Last month I saw a post on the SFWA website calling for papers and presentations for GIFCON, the Glasgow International Fantasy Convention, and decided to submit a presentation on my Rats in the Walls project. Now, I found out I’ve been accepted–I’m going to Scotland to be a speaker at the con (March 29th-30th)!
“The Rats in the Walls,” inspired by the work of H.P. Lovecraft, was something I put together for the Twitter Fiction Festival, but it quickly became something bigger. It received some coverage by folks like The Dusty Rebel and ANIMAL New York, and it kept me sane while I was unemployed. Otherwise, I might have been up in a clock tower with a rifle rather than drawing chalk summoning circles.
Here’s the abstract for the presentation:
The Rats in the Walls: Storytelling That Blurs History, Reality, and Fantasy
Two years ago, an anonymous figure in a white mask began appearing in Lower Manhattan, handing out cryptic messages and drawing occult diagrams in chalk. ‘Kilroy’, as the figure called himself, claimed to be the spokesperson for an enigmatic group called ‘THE RATS IN THE WALLS’, which was planning an apocalyptic event that would shake all of NYC. In reality, this was the beginning of a carefully planned, city-wide fictional narrative played out over two months and multiple mediums, including scavenger hunts, original video, and live performances.
“The Rats in the Walls” project incorporated elements of New York history, graffiti culture, and the work of H.P. Lovecraft to create an innovative, meta-textual storytelling experience that turned Lovecraft’s signature obsession with cosmic horror and local history into a narrative that blurred the boundaries between fantasy, reality, and urban legend. My presentation would take the form of a faux-journalistic account of the history of the Rats in the Walls, beginning with Lovecraft’s “Horror at Red Hook” (which will be treated as history) and ending with the fictional apocalyptic event Kilroy and the Rats brought about in 2015.
Along the way, the presentation will illustrate how the project incorporated elements of alternate reality games (ARGs), alternate history, worldbuilding, and metatextuality. The importance of live storytelling, the use of technology to create dynamic narratives, and the practical challenges and methods that come with allowing wide-scale audience participation will also be addressed.