Bob Kelsey Investigates: Killing the Soul Part 1

Bob Kelsey is a reporter on the run from a centuries old cult he made the mistake of falling foul of. Unable to keep his reporter’s nose for a story out of other people’s business he now runs an underground blog investigating the weird, the strange and the downright surreal.

The Unseen Shadows web comic series  Bob Kelsey Investigates continues in new story ‘Killing the Soul’ is a six part dark and twisted little tale with some serious bite.

Continue reading

Bob Kelsey Investigates: The Return

Bob Kelsey is a reporter on the run from a centuries old cult he made the mistake of falling foul of. Unable to keep his reporter’s nose for a story out of other people’s business he now runs an underground blog investigating the weird, the strange and the downright surreal.

The Unseen Shadows web comic series  Bob Kelsey Investigates is back in ‘The Return’ a one page story  by Dan Thompson and Jake Rowlinson. Bob has faced murderous cults,monsters and all manner of dangers that lurk with the shadow in the pursuit of a great story for his blog. Today he must face the most deadly adversary he has ever found himself pitted against – The IRS.

Grab hold of your sanity and read on if you dare.

Continue reading

Behind the Shadows – Crossing Continents With Transmedia

Fallen Heroes coverfh1cover smallfh cover aTOTF2cover

The first time someone mentioned the term Transmedia to me I was already collaborating with four project teams. We were working to produce a comic anthology centered on my urban fantasy novel Fallen Heroes. I was also co-writing the first episode of an audio drama spin off. The name I gave to this transmedia project was Unseen Shadows, which referred to the trilogy I was working on, of which Fallen Heroes was the first.


My goal in using transmedia was to create stories in other mediums that could be enjoyed as stand alone adventures. However, when those stories were combined with the novel they would expand the world established within its pages. This meant that a single line of prose within the novel could be transformed into a 22 page comic or a supporting character could take the lead in a five part audio drama.

“I thought so,” said Napoleon, walking to the jeep, and without looking back, he climbed in. Vincent was already there, starting the engine.

Kelsey started crawling towards the jeep.  “Please,” he pleaded.  “Don’t leave me like this, you must help me.”

After a few moments, a revolver flew back over the jeep, landing next to Bob.  The next he knew, he was bursting into a fit of coughing, his lungs full of a combination of carbon monoxide, gravel and sand.  The tears came easily as he watched  the jeep pull away from him, leaving him alone with the revolver. 

The above few lines of prose from the novel spawned a spin off comic one shot centered around the character Bob Kelsey who was was a minor character in the novel.


An Unseen Shadows project begins when someone, usually a writer, reads the novel and wants to become involved. I start by asking them what character they want to work on rather than choose one for them. This has led to some interesting choices, including both main and very minor characters being given the transmedia treatment.

The next stage is for the writer to give me a brief overview of their idea. Once I’m on board they will work up a full pitch, including any suggestions I may have made, before moving onto the scripting stage. At the same time the artist begins work on the main character sketches.

steph sketch new

Steph Connisbee from the upcoming graphic novel ‘The Chimera Factor’

In my goal to create stand-alone routes into the novel I am involved in every stage of the process. I approve each story pitch, comic or audio script, character design and every line of dialogue spoken by a voice actor.

There are currently around forty writers, artists, letterers, colourists, graphic designers and voice actors working within the Unseen Shadows team. Their talent and experience are as diverse as their backgrounds and locale. Members can be found in the UK, Ireland, Portugal, Scotland, South Africa and the US.

Overseeing a team spread across the world is definitely a challenge. I quickly found that email, cloud storage and social media tools such as Facebook, Twitter and Skype were the greatest weapons in my communication arsenal.

All the past and future Unseen Shadows projects are stored using cloud storage. The projects are divided into folders with each one containing scripts, artwork, sound files and more, with access provided for relevant team members. This helps avoid any time zone issues as folders can be accessed 24/7.


I created an Unseen Shadows Facebook group where team members could share developments, discuss ideas, welcome new members and anything else they wanted to use it for. I also use the group to feedback on the progress of future novels or anything else of importance.

One of the main issues a writer working in collaborative fiction must face is the time demands. Projects have to be managed, timescales set and monitored. In some cases I have been the main reason that progress on a project has stalled. This can be because a team is waiting for me to read a script, approve a character or respond to an urgent email before they can continue.

A significant amount of my own writing time is spent overseeing the transmedia and collaborative elements of Unseen Shadows and that can be hard. However knowing the huge amount of work the team members are putting into their projects and seeing the end results spurs me on to manage my time better, which can only be a good thing for my writing in the long run.


Kathryn Monroe in ‘The Heart Which Makes Us’

Working within these different mediums has meant that to effectively manage the teams I had to develop, at least, a basic understanding of the terminology within each medium be it comics, audio or more recently film. It also pays to know some of the advantages and disadvantages of working within in each one. I have been lucky to find a lot of people along the way willing to offer me help and advice on that front.

The positives with working on collaborative fiction are many but overall it is the feeling of never being alone. In the dark days when the fear of a blank screen comes calling, a piece of art, a new script or question is not far behind. The light never goes off in the world of Unseen Shadows and knowing there is always someone at work is a great motivator.


