusive story if I included an email to explain how it came to a head.
Why did you decide to charge $3* for the book, and why via scribd?
I can answer that question two ways. I decided to charge money for the book because I am poor, and because it is highly revealing…sort of like getting into a nice bar or something, I felt like there ought to be something to guarantee that anyone reading the book was genuinely interested in finding out what I had to say. I don’t know how to say that concisely, really. I used $3 because it’s a good ‘impulse buy’ price, and because I don’t feel comfortable asking any more than that. Scribd seemed like the easiest platform for distribution, although I also think the medium would be really enjoyable if read as a print copy, since it is so image-dense.
How do you feel 2013 has effected you as a writer/artist, do you see this book as a summation of that period? /What are your plans for the next half of 2013?
Jesus, thinking, ‘I am already halfway into 2013’ seems almost depressing. I’m currently in the process of moving back to Chicago, the city I love best. From there on I plan to be happy and keep creating things because that’s all I’ve ever done and I have always loved to create.
As an aside, I want to express how absolutely positive releasing this book has been for me. It was not only an excellent way to thoroughly explore my feelings about a ‘failed’ relationship, but it was cathartic. Having someone I’ve interacted with minimally on the internet tell me that a piece of art I threw myself into resonated with them so completely is amazing. Every time someone told me that they were moved by the book I felt more and more like some kind of mermaid. It has been the most rewarding thing I have done in a while and has helped me feel hope and reminded me what is worth my time and energy. Keep thinking, ‘my therapist would be proud.’
* The book is now available for free via scribd.com