New App Pairs Local Fiction with a Walk in the Park

"With this new app - free on iTunes this month – you can stroll through Bannerman Park and, depending on your location, the app will read you parts of stories by four brilliant writers: Michael Winter, Joel Thomas Hynes, Sara Tilley, and Megan Coles. "

Chris Brookes is an author, storyteller, and independent radio broadcaster who just launched a GeoLit project called “The Bannerman Quartet.” It combines walking, audio, writing, and your smart phone.

With this new app – free on iTunes this month – you can stroll through Bannerman Park and, depending on your location, the app will read you parts of stories by four brilliant writers: Michael Winter, Joel Thomas Hynes, Sara Tilley, and Megan Coles.

Two years ago Brookes launched “Inside Outside Battery,” a similar non-fiction project set throughout The Battery. With that project ruminating in his mind, he decided to explore fiction, and The Bannerman Quartet was born. “It’s like publishing except not on paper. You cannot read it, you have to walk through it,” said Brookes.

Bannerman Park is perfect for this kind of project. Central and self-contained, most people in town have grown up with it, and there’s tons of foot traffic there. And now, local fiction from nationally renowned authors can live there too.

Sara Tilley, the talent that gave us Skin Room and Duke, thought the mission bestowed upon her and the others was interesting for fiction writers. They were asked to “write something specific to the park, to include each others’ characters somehow, to have a story that moved through space, and that would be heard aloud rather than read on a page” says Tilley.

While she didn’t know what her story would be when she started, she knew the character, a lonely person who has an important connection to the park. “As I kept writing, her inner life became more and more clear to me, and led me in a pretty unexpected direction.”

Joel Thomas Hynes, one of St. John’s favourite bad boy writers, wrote an existential piece called “You Are Here.” Hynes says, “It’s about a guy who was on his way to meet a girl at the Bannerman bandstand years ago, but never made it there. He’s been dead for a long time and Bannerman is his purgatory.”

Meg Coles, on fire with success from her debut short story collection Eating Habits of the Chronically Lonesome, contributed a story about loss.

“I think Bannerman is a juncture; the creative downtown core meets affluent circular road. It belongs to everyone and no one. And it’s very much in a state of transition which makes many uncomfortable and fearful. But not me. I want the kids to have somewhere nice to play. They deserve a clean swimming pool and a safe skating loop. We all do.”

Throughout the park there are specific areas that trigger certain scenes from different stories. The keen listener, though, could walk the park and listen to the stories in their entirety without interruption if they take the right route.

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