Steampunk Fridays – Interview with one of the Creators of The Jekyll Island Chronicles

When I was younger, my grandparents would drive to Jekyll Island (on the coast of Georgia) to go fishing. They’d wake up before the crack of dawn, somehow get my smaller frame from the bed to the back of the car, and drive the forty-five minutes to the beach where we’d spend much of the day fishing and learning about various fish worth eating and not worth eating.

So when I saw that there was a steampunk related comic called The Jekyll Island Chronicles… I had to reach out.

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How long have you been creating/working in comics?

There are three of us in this endeavor and we all have been either reading or making comics since we were kids.  I (Steve) used to sit in my room and draw my own versions of Spider-man and the Fantastic Four.  Our actual jobs are all doing different things, so becoming graphic novel authors became a side hobby for us later in life.  We actually started working on The Jekyll Island Chronicles in January of 2013.

At what point did you sit down to become a writer/artist? Do you remember the first thing you drew/wrote?

I think I am the one with the most graphic arts background.  My dad worked in a factory during the day and would come home at night and paint portraits for friends and family members, to make extra spending money.  He taught me how to draw when I was old enough to hold a pencil.  I remember a book of Disney characters that I drew when I was a kid.  I remember him sitting at the kitchen table with me and building dinosaur models.  I have since graduated to more extensive and difficult kits, and scratch built a bunch of my own.   Creating art has a wonderful, calming effect on me.

All three of us have been heavily involved in writing projects of our own in the past as well.  Ed wrote another book several years back and Jack and I have been writing plays and sketch comedy for our church for many years.

Who inspires you? Or do you have a favorite artist or creator?

Jack loves experiences:  he is a Disneyphile through and through.  He would build a scale (and highly detailed) model of Disneyland in his house if he could.  Ed is a voracious reader and plows through novels constantly.  He loves sci/fi, mysteries, and westerns.  And I get inspirations everywhere, no place in particular.  Sometimes, I just like to walk through a retail shopping center and look for things that inspire me.

How do you manage your daily/family life with your creative work? Is this your 9 to 5 or is this your 10 to 2?

Hah!  We all have really demanding jobs.  This is our hobby.  Nights, weekends, while watching tv or sports at night.  I am usually sitting drawing thumbnails on my ipad to make life easier for our artists.  We try to meet periodically to line up on story and plot development (maybe once or twice a month).  We tell our spouses we don’t play golf (at least not well), so this is our club membership.

It’s often difficult to get word out about independent/small press comics. What do you do to market and promote your books? Anything work really well or really poorly?

It’s been an eye-opening experience.  I have an author friend at work who told me that marketing of books has changed over the years—authors are really much more responsible for this and publishers are, well, publishers.  I have found this to be generally true.  Not bad.  Just generally true.

Our publisher at Top Shelf, Chris Staros, told us pretty much the same thing after we signed our book deal.  They publish the books, invite us to the Cons where they are present, put the books out in the proper channels, but we do the heavy lifting on the marketing (Facebook & websites, blogging, boosting posts, local book signings, reaching out to newspapers and magazines, etc etc etc).  We had to learn how to do a bunch of stuff, from a literary marketing standpoint, that we have never done before.  But Chris is a great sounding board for us and happily answers any questions we have.  It’s so good to have his knowledge and experience base in our corner when we need it (which is A LOT!)  We are working with a PR firm on putting together proposals for the release of Book Two.  So, we are hoping to have more firepower in that area.

What’s your process look like when you’re writing? Do you go with the full outline? Or are you a fly by the seat of your pants type?

We have to have an outline.  We use the classic three-act story structure, but because we are a series, we have to layer that structure over each book as well as the entire series.  I guess that’s why trilogies make sense.  For Book One, I had a lot of the basic story arc in my head, and Jack and Ed helped me fill in a bunch–like the whole Jekyll Island connection.  Book Two was more of a blank page than Book One, so it was harder.  We use note cards with plot points and move things around constantly in the beginning.  When we get the arc locked down, we divide and conquer the writing duties, usually giving one person an act to tackle.  We come back, read together, edit together, and make suggestions.  The key is to hold your writing loosely.  You can’t be so dogmatic to “have it your way”.  If that happens, you frustrate everyone and it flies in the face of collaboration and making each other better.  We are long-time friends, so that makes it easier.  But even then, every once in a while, we have to work through things.  It really is a lot of give and take.

I currently live just north of Atlanta, in Suwanee, Georgia, but I’ve been to Jekyll Island dozens of times when I was younger. So it was very cool to even see that this book existed. What inspired you to create Jekyll Island Chronicles?

Ed was instrumental in coming up with the idea to place much of the story at Jekyll.  When I explained the original idea to him, he asked if I had ever been to Jekyll.  I had been in Atlanta for 25 years and had never gone there, and only just heard of it but never really knew about its history.  So, my wife and I took a weekend, went to down to the island, toured it and my brain exploded.  It was the PERFECT set up for the characters and the scenarios, which were all post-WWI and at the height of the gilded age at Jekyll.  It is a Georgia treasure and our hope is that people, especially Georgians, will become a little more knowledgeable about their own history.

What’s been the reaction to the book?

It’s been extremely positive.  Of course, our family and friends have been our biggest cheerleaders.  We’ve gotten good reviews on Amazon (especially) and Good Reads.  Every once in a while we get someone who “doesn’t get it” or takes issue with the alt history portions of it.  We even had one guy who reviewed it and got the plot/character points wrong, so did he even read it??  But then again we were named one of the Top 10 Books Every Young Georgian Should Read for 2017 (all graphic novels go in that category)—so that was a nice feather in our cap.  We already had a second printing.  We had a line of people waiting to sign the book at the NY Comic Con, so that was pretty cool.  We’ve gotten a lot of interest from podcasters, bloggers and people wanting to do interviews.  This is our first rodeo, but so far, so good.

Are there themes and/or subjects you find yourself drawn to again and again in your work?

We started this whole process with themes.  We wrote down the things/principles we believed and wanted to be true for our story.  First, we saw a lot of cynicism with heroes—dark heroes, conflicted heroes—and we wanted to do something different.  Maybe even classic.  My grandfather fought in the US Cavalry in WWI to gain his citizenship.  He was a regular, simple man of principle.  He knew right from wrong.  He wasn’t perfect, but he wasn’t constantly dark and conflicted.  We wanted a return to classic heroism.  We wanted people who were willing to work together in spite of their differences.  Our country is torn down the middle today and we are all saddened and sick of it.  At least we have a built a world where people can come together for the greater good.

Also, we wanted to have a world where it wasn’t evil to have resources.  Andrew Carnegie gave away like $300 million dollars.  He built a system of libraries all across the country.  Not all people with wealth are robber barons, you know?  Jack and I worked for one for decades.  There is good and evil is ALL people–not just one group, one type, or one party.  We hoped that the book would force people to actually look for the good in all of our heroes.  Finally, we wanted a story where the veterans were the biggest heroes.  We owe SO MUCH to them.  It’s no surprise that our original heroes are the broken WWI vets that get “rebuilt” to fight the atrocities of the early 20th century anarchists.

Your first graphic novel was released by Top Shelf & IDW Publishing. How did that relationship come about?

We actually sponsored a class at SCAD in Savannah to help us create a pitch packet for publishers/production companies that might be interested in our idea.  Once we got the packet done, we approached Chris Staros with Top Shelf.  He was Georgia-based, actually Marietta-based, which was right around the corner from all of us.  We called him, took him to lunch one day, introduced ourselves, and handed him the pitch packet.  He said he would take a look at it and give us comments.  The next day he called me and said he thought it was good—really good—and if we finished it, he would like to keep the whole thing in Georgia and publish for us.  WOW.  I know that this is NOT how it is supposed to work.  But, it happened for us and we were, and still are, very grateful to Chris and his confidence.  When Top Shelf got acquired by IDW, that confidence transferred over to them.  They have been huge supporters of ours and they now have us in their catalog that they send to production companies for tv/film.

You currently have 1 graphic novel out there with a second one due out next year. What’s the overall plan with Jekyll Island Chronicles?

The plan is to keep making books until we get too tired and stop (or someone tells us to stop).  At least we want 3.  But the larger goal is 6. The story arc of the original Jekyll Island Club ends in WWII.  We would love to take it that far.

I see on your website that there are teaching materials based on the comic. Can you talk a little about how you came to that idea as well as your goals with the program?

Well, the story has a TON of facts in it.  The alt history component actually has a lot of HISTORY.  We always loved the idea of using the book to teach history and have students weave through the narrative of what is true and what is not.  So we approached Glen Downey (an author who is an expert in this area) and he agreed to put together teaching materials for us.  They are all available for free on our website.  We have a public high school in the Jekyll area that is using it in both the US and world history class, and a private school here in Cobb County that is doing the same thing.  Ideally, this is a great way for creative teachers to introduce their students not just to history but also to the medium of the graphic novel.  We think this is a big idea.

Comics is an amazing collaborative medium. Tell me a little about the artists on the books.

We met both of our artists in our SCAD class.  They were students who, at the time, were finishing up their studies.  Moses Nester is our illustrator/inker and SJ Miller is our colorist.  One is in ATL and one is in Vegas.  Everything is done digitally.  I take the script, gather reference photos, drop them into an app for my ipad called Strip Designer and create tight comps/thumbnails, send them electronically to Moses who inks, sends to SJ for coloring and sound effects and then back to me for final approval.  It seems to work pretty well.  Our artists are very gifted individuals with a bright career in front of them!  We are just so happy that we have access to them at this time of their lives—and we hope this is given them so good experience to bounce off of for the future.

If you could go back in time ten years, what advice might you have for your younger self? Something you wish you knew?

I wish I knew that I was really responsible for my creative outlets in life.  I mean, I have always been creative, but sometimes at work, I was waiting for that itch to be scratched there.  And at times, that didn’t happen.  I wish I had been more aware of the idea to create instead of consume, and now I hope that our creative endeavor helps others to do the same.  Bottom line, if opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door (with credit to Milton Berle for that fine axiom).

Where’s the best place to find out more about Jekyll Island Chronicles and the rest of your works?

Like us on facebook

https://www.facebook.com/jekyllislandchronicles/

or go to our website

https://jekyllislandchronicles.com/

Steampunkers are welcome to check out our website, where we have a link for selling the book, pre-ordering book two and buying other merch. And the book is available in bookstores and on line everywhere.

STEVE NEDVIDEK has worked in film, radio, and television and received his Masters Degree in Theater from Wake Forest University, where he completed his thesis in make-up design. He is an avid cartoonist, model maker, writer, and movie watcher, and resides in the Atlanta suburbs with his wife, kids, and dog.

ED CROWELL holds advanced degrees in political science and international affairs. He is an executive at a non-profit and a writer with dozens of published articles. A lifelong fan of science fiction and fantasy, he and his wife have two children who went off to college, but left Ed and Cynthia with two cats, a fish, and a dog.

JACK LOWE is a student of film making and themed entertainment. A passionate storyteller with a bent toward immersive, multi-sensory experiences, Jack and his wife, three children, two dogs, and two cats live in the shadow of Kennesaw Mountain in Atlanta.

Ed is on the left, Steve in center, Jack on right

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I want to thank Steve for taking the time to answer my questions!

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John McGuire is the creator/author of the steampunk comic The Gilded Age. Want to read the first issue for free? Click here! Already read it and eager for more?

Click here to join John’s mailing list.

His prose appears in The Dark That FollowsTheft & TherapyThere’s Something About MacHollow EmpireBeyond the Gate, and Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows.

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com.

 

Steampunk Fridays – Interview with the Creator of Monstrous

Check out John McGuire’s The Gilded Age steampunk graphic novel on Kickstarter!

The Universal Monster movies are really what introduced me to those creatures of the night. And while I’m probably most partial to the Creature movies, I loved Frankenstein, Dracula, and the Wolf Man. It not only set them in popular culture but also provided a blueprint on how you might go about using them in other formats.

Add that to a Steampunk setting and you have something that seems to hit all the right buttons.

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How long have you been creating/working in comics? 

I had published a few short comics stories in anthologies before my first one-shot came out in 2015.  That comic is called Wild Bullets, and it follows the four siblings of the Bullet family as they attend their parents’ Thanksgiving dinner.  They each take a turn telling the story, and when they do, a different artist handles each section in a different genre and style (crime, science fiction, adventure, and horror).  They’re all dysfunctional pulp adventurers: a detective, a mad scientist, an archaeologist, and a monster hunter.

Since then, I’ve published several issues of Monstrous and Holliston: Friendship Is Tragic.  Monstrous is a fun romp where the stories all take place in a steampunk, Frankenstein-dominated Europe.  The monsters and robots fight for their own interests, and everybody is a little bit monstrous.  

The Holliston graphic novel is based on the cult TV show by Adam Green, but it’s not just for fans of the show.  The basic idea is that it’s like The Big Bang Theory, except for horror nerds.  There are references to Stephen King, serial killers, and John Carpenter movies.  The story tells about four friends who find a cursed credit card that threatens to destroy them, destroy their friendship, and destroy the town of Holliston itself. There is a new Holliston comic on the way, and more Monstrous will be out soon!

At what point did you sit down to become a writer? Do you remember the first thing you wrote?

I have written allllllll kinds of garbage in my life.  I literally do not remember what it was like before I was writing.  I wrote comics and illustrated stories as a kid, mostly ripping off the stuff I liked.  That method is still pretty much what I do.  People who read my comics probably think: “Oh, I bet he likes ______ because he stole ______ from…”  And they’d be right.  All creators are thieves!

