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1. Interview with Maya Banks, Author of Keep Me Safe and Giveaway

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Good morning, Maya! Describe yourself in five words or less.

[Maya Banks] Introverted, cave-dweller, book-lover, LOVES-to-dish-romance!, SO grateful to my readers.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you tell us a little about your book?

[Maya Banks] Keep Me Safe is a LONG awaited story for me. I’ve wanted to write this story and book 3 for SO long. I’ve had those two stories in my head for YEARS. But a concise peek (and I’m not very concise!) is that Ramie has psychic abilities, unique abilities, that enable her to track kidnapping victims by touching an object belonging to the victim. She makes a connection to them, but the downside is that she experiences every thing the victim does once she makes that connection. Everything. So it’s rather horrifying. She’s an empath who is only able to feel or detect the evil in people. Never the good. So her “gift” is more of a curse since she’s never able to feel the GOOD.

Caleb hunts her down when his sister is abducted and they’ve exhausted all leads. He knows he’s racing against the clock and when Ramie refuses because she’s at her breaking point, he “forces” her compliance by shoving his sister’s scarf into her hands and holding her hands around it. And promptly sends her to hell.

Horrified by what he’s done, he’s determined to make it up to her. But she disappears and no amount of searching on his part is able to unearth her. Until she contacts him a year later because she’s in terrible danger and doesn’t know who else to turn to.

And well, thus begins their journey :)

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How did you come up with the concept and the characters for the story?

[Maya Banks] As stated above, this is a story I’ve literally had in my head for many years. And the first thing that came to me was a single scene where the hero forces the heroine’s compliance when she initially refuses his request for her to help find his kidnapped sister. The hero has no idea what hell he has just unleashed on the heroine and has no idea the toll it takes on her and is appalled when he discovers just what he’s done.

That scene, which is the opening scene of Keep Me Safe, was the basis for the entire story and subsequent series. Book 3 in the Slow Burn series, Safe At Last, is ALSO a story that I have had the idea living in my head for many years and I’m THRILLED not only to get to write Caleb and Ramie’s story, but Zack’s and Gracie’s story in book 3. (Finally!)

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What did you enjoy most about writing this book?

[Maya Banks] Everything! Every single word. After waiting so long to be able to bring this story to light I loved every scene.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What gave you the most trouble with this story?

[Maya Banks] Honestly nothing. When you’ve had as long as I have to think about this story you don’t encounter many “bumps in the road” simply because you’ve had so long to go over the possibilities, arrange and rearrange constantly until you KNOW exactly what you want to do with the story.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If you had a theme song, what would it be?

[Maya Banks] Uh well I think it changes often or at least I can’t think of ONE song that would fit me all the time. I’m extremely eclectic and my music tastes range WIDELY.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Name one thing you won’t leave home without.

[Maya Banks] My laptop.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Name three things on your desk right now.

[Maya Banks] While I DO have an office and a desk, I don’t always use it. I tend to switch places (writing spots) and currently my office isn’t it, so my desk is pretty clean!

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If you could trade places with anyone for just one day, who would you be?

[Maya Banks] Ok as you’re no doubt discovering I’m a really boring person! I honestly can’t think of anyone I’d like to trade places with because I’m a FIRM believer in “the grass is always greener…until you get there”

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What are some books that you enjoyed recently?

[Maya Banks] I’ve had VERY little reading time this year because I’ve been sidelines by health issues :( I’ve mostly been reading my OWN stories as I write them lol. BUT reading is ESSENTIAL for me. Especially after I come off an exhausting, stressful deadline. Reading helps me recharge the batteries and helps me rediscover my love of romance and it motivates me to go write another kickass book.

But at the same time, sometimes, especially when I DON’T have a lot of time, I don’t want to risk a new author or a new title that I’m unsure that I’ll LIKE. It’s at times like these that I fall back on my “comfort re-reads”  These are books that I love no matter HOW many times I re-read them. I’ve literally read them dozens and DOZENS of time because I KNOW they won’t disappoint me and the make me happy and motivate me to write something truly special.

So after coming off a VERY exhausting, DRAINING deadline a week ago, I was WASTED but I needed a “comfort re-read” so I chose three of Kresley Cole’s books in her IAD series and just went to bed and curled up with my super comfy pillows (I LOVE my down pillows and I LOVE my bed and down comforter and my AWESOME linens) Bed accessories are my one indulgence. So I took two days and just decompressed and read some Kresley Cole books just to give my brain a rest and make it “happy”

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?

[Maya Banks] I am VERY close to my family. I have an EXTREMELY close and open relationship with all thee of my teenage children. I know, I know! Shocking, right?? And my favorite thing in the WORLD is simply being able to put my work away after finishing a deadline and even if it’s just all crashing on the couch together and watching a movie, or gathering in the kitchen over a family meal and discussing what’s going on with them and school, these are the times I savor the most. I wouldn’t trade them for anything in the world.

I also love to travel and I am NOT a planner. If my husband and I actually try to sit down and plan out a trip down to the minutest detail months in advance, we become overwhelmed and frustrated and can never decide exactly what we want to do. We LOVE taking spur of the moment trips with no more than a day’s notice and we seem to be less frustrated with the “details” when we just GO instead of trying to plan it all out.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How can readers connect with you?

[Maya Banks] I hang out on Facebook and Twitter quite frequently. And I’m always available via email and my website always contains the latest, up to date information on all my books and releases. Links are below

www.facebook.com/authormayabanks

twitter.com/@maya_banks

www.mayabanks.com

maya@mayabanks.com

Keep Me Safe

Slow Burn # 1

By: Maya Banks

Releasing October 7th, 2014

Avon

A sizzling story of a woman who risks her life and her heart to find a wealthy man’s missing sister—the first novel in a sexy new romantic suspense series from #1 New York Times bestselling author Maya Banks

When Caleb Devereaux’s younger sister is kidnapped, this scion of a powerful and wealthy family turns to an unlikely source for help: a beautiful and sensitive woman with a gift for finding answers others cannot.

While Ramie can connect to victims and locate them by feeling their pain, her ability comes with a price. Every time she uses it, it costs her a piece of herself. Helping the infuriatingly attractive and impatient Caleb successfully find his sister nearly destroys her. Even though his sexual intensity draws her like a magnet, she needs to get as far away from him as she can.

Deeply remorseful for the pain he’s caused, Caleb is determined to make things right. But just when he thinks Ramie’s vanished forever, she reappears. She’s in trouble and she needs his help. Now, Caleb will do risk everything to protect her—including his heart. . . .

Link to Follow Tour: http://www.tastybooktours.com/2014/08/keep-me-safe-slow-burn-1-by-maya-banks.html

Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/20910177-keep-me-safe?from_search=true

Buy Links

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Keep-Me-Safe-Novel-Novels-ebook/dp/B00H20H5NG/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1408970888&sr=8-1&keywords=keep+me+safe

B&N: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/keep-me-safe-maya-banks/1117650167?ean=9780062312464

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/keep-me-safe/id771083448?mt=11

Kobo: http://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/keep-me-safe-1

Author Info

Maya Banks is a #1 USA Today and New York Times bestselling author whose chart toppers have included erotic romance, romantic suspense, contemporary romance, Scottish historical romances. She is the author of the Breathless Trilogy, the KGI novels, the Sweet series, and the Colters Legacy novels.
She lives in the South with her husband and three children and other assorted babies, such as her two Bengal kitties and a Calico who’s been with her as long as her youngest child. She’s an avid reader of romance and loves to dish books with her fans and anyone else who’ll listen! She very much enjoys interacting with her readers on Facebook and Twitter as well as in her Yahoo! Group.

