by Shaun Knittel -
SGN Associate Editor
Egan Orion, born and raised in the Seattle area and a 'coffee-drinking, rain-loving, dark-daydreaming Northwest boy through and through' is known for many things. He is the definitive flash mob boss. He is a known face and personality around Capitol Hill. And he organizes the biggest LGBT party in the Northwest, PrideFest. Now, Orion has added another title to his repertoire: author.
Tales of Urban Tribes, a serialized novel by Orion, has arrived. And it's good, too. In fact, the whole idea behind the project is interesting. On the eve of its initial release, Orion recently spoke with Seattle Gay News about the novel, its influences, and Seattle - a city he loves very much.
The project is a serialized novel, meaning Orion will release 22 episodes over one year.
The story follows anthropologist Jack Bowman, a Seattleite who had been going to school in New York. A week before he was to return home after graduation, a tragic accident happens that puts him in a coma for three and a half years. When he wakes up, his whole world has changed, and he returns to Seattle to rebuild his life and find his tribe.
'The magic of the story is that it's happening now, and I'll be integrating things happening here in Seattle every episode,' Orion told SGN. 'For the reader, it feels like the story is unfolding around you, in your community.'
The story takes place predominantly on Capitol Hill, and has a number of LGBT characters.
'I wouldn't be surprised if one of the main characters meets a certain festival and flash mob producer,' said Orion.
The book is primarily being released on Kindle via software that you can install on your e-reader, computer, or SmartPhone. Tales of Urban Tribes is also available on Kindle Fire or iPad. Orion says there will be a few print copies put in coffee shops around Capitol Hill, and you can buy the printed episodes at www.talesofurbantribes.com, too.
'For most episodes, we'll offer a free download period shortly after each release,' he said. 'The purpose of the book is to document life in Seattle, not to make money, so we want to make sure everybody who wants to read it has the chance to do so.'
Like most things that Orion is associated with, people have taken notice. Tales of Urban Tribes premiered December 28, 2011, and over 400 people downloaded Episode 0 within a week. An addition 100 people picked up the print version around town.
According to Orion, Tales of Urban Tribes was 'born out of a fascination with human history in the millions of years before it was recorded, and how that history is hard-wired into us. So while we live modern lives, we have ancient minds, and this gives us great clues into why humans are the way they are.'
Orion continued, 'I was born and raised in the Seattle area, and have had a lifelong love affair with this city. I wanted to write a book that reflected my experience of the city - a little Gay and with a lot of coffee, lots of walking, great parks, and an amazing social scene on Capitol Hill. There is love and tragedy in the book - just like real life - and along the way, this tribe of friends learns that family is created by love, not blood.'
Although the main character in the book, Jack, is not based on Orion, he does admit, 'I do see the world through Jack's eyes, i.e., that of an anthropologist who is interested in the human experience, both ancient and modern.'
'Jack eschews technology for a life focused on connection with people and with place, specifically Seattle,' he said.
Orion began work on Tales of Urban Tribes three years ago. 'I was writing with no idea of where it would end up, and the daily practice of walking, writing, and dreaming led me to Jack and his tribe,' he explained. 'No doubt my experiencing producing flash mobs in Seattle and New York had an impact on the story, as did my many years producing the Pride Festival.'
Orion said through those events he was able to see the city through a macro and micro lens, 'which gives me a unique vantage point from which to observe Seattle.'
'I like to think I have a unique perspective, but I'll leave it to the readers of Tales of Urban Tribes to determine,' he said. 'It's a fun project to work on, and for me it's an end in itself.'
Orion said an early influence for his work was Armistead Maupin's Tales of the City series, 'which was also originally written as a serial.'
'Hanging out and interviewing Armistead at PrideFest 2011 was an inspiration to me, and I decided last summer that it was time to start getting this work out to the public,' he said. 'It all started last month, and so far I'm enjoying the ride.'
'Twenty-one episodes to go between now and December and producing huge flash mobs and PrideFest along the way?' Orion joked. 'All of that should keep me busy enough!'
The author said he will continue to do his daily walk around Capitol Hill to 'find out what's happening, to see the change of seasons, the change of people, and to simply observe it all.'
'That's the job of a writer,' he concluded. 'And I want to make sure that my representation of Seattle in Tales of Urban Tribes is as accurate as it can be, to reflect a time and place that's unique, in a place I'm proud to call home.'
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