I taught screenwriting for a couple of years at Kalamazoo College, and I wrote movie scripts then.  Comic book scripts are much more likely to be made into something than movie scripts, so I tried that out.  I really love collaborating with the great artists I get to work with, and being able to share a comic with someone is very, very cool.

Who inspires you? Or do you have a favorite writer or creator?

There are scads of creators I could point to: Alan Moore if I’m feeling a little pretentious, Rick Remender if I’m being honest, etc. 

But I figure I should use this venue to give a shout-out to someone who might not be a household name yet but deserves to be.  I’ll say Ryan Ferrier.  He is a comic book writer in a variety of genres working with lots of companies, but his D4VE series and Hot Damn are just a bunch of fun, taking weird premises and wringing every last little bit of lunacy out of them.

If you haven’t read his stuff, fix your life right away, folks.  (He also wrote the forthcoming Kong on the Planet of the Apes, which promises to be cool, but give his original stuff a whirl, too.)

How do you manage your daily/family life with your creative work? Is this your 9 to 5 or is this your 10 to 2?

I am literally working on this response after 10:00 p.m.  And on a school night, too!

I have no idea how I manage this stuff.  If somebody knows, please tell me.

The upshot of working on creative stuff while having another job (I teach college English courses) is that when I come to the writing I know I need to focus because my time is limited.  When I “have all the time in the world” to work on something, I tend to fart around longer on the Internet.  I might claim that time as “research,” but if I do, I’m a filthy liar.

Also, my writing process is a pretty straightforward thing.  I do a lot of prewriting and outlining, so I know exactly where I need to go with the story.  I highly recommend this method, as it takes some of the airy-fairy, arty-farty aspects of writing out of the process.  I mean, it’s not all sitting under a juniper tree on a dewy April morning to achieve the necessary inspiration or whatever.  Just write the damn thing.  I’ll talk more about not screwing around waiting for some idiotic celestial muse in a bit.

It’s often difficult to get word out about independent comics. What do you do to market and promote your books? Anything work really well or really poorly?

What works best is having really rich, organized people do it for you.  But that’s not a luxury a whole lot of independent creators have at their disposal.  There are plenty of tools I would recommend using, like social media, podcasts, and lots and lots and lots of face-to-face conversations with people at anything and everything related to the comic (or book or whatever the person wants to promote).  Get out there and tell everyone who will listen!  And, please, for the love of everything that’s holy, try to make it interesting.

This past weekend, I did a signing at Barnes & Noble, and that was sandwiched between two other weekends at comic cons (Kalamazoo and Grand Rapids).  I spend a lot of time meeting people and telling them about what I have created.  I’m really excited about my comics, and I hope that enthusiasm is contagious.  From my perspective, nobody will ever care more or work harder to promote your work than you.

What’s your process look like when you’re writing? Do you go with the full outline? Or are you a fly by the seat of your pants type?

Oh, I don’t just have a full outline; I have a bunch of them.  I like to use the screenwriting model of writing out the beats of any story, organizing it, chopping it up how it needs to be broken down to look like a story that humans can recognize.  I write a logline, a synopsis, character bios, the works. 

I use Blake Snyder’s beat sheet.  Then I write a page breakdown.  If my notes on a single page can’t fit into a single line of description, I’m probably doing too much with a single page.  (Of course, I set all my rules up clearly just so I can cheat.)

My last step is actually writing the script itself.  I specify the panels, camera angles, etc.  Some other writers are more freeform, but I could sketch out the page breakdowns I am visualizing in my head if artists ever wanted that kind of thing.  I’m open to that, but so far nobody has ever really wanted me to be that absolute with my control issues. 

And the good news is that my artists (Ken Lamug on Monstrous, Steve Sharar and Josh Werner on Holliston, and Sean Seal, Steve Sharar, Jason Jimenez, Joe Freyre, and Sarah Dhyne on Wild Bullets) come up with things I never pictured throughout this process.  And it’s always better than I anticipated.  They’re terrific!  It’s like a constant stream of birthday presents!

What inspired you to create Monstrous?

Monstrous stems from a lifelong fascination with monster movies and their misunderstood heroes.  Even when they’re completing evil, monsters are always the most compelling thing about the stories they occupy.  I’ve always loved the Universal Studios monsters and Ghostbusters and the Hammer Studios movies.  I threw all of those influences together with plots from John Wayne westerns in this strange steampunk hybrid. Monstrous is like all of these things I’ve loved for years having a party together.

The potential of this setting and these characters really feels limitless to me.  I have loads more stories in this universe than I have time to write.  Frankenstein’s Europe, teeming with steampunk robots, Dracula, and Igor running tech support on brains in jars—it all just strikes a chord with me.  I don’t think I know how to get bored here.

Was this a case of coming up with the story first and then the setting or vice versa?

The notion of a shared universe with monsters and robots duking it out, trying to live their everyday lives, was the initial impetus I had.  I love the 70s horror comics Marvel put out about Dracula and Frankenstein.  The best part, to me, was taking these characters and just logically extending their stories to see what might be interesting about them.

Eventually, they basically turned Frankenstein’s monster into Captain America, and they gave Dracula a fantastic adversary by creating Blade.  Those weird changes are the kinds of things I want to do with Monstrous. Take something already established and bring a new sense of excitement and possibility.  Get all the toys out of the toybox and have fun.  The stories come mostly out of wanting to see something crazy on the page.  I keep tossing out bizarre scenarios to Ken Lamug, and he routinely delivers on this insanity in amazing and entertaining ways.

What’s been the reaction to the book?

Most people seem to like it a lot.  If they don’t, they’re too polite to tell me.

The response has been overwhelmingly positive.  Monstrous seems to tap into a bunch of things that people really enjoy, and that’s why we keep making more.  There are some possible developments as well to adapt it into a movie or a game.  I don’t have anything definite to report, but that level of interest is very exciting!

I really like telling stories about unusual families, either “families” that are not really related but instead made up of people who need to bond with each other in order to make their lives work (as in Monstrous) or actual families that stray pretty far from how we think of families working (like the deeply dysfunctional Bullet family). 

More specifically, in Monstrous many of the relationships are between father figures and daughter figures.  I guess I gravitated toward that dynamic because I feel like the father-daughter pairing, which should be fairly common in fiction, more or less isn’t.  I just wanted to see what kind of mileage a horror/western hybrid might get out of a less conventional pair at its heart.

Most of my creative work tends to be fast, fun, and escapist.  That’s not really a theme.  It’s just my overall disdain for reality.

After running a successful crowdfunding venture on Monstrous on Kickstarter, what have you learned about the process of crowdfunding? What do you think has contributed to hitting your goals on Monstrous? Do you view the platform as a testing ground for concepts? Any plans on more Kickstarters?

Ooh, that’s a tough one.  There are so many people out there who have the Kickstarter thing down to a science.  Ours was successful, but I don’t know how much I personally had to do with it.  I mostly just got nervous and spazzed out for a month.  Seriously, I lost my voice and got pneumonia.  If I had a lesson to pass on about Kickstarters, it would probably be: “Don’t be like me.”

Ha ha ha!  Who am I kidding?  That lesson extends far beyond just Kickstarters.

In all seriousness, I think it’s important to have a few videos and plenty of visual information.  Don’t run a Kickstarter if the project isn’t in the final stages!  Ideally, it should be completely finished.  Treat a Kickstarter more as a hype machine to get your thing—whatever it is—in front of different audience members.  For people who are already supportive fans, treat it as a pre-order system.

As for Kickstarter being a testing ground, that is a kind of pleasing notion.  Kickstarter is a Darwinian Thunderdome for ideas.  The only problem, though, is that some projects are too pricey or too niche to really work that way.  It is a good wake-up call, though, if the Kickstarter doesn’t work or barely squeaks by.  That idea needs re-tooling and adjustment.

As for future Kickstarters, Travis McIntire at Source Point Press has talked about us doing a Kickstarter for the second Wild Bullets.  I don’t know if we will, but I’m willing to give it a shot.

Get it?  Get it?  Bullets?  Shot?  Oof.  Remember, kids: “Don’t be like me.” 

What’s the overall plan with Monstrous (series length)?

This question is a real toughie.  I have ideas that could fill up loads of stories, but I also don’t necessarily want to outlast the interests of my readers and wind up making everyone sick of it.  I am sure that all long-time comics fans can point to a particular arc or character or series that has severely overstayed its welcome.  I don’t want that to be the case with Monstrous.

As of this moment, the series will at least go twelve issues with the plan to group four issues together into three trades, maybe have a bigger omnibus at the end.  But if I can be entirely honest and mercenary about it, I will probably take the corporate model and just do it until it’s no longer profitable.  (And yes, I know that this answer is essentially a full reversal of what I said in the last paragraph.  A real toughie, huh?)

How did you get together with Source Point Press?

I’ve known the people at Source Point Press for years, and when Ken and I had the first four issues completed, his agent was shopping the project around.  Source Point Press approached me to see if we could work something out, and it was an excellent fit between their brand and what we’re doing.  All creators should, I think, work on their network.  Keep meeting people.  Keep talking to people.  Be polite.  Be someone others want to work with.

Sometimes I hear people ask: “How do I break into comics?”  And I almost always answer: “Dang.  Just be one of the people others are not trying to keep out of comics.”  That sound flippant, but it’s also true.  Be professional, reliable, quick, and friendly.  Be the type of person you’d like to work with, whatever that means to you.  Greedy people don’t get far.  Ditto people who make excuses or spread negativity, etc.  Talk. Interact.  Put yourself out there!

Comics is an amazing collaborative medium. Tell me a little about working with Ken Lamug.

Working with Ken Lamug is wonderful!  He gets where I’m coming from with the scripts and comes up with fantastic art.  There are rarely any hiccups in the communication and/or collaboration.  Everyone should go check out his children’s illustration work, too.  There is some tonal overlap with Monstrous, but it’s all still very different and wild and fun.

Fun fact: Ken Lamug lives in Las Vegas, and I live in Michigan.  We have talked extensively via Twitter messages, e-mails, and phone calls, but we have never met each other face to face.  I’m sure that we will eventually, but things are going so well now I’d worry about blowing it.

Earlier in the working relationship, he would send some process images and sketches, and I would send him outlines and notes.  Now, we mostly exchange finished products, as we really trust each other and trust ourselves.

Plus, I don’t know if I’ve said it extensively enough here, but Ken Lamug is an absolute animal.  He does it all: pencils, inks, colors, letters, covers, design work.  He’s 100% fantastic, and I’m lucky to work with him.

If you could go back in time ten years, what advice might you have for your younger self? Something you wish you knew?

I’d probably make fun of whatever outfit I was wearing ten years ago.

Seriously, I would tell myself not to get so attached to things that are doomed not to work out.  I know that sounds like good advice for everyone, but I get altogether too worked up about things that don’t turn out like I’d hoped, everything from jobs to creative projects to relationships.  With the creative stuff, at least, that is part of the path.  As a writer, I need to keep writing.  I have to write more stuff than will make it to the marketplace.  That’s just how the process works.

It’s a little heartbreaking at times, though.  “I really want this thing to get finished and into people’s hands!”  A high percentage of the time, for a variety of reasons, that scenario doesn’t work out.  So make another thing.  When I hear about creative people talking about working on one thing for years—decades, sometimes—I just feel sad.  Keep using your time to create different things, and eventually one of them will catch. Every new idea you can offer increases your odds.

Anything else I wish I knew ten years ago?  Appreciate your hair, younger Greg.  You’re going to lose most of it in the future.

Do you have any upcoming projects? Anything you’d like to promote? Anything else that you’d like people to know about you (Hobbies? Passions? Favorite TV Show)?

I do!  I’m excited that there is a second Wild Bullets on the way, more Monstrous, and another Holliston graphic novel.  I have some other projects, too, but they’re in the early stages.  Some movie stuff, some comics stuff.  I hope I’m pulling off an air of mystery here, as opposed to just an air of vagueness…

All my hobbies involve sitting.

Where’s the best place to find out more about Monstrous and the rest of your works?

People can check out my website: www.gregwrightcomicbooks.com

They can also find me on Facebook: www.facebook.com/gregwrightcomicbooks

And I have two Twitter accounts: @GregHenchman and @GregWrightBooks

Monstrous is available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble, and all my comics can be purchased directly from Source Point Press: http://sourcepointpress.storenvy.com/products

For those who like prefer digital copies to physical copies, all my comics are available digitally through Comixology, Drive Thru Comics, and ComicsBlitz.

The website for Monstrous is www.monstrousworld.com

Thanks for taking the time to hear me out!  I’m grateful for this opportunity.

See you all in Frankenstein’s Europe, folks.  Let’s get MONSTROUS!

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Greg Wright has written several comic books: Monstrous, Wild Bullets, and Holliston: Friendship Is Tragic.

Greg earned a Ph.D. in American Literature and Film from Michigan State, and his award-winning fiction has appeared in a variety of journals. He has taught screenwriting, media studies, creative writing, and composition.

If he had a castle with a secret passage, he’d probably tell everybody and make it just a regular passage.

***

I’d like to thank Greg Wright for taking the time to answer my questions!

 

 

***

John McGuire

The Gilded Age Kickstarter is still going on. Check it out on Kickstarter here.

John McGuire is the creator/author of the steampunk comic The Gilded Age. Want to read the first issue for free? Click here! Already read it and eager for more?

Click here to join John’s mailing list.

His prose appears in The Dark That FollowsTheft & TherapyThere’s Something About MacHollow EmpireBeyond the Gate, and Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows.

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com.

Steampunk Fridays – Interview with the Creator of Boston Metaphysical Society

Check out John McGuire’s The Gilded Age steampunk graphic novel on Kickstarter!