Author Links

Website: http://mayabanks.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorMayaBanks
Twitter: https://twitter.com/maya_banks
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/24978.Maya_Banks

Excerpt

Chapter 1

Caleb Devereaux turned out of the sharp switchback and onto the driveway leading up to the tiny mountain cabin, swearing when he hit pothole after pothole. Fury and impatience simmered in his blood but the anticipation of having finally found Ramie St. Claire after an exhaustive search kept his mood from being completely black.

Ramie was his sister, Tori’s, only hope.

The moment Tori was kidnapped, Caleb had begun his search for Ramie St. Claire. She certainly wasn’t the first person on most people’s go-to list when looking for a loved one. Ramie was psychic and had been helpful in locating victims in the past. While many would be skeptical, Caleb absolutely believed in Ramie’s abilities.

His own sister had psychic abilities.

He and his brothers, Beau and Quinn, had always been extremely overprotective of their baby sister. With good reason. Caleb was the head of a veritable empire. Security was always top priority. They’d always feared kidnapping for ransom, but in their worst nightmares they’d never imagined that Tori would simply disappear and be at the mercy of a madman.

There’d been no ransom demand. Simply a video of Tori bound hand and foot and the maniacal laughter of her captor as he told Caleb to kiss his sister goodbye.

He just prayed he wasn’t too late. God, don’t let it be too late for Tori.

It infuriated him that Ramie St. Claire had simply dropped off the map three months ago. No trace of her, no forwarding address. No evidence that she even existed. How could she simply disappear when she was such an invaluable aid in finding kidnap victims and missing persons? How selfish of her to simply refuse, by her actions, to help anyone?

He’d worked himself into a rage by the time he finally pulled up to the small cabin that looked as though it wouldn’t weather the upcoming winter at all. He wasn’t even certain there would be electricity. Only a person determined not to be found would live in a place like this.

He got out and strode to the ramshackle front door, his fist up and pounding. The door shook and rattled under the force of his knock. Only silence greeted him and it sent his blood pressure soaring.

“Miss St. Claire!” he roared. “Answer the goddamn door!”

He beat on the door again, shouting again for her to answer. He likely looked and sounded like the madman holding his sister, but at this point he didn’t care. He was beyond desperation. It had taken every resource available to him to finally track Ramie down. No way in hell he was leaving until he’d gotten the information he’d come for.

Then the door swung open and he was greeted by the sight of a petite woman with wary, gray eyes. He was momentarily taken aback, going silent as he stared at Ramie St. Claire for the first time in person.

The photos he’d seen of her didn’t do her justice. There was a delicate air to her as though she were recovering from an illness, but it in no way detracted from her beauty. She looked…fragile. He felt a brief moment of guilt for what he was about to ask her to do, but he brushed it away. There was no price too high to pay for his sister’s life.

“I can’t help you.”

Her softly spoken words slid like velvet over his ears, a direct contrast from the anger her refusal caused. He hadn’t even made his request yet and she was already giving him the brush-off.

“You don’t even know what it is I want,” he said in an icy tone that would wither most people.

“It’s rather obvious,” she said wearily, fatigue drooping her eyelids. “Why else would you come all this way? I don’t even want to know how you found me. It’s obvious I did a piss poor job of covering my tracks if you managed to find me here.”

Caleb frowned. Had she been ill? Was that why she’d dropped out of sight so she could recover? It didn’t matter why now that he’d found her. He didn’t care what her reasons were.

“With your abilities why would you purposely make yourself difficult to find?” he demanded. “My sister’s life is at stake here, Miss St. Claire. I’m not merely asking you to help me. I’m not leaving until you do.”

She shook her head adamantly, fear chasing the lethargy from her eyes. “I can’t.”

There was quiet desperation to her words that told him there was more to her refusal than what appeared on the surface. Something was wrong and yet he couldn’t summon any regret for forcing her compliance. Not when Tori’s life hung in the balance.

He reached inside his jacket and pulled out Tori’s scarf. The one item they’d found at the sight where she must have been taken. In the parking lot of a grocery store beside the open door of her car. He should have never let her go alone. He’d failed her. Failed to protect her. Failed to ensure proper security.

Ramie immediately backed away, a desperate cry on her lips. He shoved forward, forcing the scarf into her hands and holding her and the scarf so there was no escape. She emitted a broken sob and she looked up at him, stricken, her face going unnaturally pale. Her pupils flared and then clouded, pain and devastation clearly outlined on her features.

“No,” she whispered. “Not again. Oh God, not again. I won’t survive it.”

Her knees buckled and she would have gone down, but he caught her, ensuring the scarf never lost contact with her hands. He watched in horror as Ramie’s body sagged, slipping from his grasp despite his best effort to support her weight. She was simply lifeless, as limp as a rag doll. He quickly followed her down to the floor, determined that she not lose her grip on Tori’s scarf. But it didn’t seem to matter now. Ramie was somewhere else.

Her eyes glazed over and her body began to twitch spasmodically. She curled into a fetal position, the fragility of such a self-protective measure gutting him. She moaned softly and then began to weep.

“Please don’t hurt me again. Please, I’m begging you. I can’t take any more. If you’re going to kill me, just do it. Quit torturing me.”

Chill bumps spread rapidly up Caleb’s nape as Ramie’s voice, which sounded nearly identical to Tori’s, filled his ears. Dear God, was he witnessing what was happening to his sister through Ramie?

The scene Ramie was painting was horrifying. Not only for the fact that his sister was even now enduring the absolute worse. But from all appearances, Ramie was suffering with her.

He’d certainly done his research on Ramie St. Claire’s abilities but there was little information beyond her astonishing success record. No mention of how she managed to help victims or what it did to her. God help them all. What had he done?

Her body jerked and it took only a moment for Caleb to realize what was happening. It was too unmistakable. Bile rose in his throat and he had to suck in steadying breaths to keep from heaving the contents of his stomach on the floor. Tears burned his eyelids as he helplessly watched his sister being raped through the window of Ramie’s awareness.

Ramie’s weeping tore at his heart and he gathered her into his arms, not knowing what else to do but rock her gently. “Tori?” He whispered his sister’s name experimentally, not knowing if a link had been established through Ramie. “Can you hear me? It’s Caleb. Tell me where you are, honey. I’ll come for you. Hold on please. Don’t give up, no matter how bad it is.”

Ramie’s head jerked sideways and the imprint of a hand immediately appeared on her cheek. Caleb was horrified, unsure of what to do now that he’d crossed a line he couldn’t come back from. He tried to push back his guilt, telling himself that anything that helped him recover his sister was worth it. But was torturing an innocent woman worth it?

He hadn’t given her a choice. She’d told him no and yet he’d forced this on her not knowing the heavy toll it would take. He had no idea how her powers worked and now that he did he was sick to his soul. No wonder she’d been so resistant. No wonder she’d told him she couldn’t do it anymore.

“Ramie. Ramie!” he said in a more forceful voice. “Come back to me, Ramie. Come back so you can tell me how to find her.”

Ramie’s eyes were opened but so distant that he knew she wasn’t here. The imprint of the hand on her face was bright and vivid, red against deathly white skin. There was a look of such defeat and despair in her eyes that once again he found himself battling tears.

Suddenly she hunched inward, her entire body jolting as though absorbing a blow. She wrapped her arms around her stomach and he realized that she’d been kicked. Or rather Tori had been kicked. It was a horrific, helpless feeling to know that two women were being victimized, one because of him.

Then she simply rolled away, her cheek lying against the cold floor, her eyes fixed and vacant. She was completely still and terror gripped him. Was Tori dead? Oh dear God! Had he just witnessed his sister’s murder?

“Ramie! Wake up! God, please wake up. Tell me how to find her. Tell me that she’s still alive!”

He picked Ramie’s slight weight up, swearing because she was so thin and fragile, weighing nothing in his arms. He carried her to the worn sofa and carefully laid her down, not wanting to hurt her any more than she’d already been hurt.

He sat on the edge, gathering her icy hands in his, rubbing, trying to infuse warmth. He had no idea what to do. Should he take her to a hospital?

