We are the company behind Andrew Yorke’s Runaway Empire. I met Andrew in college, and in 2009, we cofounded Xteamartists as a small, independent production studio. After a few small collaborations and many soulless jobs, our first XTA project was an experimental feature titled Videotape. Both of us had spent more than a decade studying to be filmmakers. I got my start in acting and photography; Andrew got his in writing. While wrapping post on Videotape, we penned a few scripts and tossed about numerous short ideas. It wasn’t until an especially abstract idea when it occurred to us that this company could afford us the opportunity to reach out as storytellers beyond cinema.
Inspired after learning more about the life of the late actress Sharon Tate, we contacted her sister Debra and shifted our focus to literature. Sharon Tate, a collection of prose illustrating poignant moments in her life, was published with her sister’s blessing. With a new outlet, Andrew began writing as though a dam had been broken. I became his editor and researched my new role as publisher. We selected a few short stories for release as The Book Dept, a division of Xteamartists. In late 2011, Andrew began a novel we had spoken about for months.
The writing was spotty at first, but in early 2012, he found a direction and committed himself. By September, the first full draft was finished. It was titled The Rabbit, and it dealt with the subject of a school shooting. The events of 2012 finally culminated in the tragedy at Newtown on 14 December. Following that, further work on The Rabbit was halted, and Andrew began a novella to counterbalance the dark subject matter and provide some sort of explanation and solace from the world that seemed to resemble his writing too closely for comfort. This novella became Runaway Empire.
We spent the first part of this year preparing Runaway Empire for publication. Thanks to the money we were able to raise on Kickstarter, we were able to publish in both electronic and print format. A portion of the net proceeds will be donated to Sandy Hook Promise, a non-profit founded by members of the community to provide aid and advocate for change to address the causes of gun violence. I have had the privilege of being involved from the start, and I have been able to enjoy the wonderful response from those who have read the book prior to publication. Runaway Empire is our first work in print, and it is looking good on bookshelves already. While we work on pushing the novella out into the marketplace, we are completing a screenplay adaptation, returning to our roots in cinema and taking this story with us to the big screen. It is our hope that we can secure funding before the summer of 2015. In the meantime, editing has been resumed on The Rabbit, and we have begun shopping the manuscript to literary agents. And who knows what short projects will arise while we work on that?
Runaway Empire is available for purchase, and you can even hold it in your hands if you prefer paper to a screen. A sample can be found on most retailers’ website, but we have prepared a special private excerpt for you. Try before you buy; it’s not much, but it’s a taste. And thanks for your support. I am excited to see this story in people’s hands, e-readers, and conversations. I hope you find within it something unexpected.