One of my favorite things about Steampunk stories is how the genre lends itself to the use of real world people and places… but with a twist. Monster hunters set on their path by some of the leading scientists of the era (Tesla, Edison, Bell, and Harry Houdini!). An X-Files in a Steampunk world!

I can see why it started its life as a tv show pitch.

***

How long have you been creating/working in comics?

About five years.

At what point did you sit down to become a writer? Do you remember the first thing you wrote?

I was a child, so it’s tough to say when or what exactly. I was always inventing stories in my head then probably by the second grade, I was writing my own.

Who inspires you? Or do you have a favorite artist or creator?

Other indie creators inspire me, but right now Marjorie Liu’s Monstress and Lady Killer by Joelle Jones are my favorites.

How do you manage your daily/family life with your creative work? Is this your 9 to 5 or is this your 10 to 2?

What a question. Hahahaha. Time management is always hard. I work part-time for LA Fitness as an instructor, plus have a husband, two dogs, and house that gets cleaned (by me) on occasion.  I usually write in the afternoons from 2-5 pm and do what I call administrative tasks (expense reports, signing up for cons, travel arrangements, inventory, etc.) for an hour after I get home from the gym. Obviously, laundry and dog walking get squeezed in there somewhere…. And my husband.

It’s often difficult to get word out about independent comics. What do you do to market and promote your books? Anything work really well or really poorly?

I do a blend of social media, exhibiting at cons, reaching out to blogs, reviewers, doing panels and interviews like this! I don’t think you should focus on just one aspect of marketing. However, I do like reaching out at Comic Cons or steampunk conventions because you can develop a relationship with a potential fan.

What’s your process look like when you’re writing? Do you go with the full outline? Or are you a fly by the seat of your pants type?

Most of my stories require some research, then I do character bios, a beat sheet, an outline, then a treatment where I break down the scenes and page count for comics. If I’m doing prose, I pretty much do the same except the treatment is broader in scope, but allows for me to go off in different directions if need be, or if I’m feeling inspired.

What inspired you to create Boston Metaphysical Society?

It was a combination of my love of history, science fiction, and The X-Files. However, the original story was a TV Pilot that I wrote at UCLA School of Theater, Film and TV when I was a graduate student in the MFA Program in Screenwriting. It was suggested I turn it into a six issue mini-series, which I did. And here we are.

Was this a case of coming up with the story first and then the setting or vice versa?

The story and setting came up simultaneously in this case.  I thought it would be cool to have paranormal detectives set in an alternate history of Boston and the United States and have to deal with a different set of social mores and expectations than we deal with today.

Or at least not quite so blatant.

What’s been the reaction to the book?

Excellent. I have what I refer to as a small group of ardent fans. And I love them all.

Are there themes and/or subjects you find yourself drawn to again and again in your work?

Absolutely. I almost always deal with the theme of classism. In the case of Boston Metaphysical Society, I also dealt with racism and sexism.

After running 4 successful Kickstarters for Boston Metaphysical Society, what have you learned about the process of Kickstarter? What do you think has contributed to hitting your goals on Boston Metaphysical Society? Did you worry about “going to the well” too soon after each one?

Soooo many questions….LOL. Once upon a time, back before 2013, you could pretty much throw something up on Kickstarter and get it funded. Not anymore. You have to create a fanbase before you launch and post what is essentially a grant proposal as your Kickstarter page. There is much more professionalism in how projects are presented now.

Many of the reasons we make our goals so quickly is that I have a core email list of people who I’m 99% sure they will back the project. Not only because they like it, but I have delivered on all past rewards in a timely fashion. I don’t like to do more than one campaign a year as it is very time intensive and takes away from my productivity. I do think there is a risk of “going to the well” too much, but I have friends who have no problem with it and have been successful.

Do you view the platform as a testing ground for the concepts?

I don’t view the platform as a testing ground for concepts when it comes to comics. Most comics use Kickstarter as a pre-order mechanism. However, I can see how tech items might use it that way.

You currently have 6 issues (a full trade) of Boston Metaphysical Society. What’s the overall plan with Boston Metaphysical Society?

All stories after the timeline of the original six issue series will be in 32-34 page one shots. I’ve just completed a draft of the first story which will feature Granville Woods and Tesla. These will be complete standalone stories focusing on two or three of the main characters. Anything that occurs before the beginning of the six issue series will be in prose. In fact, I’ve got a first draft of the first novel which begins five years before the start of the comic. Unfortunately, I haven’t had time to go back and rewrite it yet.

Comics is an amazing collaborative medium. Tell me a little about working with artist Emily Hu.

Emily has been a joy to work with. We set up a schedule where she would deliver three pages a week. I would review them, then give her notes while she continued on to the next three.  We worked together for almost four years and she completed the entire series. We hope to work together again in the future if her schedule permits it.

If you could go back in time ten years, what advice might you have for your younger self? Something you wish you knew?

Start reading comics sooner. Let me explain… My brother has probably the largest graded collection of Daredevil comics in the U.S., but I was never interested in superhero comics because I thought that was all that was available. It wasn’t until I decided to adapt the TV Pilot that I took a sequential art class and started reading indie comics. That was such a revelation. I loved them and wondered where they had been all my life.

Do you have any upcoming projects? Anything you’d like to promote? Anything else that you’d like people to know about you (Hobbies? Passions? Favorite TV Show)?

 

Yes! I’m very excited to announce a couple of things. The first is that I was hired to write a four issue mini-series for SFC Comics/Evoluzione Publishing called, Kasai: The Homecoming.  It will be my first time writing a superhero and I loved doing it. It’s set in a world where many superheroes are pro-wrestlers. My series will focus on a young female pro-wrestler from Japan who is half-human and half-fire demon. It will be on Kickstarter in early 2018.

The other project is a short story called, The Scout, which will be in the anthology, The Fourth Monkey. It is an anthology which deals with social and environmental issues and will launch on Kickstarter on Sept. 12, 2017.

I also wrote a short story for The Enyes Anthology called Saturday Night Fever. It contains various stories from indie creators about the Enyes family; a family where each of its members are either monsters or have some sort of relationship with monsters. It will be on Kickstarter in 2018.

And definitely look for us on Kickstarter for the Granville and Tesla standalone story in early 2018. Right now the working title is Boston Metaphysical Society: The Scourge of the Mechanical Men.

Where’s the best place to find out more about Boston Metaphysical Society and the rest of your works?

Website: www.bostonmetaphysicalsociety.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/BostonMetaphysicalSocietyComic/

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/mholly

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/mcholly1/

Storenvy: http://bostonmetaphysical.storenvy.com/

***

A TV, feature film, and comic book writer, Madeleine is the winner of the Sloan Fellowship  for screenwriting, and the Gold Aurora and Bronze Telly for a PSA produced by Women In Film. She also won numerous awards while completing the UCLA MFA Program in Screenwriting. Having run a number of successful crowdfunding campaigns for her comic, Boston Metaphysical Society, Madeleine now teaches a crowdfunding class for independent creators at Pulp Fiction Books in Culver City as well as guest lecturing at UCLA Professional Program in Theater, Film and TV, Scriptwriters Network, and Dreamworks Animation. She has also published the book, Kickstarter for the Independent Creator.

Boston Metaphysical Society webcomic is the recipient of an HONORABLE MENTION at the 2013 GEEKIE AWARDS and was nominated for BEST COMIC/GRAPHIC NOVEL at the 2014 GEEKIE AWARDS. The comic has also been nominated for a 2012 Airship Award as well as a 2013, 2014 and a 2015 Steampunk Chronicle Reader’s Choice Award. Her novella, Steampunk Rat, was also nominated for a 2013 Steampunk Chronicle Reader’s Choice Award.

She also has an anthology of short stories and novellas called Boston Metaphysical Society: Prelude  (in print as well as eBook) based on the Boston Metaphysical Society universe available at all major online retailers. The Boston Metaphysical Society short story, Here Abide Monsters, is part of the Some Time Later anthology from Thinking Ink Press. She is currently writing the first novel based on the series and was hired by SFC Comics/Evoluzione Publishing to write a four issue mini-series based on the SFC character, Kasai.

Formerly a nationally ranked epee fencer, she has competed nationally and internationally. She is an avid reader of comics, steampunk, science fiction, fantasy, and historical military fiction.

Madeleine lives with her rocket scientist husband, David and two rescue dogs: Ripley and Bishop.

***

I want to thank Madeleine Holly-Rosing for being so gracious with her time!

***

John McGuire

John McGuire is the creator/author of the steampunk comic The Gilded Age. Want to read the first issue for free? Click here! Already read it and eager for more?

Click here to join John’s mailing list to learn about the upcoming The Gilded Age Kickstarter.

His prose appears in The Dark That FollowsTheft & TherapyThere’s Something About MacHollow EmpireBeyond the Gate, and Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows.

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com.

Steampunk Fridays – Interview with the Creator of The Legend of Everett Forge

Check out John McGuire’s The Gilded Age steampunk graphic novel on Kickstarter!

Cowboys and Robots.

I’m a sucker for the Western genre. Anytime they cross my tv, I end up stopping on that channel to watch. And Heaven help my poor wife if the word Tombstone is mentioned anywhere in there. She might as well give up on me being productive for the rest of the day (even though I own the DVD).

Everett Forge is in the mold of many of those same Westerns. He’s clearly a man on a mission to destroy Omega’s entire livelihood. He’s a myth, a ghost story the Robots tell each other at night – make sure you lube all your joints of Everett Forge will get you.

***

How long have you been creating/working in comics?

I’ve been working in comics since about 2014, that’s when I officially started work on The Legend of Everett Forge.

At what point did you sit down to become a writer? Do you remember the first thing you drew/wrote?

I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember. I was super into Goosebumps when I was a kid, so the very first stories I wrote were all lighthearted, scary ones.

Who inspires you? Or do you have a favorite artist or creator?

So many people. Family inspires me to continue pursuing my dreams. And the list of creators out there who inspire me is way too long. I’m just extremely fortunate to be surrounded by so many amazing, loving, and talented people.

How do you manage your daily/family life with your creative work? Is this your 9 to 5 or is this your 10 to 2?

Writing is my 10 to 2 for sure. It’s a tough thing trying to balance family life and my creative work. I don’t want to sacrifice any time with my wife and daughter, so I will write while they’re at the grocery store, visiting family, or when they’re asleep.

It’s often difficult to get word out about independent comics. What do you do to market and promote your books? Anything work really well or really poorly?

With essentially no budget, I stick to the cheap and easy social media methods like Facebook and Instagram. I’m fortunate enough to be friends with a lot of indie creators who help get the word out about my comic as well. Kickstarter, in my opinion, works the best. It’s an amazing platform to get your work out to thousands of people from across the globe. From just two Kickstarters, my readership has expanded over a couple hundred. That is pretty solid for a new indie title.

What’s your process look like when you’re writing? Do you go with the full outline? Or are you a fly by the seat of your pants type?

I always start with a general outline. I don’t get too detailed with it as I’ve come to find that often times the story will tell you how it wants to be told. For example, in the second issue, I wrote and re-wrote a couple pages over and over again because they just weren’t coming out the way I outlined them. Then I realized that the way I was writing them was way more organic than what the outline had. Sometimes, as a writer, you have to give a little of the control over to the story.

What inspired you to create The Legend of Everett Forge?

I always say I wish my inspiration was deeper and more meaningful…but, to be honest, I just wanted a story that had robot cowboys! A college professor once told me that if you can’t find the stories you want to read, write them yourself. So, that’s what I did!

Was this a case of coming up with the story first and then the setting or vice versa?

Well, it all initially began with me wanting to see robot cowboys. Then in high school, I wrote a short story about an unnamed gunslinger who has to fight his way out of an old west town full of robots. The story ended up lost somewhere in my hard drive until I came across it a few years later in college. I was minoring in Film Production, so I decided I wanted to expand on it and turn it into a screenplay. I worked on that for about a year or so, on and off. After I finished it, I shelved it again. It wasn’t until a couple years later, after I attended one of my first Comic Cons, that I decided I wanted to revisit the story again in comic book form. And here we are!

What’s been the reaction to the book?

So far, so good! Reactions from the Steampunk community regarding the comic have been extremely positive. Even those who aren’t big into either Steampunk or Westerns have enjoyed it. But, I think my favorite reactions are from the people who typically aren’t into comics. I have one reader who hadn’t read a comic in over 20 years, but after he saw my first Kickstarter, he decided to pledge and now he’s one of our biggest fans.

Oh, and just a few weeks ago someone shared one of our posts and said they want to cosplay as one of the characters from the story.

That’s amazing!

I don’t think you can get a bigger compliment than that!

Are there themes and/or subjects you find yourself drawn to again and again in your work?

I seem to always be drawn to stories about death, vengeance, or humanity. I love exploring all three. Fortunately, The Legend of Everett Forge focuses heavily on all of those in varying ways.

After running 2 successful Kickstarters for The Legend of Everett Forge, what have you learned about the process of Kickstarter? What do you think has contributed to hitting your goals on The Legend of Everett Forge? Did you worry about “going to the well” too soon after each one? Do you view the platform as a testing ground for the concepts?

Networking and expanding my fan base have proven instrumental in hitting our goals. My very first Kickstarter failed miserably. I only had a few pages of the comic done by that point, I had only started my facebook page maybe three or four months prior, and I knew very few people in the industry. After the Kickstarter flopped, I sat down, licked my wounds, and started to put myself out there more. Within a year I had become close friends with dozens of indie creators and more than doubled my fan base.

You currently have 2 issues of The Legend of Everett Forge. What’s the overall plan with The Legend of Everett Forge?

Yeah, the second issue should be out in about a month or so. The initial story arc for Forge will run seven issues. After that, I have two additional story arcs for him that will close out the entire saga. If I’m lucky, I’ll be able to tell the tale of Everett Forge for the next ten years!