A look at ‘Napoleon’ Stone and the Army of Set’ A choose your own adventure story which is currently in development.

These extremely talented people work on these projects not for the money, as all profits go back into the development of new projects, but because they love the source material. They constantly challenge me with their ideas, questions and suggestions for new ways to expand this world they have had a hand in developing.

I have found over the years that these new stories and characters have influenced me in unexpected ways. I have already referenced several of the events and characters created in the comics and audio drama in the second novel. An example of this is the character Victoria Sullivan, who was created for the audio drama and as such was never in the novel. I loved Fiona Paul’s portrayal of Victoria so much in the audio drama that not only is character in ‘Forgotten Warriors’ the sequel to ‘Fallen Heroes’ but she is also in a six page comic (Fight or Flight) and an upcoming graphic novel (The Chimera Factor).

Victoria Sullivan in Fight or Flight

Working with the teams has taught me how to express to a writer why a particular line of dialogue does not work or to an artist why a character sketch does not feel right. This has helped me with my own self editing when I write.

The last two years has been a great training ground for learning when to step in and when to step back and trust these talented people with my world. The collaboration aspects of the various projects have given me a deeper understanding of my own characters as I watch them written, drawn and spoken by others.

10 tips for collaborative fiction

  • Your story may be at the heart of everything but in the realm of collaborative fiction you need the creative lifeblood of your team to keep that heart beating. Respect them and their opinions.
  • Ensure your team has a clear idea of what you expect of them before they join the project. I have a statement of intent document, which every member of the team receives, which must be read and its terms agreed to before they can join the project.
  • Never dismiss ideas out of hand.
  • Used wisely, social media can be a great aid to team communication. Used poorly it can a massive time drain.
  • No one knows your world better than you but always be prepared to back up your decisions with reasons that don’t start with ‘It’s my book so…’
  • Never be scared to get your hands dirty in another medium yourself. (I had never seen an audio script before Unseen Shadows much less co-written one.)
  • Try to gain an understanding of the terminology used within the mediums you will be working in.
  • Collaborative fiction can be a huge time commitment. Keep that in mind when deciding which projects to undertake.
  • Keep yourself included in every stage of the project.
  • Communication is the key. Keep your teams up to date and ensure they do the same. So many problems can be avoided with regular communication.

Barry Nugent, Author of Fallen Heroes and founder of Unseen Shadows.

Article first published on the Writing Platform

3rd Draft of Forgotten Warriors is Complete

I am very pleased to announce that the third draft of Forgotten Warriors is now complete. It has been a long time coming and a serious amount of early morning work, including a few 3am starts but all of that has been worth it to get to this stage.

What Next?

Well essentially all the heavy lifting on the novel is done and what happens now is a lot of proof reading to fix any grammar and puntuation errors. Test readers will also be getting their hands on the manuscript to feedback to me so I can make any edits or fix any continuity errors in the novel.

What can you tell us about Forgotten Warriors?

Hmm not much without spoiling a load of juicy plot points but I will give it a try. The story starts three years after the events of Forgotten Warriors, with a lot of the characters in very different places to where we left them. I did use the ‘Forgotten Warriors’ title as an inspiration to shift the focus from the main characters from the first novel onto some of the ‘sidekicks’ characters like Kathryn Monroe, Eve Appleton, Vincent Marconi and of course Steph Connisbee, who takes centre stage on the cover.

Of course no good pulp adventure is complete without some villains and it’s safe to say that after what happened at at the end of the first novel that the Book of Cademus cult are after a little payback. If I could have got away with it I would have called this novel ‘The Book of Cademus Strikes back!’ as I think it pretty much sums up the vibe for this story.

There is also a lot of crossover in this novel in terms of the audio and comic spin offs. As always you do not need to have read the comic or listen to the audio before reading the novel as the story works independent of them but there’s a lot of fun to be had if you do. Over the coming weeks and months I will talk a lot more about that process.

Although Forgotten Warriors is a darker tale than Fallen Heroes it is still packed with a shed load of action, twists and cliffhangers.

When can we expect Forgotten Warriors?

Fingers crossed the book will be out summer 2014. There’s a synopsis below the cover but do not read if you have not yet read Fallen Heroes.



Since their defeat at Cademus Castle The Cabal, the leaders of the Book of Cademus have been scouring the earth for the clues they believe will lead them to the source of Oliver Cademus’ incredible power. The Cabal seek to follow in their leader’s footsteps and harness this dark and destructive power for themselves.

The Icarus Foundation, unaware of the danger, has allowed itself to become locked in a political power struggle. The United Nations, now fully aware of the Foundation’s clandestine activities, believes Icarus are too dangerous to be left unchecked.

With the Icarus Foundations’s focus turned elsewhere the burden falls on a few scarred survivors to stand against the Book of Cademus once more.

With lies, betrayal and murder shadowing their every move they must fight to stay alive and uncover the answer to one question which threatens to shatter the world. Who are the Forgotten Warriors?