Then after several long moments, she blinked and seemed to come out of her trance. Pain immediately swamped her features and she began to silently weep again, each tear cutting him to ribbons.

“Is she still alive?” he asked anxiously. “Do you know how to find her?”

“Yes,” Ramie said dully.

Hope surged in his heart and he found himself nearly crushing her hands in his.

“Tell me where,” he urged.

Slowly and painfully she whispered the location down to the minutest detail. Chills once again slithered up his spine at the precision in which she described not only the location but the kidnapper. She even provided a license plate number.

He picked up his phone and immediately called his brother, relaying the information that Ramie had provided. When he was done, he stared helplessly down at Ramie, grateful and yet deeply regretful for what he’d just subjected her to.

“What do I need to do to help you?” he asked softly.

Resignation dulled her eyes even further. “There’s nothing you can do,” she said in a flat voice. “Just go.”

“The hell I’ll just leave you here!”

He was already calculating in his head that he could simply bring her with him. He could get her the care she so obviously needed at the same time Tori was receiving what she needed.

“Your sister needs you. Just go. I’ll be fine.”

The lie was so obvious, but it seemed to be all she could muster. He was torn between rushing to be with Tori and staying to ensure Ramie would be all right. But how could she be? Two women would live with this for the rest of their lives. His precious sister and the woman he’d forced to help him never knowing the price she’d pay.

“Please,” she begged, her voice breaking. “Just go and leave me be. I gave you what you wanted. I helped you, now go. It’s the least you can do.”

Caleb stood, wiping a hand over his hair and down the back of his neck in agitation. “I’ll go, but I’m coming back, Ramie. I’m going to make this up to you.”

“You can never take this back,” she whispered. “There’s no making up for what’s been done. Just go and take care of your sister. She needs you.”

She closed her eyes, tears seeping from her eyelids. How could he just leave her like she asked? And yet how could he not go and ensure that his sister was safely recovered? He’d never felt so torn in his life.

“If you have any humanity whatsoever, you’ll leave and never tell anyone where you found me,” Ramie said hoarsely. “Please, I’m begging you. Just go. He plans to kill her tomorrow. At dawn. You don’t have much time.”

Her words proved to be the impetus, driving him to action. But goddamn it, he would make this up to her. Somehow, someway.

Regret swamped him. Worse was the fact that even knowing now what he hadn’t known before, he couldn’t say he would have done anything differently. Not when it meant the difference between Tori’s life and death. But at least now he better understood Ramie’s resistance. No longer did he look at her and think she was selfish and cruel. Now he realized her disappearance had been self-preservation. He didn’t know she’d survived this in the past. He just prayed he wasn’t the tipping point in pushing her so far over the edge she’d never recover.

Caleb closed his eyes and then gently touched her cheek. “I’m so sorry. You’ll never know how much. My family and I owe you more than I can ever repay. I’ll go for now and pray to God I’m not too late. But I’m coming back, Ramie. Count on it. I’ll make this up to you if it’s the very last thing I do.”

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The post Interview with Maya Banks, Author of Keep Me Safe and Giveaway appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.

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2. Interview with Sidney Halston, Author of Full Contact and Giveaway

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Good morning, Sidney!  Describe yourself in five words or less.

[Sidney Halston] First of all, I’d like to thank you for taking the time to interview me this morning. I’m so excited. Okay so, this is hard question, isn’t it. I guess I’d say: Mother, reader, daring, daydreamer, playful.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you tell us a little about your book?

[Sidney Halston] I can’t wait for you all to meet Slade Martin! FULL CONTACT is the 2nd novel from my WORTH THE FIGHT series. It is a stand-alone, however, you’ll get a better feel for the entire town and the sub-characters if you first read AGAINST THE CAGE (Book #1, WORTH THE FIGHT series).

FULL CONTACT takes place in Tarpon Springs, Florida. It begins when Jessica Cross is released from the hospital after being horribly beaten by her ex-boyfriend. Ultimate bad boy, Slade, the owner of Worth the Fight Academy, an MMA Training Academy, vows to protect Jessica from her ex. The book is funny and sexy but heartfelt and tender, especially when the dirty talking Slade becomes putty in Jessica’s hand. I hope you all read it love it as much as I loved writing it.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How did you come up with the concept and the characters for the story?

[Sidney Halston] My husband is a black belt in jiu-jitsu. I absolutely love the brotherhood between the men at his Academy, and noticed the same kind of camaraderie even with the opponents at matches. It gave me the idea of building this world based on Worth the Fight Academy, where the men have grown up together, and regardless of whether they are tearing each other apart in a cage or hugging it out after a grueling match, at the end, they can all go out and have a beer together. It’s the two sides of these strong males that I love. For this particular book, the plot stemmed from the first novel, AGAINST THE CAGE. It starts off where book #1 leaves off. She’s been beaten and feels broken. Slade’s guilt for not protecting her consumes him. Will she let him in—a bad boy to the core…

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What did you enjoy most about writing this book?

[Sidney Halston] Oh Slade has a dirty mouth. It was so fun writing it!

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What gave you the most trouble with this story?

[Sidney Halston] The fight scenes always give me a hard time. They’ve become easier to write, but I’m so concerned about the accuracy of how to write them, that they take me a long time.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If you had a theme song, what would it be?

[Sidney Halston] Talk Dirty to Me, by Jason Derulo. HEE HEE.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Name one thing you won’t leave home without.

[Sidney Halston] My Kindle. I take it everywhere. Hey…you never know when you’ll have a moment to read.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Name three things on your desk right now.

[Sidney Halston] A notepad, my cell phone, and photo of my kids and husband.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If you could trade places with anyone for just one day, who would you be?

[Sidney Halston] This is a tough question. I’m not really sure. I enjoy my life and it’s gotten so interesting with all the people I’ve met. I don’t think I’d trade with anyone. There are some characters in some of my favorite books, that make me want to jump into the book and be that character for a day, but that’s fiction.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What are some books that you enjoyed recently?

[Sidney Halston] I love to read and I read often. Kristen Ashley’s my favorite and I just adore her. I love Jessica Clare’s Hit Man series and Laura Kaye’s Hard Inked Series. I recently discovered Tammy Falkner’s The Reed Brother’s series, which I devoured in less than a week. I loved it. I really like anything Toni Aleo writes. She’s awesome and I also really like Penny Reid’s Knitting in the City series. It’s hilarious!

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?

[Sidney Halston] Like I said, I love to read. But, I also love spending time with my husband and kids. During the weekend we are pretty much inseparable and we do everything from going grocery shopping together to the movies. I like spending time with them. There’s nothing better that hearing your kids say something silly or completely inappropriate to make your day brighter.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How can readers connect with you?

[Sidney Halston] WebSite: www.sidneyhalston.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/sidneyhalston

Twitter: @sidneyhalston

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22469198-full-contact

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/shalston/

Thank you so much for chatting with me this morning. I hope you all pick up a copy of FULL CONTACT and let me know what you think. I love interacting with my readers! XOXO

 

Full Contact

Worth the Fight # 2

By: Sidney Halston

Releasing October 28th, 2014

Loveswept

Sidney Halston returns to steamy Tarpon Springs, Florida, where a hell-raising bad boy prepares to get down and dirty for the woman he loves.

How could she have been so stupid? When Jessica Cross decides to give her violently jealous boyfriend—the otherwise influential and charming Dennis Stavros—a second chance, she very nearly becomes a statistic. After weeks of healing from a broken rib and collapsed lung, and with Dennis behind bars, Jessica finally feels ready to come out of hiding. But will she ever be able to take a chance on love again with someone new?