Comics is an amazing collaborative medium. Tell me a little about ClickArt Studios.

They’re the best! Back in 2014 when I was looking for an art team, I posted an ad on DeviantArt. Rai responded almost immediately and showed me their work and stated that he and his wife Ochie were big Steampunk fans. I knew almost instantly that they were the ones I wanted to work with. Then the concept art started coming in, and suddenly these characters that had been in my head for years started to come to life in ways I could have never imagined!

They’re all such amazingly talented and kind people! I love working with them and I just love them in general. I hope to have a very long career with them!

If you could go back in time ten years, what advice might you have for your younger self? Something you wish you knew?

I’d tell my younger self not to wait to pursue his dream. I spent so many years thinking I wasn’t ready or doubting that anyone would even want to read my work. Had I spent all that time actually getting my stuff out there, I’d be light years ahead of where I am now.

Do you have any upcoming projects? Anything you’d like to promote? Anything else that you’d like people to know about you (Hobbies? Passions? Favorite TV Show)?

I’m currently working on a new comic series with Godsend creator, Lee Jiles. It’s called Red Scare. It’s still in its early stages, but so far it is looking great. I’m also working on a pitch for a superhero story. Other than that, I enjoy playing video games and reading comics. I love spending time with my family. My favorite TV Show is Westworld. Shocking, right?! 😛

Where’s the best place to find out more about The Legend of Everett Forge and the rest of your works?

Check us out on Facebook at facebook.com/EverettForge. Otherwise, follow me on Kickstarter and Instagram.

***

I want to thank Scott Wilke for being so gracious with his time!

***

John McGuire

John McGuire is the creator/author of the steampunk comic The Gilded Age. Want to read the first issue for free? Click here! Already read it and eager for more?

Click here to join John’s mailing list to learn about the upcoming The Gilded Age Kickstarter.

His prose appears in The Dark That FollowsTheft & TherapyThere’s Something About MacHollow EmpireBeyond the Gate, and Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows.

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com.

Steampunk Fridays – Interview with the Creator of Hinges

Check out John McGuire’s The Gilded Age steampunk graphic novel on Kickstarter!

 

There are moments when you start reading a comic and you just know there is something about it which speaks to you. And maybe you don’t understand every little thing which has been set out in front of you… maybe those are the things you’ll figure out on a reread. But when you lock in, that’s all it takes.

When I sat down to check out some Steampunkish comics a couple of weeks ago and came across Hinges by Meredith McClaren, I thought I’d read a few pages and move on with my life.Bauble and Orio had other plans for me.

Bauble and Orio had other plans for me.

***

How long have you been creating/working in comics?

Oh gosh.  Maybe nine years now?  It’s all a blur.

At what point did you sit down to become an artist/writer? Do you remember the first thing you drew/wrote?

I don’t know what I started doing first.  But I do remember that my interest developed after a friend gifted me a SAILOR MOON comic.  Once I realized it was an option to make comics, I started seriously contemplating the idea.

Who inspires you? Or do you have a favorite artist or creator?

God.  The list is so long.  Anka always does wonderful work.  So does Bengal, Juan Díaz Canales and Juanjo Guarnido, naniiebim, Nico Delort, Tomer Hanuka…  Pretty much all of Twitter and Tumblr.  There’s just a wealth of beautiful work out there I could not possibly name them all.

How do you manage your daily/family life with your creative work? Is this your 9 to 5 or is this your 10 to 2?

I haven’t really hit a chord with work/life balance.  I don’t have a family or spouse to depend on me, so I can work whatever hours I feel like.  The only thing I really work around right now is sleep.  And it turns out that I need a lot of it.

It’s often difficult to get word out about independent comics. What do you do to market and promote your books? Anything work really well or really poorly?

Going to conventions and talking to people face to face helps.  But it’s far from the only option.

Putting out fan work will get people to pay attention to you. And if you attach links to your creator owned work to those posts, people will share and promote you simply by reblogging the work they originally liked.  I find that works well.

And make yourself a broken record when you really have a campaign going, like Kickstarter.  You really do need to get loud while you’re running those.

What’s your process look like when you’re writing? Do you go with the full outline? Or are you a fly by the seat of your pants type?

When I can get away with it, I usually just work with a bare bones script.  I know what will happen on each page and what points need to be verbalized.  But I won’t have finished dialogue until I’m actually lettering it.

But when working with editors the script definitely needs to be locked down first, and I’m still learning how to meet that need well.

What’s your process look like? Digital or by hand? Do you have a preference?

I’m all digital now that I have a Cintiq.  I was tired of having all the paper around.

While I only had a tablet to work off of I preferred to draw and ink on paper and then color digitally.

But I’m definitely addicted to my Cintiq now.

So, I was late to the Hinges party, but I consumed it in like a day (and I might have gotten a little misty a couple of times 🙂 ). I feel like the relationship between Bauble and Orio reminds me of all my pets. You love them, you get frustrated by them, and you love them again. With the two of them, it just feels like everything is earned as time goes on.

Not sure there was a question in there. 🙂

It’s very nice to say though, regardless.  😉  Thank you.

What inspired you to create Hinges? And why did you go the webcomic route?

I wanted to do a story about dolls for a while because I just liked the aesthetic.  But Orio’s story really started to formulate as I was preparing to come home from college.  There was a lot surrounding the ideas of home, returning, and comfort that came together to form the story.

And then some of my other projects were held up in their developmental stages, so I had time to start really playing with HINGES.

As for the webcomic route.  I wanted to challenge myself and see if I could commit to having a certain amount of work done weekly, and posted consistently, for a long period of time.  Having it on a public forum would help keep me locked into that commitment.

Was this a case of coming up with the story first and then the setting or vice versa?

Probably the other way around.  I had very basic ideas about what kind of stories would be served by the visuals HINGES provided, but the full story didn’t formulate alongside the world until later.

I saw that you put the trades out through Image, how did that come to be?

I ran a successful Kickstarter to print book one.  Faith Erin Hicks made mention of it to IMAGE and the book got into their hands and we worked out the rest.

It means a lot to publishers when you’ve shown that you can complete and print a book, as well as acquire enough support to fund it.

What’s been the reaction to the comic?

Good.  I have my loyal followers.  And I’m happy the story struck a cord for some.

Are there themes and/or subjects you find yourself drawn to again and again in your work?

Working up to confrontation I think.  It takes a long time to go from, ‘this is not good’ to ‘this must be addressed head on and forcefully.’  It’s something I struggle with a lot.

I also seem to be drawn to characters that have something artificial about their ‘humanness.’  Dolls, robots, bodysnatchers.  They all make the question of what makes people, people much more obvious.

It’s something that’s come up several times.

Did you always have a complete story in mind when you started Hinges or was that something you discovered through creating the story?

Yes.  I do not start stories if I don’t know the ending.  I’m flexible about how we get to an ending, and over time I can recognize that the meaning of that ending might have evolved.  But I won’t start anything that doesn’t have a goalpost.

I just don’t want to scramble at the end.  And I also like to know that projects I start HAVE an end.  I don’t like working on things that have an indefinite lifespan.

If you could go back in time ten years, what advice might you have for your younger self? Something you wish you knew?

You’re on the right track.  And you can do all of this by your terms.

Do you have any upcoming projects? Anything you’d like to promote? Anything else that you’d like people to know about you (Hobbies? Passions? Favorite TV Show)?

I’m working on an adult book with LIMERENCE that features the relationships and sexy times of superheroes called SUPER FUN SEXY TIMES.

That won’t be out until 2019 though.  There are a few works that will be coming out much sooner, but unfortunately, none of them have been announced yet.

I will have a sketchbook of mermen called BUBBLY available on my storenvy around October though.

Otherwise, the only things to know about me is:  I make famously coveted caramels. I take politics very seriously.  I watch a metric ton of documentaries.  And I love audio drama horror like NO SLEEP or LORE. (But not horror movies. I really do not like horror movies.  It only works if there are no visuals.)

Where’s the best place to find out more about Hinges and the rest of your works?

HINGES

http://hingescomic.blogspot.com/

ALL WORK

http://meredithmcclaren.tumblr.com/

https://www.patreon.com/meredithmcclaren

https://twitter.com/IniquitousFish

STORENVY

https://meredithmcclaren.storenvy.com/

***

A Meredith McClaren is very dangerous when encountered in the wild.  Place any pizza and Diet Cokes on the ground slowly and then vacate the area.  If appeased, the wild McClaren will produce work, as seen in HOPELESS SAVAGES v4 by Jen Van Meter, HEART IN A BOX by Kelly Thompson, and JEM and the HOLOGRAMS v4 by Kelly Thompson.

If the McClaren finds your offerings wanting, you will know you are doomed when upon hearing the crow caw three times at noon.

***

I want to thank Meredith McClaren for being so gracious with her time!

***

John McGuire

John McGuire is the creator/author of the steampunk comic The Gilded Age. Want to read the first issue for free? Click here! Already read it and eager for more?

Click here to join John’s mailing list to learn about the upcoming The Gilded Age Kickstarter.

His prose appears in The Dark That FollowsTheft & TherapyThere’s Something About MacHollow EmpireBeyond the Gate, and Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows.

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com.

Interview with a 9 Year Old

Every generation prior to the current one is always held with such esteem. And they always lament the next generation. They were the hard-workers and this next one is lazy. We know how the world works. They’ll be lucky if they can tie their shoe laces correctly.

I heard the same things said about the Generation Xers that are now being said about the Millenials. And I’m pretty sure in a few years we’re going to hear that the Millenials are worried the world is going to go downhill with the generation after them.

I try not to judge too harshly. I want to understand where other people’s thoughts and experiences have taken them. And maybe I don’t always agree with them about any number of things, I’m also not entirely sure I’m the one who is correct.

***

I loved video games growing up. The Atari was played as much as humanly possible, and when everyone else had a Nintendo, I begged my parents for one of those. As the years have gone on I’ve gone through many gaming systems and it is probably only in the last few years I haven’t played as much as I might like (given the quality of today’s games).

However, there is a weird (to me) phenomenon where a whole generation of kids aren’t necessarily playing the video games themselves, but are instead going online to watch others play the games. I don’t know if I even knew about this being a thing until South Park ran an episode a few years ago “#REHASH”.

I think a Cartman commentary of my life would be “Gah, going to work again? Boring!”

And it is clearly big business as it shows up on my tv some late nights on TBS or ESPN. The other night I saw a show where they were breaking down a Street Fighter Tournament like it was the NCAA March Madness selection show. And while I might watch out of curiosity for a little while, mostly shows like that make it where I’d just rather play something myself.

During our annual family beach trip, I saw that my nephew is one of those kids who watch  Youtubers (is that even the correct word?) for hours upon hours. Now he also plays some games, but there is a definite joy for him by simply watching and listening to other people playing.

So I decided to run an impromptu interview with my nephew in an effort to get to the bottom of this (and did a follow up on the phone). But as with anything asked of him, he can be a bit evasive to actually give answers.

He won’t look up because he’s ENGROSSED… or maybe he doesn’t like taking pictures. Definitely one or the other.

Who is your favorite person on Youtube to watch?

fudz

Why is that?

He’s funny.

Ah, I see. Not going to give me very much to go on already. That was OK, though, I had ways of making people talk.

So what’s the deal with watching other people playing video games on Youtube all day?

I don’t know.

Hmm, this might be a tougher nut to crack than I first thought.

Well, you like watching them, right?

Yes.

Right. Maybe try a different tactic?

Would you rather watch them or play the game yourself?

Watch them.

Really? Why is that?

They show you how to play. You don’t have to look up how to do something because they already know and won’t get stuck.

Finally, now we’re getting somewhere.

Do you watch them play games you’ve never played?

Most of them I’ve never played.

He’s up to something… don’t let the grin fool you.

Oh.

I mean, I’ve played Dumb Ways To Die and Battlefront.

What’s your current favorite game?

Star Wars Battlefront and Nascar 14. It’s a much better game than ’09 was.

What is your favorite game to watch, but you haven’t played?

Unknown Battlefield

Is making Youtube videos something you’d want to do?

Yes.

Why don’t you do it now?

I don’t have all the equipment for it.

At that point, his people swooped in and ended the interview. The phone went dead. I scrambled with my own cell, making sure it wasn’t me who was the problem… but I had plenty of bars and plenty of power. His mother called me back shortly thereafter to let me know that he hung up on me.

I’m not sure if I was asking the right questions or if he was just leading me through a maze with no escape. Or maybe I was getting too close to the truth of it all, and he decided that he’d end the conversation before we reached a place we could never come back from.

And I’m not sure if I’ll ever really know the answer.

***

John McGuire

John McGuire is the author of the supernatural thriller The Dark That Follows, the steampunk comic The Gilded Age, and the novellas Theft & Therapy and There’s Something About Mac through the Amazon Kindle Worlds program.

His second novel, Hollow Empire, is now complete. The first episode is now FREE!

He also has a short story in the Beyond the Gate anthology, which is free on most platforms!

And has two shorts in the Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows anthology! Check it out!

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com.

Steampunk Fridays – Interview with the Creators of Arcane Sally & Mr Steam

Check out John McGuire’s The Gilded Age steampunk graphic novel on Kickstarter!

 

Independent comic creators’ biggest problem may be getting the word out about their work. If you aren’t attached to one of the larger companies, there is much more opportunity to have your comics slip through the cracks.

Having recently completed their latest Kickstarter, the team over at the Arcane Sally & Mr. Steam comic are clearly doing something with their Steampunk… Ghost Story… Victorian supernatural action-adventure… Love Story?

But don’t listen to me, check out the Book Trailer they did and then come back for the interview!

