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Creating a persona for an artificial intelligence

Authors A.I. unveils a visual identity for Marlowe

We’re a company built by authors, so books are the realm that dominates our thoughts. Most books start with a plot and characters. At some point in the writing process, we decide on a title and arrange for a cover.

The cover is always my favorite part. It’s the fun reward of hours of finger-pecking creation. Each cover has a different feel, an emotion it conveys, and selecting that perfect image and font choice is crucial in attracting the right reader. Sometimes, our publisher decides these things. But mostly nowadays, we hire a designer and guide them through what we hope to see or we design our covers ourselves.

Marlowe is named for Christopher Marlowe, the Elizabethan tragedian who inspired Shakespeare era, and Philip Marlowe, Raymond Chandler’s hardboiled private eye

Authors A.I.’s artificial intelligence started out as a faceless story. For months, she didn’t have a name or gender. She — it — was just “the algorithm” or “the A.I.” It wasn’t until late 2019 that we started tossing around the idea that our A.I. should have a persona. An identity.

After weeks of discussion and brainstorming, Marlowe was born. Her name has pretty cool origins. Marlowe is named for both Christopher Marlowe, the Elizabethan tragedian who inspired Shakespeare, and Philip Marlowe, Raymond Chandler’s hardboiled private eye who plays chess and reads poetry. We like to think she has Philip Marlowe’s intellect and investigative skills and Christopher Marlowe’s pioneering spirit and love for the written word.

So, our story finally had a name, but what did she look like? What visual representation could we use to explain her purpose and ability to strangers?

We needed a video, one short enough to satisfy the Internet’s short attention span but long enough to hit the necessary notes.

We met with a half-dozen animators and animation houses, watched countless examples, and finally did what a company of authors does best — we closed the door, sharpened our pencils, and wrote a story. The story centers on a new author who had finished her first story and didn’t know what to do with it. Thankfully, Marlowe, a helpful and friendly artificial intelligence with the skills of a developmental editor, appears just in the nick of time. And then, because plot twists are always fun, we decided to add in a zombie.

We edited and polished the script, auditioned narrators, and let the animators go wild. And just like any good cover, we thought a reveal was in order.

So, without further delay, above is the face of our artificial intelligence and the first glimpse of Marlowe’s story! We hope you enjoy the video.

Ready to try out Marlowe on your novel? Explore our free and paid plans — you could have her feedback in as little as 15 minutes!


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