Mixed martial arts fighter Slade Martin knows he has a bad reputation. Hell, he’s probably earned it. So it won’t be easy to convince beautiful, vulnerable Jessica that she can trust him—that from the moment she walked into his life, she’s been the only one he’s wanted. Powerful and confident, Slade knows he can honor his vow to protect Jessica body and soul. Winning her heart will be another matter . . . but a woman like Jessica is worth the fight.

Link to Follow Tour: http://www.tastybooktours.com/2014/07/full-contact-worth-fight-2-by-sidney.html

Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22469198-full-contact?from_search=true

Goodreads Series Link: https://www.goodreads.com/series/135224-worth-the-fight

Buy Links

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Full-Contact-Worth-Sidney-Halston-ebook/dp/B00K4C3RHC/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1410966326&sr=1-1&keywords=Full+Contact%3A+Worth+the+Fight+Series
B&N: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/full-contact-sidney-halston/1119434740?ean=9780553390971

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/full-contact/id889685362?mt=11

Kobo: http://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/full-contact-2

Author Info

Sidney Halston lives her life by one simple rule: “Just do it.” And that’s exactly what she did. At the age of thirty, having never written anything other than a legal brief, she picked up a pen for the first time to pursue her dream of becoming an author. That first stroke sealed the deal, and she fell in love with writing. Halston lives in South Florida with her husband and children.

Author Links

Website: http://sidneyhalston.blogspot.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Sidneyhalston
Twitter: https://twitter.com/SidneyHalston
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6916557.Sidney_Halston

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3. NYCC ’14: Wes Craig Double-Downs with Dynamic Panels and Recurring Symbols in ‘Deadly Class’ and ‘Blackhand’

by Zachary Clemente
IMG 1338 NYCC 14: Wes Craig Double Downs with Dynamic Panels and Recurring Symbols in Deadly Class and Blackhand

In the incredibly crowded Artist Alley of New York Comic-Con, I sat down with illustrator Wes Craig to talk about his work on Blackhand Comics and Deadly Class, both published in print by Image Comics. His work exhibits some of the most exciting paneling structures and dynamic representation of motion, at least to me. I’m pleased to say that our conversation was halted many times as eager attendees came up get copies of Deadly Class signed, buy a copy of Blackhand, or just share a few words. Craig was worked on Guardians of the Galaxy, Judge DreddT.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents, Batman Annual, and many more.

Comics Beat: Like many, I first found your work in Deadly Class, then started look at Blackhand [Comics]. I found your panel structure and your ability to move the reader’s eye dynamic and fluid, even when panels doesn’t necessarily exist. How does your process begin and how does that looser form start taking place?

Wes Craig: For years in my sketchbook, I’ve been trying to think of different ways of presenting a page as something you maybe haven’t seen before. Deadly Class was kind of my first opportunity to do that for other people to see. I did a bit of it in Blackhand and my previous work for myself that no one really ever saw, but Deadly Class was the first public version of that.

I take what Rick [Remender] has in the script and I try to figure out what the scene is about. A lot of have people have brought up the first issue – it’s really just a flat-out chase scene. I know that you can’t present motion in comics and that’s a problem with comics: you can’t do music or motion – but I try to make the page dynamic and make it feel like it’s kind of moving. So, I go back to my sketchbooks to come up with as many ideas as I can like breaking the borders or having characters fall into the next panel, and all that kind of stuff helps with that feeling.

CB: With Blackhand, I didn’t realize how it was going to be published in print. It being an object with a horizontal format is exciting.

WC: Those started off as webcomics and I wasn’t sure at first if I was ever going to publish them – that’s why it’s kind of formatted like a computer screen. It makes for an interesting looking thing and not may books have those dimensions. It stands out in a stack of other comics.

TheSeed2 NYCC 14: Wes Craig Double Downs with Dynamic Panels and Recurring Symbols in Deadly Class and Blackhand

Blackhand Comics – The Seed

CB: The three stories in Blackhand all exhibit very different paneling styles each a discussion on three different types of stories. When did you working on Blackhand?

WC: It started around the same time as Deadly Class, I forget exactly. I think I started it just before Rick initially emailed me to work on Deadly Class, so it’s been going on for a while. It just takes a while to get it done, obviously. I do it in between issues; there’s usually a little gap between when I finish an issue of Deadly Class and when the next script comes in. I’ll try to get in as many pages as a I can, sometimes on weekends or whatever. Most of my days are spent on Deadly Class so it’s kind of a slow process, but I still managed to release three stories in this book. I have two new stories online, and I’m working on the thumbnails of the third story. That’ll all hopefully be Blackhand Book 2, maybe next year or something.

CB: Will that be through Image as well?

WC: Yeah, I think this’ll [Blackhand Comics] do well enough that it’ll be good for everyone involved – they seem to be totally up for it.

CB: It does appear to be flying off your table.

WC: I actually had to go back to the Image booth to get more from them. They have so many books there, that this can get lost in the shuffle for them but for people specifically coming to see me, it’s right there. [Gestures to the sole remaining copy on his table]

CB: I couldn’t find a lot about your earlier career, what was the path you took?

WC: I’ve been working professionally for a little bit over 10 years–I keep saying that, but I’ve been saying it for two years now. So 12 years or whatever it may be, but it’s always been an issue of this here, an issue of that there. [I had] a little run on some Wildstorm stuff back in the day, a little run of Guardians of the Galaxy – so I’ve never been known as the guy who does that one thing. This convention’s a very different experience for me now because I’m the guy drawing Deadly Class so I have a constant stream of people that are into it here to see me.

The initial thing with Rick started when I did an issue with Lee [Loughridge] [for DC] – I’m a big fan of his work in Deadly Class and his work in general. I kept on bugging DC with working with with Lee, thinking we’d match up well together; it took a while to convince them, but when we finally got the chance with the Legends of the Dark Knight digital comic. [...] I think Rick used to live down the street from Lee and they’d get together, drink beers, and shoot the shit and when Lee was working on one of the Batman pages, Rick leaned over asking “who’s this guy?” It was pure coincidence – I’m a big Rick Remender fan and I’m a big fan of the artists he chooses to work with; I was flattered that he gave me the shot. We get along well now and it’s kind of the perfect situation.

deadly NYCC 14: Wes Craig Double Downs with Dynamic Panels and Recurring Symbols in Deadly Class and Blackhand

Volume 1 Cover

CB: It looks like you never really had any ownership in your previously published work. How is it having way more of an input within a full story?

WC: It’s great, man. You just feel more invested in it – all that experimental page composition stuff was always in the back of my mind, but I never tried it in the Marvel or DC stuff. People seem to love it and I wonder why I didn’t start doing it earlier, but you just don’t feel the same way. [...] You’re not sure you want to give them your best stuff because once you give them that, they own it. You don’t see as many characters being created for those companies anymore. If they have a great character, they’re going to do it themselves. Once I started Deadly Class, I felt more free to stretch out.

CB: What kind of input do you have on how the story of Deadly Class forms?

WC: That’s part of–not just being co-owners–but being invested. [...] He’ll do the plot, but we’ll talk out ideas a lot, informing what will become the next issues and we’ll talk out where we want to go with it. I feel like the other books that he’s working on are more structured in terms of where they’re gonna go, but with this one we don’t know for sure where we’re gonna end up; we wanted to be a bit more free with it. So he’ll call me up, we’ll talk through ideas figuring out what’s the most interesting way to go with it, he’ll write the script, then call me up again. I think his thing is that he likes to talk it out a few times with not just me until it’s really fully figured out in his mind; he can tell by our reactions what’s working and what’s not.

It’s weird working with him, actually. When I write my own stuff for Blackhand, I’m much more structured, deliberate, and I take my time whereas he’ll give me a scene and if it’s not working right he’ll want to fix it up, asking me what I want to do and I’ll have to be on my toes and come up with something on the spot. It’s not what I’m used to but it stretches a different muscle, spitting out ideas until you find something that works – it’s pretty collaborative.

