The Developers featured in MI newspaper article

Posted on June 11, 2005

Since the full article is no longer available online, I figured it would be easiest to just post right here.

Ex-Owensboro resident pens humorous Internet novel

By James Mayse | Messenger-Inquirer | 06/11/05

Although Ben Woods has been writing a computer column for years, he didn't spend much of his early years writing fiction. Before moving to Owensboro to join the Messenger-Inquirer and, later, Red Pixel Studios, Woods' last short story was written when he was in high school.

In May, however, Woods' first novel, "The Developers" went on sale in Louisville bookstores and at Beyond the Brim coffee shop in Owensboro. The novel, which was released by King Publishing, is also on sale on Woods' Web site.

"The Developers" focuses on the employees of a small Internet company in Malorett, Mich. After developing a Web site that connects the entire city of Malorett in an innovative and all-encompassing way, the company is offered a contract from the U.S. government to reinvent the Internet.

The Internet concepts in "The Developers" are enough by themselves for a novel. But Woods wraps the technical aspects of the story around the company's five 20-something employees, who try to balance work with their love lives, marriages, Richard Simmons fixations, stalker ex-husbands and secret lives in dangerous miniskirt cults.

The idea for the novel came from Woods' plan to create a Web site that would connect an entire city online. In reality, Woods didn't think such a Web site would work -- but it did provide ammunition for a book.

"I had been thinking about writing a book," Woods said. "I had started on a couple different things, but I hadn't fleshed anything out."

Woods has written about computer issues for years for several publications and Web sites. He did not initially intend to write a humorous novel.

"When I started writing, it was going to be more technical," he said. While the novel touches on serious issues, such as Internet privacy and the government's access to personal information, the main focus is on the characters themselves.

"I wanted to make this more into character development than plot," Woods said. " ... There is so much craziness going on with the characters that the plot is secondary.

"I like the plot, but I like the characters more. That's why I think the book moves toward the characters and (their) development more" than the technical aspects, Woods said.

While the novel focuses on people who work in the computer industry, the book is not about computers, Woods said.

"The way I look at it, it is kind of like 'Seinfeld,' " Woods said. "You have the five main characters, and they all have something going on in their lives, and by the end of the episode they all connect -- at least that's what I hope I did."

Woods, who now lives in Louisville, wrote about one chapter a month, a schedule that prevented him from ever getting burnout, he said. "From my standpoint, if I ever got tired of the book, I could go do other things," he said. At the midway point, Woods said he started scouting for a publisher.

"I would say I thought about publishing it from the get-go," he said. " ... It's really impossible to get into a large publishing house when it's your first book and you don't have any connections to publishers."

Woods eventually connected with King Printing, which does both large and small printings of novels. Wood opted to do most of the page design work for the novel himself.

Woods is working on distribution deals that could get "The Developers" into large bookstore chains. He's also been asked if he plans to write a sequel.

"The ending leaves a lot hanging. I didn't really do that on purpose," Woods said. "I don't have a sequel planned ... everything came together with the characters.

"People have asked me if I'm going to write another one, and if it's well-received, (I will)," he said. "If (at the end of the book) people think, 'I wish there were more,' that's good."