When West Virginia University Reed College of Media professor April Johnston set out to write the unimaginable story of Derris Lewis, an Ohio man imprisoned and later acquitted of his twin brother’s murder, she was struck by his intelligence and calm demeanor.
In addition to telling the story of his wrongful imprisonment, Johnston wanted to capture Lewis’ personality for her readers. To do that, she used a non-traditional form of publishing for her latest project, “Twin.”
Johnston used www.creatavist.com, an online tool for writers, publishers and other media professional to create a multimedia experience for her audience. Not only did she use text, she collaborated with her husband, College of Media lecturer David Smith, to incorporate photos and videos into the narrative.
On Thursday, Oct. 9, at 4 p.m., in room 130 of Colson Hall, Johnston will give a reading of “Twin” and provide insight into how non-traditional forms of publishing provide writers with more options for storytelling.
“I originally planned for this to be a print story, but print alone would not have conveyed everything I wanted and needed this story to convey,” Johnston said. “I think you feel and learn more experiencing this project online and through multiple mediums.”
Readers can access Johnston’s latest project three ways: Online at twin.creatavist.com, by downloading the Creatavist app from the Apple Store or by downloading the eBook from Amazon. Videos are not available via eBook.
Johnston joined the WVU Reed College of Media in August 2010 as a teaching assistant professor. She teaches both introductory and advanced writing classes.
Before joining the faculty, Johnston worked for nearly 10 years writing in-depth narratives for newspapers and magazines in Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Ohio. She also spent a year in WVU’s Office of News and Information Services.
She has won dozens of national, regional and state awards for her work, including the inaugural Jim Crawley Award for Regional Reporting from Military Writers and Editors. In 2003, she traveled to Dortmund, Germany, to serve as a John J. McCloy Journalism fellow for the American Council on Germany. The resulting stories earned her a Distinguished Writing Award from the Pennsylvania Newspaper Association.
Johnston also writes fiction and essays. Her work has appeared in “The Mix Tape” by Fast Forward Press, “Monkey Puzzle #10,” “Newport Review,” “Foundling Review,” “Oklahoma Review,” “Blink Ink, 50 to 1,” “Journal of Microliterature and the Cobalt Review.”
Her story, “Ira”, was a finalist for the Newport Review’s Flash Fiction contest, and her story, “How the Parking Authority Ruined my Saturday Night,” was performed at Su Teatro at the Denver Civic Theatre.
She received her bachelor’s degree in journalism from Duquesne University in 2001 and her master of fine arts in creative writing from Carlow University in 2008.
Johnston’s reading is part of the College’s “The Future of Media – NOW!” series, which explores current and emerging forms of media being practiced by journalists, professional communicators and non-traditional storytellers. It is also part of the College’s 75th anniversary celebration during the 2014-15 academic year. The event is cosponsored by WVU’s Department of English in the Eberly College of Arts and Sciences.
CONTACT: Kimberly Walker, WVU Reed College of Media
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