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Dr. Lyle Skains is a practice-based researcher in Creative Writing and Digital Media, focusing on the practice, process, and effects of writing digital fiction and interactive stories. She teaches creative writing, transmedia narratives, genre fiction, and playable fiction. Her current research is centred on writing and publishing digital fiction for mainstream audiences, primarily through her publishing press Wonderbox Publishing, the Opening Up Digital Fiction Writing Competition, and through her own creative work on Hyperstories.
Dr. Skains has been at Bangor University since 2008, first as a PhD student with Professor Astrid Ensslin, conducting practice-based research into the effects of digital composition on creative writing practice and narrative. A Graduate Teaching Assistant from 2009, she was appointed to a lectureship in 2011, and to Senior Lecturer in 2016.
Prior to coming to Bangor, Dr. Skains was first a scientist, earning a BS in Animal Science from Texas A&M University in 1998, specialising in reproductive technologies and evolutionary genetics. After some time as a postgraduate researcher and teaching assistant in evolutionary biology at Penn State University, she gave up science and turned to creative writing, earning a BA in Creative Writing from the University of New Mexico in 2001, and an MFA in Professional Writing from the University of Southern California in 2005. She worked professionally as a writer from 1999 to 2007, in advertising and marketing, web copywriting, corporate grant writing, technical writing and editing, and script coverage for Stan Winston Studio’s production unit. She has published short fiction and digital fiction.
Dr. Skains was the recipient of a Bangor Teaching Fellowship in 2015, and the Fantastic Feedback Student-Led Award in 2013.
Keywords: creative writing, prose, practice-based research, transmedia narrative, digital fiction, electronic literature, cognitive narratology, cognition & composition, mythology in contemporary fiction, e-publishing, hybrid publishing
Dr. Skains’s research is primarily in Creative Writing and Digital Media, exploring multimodal creativity, writing and reading/playing transmedia narratives, and writing and publishing in the 21st century. Her research is largely practice-based, based on her work as a digital/fiction writer, a relatively new research method and area for literary and composition studies. The goal of this research is to develop creativity theory on writing and digital composition, exploring the areas of cognition and composition, and cognition and narrative. The results of this research are combined creative/critical projects, usually including a creative artefact composed as an experimental exploration into a critical question, and critical analysis and discussion of the process of composition and the artefact itself.
Recent and Ongoing Research Projects
Publishing Digital Fiction: A newly developing platform for digital and hybrid publishing, with threads in academic publishing and digital fiction publishing. In addition to the development of a hybrid press, this project will experiment with various publishing and commercialisation models for digital and hybrid works.
Creative Practice Research: A Framework for Arts Practitioners: A digital guide to designing practice-based research projects, for students and practitioner-researchers.
Reading Digital Fiction: An AHRC-funded project (Funding Ref: AH/K004174/1, PI: Dr. Alice Bell, Sheffield Hallam University) that introduced readers to digital fiction, and studied how readers process the linguistic and multimodal features of digital fiction. 2015-2017.
The Future of Reading: A series of workshops, funded by a Bangor University ESRC Impact Acceleration Award and taught jointly with Dr. Eben Muse, that aimed to equip professional writers, academics, and publishers with the skills to move into the realm of digital and hybrid publishing. 2014-2015.
Digital Fiction/Body Image Project: Co-investigator with Professor Astrid Ensslin and Dr. Sarah Riley at Aberystwyth University. Conducting ethnomethodological research into how reading and creating digital stories can affect teenagers’ perceptions of body image. 2013-2014.
Computer Gaming Across Cultures: A UK-India Education and Research Initiative project conducted by Bangor University, West Virginia University (USA), and Jawaharlal Nehru University (India): a trilateral partnership researching massive multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPGs) as objects and tools of study from 2013-14. (British Council funded.)
Færwhile & the Multimodal Creative Practice: Composing Fiction from Analogue to Digital: A practice-based research project into the effects on practice, cognition, and narrative of shifting from a prose writing practice to a digital practice. 2008-2013.
Dr. Skains is a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy; she earned her Postgraduate Certificate in Teaching in Higher Education in 2010. She was honoured with a Bangor Teaching Fellowship in 2015, and by the Student-Led Teaching Awards for her Fantastic Feedback in 2013. She teaches in the following areas:
Co-Director, BA Creative & Professional Writing
Director, MArts Professional Writing
Writing Across Media (1st year)
Transmedia Storytelling (2nd & 3rd years)
21st Century Writing & Publishing (2nd & 3rd years)
Genre Fiction (2nd & 3rd years)
Playable Fiction (2nd & 3rd years)
Director, MRes Professional Writing
Current PhD Students
Paul Rudd, exploring the practice of ‘mobile writing’ – composing fiction on mobile devices.
Kristin Lissel, adapting the folktale to contemporary noir.
Levi Dean, writing the anti-heroine.
Eoin Murray, utopic signs in games.
Jordan Glendenning, transmedia writing.
Isabel Vincent, transmedia writing.