Category Archives: Engen Books

Layered Snake: What Writers Can Learn from Metal Gear Solid

Hideo Kojima, the creative force behind the Metal Gear Solid series and, most recently, Death Stranding, is one the gaming industry’s great auteurs. With each entry in the MGS series, he pushed the envelope with regards to how a video game can tell a story. In this blog post I’m going to talk about some strategies writers can learn from Kojima and MGS.

There’s a lot to say about MGS and the many themes and ideas Kojima manages to touch on. Stuff like post-humanism, censorship, war, individualism, and gaming itself, which barely scratching the surface. What I want to discuss in this post is the series’ tone. Kojima manages to cast a wide net with his storytelling because he’s a master of layering concepts.

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Everyone loves Kojima

When Metal Gear Solid starts, it feels like you’re playing a Tom Clancy-style techno thriller, which was very popular at the time. (However, MGS is more stealth-focused than, say, Rainbow Six, etc.) There’s a high emphasis on verisimilitude. Playing as Solid Snake, the game’s protagonist, you must sneak around enemies and use various tools and weapons. As the story develops, you learn about a conspiracy to develop nuclear weapons, post-Cold War tensions. Yadda yadda yadda. So far, pretty conventional.

Then things start to get weird. You encounter a cyborg ninja who may be a long dead former comrade. And then you battle Psycho Mantis, a master of telekinesis and telepathy. The boss fight is pretty legendary in gaming. In a fourth wall-breaking maneuver, you have to change your controller’s ports so Mantis can’t anticipate your moves. I, and most others, had never seen such a post-modern design in a video game before.

It gets wackier from there. There’s a conspiracy about cloning, a sniper battle involving wolves, a Gatling gun-wielding shaman. It’s pretty awesome. I highly recommend playing it or at least watching a playthrough.

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Mantis could read your memory card and comment on the games you’ve played, how much you save progress, etc

What sets MGS apart from its peers is how Kojima manages to bring in melodramatic anime influences couched in a realist setting. This is what I mean by layering. MGS probably would’ve been modestly successful by just being a military stealth game. What elevates it into becoming a classic is how Kojima brings in these other influences. What amazes me is how seamlessly Kojima transitions from one style to another. Then, by opening up the story to these different influences, Kojima is able to explore more ideas and themes.

I first learned about the concept of layering from Scott Adams, the creator of Dilbert (yes, I know). He talks about when he first created the cartoon he recognized that he was a good, but not great, artist; he knew a fair bit about business, having worked in an office; and he had a pretty good sense of humour. He wasn’t great at any one of these things in particular, but when he layered them he was able to achieve great success.

Layering can therefore be a powerful tool for writers, especially for those who don’t want to write purely in one genre or style. It’s also a great way to combine genres in new and unexpected ways.  In his Stanford commencement speech, Steve Jobs famously said “You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future.” That’s why I find Kojima so inspiring. He shows that you can connect the dots, no matter how disparate they seem.

 

 

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Duplicity | Kit Sora’s Storytime

For week 8 I was determined to get outside to shoot- I’d been going a little stock crazy, and if I’m unable to shoot outside for prolonged periods of time, no one has a good time! I also find it refreshing, and somewhat inspiring. Everything somehow looks and feels more magical when outside. I’m sure there are still a million other concepts I could come up with to shoot inside, but my heart was pulling for something outside!

I had originally planned on doing some form of giant key concept last year, however things went askew and it eventually fell onto the back burner. So, it was the perfect idea to pick up for this week! I decided Friday night that the Key was my prop, and created the base with bits found around the gallery! The tube once held canvas, and the blades are scraps from a frame! My dear coworker Chad was kind enough to trim them down for me to the perfect lengths! Continue reading Duplicity | Kit Sora’s Storytime

Engen Books acquires eBook and Audiobook rights to the work of Bestselling Author Helen C. Escott

i am funny helen escottEngen Books is proud to announce that they have brokered a deal with Helen C. Escott for the digital media rights to her catalogue of bestselling titles, including I Am Funny Like That, Operation: Wormwood, and Operation: Vanished.

Since August 2018, Escott has risen to be the most popular, most sold, and most read author in Atlantic Canada. In that same month, Escott’s Operation: Wormwood was listed as the top selling book from Indigo’s Newfoundland locations by Atlantic Books Today.

“We’re immensely proud to have Helen C. Escott’s work on our digital media platform,” said Engen founder Matthew LeDrew. “Escott is an amazingly talented writer with a gift for the thrilling and the funny in equal measures. It’s rare that an author can swing for both those extremes and knock both out of the park so completely.”

In addition to its commercial success, Operation: Wormwood was shortlisted for the 2019 Arthur Ellis Best First Crime Novel Award.

