Fiction Meets Life is an online project of mine that eventually led to the creation of the award-winning Redmonton web series that premiered last fall. My idea was to create a deeper engagement for readers by combining written and visual storytelling. Taking from my experience working for a news media company in Washington, DC, I was inspired by interactive storytelling sites produced by The New York Times and other newspapers, such as A Portrait of the Sandtown Neighborhood in Baltimore and Invisible Child.

(Side Note: There are so many great examples to share — I will definitely post more about interactive storytelling, as it’s an area I hope to continue exploring in future projects.)

These sites have added such a powerful layer to journalistic storytelling. They put real faces to an issue like immigration or poverty, making them more personal and relatable to readers. They were a collection of small bits and pieces — words, maps, audio interviews, authentic photos of where/how they lived — which put together a very intimate and detailed narrative. They made the most of digital media to create a more immersive experience for the reader that was missing from traditional formats. So naturally, I wondered why I’d never come across this amazing concept in fiction?

I wanted to create an interactive website in a similar fashion, which would be focused on the different stories of struggle of women living in a Midwestern small town. In its first phase, FML offered the stories of four young women who’ve come to realize how impossible it is to follow their dreams, after the recession hits their town.

Check out the Fiction Meets Life site

Down the road, I have plans to expand the site with interactive maps, handwritten notes, phone call recordings, and other pieces to take readers deeper into the lives of these characters who I hope represent different perspectives that deserve a voice in contemporary literature.