***

The Players:

David Alton Hedges – Writer

Jefferson Costa – Art

Shane Amaya – Producer

***

How long have you been creating/working in comics?

David – This is my first comic!

Jefferson – I’ve been working with comics since I was about 21 years old.

At what point did you sit down to become an artist/writer? Do you remember the first thing you drew/wrote?

David – I was an artist first, but in college, I started to realize that the people around me were better artists.  After I turned in one particularly creative art term-paper, my professor pulled me aside and said, “Why are you an art major? You’re a writer.”  That’s when I realized my special purpose was to use words to paint pictures in people’s imaginations.

Jefferson – As far as I can recall, I started drawing around 4 or 5 years old, but I don’t remember what my first drawing was. Drawing was a hobby at first. In my country, for someone of my humble origins, I didn’t see any prospect or path toward a career in illustration, art, or entertainment. But nonetheless, I took a step when I was about 20.

Just before turning to comics, I was studying aircraft maintenance!

Who inspires you? Or do you have a favorite artist or creator?

David – I am in awe of Neal Stephenson, jealous of China Mieville, and still trying to figure out Gene Wolfe.  Jeff VanderMeer is one of my heroes.  But if I had to pick one writer whose career I wish was my own, it would be Dan Simmons.  People scratched their heads over DROOD but I loved it.  It’s one of maybe five books in my lifetime that I read twice.

It’s probably obvious that Alan Moore and Mike Mignola were strong influences for Arcane Sally.

Jefferson – Various artists and creators inspire me in different ways and different media. A few could be Flavio Colin (a famed Brazilian creator), Mignola, Tarkovsky.

How do you manage your daily/family life with your creative work? Is this your 9 to 5 or is this your 10 to 2?

David – I HAVE to get out of the house to get any real work done.  I share an office with another writer – we interrupt each other sometimes but it’s good to have someone on hand to lob an idea at and get an immediate reaction.  We have white boards with indecipherable cave paintings on them that mean something only to us.

Jefferson – I manage it very badly I think, hahaha. I always work more hours than recommended for health, around 15-16 hours a day, or more, and this is crazy. In the past six months, I’ve been trying to manage it better. Nowadays I work 10 hours a day and preserve the weekends for family.

It’s often difficult to get word out about independent comics. What do you do to market and promote your books? Anything work really well or really poorly?

Jefferson – I am personally very bad and selling and promoting myself. I really need help with this.

David – This one’s for Shane!

Shane – Not much! We have the requisite Facebook and Twitter accounts, but we found that neither moves the needle much in terms of getting eyeballs on the comic—or backers to our Kickstarter campaigns.

We have the comics at our local comics store (Avalon in Santa Barbara, CA!). And we post them online on Tapastic and LINE WebToon. Tapastic and Webtoon are great mobile platforms and we have some enthusiastic fans there. But the sites are geared for mostly teen anime type comics, so our readership is relatively low in comparison to the most popular comics (with millions of readers), but all the more appreciated for it!

Now that we have three issues and a collected TPB out, we’re very excited to start hitting the cons in CA (for now). We hope to be at WonderCon and SDCC next year.

Our very first con will be on August 20th at the LA Comic Book and Science Fiction Convention, and then we’ll be at Stan Lee’s LA Comic Con in at the end of October (27-29)!

We’re hoping these cons and others will make all the difference!

What’s your process look like when you’re writing? Do you go with the full outline? Or are you a fly by the seat of your pants type?

David – I’m a screenwriter so I outline.  I don’t really know what would happen if I didn’t – probably a big mess of ideas and cool scenes that don’t really build up to anything until – suddenly – the end!

What’s your process look like? Digital or by hand? Do you have a preference?

David – I mix it up: breaking story by hand (with Blackwing pencils!) and then burning rubber on the keyboard.

Jefferson – Today I’m more adapted to digital, and I prefer it. But it depends on what each work requires.

I was able to get in on your last Kickstarter, so I’m looking forward to being able to read the story so far. What inspired you to create Arcane Sally & Mr. Steam?

David – I’ve always been obsessed with anything Victorian.  I wrote a Jack the Ripper script years ago that I never sold, but I included supernatural overtones and a chase across the London rooftops that I loved.  Arcane Sally was a way to take some of those ideas and just let them morph into something even crazier.

Was this a case of coming up with the story first and then the setting or vice versa?

David – Setting came first – Victorian London!  Then the characters appeared and began to demand to be heard.

What’s been the reaction to the book?

David – The first reaction I got was from a friend who read an early draft and said, “Did you really just write a love story?”I said, “No, it’s a Victorian supernatural action-adventure.”  He said, “Bullshit – this is a love story.”

I said, “No, it’s a Victorian supernatural action-adventure.”He said, “Bullshit – this is a love story.”

He said, “Bullshit – this is a love story.”

Are there themes and/or subjects you find yourself drawn to again and again in your work?

David – Someone much smarter than me who has read a lot of my writing told me:“All of your scripts are formal complaints about Death.”  She was right – everything always comes back to me shaking my fist at the inevitability of dying.

“All of your scripts are formal complaints about Death.”She was right – everything always comes back to me shaking my fist at the inevitability of dying.

She was right – everything always comes back to me shaking my fist at the inevitability of dying.

After running 3 successful Kickstarters for Arcane Sally & Mr. Steam, what have you learned about the process of Kickstarter? What do you think has contributed to hitting your goals on Arcane Sally & Mr. Steam?

David – This one’s for Shane!

Shane – Three successful campaigns–and two failed ones from which we learned plenty. Kickstarter has been the best platform so far in terms of finding our readership. There’s a lot of comics on Kickstarter. And comics readers go to Kickstarter to look for new comics to read. It’s win-win. We have terrifically loyal backers backing us for every issue and encouraging us to continue. And that you can’t put a price on.

Did you worry about “going to the well” too soon after each one?

Shane – We don’t worry about going to the well too often, because our fans are on board, as some have said, for the long haul. It’s a great relief to be able to count on getting enough to produce the rest of the books. But it’s also a challenge to keep producing new rewards and incentives to keep each campaign fresh—but that’s also the fun of it. We don’t take anything for granted, least of all our readership!

We initially attempted to raise money to complete the whole series. And we learned then that the best way to go about it was issue by issue. But we produced the first issue on our own. So we offered #1 as a reward for the campaign to raise money for #2. This way, backers know the book is finished at the get-go: they are guaranteed to get something. And that makes a big difference. Plus, since we only try to fund one book at a time, it’s much easier to meet and exceed the goal. And we always put our minimum at actually lower than we need, because we’ve seen that people are more willing to back a project that looks as if it will succeed.

Do you view the platform as a testing ground for the concepts?

Shane – Is Kickstarter a testing ground for concepts? Sure. But it’s hard to say what the standard is, if there is one at all, in terms of what people will back. There’s always that project you might think is dubious that racks up triple your pledges. It goes to show that Kickstarter is a place where any creator can go to find their audience/readership/consumer and succeed if they can meet their expectations and follow through on delivery.

You currently have 3 issues of Arcane Sally & Mr. Steam. What’s the overall plan with Arcane Sally & Mr. Steam?

Shane – It’s slated for 10 issues. We plan to collect 4-7 and 8-10 in separate TPBs, and then collect the whole run. Ideally, we’d then go to an established publisher who could print and distribute it to the direct comic book market and beyond.

Comics is an amazing collaborative medium. Tell me a little about working with each other (now’s a great time to spill any dirt you might have on them!).

David – Screenwriters must collaborate, so it hasn’t felt too weird to do it on this comic.  Jeff is so cinematic in his layouts and where he positions the reader’s eye, so it’s always a pleasure to see his artwork.  Shane and I have brief, heated arguments about details and then we resolve them and move on and we’re usually both happier with the results.

Jeff lives in Sao Paulo, Brazil so we’ve never had a disagreement!  Pretty hard to argue with someone thousands of miles away – plus he is a super nice guy!

Jefferson – It’s great when everyone is heading for the same place in relation to the project, like this team is.

If you could go back in time ten years, what advice might you have for your younger self? Something you wish you knew?

David – The pursuit of money is a lie.  Creativity is everything, but you must make your work professional.  And all writing is bullshit if the writer doesn’t expose himself and risk being vulnerable.

Jefferson – I would tell myself to plan better, everything, my career choices, and my career path.

Do you have any upcoming projects? Anything you’d like to promote? Anything else that you’d like people to know about you (Hobbies? Passions? Favorite TV Show)?

David – I have a Netflix movie that I wrote that’s going to be shot in South Africa in November: Scorpion King 5!  I loved the original with The Rock because it reminded me of 80’s sword-and-sorcery movies, so was thrilled when Universal told me to take this franchise and bring it back to Egypt.  It’s a pretty low-budget movie by today’s standards so no one was very nervous about it, so they let me invent whatever I wanted.

Where’s the best place to find out more about Arcane Sally & Mr. Steam and the rest of your works?

We are on Tapastic (https://tapas.io/series/arcanesally)

Webtoon (http://www.webtoons.com/en/challenge/arcane-sally-mr-steam/list?title_no=51190)

Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/arcanesally?ref=hl)

Twitter (https://twitter.com/)

Patreon (https://www.patreon.com/dragabok)

www.facebook.com/jcostarm (for Jefferson Costa’s Facebook)

***

DAVID HEDGES is a screenwriter from Los Angeles and a recipient of the Academy Nicholl Fellowship in Screenwriting. He has written scripts for several major studios. This is his first comic.

JEFFERSON COSTA is an artist and animator from Brazil, and the winner of three HQ Mix trophies, the “Oscar” of Brazilian comics, for Best Anthology and Best Graphic Novel in 2015, and for Best Graphic Adaptation in 2013.

***

I want to thank everyone over at Arcane Sally and Mr. Steam for being so gracious with their time!

***

John McGuire

John McGuire is the author of the supernatural thriller The Dark That Follows, the steampunk comic The Gilded Age, and the novellas Theft & Therapy and There’s Something About Mac through the Amazon Kindle Worlds program.

His second novel, Hollow Empire, is now complete. The first episode is now FREE!

He also has a short story in the Beyond the Gate anthology, which is free on most platforms!

And has two shorts in the Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows anthology! Check it out!

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com.

Steampunk Fridays – Interview with Ken Reynolds

Check out John McGuire’s The Gilded Age steampunk graphic novel on Kickstarter!

 

Independent comic creators’ biggest problem may be getting the word out about their work. If you aren’t attached to one of the larger companies, there is much more opportunity to have your comics slip through the cracks.

Today we shine a little bit of light in the direction of Cognition’s creator: Ken Reynolds.

***

How long have you been creating/working in comics?

Only about 2 years, ‘properly’. I used to make comic strips for my design blog, but I didn’t really commit to making comics until after my daughter was born… Suddenly I had limited time for my freelance work, and I figured I better use it to make stuff I genuinely enjoyed rather than trying to just make some extra money on stuff that I found frustrating or unfulfilling.

I started out as a letterer for Dave Hailwood on the sci-fi anthology, 100% Biodegradable… 2 years later I’ve written 3 single issues, editing an experimental anthology that is about to release its 7th issue, and I’m about to complete a book I’ve drawn.

Things, kind of, snowballed!

Who inspires you? Or do you have a favorite artist or creator?

The whole small press comic scene inspires me. Everyone is making stuff they are truly passionate about, and they are genuinely interested and supportive of anyone making comics. And everyone SHOULD make comics if you love the form. Go to a con, chat to creators… Everyone will be really keen to give you advice and help you get started. It’s amazing.

As for more mainstream creators… I’ll read anything Jason Aaron writes, and look at anything Dave McKean draws.

How do you manage your daily/family life with your creative work? Is this your 9 to 5 or is this your 10 to 2?

I have a VERY understanding and supportive wife.

I work full time… We have a busy family life… But when my daughter goes to bed, I get to work on the comic stuff. It’s all time management stuff. Early mornings, late nights, working through lunch hours, squeezing in creativity as and when you can.

Everything is a balancing act… I’m sure I ignore a few things I shouldn’t in order to make it happen… Like exercise or leisure (I barely watch TV anymore and I wish I picked up computer games more) but there will be time down the road for that stuff.

Family first, then work… Comic stuff next, everything else for what’s left.

So, it’s difficult… But I can’t do it any other way. I’ve conditioned myself to make stuff, and to break that now would be a silly thing to do.

It’s often difficult to get the word out about independent comics. What do you do to market and promote your books? Anything work really well or really poorly?

I wish I had that golden bullet of an answer, but I don’t.It’s a slog. It’s a constant cycle of shouting into the void of social media and general marketing in the hope someone will take a look.

It’s a slog. It’s a constant cycle of shouting into the void of social media and general marketing in the hope someone will take a look.

Most of my readership found me through Kickstarter, and the rest stems from being an active member of the small press community. Taking an interest in what everyone else is up to, so they might take an interest in you. But it’s got to be a genuine interest… Everyone sniffs out a phony. No way to fake it.

I found it a tough balance. I dislike the hard sell and often worry about ‘bothering’ people. SO I may well be missing out on my full marketing potential.

The easiest way to market a product is to make a really good product. People talk about exceptional things. You can’t buy word of mouth marketing, you have to inspire it with something that’s worth talking about… I strive to make something exceptional.

What’s your process look like when you’re writing? Do you go with the full outline? Or are you a fly by the seat of your pants type?

My process is messy. I start with a notebook full of scribbles. I distil that down onscreen and break it up into chunks before writing a script.

Within that, though, there is a lot of outlining and planning. By the time I get to scripting, I know everything that is going to happen, and all of the beats and pacing.

The joy in writing for me is surprising myself with dialogue within that framework. Sometimes an unexpected idea will crop up… But that’s what editing is for!

