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Whimsical ‘Click-A-Path’ Adventure Story Out Now For Summer

The ManyEnding Story is a coming-of-age tale with a difference. Written by Robert Burns Fellow Kathryn van Beek, the free online ‘click-a-path’ will be catnip to readers who grew up devouring secret path adventure stories.

“Only this version has more sex, drugs, and rock-dwelling skinks,” van Beek says.

The “gothic and whimsical” interactive tale was written during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I was studying towards my doctorate in creative writing and learning about interactive fiction while at the same time noticing that life can be less under our control than we would like to believe. A click-a-path seemed like the perfect form for exploring the twists and turns our lives can take … because of, or even in spite of, our intentions.”

When playing the online story, the reader becomes the main character: an Ōtepoti-based graphic designer and lizard enthusiast who’s just turned 31.

“They’re trying to ‘level up’ as an adult by collecting all five possible ‘adult points’: a career, a partner, a kid, a home, and creative fulfilment,” van Beek says. “But the point system is a bit subversive. It might get players thinking about what their own definition of a fulfilling life is.”

There are 25 potential endings to discover, and as with the children’s versions of these tales, readers might find themselves falling into quicksand or getting eaten by a shark.

“Or they might end up designing computer games in Toronto, falling under the spell of a Dunedin surgeon, or teaming up with a sexy detective to bust an international smuggling ring.”

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The zeitgeisty tale also delves into the serious themes of infertility, substance abuse, and the difficulties of securing an ADHD diagnosis as an adult. But above all, it’s a fun summer read.

“I hope readers will get caught up in the romance of moving to a chateau in France … or the dark humour of choking to death on a cheese roll.”

Van Beek says two collaborators elevated the text and transformed it into an immersive experience.

“Photographer Kristina Simons took dreamy photos of Dunedin locations, and University of Otago master’s student Jacob Cone brought everything together into the online platform. This story would never have come to life without the Robert Burns Fellowship giving me the opportunity to pursue this collaboration.”

In 2023 The ManyEnding Story was shortlisted for the Laura Solomon Prize, which celebrates new writing with a “unique and original vision”.

The story is free to play online at ManyEndingStory.nz.

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