CB: I feel that’s something we’re seeing with more Image titles than most; the divisions of writer/artist are necessarily as clean cut.

WC: For sure. I’m sure it’s different with each team but there’s a bunch of guys that I talk to who have a great back and forth.

deadlyclass16 NYCC 14: Wes Craig Double Downs with Dynamic Panels and Recurring Symbols in Deadly Class and Blackhand

Deadly Class – Issue 4 internal art

CB: In that same vein, does the conversational collaboration extend to working with Lee?

WC: Well, he’s amazing so I pretty much do let him do what he wants unless there’s something very specific that I have in mind. But when he’s finished with the colors, I might go in and tweak something; it’s very alive as we’re working on it. When Rick gives me the script, the dialogue is just the basic idea of what people say and when he gets the artwork, he goes in and write the actual dialogue. It’s always ongoing and forming as we’re working on it. When I’m working on the art, I have ideas for the colors, but since I like to be left alone and come up with my own ideas, I try to do the same thing for Lee. We set the tone for the colors in the beginning; looking at a Batman: Year One and 80’s colors – it was a good inspiration. I’m [also] a big fan of John Workman as a letterer, so when we’re talking to Rus Wooton, I was asking if he could do the thing with circular balloons with a clipped-off tail that’s kind of John Workman’s way of doing it–Alex Toth did balloons the same way. I thought that would be cool, but aside from that, once we set the tone its hands off and we let them do what they do.

CB: Something I love with Lee’s work on Deadly Class is that he has this amazing perceptive use of black tones.

WC: Yeah, like any good colorist, he understands how to tell a story with the color. He doesn’t like to color until it’s all the artwork is in which can get a little bit tight on the deadline, but just like how I don’t let getting script pages one at a time, he wants to be able to see the whole thing at once.

CB: For Rick, this is a very personal story where he’s bringing in a lot of his own youth. Does any of that happen to you?

WC: Yeah, visual-wise. I get to slip in the occasional thing that’s for me. None of it is obvious, just background things you may not pick up on. I’m a little bit younger than Rick; his teens years were late 80’s and mine were early 90’s, so I’m a bit more of a grunge Nirvana kind of a kid and he’s a punk guy. In that era, my experiences are a little more flowery and nice because I was just a kid with Saturday morning cartoons, but he was a teenager going through the kind of crazy stuff you go through. I just take what I went through as a teenager and relate it back to the 80’s version – it’s all the same thing. He was a punk growing up and I was more of a rockabilly kid, but that sort of comes from a punk thing so we both had very similar stuff happen to us there. His stories are way crazier, but we’ve both been jumped, both been in fights, both done…stuff. Drugs and whatever else.

CB: I think it’s important for people working together to be coming from a unique perspective – from a personal place.

WC: It takes a while to do that, but that’s how it works best. I’m not one of those people who would have a public facebook account for everyone to look at; I don’t put my personal life out there. But to have it matter, you definitely have to put a bit of yourself into the work or else it’s just kind of dry and unrealistic.

CB: Shifting gears a bit – one of the things that really draws people to Deadly Class is the covers. How does a cover form for you and how do you start making it?

WC: Well, Rick likes them to be traditional in style, where the covers have to do with something that’s going on in that issue. The covers need to be done way in advance of the actual pages, so I don’t find that works very well for me. We just need to have them thematically match up with season or that story arc or whatever it is, which is kind of the way it’s going right now. The covers I’m doing right now aren’t exactly about what’s going on in that issue, but they have to do with that time in the school. I come up with a lot of thumbnails–a lot of roughs–trying to think of something visually standout and interesting. I shoot them over to our editor Sebastian Griner and Rick and we talk about what’s hitting us – I obviously push the ones I like the most. The thing with this stuff is there’s no Superman or Batman or Spider-Man on the cover to sell the comic to people. I think a lot of the Image stuff is really interesting cover-wise because you have to do something to stand out from the bunch. Unless you’re Walking Dead or Saga, you have to do something to stand out, so a lot of people have very design-y covers so they don’t get lost in the pack of comics.

DeadlyClass CoverB 72dpi NYCC 14: Wes Craig Double Downs with Dynamic Panels and Recurring Symbols in Deadly Class and Blackhand

CB: It totally works, at least for me. When Deadly Class comes out, I put it on the top of my stack to say “look at this sweet-lookin’ book.”

WC: [Laughs] Yeah, that’s the idea. This is kind of a blood-dripping kind of theme [gesturing to his banner] but it could be paint, it could be blood; it’s just a dripping motif I try to incorporate into some of the covers and stories. I visualize that if it ever became a TV show, the would have to use it in the opening credits in some way.

CB: Along those lines, I’m curious about your use of recurring symbology in both Blackhand and Deadly Class. How conscious are you when creating these and making sure they serve their purpose.

WC: I’m pretty conscious of it. I don’t have as much control over it in Deadly Class since it’s Rick’s story, but if I can find a way to fit in a previously used symbol I will. For instance, when Marcus’s parents are killed, he lets go of a balloon and if you use that enough, it’ll mean something to the reader. You don’t have to show the whole flashback again, you can show just a little glimpse of the balloon and that means Marcus is thinking back about his parents. I saw it in David Mack’s Kabuki a lot; he would reuse these same symbols over and over again. Frank Miller did it a lot too; like the death scene in Dark Knight Returns, where his mom’s pearl necklace is snapped – you see it in slow motion and it becomes little circles. Then, three or four chapters later, all you have to show is that one little panel with those circles, and you know what he’s thinking.

It’s a strong thing that comics get to use, you can make a richer experience for the reader if you layer it that way. In Blackhand, I have full control of that so I try to have recurring elements a lot. It works better in a longer form like Deadly Class or a graphic novel where you have the pages to repeat, repeat, repeat until it means something to the reader. It’s like hitting notes [taps fingers on table], it becomes like a note in a song.

CB: Like hearing two seconds of a song and knowing exactly what it is?

WC: Yeah, there’s certain things we [comics] don’t have. We don’t have music, we don’t have motion. Music is a major thing that’s able to influence or manipulate people’s emotions; we can’t have that, but we can have other things like symbols. Not to hearken back to these 80’s comics, but Watchmen has these recurring elements that are really effective at hitting you. All of them become something more, and they get to play on it with variations, like there’s the bit with Dr. Manhattan with the smiley-face on Mars.

CB: It can add new perspectives to already an already touched-on theme.

WC: Especially with Deadly Class where the story is crazy and all-over-the-place, the use of recurring symbols can give it a form of cohesion.

CB: It’s successful visual storytelling.

WC: [Laughs] Thanks man.

CB: No Wes, thank you.

 

Wes Craig is an illustrator currently in Montreal and the artist on Deadly Class. You can also see his Blackhand Comics webcomic here.

The first volume of Deadly Class, “1987 – Reagan Youth” and the first volume of Blackhand Comics are available in print from Image Comics.

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4. The Coretta Scott King Awards Book Fair

Ever heard of the Coretta Scott King Awards Book Fair? I hadn’t either till I took my children to one of these fairs in Nashville a few months back.

Today at Kirkus, I talk to the Fair’s organizer, Collette Hopkins. She’s pictured above (second from the left) at this year’s Fair with Angelica Washington, author Sharon Draper, storyteller Mama Koku, and illustrator R. Gregory Christie. Collette talks about what the Fair is and how interested teachers and librarians can bring it to their city.

That link will be here soon.

* * * * * * *

Image used with permission of Collette Hopkins.

3 Comments on The Coretta Scott King Awards Book Fair, last added: 10/17/2014
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5. Interview with Renita Pizzitola, Author of Just a Little Crush

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Good morning, Renita!  Describe yourself in five words or less.

[Renita Pizzitola] Um, I can do this in one word: Talkative! ?

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you tell us a little about your book?