I’m a big believer in completing things, even if they are terrible. At least you have something to work with, to improve.You

You can’t make ‘nothing’ any better.

I love the idea of Cognition! What inspired you to write Cognition?

Cognition went through a lot of stages before it got to where it is now…I guess the initial idea came from a ‘Steampunk Pinocchio’ concept. Originally it was a much smaller, slower and quieter story about a robot that came to life in a basement and explored that small place believing it to be the full extent of the universe.

I guess the initial idea came from a ‘Steampunk Pinocchio’ concept. Originally it was a much smaller, slower and quieter story about a robot that came to life in a basement and explored that small place believing it to be the full extent of the universe.Things grow and develop. Ideas come along and fall by the wayside. I still plan on

Things grow and develop. Ideas come along and fall by the wayside. I still plan on reusing that initial idea within the current series. But all in all the messages and ideas behind the book have totally changed. Big concepts for me are the duality on our personalities and how wrapped up in our sense of self is, in our physicality.

You currently have 3 issues of Cognition (issue 0 through issue 2). What’s the overall plan with Cognition?

There are 2 more issues to complete the first arc… I’m writing them at the moment, and I might try complete and print them together… We’ll see.

Sam is taking a break for a while as he works on other exciting projects, but we’re looking to wrap up the first story as soon as we can.

I know where I’m leaving things at the end of the arc… It’s a good stopping point, with plenty of potential to carry on. I have stories for years in my head, but it comes down to a lot of outside factors to keep it going. I’ll attempt to pitch the first arc to wider distribution and see if we can figure out a way to make production a bit ‘easier’… We’ll see.

Basically, as long as Sam wants to draw it, I’ve got stories for us to tell.

Comics is an amazing collaborative medium. Tell me a little about working with Sam Bentley, the artist on Cognition.

Sam is a dream!

Seriously, he has so much to do with how this book as connected with the audience. His art tells so much of the story without me having to overwrite or fill in any blanks.

Getting pages to my inbox is a real treat as he makes my script come alive in ways that are always different… And better than I had in my head when I was writing.

This is the joy of collaboration… People taking your idea and executing it better than you originally imagined.

The more we’ve worked together the better our collaboration has become. There are some sections in the scripts now that I don’t have to fully script. I give Sam the narrative beats and let him have the creative freedom to figure out the best way to join the dots artistically. I have a huge respect and trust in him as an artist and I want to keep the project as fulfilling and interesting as I can for him.

He does sketches, we discuss things, he re-draws and suddenly these miraculous pages appear and I get to add letters and feel bad about covering bits!

After running 3 successful Kickstarters for Cognition (and 4 overall), what have you learned about the process of Kickstarter? What do you think has contributed to hitting your goals on Cognition each time?

Kickstarter is a wonderful platform for self-publishing. I use it in a very particular way though. I only go to KS once I’ve got a complete book. I only use it for printing costs and getting it over the line… This has a few drawbacks and benefits… It means I have to self-fund most of the book, but it means I can fulfill the campaign very quickly after funding. This has resulted in having quite a decent reputation on the KS platform. I dislike the horror stories of people waiting years for what they’ve paid for etc… Plus I’m very conscientious and would dislike an unfulfilled campaign hanging over me!

The wonderful thing about KS is that there is no single way of utilizing it. I run things in a way that they are in my comfort zone, and that zone is defined by my own personal circumstances and set of ethics.

Everyone will be different, but there are a set of rules I set myself and play by… It’s worked thus far.

Did you worry about “going to the well” too soon after each one? 

I don’t worry about going back too much, because I know I’m offering a product that has proven sustained interest at the level I need for it to succeed. As long as there is enough support I’ll keep seeing it as a viable avenue to create the books I want to make.

Do you view the platform as a testing ground for the concepts?

As for a testing ground…. I’m not sure. I see it as a place to take a complete project and make it a reality. I’m uncomfortable with ‘speculative’ campaigns… There is a lot of trust needed, and I, personally, don’t feel comfortable asking that much of people willing to support me.

Ken’s desk where the magic happens… with a smaller desk for his daughter.

If you could go back in time ten years, what advice might you have for your younger self? Something you wish you knew?

Just make stuff!

Why did I wait until I was in my thirties to commit to making comics? Because I didn’t think I could pull it off, because I doubted myself…

Seriously, just make stuff… Find other people that like making the same sort of stuff, talk to them, share your work… Do more work, get better. Fail…. Fail HUGE! But don’t stop. Just use whatever you learn to make the next thing better.

I’m learning with each page, each book each project… The last thing I made is the best thing I ever made. If I don’t feel that way about it, nobody else should.

Do you have any upcoming projects? Anything you’d like to promote? Anything else that you’d like people to know about you (Hobbies? Passions? Favorite TV Show)?

I’m very close to finishing my first solo book. I’ve done everything on the page. Writing, art, lettering… The whole lot. It’s quite a personal story about pregnancy and the end of the world! But I haven’t quite figured out what I’m doing with it yet… So if that sounds interesting follow me on twitter as I’ll be going on and on about it once I decide. (@kenreynoldsdesign)

www.kenreynoldsdesign.co.uk
http://kenreynoldsdesign.deviantart.com/gallery/
http://cognitioncomic.bigcartel.com/
http://slicedquarterly.co.uk/

Ken has lettered for many independent publishers and creators, including Alterna, Markosia, Grayhaven Comics, & Insane Comics. He was proud to be part of the lettering team that completed the 750+ page epic that is ‘The Explorers’ Guild’ by Jon Baird, Kevin Costner and Rick Ross published by Simon & Schuster.

He also writes the supernatural adventure series ‘Cognition’, edits the experimental comic anthology ‘Sliced Quarterly’ and is an assistant editor of the sci-fi anthology 100% biodegradable.

***

I want to thank Ken for taking the time to answer all my questions. If there ever was a doubt to trying to create your art, just fall back on Ken’s own words: “Just make stuff!”.

***

John McGuire

John McGuire is the author of the supernatural thriller The Dark That Follows, the steampunk comic The Gilded Age, and the novellas Theft & Therapy and There’s Something About Mac through the Amazon Kindle Worlds program.

His second novel, Hollow Empire, is now complete. The first episode is now FREE!

He also has a short story in the Beyond the Gate anthology, which is free on most platforms!

And has two shorts in the Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows anthology! Check it out!

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com.

 

Interview with Author Stacy Bennett

You may not yet know the name Stacy Bennett, but you will. Last year I had the pleasure of reading an early version of one of her upcoming novels. The experience was thrilling–one of those instances where I couldn’t stop reading. I was wide awake in wee hours of the morning devouring every word I could. That good. Seriously. I thought it was about time I featured her here at Tessera and she was gracious enough to oblige.

Stacy BennettTell us about yourself, where you’re from and what you love.

I was born and raised in New Jersey, but I’ve lived in a number of different places, having moved more than 13 times between college and being married to a Marine. I’m back in Jersey now with my kids doing the single mom thing. As for what I love — When I was little, it was always “I love horses” and later became “I love my boyfriend/husband”. Now the answer isn’t so simplistic. Perhaps it was the years with the Marine Corps that taught me to grow where I’m planted because with the exception of my children (both in high school) and our pets, the things I love are subject to availability. Right now, those things include lunches on a sunny porch, rainy days off work so I can read and sip coffee, nature walks and anything that makes me laugh. Of course in any location, nothing beats good food with good company and bantering talks about life, the universe and everything especially when those conversations don’t end abruptly in the answer 42.

Did you always know you wanted to be a writer, a creator of stories?

Actually, no. I mean I wrote write stories as a kid just like I drew pictures as a kid. I also spent quite a bit of time daydreaming, planning out adventures in my head. But I never really considered it a vocation. Even now I’m pretty sure I won’t be quitting the “day” job. I love to write, I love to be immersed in a world of my own design and that’s why I do it.

Stacy Bennett

What books inspired you growing up? Which stories have you held onto?

Like many people who have much older siblings, I was a precocious reader and grew up in a house full of science nerds with shelves of sci-fi/fantasy books. I finished The Forgotten Planet, The Hobbit, Narnia and the entire LOTR trilogy before I was 12. I read every book the library owned that had any horse stories in it by the end of grammar school (no doubt where I get my penchant for tragedy, later reinforced by a love of Shakespeare).

My mom was also an avid romance reader. She had this little book that listed all the complete Harlequin series and she crossed each one off as she read them. Because of this we made a weekly trip to the Book Swap near us since by then the library ceased to offer enough new options. I found some of my best fantasy books secondhand in that little shop in Milltown. It was there I found:

  • Nine Princes in Amber by Roger Zelazny (I scoured weekly for the rest of the series)
  • Dragonflight which led to an Anne McCaffrey addiction. My faves were The Ship Who Sang and Crystal Singer.
  • In school, I was enthralled and amazed by LeGuin’s The Left Hand of Darkness and Lathe of Heaven.
  • I also fell in love with C.J. Cherryh’s Morgaine Cycle and especially The Faded Sun Trilogy which I felt was a remarkable work of cultural commentary (in the same vein as Left Hand of Darkness).
  • And outlier fantasy works like Diamond’s Lady of the Haven and Lindskold’s Through Wolf’s Eyes.

The world of publishing has changed so much in the last five years. What advice would you give new authors?

Personally, I don’t have time to be a master of all trades when it comes to my writing. My “job” in this enterprise is the actual writing, cranking out 70,000 to 120,000 coherent words. I’m responsible for the ideas, the story lines, the characters. But things like book covers and marketing, those are areas where I could use a professional’s input. So my advice is to not be afraid to hire a professional to make your work as good as it possibly could be. Professional editors and proofers to me are a must and worth the investment. A professional cover artist also can make a big difference in how people receive your work. I’m not saying you need to spend a fortune, but by all means have your work polished by people who know what they’re doing and know the business. In the end, it will improve your readers’ experience, and isn’t that the goal?

Son of Anubis by Stacy BennettWhat are you working on now? And where can we find more?

A few things. My fantasy novel Quest of the Dreamwalker is out for proofing right now, in fact. It’s Book I of The Corthan Legacy series and I’m hoping for a late September release on that one. Also, I’m working on The Goddess’s Dark Hand for my Goddess Stone Trilogy which is also fantasy and would be out sometime in 2017.

I have a paranormal fantasy novella available on Amazon now called Son of Anubis. It’s a fun but quick read. For those who like dogs or werewolves, it might fit the bill nicely.

****

Thank you, Stacy!

Websites:
http://stacybennettauthor.com/
BHC Authors

Social media:
Goodreads
Facebook
Twitter
Instagram

Creative Interview with Martin Powell

Martin PowellThis week’s creative interview is with author Martin Powell, who I wish I had met at JordanCon back in April, but our paths never crossed. We connected afterward via Facebook and it’s been wonderful to discover Martin’s amazing library of talent. I hope you’ll be delighted too!

Tell us about yourself, where you’re from and what you love.

Well, I’m an insomniac writer of prose, graphic novels, and children’s books, with hundreds of published credits, which I suppose is proof of my restlessness. I was born and raised in Louisville, Ky., spent a number of years in the Twin Cities, but now I reside in Florence, Alabama with my wife, Leia Barrett Durham Powell.

Did you always know you wanted to be a writer, a creator of stories?

I did, actually. Although I was also interested in many other things like stage magic, astronomy, and my formal education was in paleontology, which I’m still deeply connected with. But the writing bug bit me very early. I wrote my first book during Christmas holiday when I was in the second grade. So, yeah, I’ve always been lucky enough to know exactly what I wanted to do.

Martin Powell and the Komodo Dragon

 If you had to pick a favorite genre, which would it be and why?

Martin Powell and the T-RexNot sure if I really have a preference. I’ve pretty much written in every conceivable genre, from mysteries, science fiction, horror, comedy, westerns, and over two dozen children’s books. Ray Bradbury was a great friend and mentor, and he always stressed remaining flexible, which is crucial for the survival of a full-time writer like me. Happily, I’ve be able to write some of the industry’s most popular characters, such as Superman and Batman, Sherlock Holmes, Popeye the Sailor, and Tarzan of the Apes. I’m a very lucky guy.

We never officially met at JordanCon this year, but I saw you there. How and when did you become a part of this amazing event?

It was an amazing show, for certain. Actually, I sort of tagged along with my wife, as she’s a regular presence at JordanCon, with her novels and stained glass art. We both had a great time and, as a first-time guest, I felt very welcomed and at home there. Next year, please come to my table and say hello!

Martin PowellWhat are you working on now? And where can we find more?

Well, my most recently published books are JUNGLE TALES OF TARZAN, from Dark Horse/Random House (which, amazingly, sold out within a couple days of being released), and a new children’s graphic novel version of ROBINSON CRUSOE, from Stone Arch Books. Currently, I’m writing seven different weekly online comic strips for Edgar Rice Burroughs, Inc., and Leia and I are co-writing the prose novel, THE HEART OF FRANKENSTEIN, a genuine sequel to Mary Shelley’s original book. A number of other new projects loom in the near future, but I can’t talk about them yet. I’m looking forward to all of it. I always believe that the best is yet to be.

You can Follow Martin Powell on…

Amazon
Facebook

Thank you, Martin for taking time out of your busy schedule for our little interview. I will definitely stop by your table next year!!

Creative Interview with Author and Illustrator Michael Blackbourn

I’ve met more than a few amazing creative people via Twitter.  One of those is Michael Blackbourn, an author and illustrator (just for starters). He agreed to let me shine a spotlight on his creative endeavors this week!

Cindercast - Chapter 1Tell us about yourself, where you’re from and your journey to being a published author and illustrator.

