Dunsborough author gains support for experimental book from Kickstarter

Experimenting: Tim Hawken's novel 'Spellraiser' uses a world first format. Picture: Supplied.
Experimenting: Tim Hawken's novel 'Spellraiser' uses a world first format. Picture: Supplied.

The power of social media has brought one author and illustrator together, with the public raising $3000 in three days to support their 'experimental novel'.

Dunsborough author Tim Hawken used to hate social media, and had little care for sharing pictures of food and outings.

"I felt I needed to do it to promote my work, but I was posting stuff that doesn't relate at all," he said.

But two years ago, things changed when he began using social media to connect with artists, and share short 100 word stories.

"They're called drabbles. Stories of exactly 100 words. I reached out to a few artists that I was following, and said, 'do you mind if I post my story with your art attached?'"

Mr Hawken's Instagram account quickly grew, with thousands of followers flooding to his page as he posted dark sci-fi stories, accompanied by pictures from artists that he collaborated with.

"People seem to love those posts, and I'm always getting asked when I'm going to make a book of them," Mr Hawken said.

"I wondered what would happen if I connected a hundred of them into a full story."

With an incredible amount of support amassed online, Tim decided to turn his short stories into a book, and began the hunt for the perfect illustrator.

Mr Hawken was searching for a year before he came across a piece of art on his Instagram feed that sparked his interest.

Perfect: Seventeen year old illustrator Sofia Behnke illustrated Spellraiser. Picture: Supplied.

Perfect: Seventeen year old illustrator Sofia Behnke illustrated Spellraiser. Picture: Supplied.

The artwork was by seventeen year old, Sofia Behnke, (aka Behnsi) from the USA. Tim immediately reached out to Sofia to see if she'd like to collaborate.

"Sofia's style was spot on," he said. "I was a little nervous that at 17-years old she might not have the experience to deliver things to deadline, but she was a true professional in every respect. A rare talent."

Mr Hawken and Ms Behnke joined forces to create "Spellraiser," a Young Adult tale of murder, mystery, spells, and possession. With their creation ready to go, Tim and Sofia ran into a roadblock getting it onto book shelves.

"I floated it by an experienced agent," Mr Hawken said. "She said, 'this is great, but no one's going to publish it because they don't understand what it is'. It's half-way between a comic book and a book."

Rather than go down the usual publishing route, he opted to gain support on Kickstarter, a website where people pledge money to help the book get on it's feet. With a goal to raise $3000 in 30 days, public supporters blew the creators' expectations out of the water, raising the same amount in just three days.

"I'll be able to create paperbacks and also reward backers with hardcover editions," he said.