Helen describes herself as an International Woman of Mystery and Crime Writer. She is on a one-woman crime spree in the literary world. Look for more from Engen Books and Helen C. Escott in the coming weeks and months.

“Very excited to announce that Engen Books will now be taking over the worldwide distributing of the Ebook & audiobooks for Operation Vanished, Operation Wormwood & I am Funny Like That,” said Escott. “Flanker Press Ltd. will be be the publisher of all my print books. These two amazing publishing companies have joined forces to ensure that as an author, I get a place on the literary world stage. Thank you Garry Cranford Jerry Cranford & Matthew LeDrew.”


Reviews for Helen C. Escott’s work:

“What an absolutely fantastic book! Such a clever and original idea, with thoroughly likable (and some definitely hate-able!) characters; easy to read, completely engaging – a page turner without a doubt. If I could give it 10/10 I would. I look forward to reading further work by Ms. Escott and eagerly await the release of Operation Vanished.”
— Nicole Little, contributor to Flights from the Rock and Kit Sora: The Artobiography

Operation: Wormwood is one heck of a thriller” — The Telegram

Winner: “Black Gold” by Ryan Hunt | Kit Sora Flash Fiction Photography Contest

After much deliberation, Engen Books is proud to announce the winner of the August 2019 Kit Sora Flash Fiction Photography Contest: Ryan Hunt with the story, Black Gold!

Ryan Hunt is an engineer from Nottingham, England who writes in his spare time. He is currently working on his debut novel, The Final Carnivore, a story about horrible people given absolute power, and those who rise to stop them. You can follow him on Twitter  @RJHuntWrites.

We had three judges for this collection: Continue reading Winner: “Black Gold” by Ryan Hunt | Kit Sora Flash Fiction Photography Contest

Winner: “Cycles” by Melissa Bishop | Kit Sora Flash Fiction Photography Contest

After much deliberation, Engen Books is proud to announce the winner of the July 2019 Kit Sora Flash Fiction Photography Contest: Melissa Bishop with his story, Cycles!

Melissa Bishop lives in St. John’s but spends a lot of time at her cabin in Georgetown, where inspiration is often discovered on woodland walks. She likes finding the magic in everyday, mostly through reading, writing, hiking and spending time with family and friends.

We had one spectacular guest judge for this collection:


TraceyWaddletonTracey Waddleton is a Newfoundland fiction writer who splits her time between St. John’s and Montreal. A draft of her collection Send More Tourists… the Last Ones Were Delicious shortlisted for the 2013 NL Credit Union Fresh Fish Award for Emerging Writers. In 2014, stories of hers won both second and third place in the Cuffer Prize Competition, and she was the recipient of the ArtsNL Lawrence Jackson Writer’s Award in 2015. Waddleton is working on her first novel. Her first book of short fiction, Send More Tourists… the Last Ones Were Delicious, is on sale now. Continue reading Winner: “Cycles” by Melissa Bishop | Kit Sora Flash Fiction Photography Contest

Swamp| Kit Sora’s Storytime

For the first time in a while! Gosh! Drew abandoned me for Gander, and I’ve been busy shooting, editing, prepping to stand, and prepping for my own wedding! I’ve also completed artwork for an upcoming show (tonight/tomorrow @ vertical xpression actually!), shot a Mer’By’s month for the new calendar (y’all are gonna die when you see it!), attended a bachelorette, worked my regular dayjob & slept a little in between! The hecticness isn’t gonna go away anytime soon, so you get extra snaps this week to make up for the lack of updates!

This weeks image started with a sketch on the back of a gallery business card- it just came to me! Why be a mermaid when I could be a strange humanoid tentacle creature thing? Mixing it up a little is okay, right? So the same day I came up with the sketch we adventured to find POOL NOODLES, and I was determined to make them look like tentacles (They were bright orange, and more photos of that exist,… somewhere..Thanks to Louisa for the single one I have so far!~ )! I youtubed for a good while before I found something -similar- to what I wanted, and along the way it was modified! Continue reading Swamp| Kit Sora’s Storytime

Amazing Fall releases from Engen Books!

2019 has been a roller-coaster so far for Engen, but we’re in no way through yet! We’ve got huge new titles, sequels to some of your all-time favorites, and shocking new reveals coming your way!

First, as many of you already know and have preordered, Zombies on the Rock: The Republic of Newfoundland will be released on September 6 to eBook and print platforms. This astonishing third entry in Paul Carberry’s Zombies on the Rock series brings Eric and Dana closer to the destruction of the community they’re established than ever before! Who will live — and who won’t — in this third volume? Read to find out! Continue reading Amazing Fall releases from Engen Books!