Thanks for this interview and thanks for asking. My journey on the road of published author and illustrator is really just beginning. I’ve had a creative inclination for a long time and It’s only recently that I’ve channeled it directly into telling my own stories. After finishing high school I spent a few years jumping out of planes blowing stuff up in the army. The idea of combining camping with guns seemed attractive and I was fortunate to have been stationed in Italy while I was enlisted.

I didn’t really want to wake up one day and realize I was forty and still sleeping in a puddle. So I used my time wearing camo face-paint to figure out what I wanted to do next. Since I’d already tried the combination of camping and guns I figured I would take two other passions and see how they worked together. Art and computers were up next. I went to a 3d animation school and am now employed as a 3d visual effects supervisor, I’ve been lucky to work on films like Iron Man, District 9, Mocking Jay and many others.

Have you always loved both writing and illustration?

I’ve always loved drawing. Telling a visual story is what drew me into 3d animation and effects. The writing is more recent. It’s a way to communicate the storytelling in my head without needed things like the huge budget needed for film. It’s definitely been the hardest part for me to learn. As a voracious reader I could have always told you what novels I liked, but its so much harder as a writer to craft those words into something someone else may want to read.

Can you tell us a little about your process and your choice of medium?

My process for my first book was a mess. It was a single idea, What if you were small and lived on a beach, what would that world look like. From there it took a couple years to turn sketches and notes into a narrative and art that was a finished product. Along the way I learned so much about books, publishing, ebooks, art, and writing. In the end most of the art was done with pencil and paper and then finished using a digital paint program. The cover of my kids book, Cindercast, was a fully digital oil painting. From my feature film work I’ve become accustomed to having an ‘undo’ to rely on.

Cindercast

Are there themes and/or subjects you find yourself drawn to again and again in both your art and writing?

I’m not sure yet. I’ve completed a kids illustrated adventure book and I’m putting the finishing touches on a sci-fi short story (non illustrated). One is a journey of a tiny girl having to survive on the beach between the tides and the other is about the madness triggered by an AI researcher about to launch a super intelligent thinking machine. The similarity between them is that I like to transport the reader somewhere and challenge their thinking on a subject. Both stories show the world from a perspective that isn’t our usual experience.

Barnacles

What are you working on now? Where can we go to view/purchase your work?

Cindercast by Michael Blackbourn

My sci-fi short story is in progress. It needs another month or so of editing and then I’ll put it up on Amazon for sale at 99 cents. My kids book is available here: http://amzn.com/B00T2T9PYW

You can get it as a paperback or as a kindle ebook. I put in a lot of effort to make sure the formatting of the art would look great as an ebook and in paper. Also please check out my website www.michaelblackbourn.com or www.cindercast.com for other news about me or my work or my art.

Interview: Cosplayer and Makeup Artist Bekah Shambrook

Bekah ShambrookI’ve been looking forward to this interview for the last several weeks. Bekah Shambrook, daughter of author (and friend) Lisa Shambrook, is an amazing artist. AMAZING. Often times, she is her own canvas.

Tell us about yourself, where you’re from and what you love.

I’m Bekah from Carmarthen, West Wales and I love art, I always have. In school I was the art nerd, you could find me in the art rooms in every spare moment. I loved it. It was only natural for that to follow into my life, I now work part time as a freelance make up artist and spend every spare moment making cosplay costumes.

How did you get started in makeup artistry and cosplay?

I always loved art but it took a while for me to work out what aspect of it was truly me. Throughout school I tried photography, pencil drawing, digital art, sculpture… I enjoyed them all but they were never quite me. When I started my GSCE’s at the age of fifteen I decided to recreate Salvador Dali’s Mae West on my own face (I’m afraid I don’t have the photo any more), and that was the beginning. I branched out in the same course and used my family to recreate the amazing looks from Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland and, for the first time, tried my hand at prosthetics turning my sister into a zombie in the name of art. Much to her dismay, I had never actually learned what to use, and used PVA glue and tissue paper (don’t try that a home). Once I left school, I started a face painting business (www.masterpiecefacepainting.co.uk) which I still run and love, but I quickly decided to expand into makeup artistry and I’ve worked with photographers to create wonderful pieces of work.

Masterpiece MUA Sample

The cosplay is more recent but it all ties in. I didn’t take fashion or textiles at school, I didn’t know how to sew, I wasn’t great at sculpture, but I’m nothing if not ambitious! A few of the models I know through the makeup work also did cosplay, and I love watching the cosplay music videos on youtube so I thought, why not? My first cosplay was November 2014, I decided to cosplay Thranduil from The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug. I had no idea where to start, but I managed it!

Bekah Shambrook as Thranduil

My second, and most recent, was this March. I decided to cosplay Maleficent from the recent Angelina Jolie film, but I didn’t want to cosplay her later costumes, the leather and staff… Oh no, I wanted to cosplay her Queen of the Moors costume, y’know, the one with the wings! So off I went, and 100 hours later I had made her dress, horns, armour, and fully articulated wings! (I even won Cardiff Film and Comic Con’s open Masquerade!)

Bekah Shambrook at MaleficentAre there themes and/or subjects you find yourself drawn to again and again?

When it comes to makeup I love to create extreme looks, I love to challenge myself. My favourite looks are the ones where I have complete freedom, when there are no constraints.

As for cosplay, I have a list as long as my arm of cosplays I want to make! Although there are characters I love that have simple costumes I tend to steer away from them for cosplaying, as I said earlier, I love a good challenge. Cosplay is a learning tool for me, I will never know it all. I learn something new every costume I make. So I guess to answer your question, I’d have to say, anything with a challenge.

What are your goals and aspirations?

My goals are small ones, in terms of cosplay I would be honoured to be invited to guest at a convention. Big, small, anything, I think that would be wonderful. I also aspire to have the confidence to enter a big cosplay contest like London Super Comic Convention’s Championship. At the moment, the goal isn’t to place, but just to have the confidence to enter.

One day I’d love to visit San Diego Comic Con too…

What are you working on now? Can you give us a peek?

Right now, I’m working on Toothless from How to Train your Dragon, but with a twist. I’m making it a humanoid, armoured Toothless. I’m hoping to have it ready by London MCM Comic Con in May, but I have only just started so wish me luck!

Toothless Plans

You can see all my making of photos on my facebook page linked below, but for now, here’s a sneak peak of the armour design.

Links:

Arkhdrauth Cosplay Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/ArkhdrauthCosplay
Masterpiece MUA Website: www.masterpiecemua.co.uk
Blog: https://www.bekahcat.wordpress.com
Twitter: @BekahCat
Instagram: @Arkhdrauth

Author Interview with Kevin Tumlinson

Among the handful of podcasts that I listen to is the Self Publishing Podcast. Basically 3 independent writers come on weekly and share their thoughts and experiments and interviews with the rest of us trying to find our way in this brand new world of ebooks and tablets and whatnot. I’ve been listening since almost the beginning, randomly stumbling upon them through some way or another.

I’ve since become a bit more interactive with some of those like-minded fans of theirs. And it has been a wonderful experience so far with people sharing ideas on how to go about getting more eyeballs on the works we’re creating. So, when Kevin put out the call to do some kind of interview swap, I raised my hand.

***

What would you like people to know about you?Kevin-wall-Brenham_300

I hail from a once thriving world called Wordslingeton, where my highly advanced race loaded me into a small capsule and launched me to this planet in an effort to preserve Wordslinging culture. I also provide author coaching for those looking to get into this game. The two are very similar.

At what point did you sit down and decide to write that first book?

I was actually in about second grade the first time I sat down and decided to write a book. I wrote in pencil, on lined notebook paper, and filed about four pages front and back (including the hand-drawn cover … very “young Renaissance!”). When I took my book to school, my teacher informed me that “books aren’t written on notebook paper.” Thus propelling me into a downward spiral of “my work isn’t good enough” that has lasted to this day.

But the first real book I wrote was an as-yet unpublished horror story. Unpublished, because it was just awful. Truly terrible. It’s not bad as “writing” goes, but for plot and structure and characterization, it’s more horrible than its own premise. I’m haunted by it.

I did, however, learn a lot from it.

Just the act of sitting down and actually writing a book was a big boost for me. It showed me I could do it. And, having done it once, I did it again. And again. And again. I may not ever publish that first book (I go back and forth on it, digging it out of the drawer at least once per year), but I’ll always be grateful to it, because it was a start.

The first time I followed through and actually published, however, was the first book in my “Citadel” series. That book, too had it’s “awfulness.” But mostly in the form of arrogance on my part. I didn’t bother with editing or proofing, for example, because that would keep my book from reaching the yearning masses in a timely manner. So instead, I released the first edition au naturale. Raw. Straight from my keyboard to the page.

And, shockingly, despite all the typos and continuity errors, it was actually well received! It didn’t draw those “yearning masses” I had hoped for (I’m still looking for those guys … I imagine them out there, wandering and yearning, forever hoping to stumble upon my work. Poor buggers). But I did get an audience out of it. And an education. I’d say that writing and publishing that book, and then rewriting and re-publishing it, was the best author course I could have enrolled in.

If you could start all over again, what advice might you have for your younger self?

Two things: Start writing sooner, and write more books.

It’s ridiculous how much time I wasted in my younger years. Wholly ridiculous. More than anyone else I’ve ever known, I’ve had piles upon piles of free time in my life, in which I had this yearning to write, but was too lazy to actually do it. I wanted to be published, but I didn’t want to write a book. That was hard. That was work. I wanted my brilliance to be recognized just in and of itself.

So once I perfect my own TARDIS (made, at the moment, using old TV parts and zip ties), I’ll be paying a visit to Young Kevin, giving him a thump on the head and a copy of Scrivener, with a note that says “Write the books, save the world.”

Because the one piece of advice that’s universal, from all authors everywhere, is “Write more books.” It’s also the best marketing advice you’ll get. “Write more books,” and you’ll be more “discoverable.” “Write more books” and you’ll build an audience faster. “Write more books” and you’ll have more credibility. And you can write more books by starting right now, not waiting until “the time is right.”

In your latest work, what was the hardest scene to get right? And what did you do to solve the problem?

In “Sawyer Jackson and the Long Land,” the toughest scene was when I had to introduce the main character (Sawyer) to the main antagonist (Aeodymus). The two are on different planes of existence, by necessity, and can’t actually interact with each other yet. So it was the classic conundrum … Aeodymus is the Voldemort to Sawyer Jackson’s Harry Potter, and you can’t have them facing off in the first act. You have to spend some time learning to fear the guy. You have to feel the anticipation.

I worked on this for a while, but the answer came to me all of a sudden, in the shower (as all answers do). I had already created a very cool “magic system” for this book, and tied it to what I was calling the Omni—the Omniverse, or the collection of all existence and realities. The knotwork is this thing that winds through everything in existence, and our guy Sawyer can see and manipulate it. I made the decision, then, that to make Aeodymus a more personal threat, I needed him to have the same ability. So I wrote a scene in which Sawyer and Aeodymus interact within a sort of dark knotwork.

It was a real turning point for the characters, and a real point of danger in the story. It started a thread that has woven its way right into Book 2, which explores the idea of the dark knotwork even further.

And I think that’s the key to good storytelling. The practical solutions are both fed by and fed into the story itself. One influences the other at all times. So there are those story telling devices that we, as authors, study and commit to using. And when we start implementing them we realize, “I have to tie this to my mythos. I have to make these practical, real-world pieces fit my improbable world.” That’s when it gets fun. That’s when you get to really be the author you always dreamt of being. Real writing happens right there.

Writing is often a very lonely profession, but one of the ways to combat that is through collaboration. Have you managed to work with any other writers on projects up to this point?

I’m actually collaborating on two different books right now, along with my own work. One is a serialized project called “The Lucid,” which was the brain child of author Nick Thacker (www.nickthacker.com). Nick’s another author coach and marketing smartypants, like me. I actually went to him at one point for author coaching, and liked him and his approach. I pinged him about collaborating together, and he was onboard immediately. He’d been looking for someone to write with, and he liked my work. So he shared his idea for “The Lucid,” and now we’re finishing up the first episode. It’s already available for pre-order on Amazon! (http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00N4AO18U)

The second collaboration is with an old friend and mentor. Todd Hewey and I have produced documentaries together in the past, and he was actually the first person to give me a real shot at breaking into that industry. I learned a lot from him. So when he approached me with his idea for a book, based on a film treatment he’d written that was getting some attention from Warner Bros., there was no way I could pass it up. It’s a grueling book to write, of course. It’s science fiction, but int he style of Tom Clancy and other prolific and hyper-detail-oriented authors. Not really a strength of mine. But that’s where Todd comes in, supplying me with more detail than I can handle, most of the time.

What’s been great about both of these projects is how much I’ve learned from my partners. We’re always teaching each other, frankly. I know quite a bit about characterization and plot, and how the two meld and dance together. I’m a character writer, first and foremost. And that, I’ve discovered, is something unique in this business. Most authors tend toward setting or details as their mainstay. I start with and lead with the characters. In my own books, the charactersare the story. You could lift them out of their settings and put them anywhere, and it wouldn’t change much.

So working with these two guys has given me a chance to hone that skill while learning a few new tricks. Nick’s experience in marketing his work has been invaluable. Todd’s experience as a historian has as well. I’m picking up traits of both as we go, and coming out a better writer for the experience.

What’s your process? Outline? Pantser? A bit of both?

I lean way more towards “pantser” than “outliner,” which is ironic, considering my staunch position on pants. But I have to admit that as I’ve taken this on from a more business-oriented approach, I’ve started outlining a lot more. I use story beats to guide my work.

Typically I’ll write beats for the first few chapters, though, and get excited about the story, and frustrated with the sort of truncated way I’m having to outline. At that point, I just start writing. And I think that’s for the best. Because anything that lets you start putting words to the page is good, and you should always go with it.

