Mystery novel told in 140-character chapters

By Tammy Scileppi

Willum Mortimus Granger was beside himself.

In fact, when his body was found, the top half was right next to the bottom.

So begins author Bob Blechman’s live-tweeted comic mystery tale, “Executive Severance,” the first novel completely composed on Twitter.

The longtime Forest Hills resident has taken crime writing and the art of storytelling to a whole new level.

You can call it tweeting with a twist. He calls it “Twitstery.”

“New media of communications are often met initially with fear and trepidation,” said Blechman. “I wondered if Twitter didn’t offer other possibilities.”

With that, he began live tweeting twice a day, every day for the next 15 months to complete his murder mystery.

His tantalizing whodunit, originally told in 140 character, 800-plus real-time Twitter blasts, currently has about 800 curious followers who can’t seem to get enough of those edge-of-your seat snippets – proof that an alternative use of this medium may become a trend, since it’s a sure fire way to get people to quickly read and enjoy entire novels as they go about their day.

“The 140-character limit of Twitter required intensive wordsmithing, creative editing, the omission of punctuation in some cases and a lot of counting,” he said. “Right off the bat, you’re faced with a critical decision: Does each tweet have to be interesting on its own?”

As Blechman composed each thread, he captured bits and pieces of the novel’s humorous plot in which old school detective work meets modern day CSI-like forensics.

According to the author, with a tweeting detective as its narrator and protagonist, his novel sends up the murder mystery genre, social media conventions and cell phone behavior.

The investigating detective soon realizes that the victim was on Twitter when he was slain. Were his Twitter posts the key to solving his murder?

“Because I was creating a Twitter send-up of the murder mystery genre, I selected as my crime the most ridiculous, most unlikely method of murder I could think of, something that no one could ever take seriously,” he said. “My victim was discovered literally cut in half.”

Further along in the investigation, the detective is asked for his ID and flashes his cell phone:

“What are you showing me?”

“This is my badge.”

“On your cell phone? What are you, a phony detective?”

“No. A true detective who tweets.”

“To whom do you tweet?”

“To whoever follows me on Twitter.”

His edgy style makes for a great read, even on traditional paper. Every tweet now appears on the pages of his recently published, “Executive Severance” book.

Even the publishing deal came via Twitter after he received a tweet asking if he was planning on turning the tweets into a book.

“I thought it was a joke. The idea of producing a book had never occurred to me,” Blechman said. “I wrote back: Books are obsolete. Nobody reads books anymore.”

That tweet, however, came from someone at NeoPoiesis Press, who assured Blechman that some people still read books and they would be interested in publishing his if he planned on finishing the story.

“I quickly replied, ‘I am now,’” Blechman said.

As an adjunct professor at Fordham University, Blechman teaches social media, communication and technology, as well as other communications and media-related courses.

In order to fit his daily “Twitstering” into a busy schedule, there have been times when he has fired out tweets by cell phone from moving trains, coffee shops and restaurants, or while walking down the street.

Even a former technology executive can become a highly skilled wordsmith, and Blechman’s bite-sized nuggets of pithy literature keep his readers coming back for more. For the past two years the folks at Twitter have sponsored an international “Twitter Fiction Festival,” and he has actively participated in these online and live events.

Blechman continues to tweet at @RKBs_Twitstery and is hard at work on “The Golden Parachute,” the follow-up Twitter novel to “Executive Severance,” at his Twitter account @Twitstery.

Readers can find weekly compilations of the tweets with additional material at Whalefire (www.execu‌tives‌evera‌nce.blogs‌pot.com).

The author’s favorite writer, James Joyce, would have been proud of Blechman’s talent because, as the author puts it, Joyce’s writing is always challenging and suggests that rules are made to be broken.

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