[Renita Pizzitola] It’s the story of two college students who from the outside seem like total opposites. They went to high school together and have a bit of an awkward history, but after reconnecting at a college party they discover they are facing similar conflicts and just might be exactly what the other one needs.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How did you come up with the concept and the characters for the story?

[Renita Pizzitola] There’s this line in JUST A LITTLE CRUSH: “…it took me seven minutes to fall in love with him, and only seven seconds to fall out.” Well, that line popped into my head one day and I knew that was the story I had to tell. From there I wanted to create two characters who seemed very different, but really faced similar struggles. I combined that with a plot idea I’d been toying with (which I can’t share because it’s a bit of a spoiler) and the rest just fell into place.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What did you enjoy most about writing this book?

[Renita Pizzitola] Brinley and Ryder’s growth. They both start off so stuck trying to prove who they aren’t, they don’t even realize who they have the potential to be. But as the two come together, they grow so much and create a perfect little balance to one another.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What gave you the most trouble with this story?

[Renita Pizzitola] Ensuring Brinley came across as a strong heroine. She’s young and inexperienced, but I never wanted her to come off as helpless or flaky. It’s easy for any girl to lose herself in her first serious relationship, but I wanted her personality and inner strength to still shine through. Of course, she still needed to be human–mistakes, imperfections, and all. In the end, I’d hoped to create this balance of being swept up in a new romance while still being grounded in reality.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If you had a theme song, what would it be?

[Renita Pizzitola] Good question! I actually asked a friend to help me on this and she said “something sung really fast with lots of energy…and words.” (I wasn’t kidding about that talkative thing.) But—being that I think I should pick something more inspiring—I’m going with Brave by Sara Bareilles. I love everything about it (it’s a song about the power of words, how could I not??) but the opening is just awesome.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Name one thing you won’t leave home without.

[Renita Pizzitola] My phone! I hate not being able to check email or be accessible to people. Plus if I get stuck somewhere, I always have books to read, twitter to scroll through, friends to message…

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Name three things on your desk right now.

[Renita Pizzitola] My MacBook, coffee and phone ?

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If you could trade places with anyone for just one day, who would you be?

[Renita Pizzitola] Ooh that’s a hard one. I should probably pick someone super interesting and wonderful, right? But that all sounds very adult, and really, I’d love to just go back to college for a day. Though it had its share of stressful moments, it was also a ton of fun! Maybe I could switch places with Brinley because, really, who wouldn’t want a little Ryder action?!?

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What are some books that you enjoyed recently?

[Renita Pizzitola] My two current I’ll-read-anything-they-write New Adult authors are Christina Lee and Sophie Jordan. Their books are the perfect blend of sweet and steamy! I also loved Deeper by Robin York.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?

[Renita Pizzitola] I love to read! I also spend lots of time with my family and friends. I’m lucky to live in a great city where there is always something new to do!

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How can readers connect with you?

[Renita Pizzitola] website twitter facebook blog tumblr

Just a Little Crush

By: Renita Pizzitola

Releasing October 21st, 2014

Loveswept

Blurb

Good girls stay away from Ryder Briggs . . . or, at least, they try to. In Renita Pizzitola’s emotional novel of heartache and seduction, one college freshman just can’t get enough.

Brinley Dawson doesn’t drink, she studies—and despite the accusations of her alcoholic mother, she’s still a virgin. But if Brinley’s life is so put together, why is she freaking out to be going to college with the gorgeous, green-eyed jerk she kissed on a stupid dare in high school? Ryder Briggs can have any girl he wants . . . and the rumors say that he does. So why, after publicly embarrassing Brinley four years ago, is he suddenly acting like he’s interested?

Ryder never forgot Brinley. In fact, those perfect seven minutes permanently raised the bar for what a kiss could be. The truth is, Ryder doesn’t dare get too close to anyone. He knows how that worked out for his parents. But when his roommate takes a shot at Brinley, Ryder can’t contain his jealousy. Now he must do the hardest thing he’s ever done: forget about sex and convince Brinley his feelings are real.

Brinley isn’t sure whether she believes Ryder, but for the first time, her body isn’t playing by the rules. Then she discovers that she’s an unwilling part of a cruel game, humiliating her all over again—and Ryder might be to blame. Has Brinley’s little crush turned into a huge mistake . . . or has she found the one guy worth trusting with her heart?

Link to Follow Tour: http://www.tastybooktours.com/2014/07/just-little-crush-by-renita-pizzitola.html

Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22469198-full-contact?from_search=true

Buy Links

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Just-Little-Crush-Renita-Pizzitola-ebook/dp/B00LDQOZWO

B&N: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/just-a-little-crush-renita-pizzitola/1119883834?ean=9780553395105

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/just-a-little-crush/id894376576?mt=11

Kobo: http://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/just-a-little-crush-1

Author Info

Renita Pizzitola is the author of New Adult contemporary romance and Young Adult fantasy. When not writing, she can be found feeding her caramel macchiato addiction and reading just about anything she can get her hands on. She lives in Austin, Texas, with her husband and two children.

Author Links

Website: http://www.renitapizzitola.com
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/renitapizzitolaauthor
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/renitapizzitola
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5816813.Renita_Pizzitola

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6. NYCC ’14: Paul Pope Talks Aurora West & Collaboration In His World

by Zachary Clemente

IMG 1329 NYCC 14: Paul Pope Talks Aurora West & Collaboration In His WorldAs the first day of New York Comic-Con came to close and exhibitors began shutting down their booths, I conducted my third interview with acclaimed cartoonist Paul Pope. This time we discussed his new entry in his Battling Boy series with First Second: The Rise of Aurora West, co-written by J.T. Petty and illustrated by David Rubín. Pope is an accomplished cartoonist, his published works including 100%The One-Trick RipoffEscapoBatman: Year 100Heavy Liquid and is the recipient of multiple Eisner awards. It was a pleasure to speak with Pope again; you can find the first two interviews here and here.

Comics Beat: Paul, have you had a chance to wander the floor or are you only here for the bits you need to be here for?

Paul Pope: That’s the unfortunate thing about working on this side of things, you don’t go as a far anymore. But whatever, it’s not I’m Samuel L. Jackson, I don’t need to sneak in wearing a costume or anything.

CB: So The Rise of Aurora West just came out, how’s the reception been for that so far?

PP: I don’t want to say surprisingly, but I’m very happy to say it’s been very positive. When it came out last Wednesday [9/30] I went out to the west coast and promptly got sick because the tour schedule can be punishing, especially when you’re in airports and schools and you’re not sleeping – it all caught up to me eventually. I was out there for APE but I just couldn’t finished the tour unfortunately, they sent me back and when I got home I slept for 2 days straight. I’ve been rescheduling with all the places I couldn’t get to, figuring out the best to time to get back soon. Hopefully it won’t be too much of a loss.

the rise of aurora west NYCC 14: Paul Pope Talks Aurora West & Collaboration In His World

CB: With Aurora West, you’re choosing to let this world [of Battling Boy] into other creators’ hands. How is the process of – I don’t want to say “sacrifice” – collaboration within this world that you’ve been working on alone for so long?

PP: I talked to Mike Mignola about this not too long ago. [...] You know what he’s done with Hellboy has been great because he’s been able to invite other creators. It was pretty early on that it was looking like Battling Boy was going to be a hit, or at least it would warrant a second series. Since I’m still working on the second book and now promoting it, they asked if I had any ideas and I said we should do a series on Haggard West and Aurora – fill in all the gaps that are implied in the first book as I finish the second book, periodically leave town and come back again.

 

CB: So not only is it wise for world-building but also strategically a good thing for you.

PP: Yeah, also there is a larger backdrop to the characters and to the world; like, the monsters come from somewhere. In the Aurora series, we getting more of a sense of the mystery of where the monsters come from. It’s more of a pulp adventure.

CB: I thoroughly enjoyed it. It felt very rooted in manga with the printing format and art style.