Once I get to the end of my beats, I almost always just keep going. I know the story by now, and the characters. There’s no reason to stop. But then there may come a point where I don’t really know where I’m going anymore, and I need to stop and reassess. At that point, I’ll sometimes finish out beats for the rest of the book. And by the time I’ve gotten a few down, I’m already raring to get back to the writing. So it’s a nice balance of both, I think.

What does your typical writing session consist of? Do you have a specific goal of words or time or chapters?

I get up every morning and exercise for an hour or so before writing. I do the dishes from the night before. I shower and shave and brush my teeth. Basically, I start my day just like I would if I were going to a “real job.” And I start early, about5 am every morning.

Usually by about 6:30 am I’m in front of the keyboard, and Scrivener is up and humming. And I begin.

I have a word goal for each session. I aim for 1500 words. That’s actually about a third of what I can comfortably produce in a morning, but it’s enough of a goal to make serious daily progress. You won’t write a book in 30 days at that goal, of course. When I’m really aiming to churn a book out each month, I set my daily count around 3K, and generally double that on most writing days.

But I think it’s more important to have that minimum word target than to aim for blasting a third of a tenth of a book out with every session. For some authors, just sitting down with that block of time is tough enough. I think if you can set a word goal and stick to it, you’re doing the work you mean to do. You’re actually being an author, instead of paying it lip service.I used to aim for a page count, but that never felt natural. Hitting a set word target each day helps me feel a rhythm for this stuff. Besides, the number is bigger. What sounds more impressive, 1500 words or 3 pages?

Sawyer Jackson-FRONT

Writer’s block – do you get it and how do you handle it?

I have absolutely no idea what this is.

I’m not being flip—I legitimately have never experienced anything I’d call “writer’s block.” I’ve had moments when I sat down with no plan and no idea, with the intention of “I’m going to write something, dammit!” And at that point, sure. I was a little stymied. But I think it’s in the same way that an architect would be stymied if they had no idea what sort of building they needed to design, and where it was going to be placed, and what it was going to be used for.

Having an idea, before you sit down, is the key to keeping things flowing. Sometimes that idea is small and simple. “I’m going to write about a frog with a magic hat.” Sometimes it’s more grandiose, involving reams of research on a topic that evokes passion in your breast. But I’d advise writers to avoid sitting in front of the keyboard at all until they actually know what they want to say. Not word for word—but they must have the spirit and essence there, ready to go.

If you’re still stuck at that point, I think the secret is to just start typing (or writing by hand, if that’s your thing).

I’ve worked as a copywriter for most of my career. There were times when I was asked to write something for a client, and the instruction was a very informative “We need 1,500 words on Subject X.” I may know nothing whatsoever about Subject X when I sit down, but that’s easily solved with Google. And once I have some background, now it’s all about the output. I’m probably not an authority on Subject X, but I know how to start a sentence and see it through. So I just start writing.

That adage of “writing is rewriting” is true. Absolutely true. You may start by plunking down whatever nonsense is in your brain, but eventually you’ll come back and revise what you’ve written to fit the timbre and tone of what followed it. As you write, the ideas take form, and gel. They become something, whereas before they were just concepts and abstract thoughts. Now they have form. They’re clay. But they’re clay you made yourself, and as you shape it you’re even more in contact with it than a sculptor or carver would be. They shape what the world gives them. Writers shape the medium of their own creation.

The secret to kicking writer’s block to the curve, then, is to just start. Write without editing. Write without caring about your mistakes. You’ll get it fixed when you come back later. Write knowing full well that a more informed, better educated version of you, in the future, will be back to make it shine.

What inspires your writing? What are the questions you want to answer with your books?

I’ve lived with the stories I tell most of my life. My childhood and upbringing inspired a lot of my writing. The fantasies that play out in my head, and the grist of books and television and films I’ve seen, they all come together to form a sort of ongoing tale. I’m just shaping that tale and putting in on the page, with faces I drew myself, and dressed in clothes I made.

I don’t know that I’m actually trying to answer a particular question with my books. Quite the opposite, actually. I’m trying to evoke questions. I want people to read something I wrote and think, “Huh. That’s something I never thought about before. Where could I take that? Where could it take me?”

Music while you write? And if so, does it change based on the project? Favorite albums?

For the most part, I listen to a lot of instrumental Celtic music. A few years ago I discovered that it really resonated for me as I wrote. I keep it pretty low, almost inaudible, but it makes me feel a little “comfy” as I sit in my home office, tapping away. It’s a very “transporting” kind of music.

I’d say there’s likely a flavor in all my books that ties in with that music.

Of course, I do switch it up every now and then. Sometimes I’ll play something contemporary. But that usually makes me feel a little off balance. The tones of my work change, slightly. It’s like switching the source of water at a soda factory. You get pretty much the same product, but it has a slight difference in taste. Maybe I should have used a classier analogy, like wines made with grapes from different regions.

Do you have any upcoming projects? Anything you’d like to promote?

I mentioned this earlier, but Nick Thacker and I are working on episode one of “The Lucid,” which promises to be a very cool serial. Lots of action, lots of clandestine activities, and a nice post-apocalyptic flavor. It’s a very unexpected kind of story, and one I think my readers will love!

I’m also nearly done with the second Sawyer Jackson book, “The Shadow Strait.” It’s a fantastic continuation of the series, and the people who loved book one are not going to be disappointed. The characters in this book keep evolving and keep getting better. I’m completely in love with this story!

Where’s the best place to find out more about you and your work?

My home online is www.kevintumlinson.com. That’s a portal to anywhere and everywhere else you can find me! But you can also connect with me on social media:

Facebook: /kevin.tumlinson

Twitter: @kevintumlinson

Google+: +kevintumlinson

Kevin Tumlinson’s Author Bio:

Kevin Tumlinson is the Wordslinger—a full-time indie author and author coach, spending most of his days enslaved to a MacBook that just won’t let him go outside and play. His “Citadel” and “Sawyer Jackson” series are reader favorites, and his readers are Kevin favorites.

Learn more about Kevin and his work at www.kevintumlinson.com.

 

 

Grab Bag – June Edition

This week has been a little scattered. Lots of little things, some bigger things, and a glimpse at possibly really big things. As such, I don’t really know if any one topic feels right for this week’s blog piece. So instead I want to make sure I catch everyone up so that we’re all on the same page.

 

Hey I have a short story up for FREE!

PIECE-BY-PIECE-COVER

The short story, Piece by Piece, which I debuted on this very site here (for free), is now not only available on Amazon (for $0.99), but also available on Smashwords – and soon will be on your Kobo, Barnes and Noble’s Nook, iBooks, and and assortment of other ebook reading sites (all for free as well). So for any of you who might have wanted to have the short on your ereader, but didn’t want to deal with a Kindle or Amazon… well, I’m trying.

My plan was always to try and get a sample of my work out into the world for free. The old give you the first taste for free and then maybe you’ll want to read more about Jason Mills (the main character in Piece by Piece) in my novel, The Dark That Follows.

 

Hey I did an Interview!

smashwords-vertical

In conjunction with getting the short up on Smashwords, I also have an interview up on the site. Technically I announced it on Tessera on Monday, but it never hurts to remind you guys and gals in case you missed it.

 

Hey I’m up for an award!

HHS-INNOVATES-TILE-AND-LOGO-400x47

For the past 2+ years I’ve been working with Terminus Media on a Motion Comic Project for HIV and STD Awareness. I was one of the three main writers on the project having written 4 of the 10 episodes. It’s been one of those things that I’ve not really been able to talk much about aside from the bare bones (it’s hard to really explain to people what you mean by “Motion Comics”, but I’m hopeful that in the months to come I can talk a little bit about the process, from my end at least.

But the biggest reason to bring it up at all is that the project has been nominated for the  HHS Innovates People’s Choice Award. They have a blurb on the project and you can watch a brief sample of what we’ve been working on here. Most importantly you can vote for our project here!

And there is nothing stopping you from sharing this with your friends as well. The voting ends this week.

 

Hey I thought this was an interesting article!

collage-of-elmore-leonard-books

Elmore Leonard wrote this over a decade ago and was recently linked to on Warren Ellis’s email thingy. While we may not be Leonard, we can at least take a moment and see what is what.

For better or worse I try to strive hard for the last one “Try to leave out the part that readers tend to skip.” Some days I do better than others. Though I kinda feel like this one thing could be a whole blog post unto itself (makes mental note that he will promptly forget).

 

Hopefully next week I can also announce having my book in print. I have the proof copy and everything looks pretty good, so… until next time.

 

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John McGuire

John McGuire is the author of the supernatural thriller The Dark That Follows, the steampunk comic The Gilded Age, and now the novella There’s Something About Mac through the Amazon Kindle Worlds program. He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com.

10 Questions plus a Giveaway!

I invited fans of my Facebook page to ask me anything. Here’s what they wanted to know!

Fly Fast by Amanda Makepeace1. Your art is eclectic…space scenes, fantasy, fractals, people, Loki, nature etc…do you have a favourite genre to paint?

I do enjoy exploring different genres! My interests are diverse as well, so it’s not surprising they bleed over into my art, but if I had to pick one it would be fantasy. Fantasy is a broad genre. It can have elements of Myth, nature and wildlife, people but all with the elements of Fantasy. I particularly love animals and creatures but also portraits. You can expect to see more of a focus in those areas.

2. If you didn’t paint or write, what do you think you would be doing instead?

As I mentioned in the previous answer, I have diverse interests. If I didn’t have any health issues I would love to work in archaeology/geology. See. Even now I can’t pick one! While at university I took Geology, Zooarchaeology, and The Geology of Archaeology. I could see myself digging up the remains of the past.

3. If/when you get “artist’s block”, how do you handle it?

I do sometimes get stuck and I’ve found that most of the time it’s because I’ve lost the inspiration for the painting. Forcing myself to keep painting only makes it worse. I’ve found walking to be the best solution. It helps to get outside, clear my head, enjoy the little things. Then I go back to the painting and think why isn’t this working for me? What needs to change? It usually works!

The Path

4. What has had the biggest influence on your work? Is it a particular artist? a genre? some personal insight?

I paint what I love. It’s that simple. As a child I spent an enormous amount of time outside, wandering the woods, drawing, collecting rocks and bits of nature, drawing, riding horses every weekend, dreaming up imaginary worlds and people based on the movies and stories I read. And of course, drawing. Not much has changed!

There are also a few artists that stick out who definitely left seeds of inspiration in my mind. Georgia O’Keeffe is the first artist I consciously remember. My mother kept a book of her art on our coffee table. John Waterhouse’s iconic images weave history, mythology and fantasy into rich worlds. Last, Michael Parkes. I saw a framed print of his painting Gargoyles back in the mid 90’s (in a print shop I’d later work at) and instantly fell in love with the magic.

Michael Parkes Gargoyles

5. What are your own personal artistic goals?

My main goal is to become a professional illustrator. I’d love to be painting covers for science fiction and fantasy novels,  middle grade books, maybe even picture books. I’d also love to create art for card and board games. I’m determined to get there!

ImagineFX6. What are some of the best resources you used to learn and still use to create your digital art??

ImagineFX and deviantART. Digital painting involves most of the same skills as traditional painting but I did have to learn how the brushes function and how they can be manipulated in Photoshop. Those two resources were and still are invaluable.

7. Are you ever going to come north for a craft show or the like??

Yes! When? No clue. But it will happen.

8. Some artists (Not me) Say that Digital art.. isn’t “real” art.. What is your response to that?

I laugh. Because nowadays painting in Photoshop and Painter is incredible. It’s just another medium. If you can’t paint/draw with traditional mediums, then it’s highly unlikely you’ll be able to in those programs. You use all the same skills and more.

9. Were you artistic as a child and what training have you received as an artist? Were you classically trained or only trained in digital arts?

Yes, I was artistic as a child. I have a creative mother and she was the first person to inspire me to draw. I’ve had a passion for drawing and art since I was at least 9 years old. My training as been less exact.

Middle School Drawing, 1989

Middle School Drawing, 1989

When I was in middle school I unfortunately had an art teacher who demeaned students without any artistic ability. She also used those with ability as an example to belittle other students. I didn’t like being used and it angered me that a teacher could be so cruel. I avoided art classes for a while.

I was an art student at university for a year. I took two drawing classes, a sculpture class, and several art history classes. But I didn’t stick with it out of fear. I kept drawing and painting but finished my Bachelors in another field.

Later, after moving to the United Kingdom, I took a year long course in Creative Painting and Drawing at Kensington & Chelsea College. It was the first time I had to attend a portfolio review as a part of my application. I was accepted and it was one of the best courses ever!

Study drawing from National Gallery in London

Study drawing from National Gallery in London, 2006

I only began digital painting about a year ago.

10. Matisse said: “Creativity takes courage.” What has been your greatest struggle re: your art?

Painting what I want to paint and not what I think will sell or what’s expected of me.

 The Giveaway!

To enter leave a comment on this blog post and be sure to leave a way for me to contact you if you’re the winner. This time around I can only ship to the US, sorry international fans!

What will you win? I’ve made a fancy collage of four paintings below. You can choose one of those paintings and I’ll send you a 5×7 inch print! You can get a better look at the paintings choices in my deviantART Gallery.

Giveaway Print Choices

I will pick the winner on Monday, November 25th while I’m drinking my coffee.

The Winner!Giveaway Winner

There were seven entries, but only one could be a winner today. I assigned everyone a number, from the first person to leave a comment to the last. The winner, according to Random.org is number 2, Sherry Key!

Sherry, get in touch with me via Facebook or email and let me know which print you’d like from the choices above.

Thank you all for entering!