PP: Well, J.T. understands horror and he gets pulp. David Rubín, like myself, comes from a sort of internationalist style and he likes manga a lot. He was able to keep it within a spectrum of style and approach that’s similar to mine and yet still be his own.

CB: It’s rare to see a very successful treatment of somebody else’s work by another artist who can inhabit both styles at once.

PP: Yeah, it was a lot of fun. He’s really fast too, which is great – he’s kicking my ass at the moment, I have to admit. I’m really happy with the results.

CB: Getting into the themes of the book, something I liked was taking the tropes of the “science” [super] hero idea and the consequence and responsibility of power. Haggard provided for this city for so long, when he turned inward, the city couldn’t handle itself. I found that best discussed in the scene with man on the bridge. How did this theme of power and consequence form?

PP: Well, it was one of the things J.T. and I talked about. I went in with my core idea based on the big, super-bible we wrote – we meaning me – for Battling Boy. We started talking about what the reality would be like, having your children stolen and we decided to try to do something where Haggard gets shaken out of his state of depression by having to help another father. I thought it was a good emotional bit – and it’s something we don’t typically see. [...] In Battling Boy, it’s a little more breezy and focused on the main five or six characters. You see more in the second book about other citizens, but for the most part it’s just Battling Boy, Aurora, and the city planners.

Screen Shot 2014 10 15 at 12.10.14 AM NYCC 14: Paul Pope Talks Aurora West & Collaboration In His World

The Rise of Aurora West

CB: So now we’re getting a larger scope of what’s going on in Acropolis and how it’s dealing with its problems?

PP: Yeah, and obviously Battling Boy, as the name implies, is designed to have lots of explosions and fights and all kinds of stuff like that. Whereas Aurora was more psychological.

CB: It almost felt like the two different sides of Batman books. One’s very detective-based and the other is very action-based.

PP: That was plan going into it, actually. It’s frustrating though. Same with the character Dad in Battling Boy - there were a couple of scenes that I had to write out of Battling Boy that had to do with Dad just kicking ass because for one, that could be its own thing later. I also didn’t want to distract from the core of the story of Battling Boy which was the Boy’s coming of age. In Aurora, it’s the same. Luckily her version of Dad is Haggard; we get to see him without his mask and we get to see him in a family setup.

CB: That leads into my next question which is a big part of both books: would you call Haggard a good father?

PP: That’s a good question, you could ask the same of Dad. I think one of the things that attracted me to writing a story like this was thinking about how being a superhero or war god doesn’t leave you time to raise your kids – you’ll be busy. I’m interested in, fascinated and haunted by that idea of child soldiers. You hear about those types of things in Somalia; to have your child taken away from you. That’s something I find very sympathetic with Aurora and that’s something I wanted to explore with her character – how does she remain innocent?

CB: When we last talked, you said that you had things to say to children with Battling Boy; would you see Aurora as a continuation of that?

PP: One thing people seem to be picking up on with Aurora is that they’re really responding to her as a strong, female lead. She’s a teenage girl; she’s not a sexualized character, she’s not helpless; she’s a sidekick or protégé, but she’s got her own ideas and she does her own things. That’s kind of what her character requires and that’s the kind of personality the daughter of Haggard West would have. It’s been fun. [...] Battling Boy is more about–well, they’re both about abandonment in a sense, even though Battling Boy’s family is intact. I think Aurora’s story is more tragic, even though it’s kind of cloaked in this light, superhero, science-fiction setting. There’s archaeology and mysticism, but there isn’t any mythology in it. It’s the opposite in Battling Boy since he’s from the realm of gods.

Aurora INT Final 100 301 NYCC 14: Paul Pope Talks Aurora West & Collaboration In His World

The Rise of Aurora West

CB: I feel like the archaeology in Aurora is the other side of the coin for Battling Boy‘s mythology. Aurora has this historical scope that I find interesting.

PP: When we went in with the initial pitch for the series, Haggard’s an archaeologist before he’s a hero, and he discovers evidence of an ancient city under the city we know in Battling Boy, and there might’ve been another Battling Boy. The kid is kind of a feral character – it’s implied that Battling Boy has siblings. Imagine, Dad is like a war-god, so he’s probably prolific in line with a lot of mythology. Like with Hercules and Zeus, they have tons and tons of  kids. This god of war, god of conquest – he’s going to be busy fighting battles in the realm of gods, so he needs to have offspring to be able to send them to the realm of humans to take care of basically training-wheel problems. There’s a lot of interesting stuff going on in the background that’s coming out as the series develops.

CB: You touched on how the book came about, but how was the process of sharing the writing and where did duties lie?

PP: We did a sort of back and forth. It was his script and I gave him the liberty to write the voice of Haggard. [...] Part of my job now as being a story director as well as art director, so I don’t want to tell him how to do his job. He already knows what to do, he already knows how to direct movies and he writes video games and graphic novels – he’s really intelligent. It was more of us spending a few months really hammering out a story based on me saying “here’s what I really want to do.” We’d work on a core plot, knowing where the story begins and ends. At that point, I let him go and do his own thing. There were a few things though; his first draft was too violent because he likes horror. [...] There was some stuff with the characterization that I thought was a little off mark from what I was hoping for. Otherwise, I think the script came in really solid and it hit all the things I wanted. I try to give my collaborators room – I got that from Mignola because he told me that’s how he works with people.

CB: You did something like that with Vertigo anthology, Ghosts where you made the story but didn’t write the script.

PP: Oh you mean with Dave Lapham? Yeah, that was a good experiment. [...] I might be doing something else with another guy where I’m drawing something he’s gonna write. The way we worked on the space opera story was I said “here’s what I see: this mini-opera, there are the images I want.” Then we kicked around some ideas and he came up with some interesting stuff. That was more of a true collaboration in a sense because we wrote it together.

MIS01.final  702x1028 NYCC 14: Paul Pope Talks Aurora West & Collaboration In His World

‘Treasure Lost’ in Ghosts #1

CB: How far are you willing to take this collaboration with the Battling Boy world?

PP: Well…it’s easier now after having worked on the film because there’s so many people involved; you can’t be a dictator when it comes to film. With the Battling Boy series that I have been writing and drawing, it’s pretty much my baby; I get minimal editorial input. With the colorist, Hilary Sycamore, she and I have a long conversation before she starts a large stretch of work. I always try to give her the sense of what I’m feeling for a scene. For example, the god realm is always in twilight, the human realm is always Mediterranean with terracotta and aquamarine colors, and the monster realm is like hell so it’s browns and reds.

The place I can be 100% myself is in Battling Boy and as we gradually expand on the series, I want to make sure to pick out people I like and respect and can work with and try to write or direct for their strengths, while being aware of their weaknesses. I think that’s the way to collaborate.

[Spoiler for Aurora West] CB: At the end of Aurora, the monster Coil mentioned that Aurora is his “animus” in the Jungian idea of one half of a whole inside the other and vice versa. Is that a discussion on the origin of monsters and their connection to the children in Battling Boy?

PP: [Laughs] You’re onto something there. Let’s just put it this way: the big boss that we see at the end of Battling Boy who Sadisto is working for is a scribble monster. It’s implied, by the time you hit Aurora, that these monsters might be very old, many of them aren’t even fully formed creatures yet. Yeah, there’s definitely a connection between that and that’ll be coming out as the series develops. Good call on that one.

CB: So, “The Fall of the House of West” – is that the second Battling Boy book itself?

PP: No, that’ll just be called Battling Boy 2. Ultimately, they’ll both be collected – I’m imagining Aurora as a two-parter: Rise of Aurora West and Fall of House West. It’s designed more around this kabuki stage set: tragedy and family. So act one is the rise and act two is the fall; that was definitely very conscious on our part. David wasn’t happy with the title at first; he thought, having come from film and a lover of westerns, he’s seen this type of thing a lot. Like with Battling Boy implies; it’s about a boy who’s fighting. Rise of Aurora West–first of all, it sounds alliterative and The Fall of the House of West has kind of a Shakespearean feel.

CB: I find that both Battling Boy and Aurora are well-described by their titles. As the stories utilize these touchstones in storytelling that people have come to expect, but works with them in such a unique way. The titles end up being evocative for their stories.

PP: Yeah, what’s really fun about it is meeting all these young readers. A lot of them are 10 or 12 years old and they’ve really never read comic books before. They might’ve read Adventure Time or Tintin, but this is the first time a lot of these kids, especially girls, are getting the sense of Kirby Krackle or Moebius. Certainly they know Ghibli’s movies like Spirited Away going into it, but for the first time they’re getting opened up to what we think of as Silver Age comics or awesome French comics from the 70’s.

gfvcslzvqnnbtwtki07v NYCC 14: Paul Pope Talks Aurora West & Collaboration In His World

The Rise of Aurora West

CB: We might be seeing a lot more of those Nausicaä boxed sets flying off the shelves soon.

PP: I love that film, though Laputa is my favorite, but it’s hard to say as there are so many good ones.

CB: I ultimately fall on Porco Rosso as my favorite.

PP: He [Hayao Miyazaki] said he made it for guys our age. Porco Rosso is a big influence on the coloring in Battling Boy.

CB: I totally see that. It’s all coastal, Mediterranean cities.

PP: I was Italy when I was writing Battling Boy, I just really fell in love with the south of Italy; the lighting and the colors, the way the sea looked on the Adriatic coast. At nighttime with the volcanoes in the distance, it’s so romantic and old. It fits with the ideas I had for Arcopolis; it isn’t like Berlin, 1945- dark and scummy. It’s this old and vibrant city that’s fallen on bad times.

CB: That makes sense with your work and European influences, I think. The recorded history there is just so much older.

PP: Even more so for Africa and Asia. That’s why, in Aurora, the analog for the oldest city is Egypt. I was thinking about all this stuff, but I wasn’t really able to put it across. Where Haggard lives in the city, his decor is very Pacific Northwest – it’s a lot of fun to draw.

CB: It’s got a very collector vibe to it, too.

PP: Yeah, something I noticed with some of the heroes from occult fiction, whether it’s Sherlock Holmes or Lamont Cranston – they collect a bunch of ancient artifacts and stuff. Indiana Jones is like that too, but he’s a thief.

CB: It has those classic Campbellian story elements; out of travel a hero is born.

PP: Actually, Haggard belongs to an explorers club like National Geographic and we’ll see more of those characters later. I’m going to do an annual portrait of Haggard with his compatriots, so in that sense, he’s a little like Doc Savage. Like in Buckaroo Bonzai, he’s got his gang if he needs a specialist in this or that.

CB: Wrapping up, other than Mignola’s “Hellboy-verse”, are there any other series with larger built-up worlds that have this kind of multi-thread publication structure that you’re inspired by?

PP: One big influence is definitely the RKO [Pictures] and Universal [Pictures] movie series from the 30’s and 40’s like Flash Gordon. [...] There’s always the classic Universal monster movies, German expressionism and early Soviet-era cinema; whether it’s Eisenstein or Fritz Lang – those are big influences. That’s the fun thing, in the same way that Battling Boy is full of my love of Kirby, Moebius, and Miyazaki, the same of true for Aurora. It’s like a flipped coin – the dark side like Boris Karloff, H.P. Lovecraft – these kind of things, it’s more of a vintage feel.

That works with J.T. because he directs horror movies; he’s writing The Walking Dead video game, I don’t know if you know that. He has a wicked sense of humor and a wicked sense of the wicked, and he also has two children. We got lunch a couple days ago after a signing and we had a long conversation; we got into some dark stuff. [In Aurora] monsters are kidnapping children and we started talking about some really gruesome stuff and it’s like “this is where it’s coming from.”

CB: Thank you very much Paul.

PP: Sure, thank you.

 

Paul Pope is an Eisner-winning cartoonist currently in Brooklyn, New York. He is actively working on his Battling Boy series with publisher First Second. You can find more of his work on his website.

1 Comments on NYCC ’14: Paul Pope Talks Aurora West & Collaboration In His World, last added: 10/17/2014
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7. Interview with A S Fenichel, Author of Ascension and Giveaway

Please give a warm welcome to A.S Fenichel! She’s here to chat about her new release Ascension.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Describe yourself in five words or less.

[A.S.] Moody, tenacious and deeply empathetic.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you tell us a little about your book?

[A.S.] Ascension is the book of my heart. Not that I don’t love all my books, I do. I really do. But there is something about Ascension and The Demon Hunter series that sparks giddy excitement every time I think about it.

Here’s the description. Tell me what you think.

Ascension

The Demon Hunters, #1

When demons threaten London, Lady Belinda answers the call. 

Lord Gabriel Thurston returns home from war to find his fiancée is not the sweet young girl he left behind. She’s grown into a mysterious woman who guards her dark secrets well. When he sees her sneaking away from a ball, he’s convinced it’s for a lover’s rendezvous. Following her to London’s slums, Gabriel watches in horror as his fiancée ruthlessly slays a man. 

Lady Belinda Carlisle’s only concern was her dress for the next ball—until demons nearly killed her and changed everything. A lady by day, and a demon hunter by night, she knows where her duty lies. Ending her betrothal is the best way to protect Gabriel from death by a demon’s hand. 

Gabriel soon realizes, like him, Belinda has been fighting for her country. He joins in the fight, determined to show her that their love can endure, stronger than ever. 

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How did you come up with the concept and the characters for the story?

[A.S.] Sometimes I get little snapshots of scenes in my head. That’s what happened with Ascension. I had a snapshot (a vision if you will) of a Regency debutant sneaking into a garden in the wee hours. She had six inches of mud at the bottom of her gown and her hair was hanging in a mess. From there the why and how and who just tumbled out.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What did you enjoy most about writing this book?

[A.S.] I love creating strong female characters and Belinda is fabulous. Writing her kept me in the moment even when life got in the way.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What gave you the most trouble with this story?

[A.S.] When I set out to write Ascension I wrote the first four or five chapters and hit a wall. I couldn’t figure out how to go forward. It was so much story and I admit to being intimidated by the task. One day I was out for a long walk and it HIT me. There was more than one book. I didn’t have to get everything into this one volume. I had time. After that it went much more smoothly.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If you had a theme song, what would it be?

[A.S.]

Can’t Go Wrong – Phillip Phillips

or

Nothing Is Easy – Jethro Tull

It depends on the day . ?

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Name one thing you won’t leave home without.

[A.S.] My iPhone

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Name three things on your desk right now.

[A.S.] My iPhone, My date book opened to this week, A cup of coffee.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If you could trade places with anyone for just one day, who would you be?

[A.S.] Oh man… I’m pretty comfortable in my own skin. I might like to be a stupendous athlete for one day. Since it’s something I am soooo not. Maybe Mike Trout, Derek Jeter or Maria Sharapova.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What are some books that you enjoyed recently?

[A.S.] I just finished Icing on the Cake by Karla Doyle. It was sweet and spicy. Ms. Doyle excels as witty banter and I love that.

I’m reading Beyond Pain by Kit Rocha. So far The Beyond series has been fresh, exciting and wonderfully touching.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?

[A.S.] I love to travel. My husband and I do as much as we can. We also love to cook and have friends over for dinner. We specialize in Italian cooking and even went to a cooking school in Tuscany for our honeymoon. I garden, not well, but I do it. We have a cat and a dog who take up a lot of my time. I’ve always had a cat in my life, but we recently adopted an older dog who needed and deserved a good home. I’ve never really thought of myself as a dog person, but I’m totally in love.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How can readers connect with you?

[A.S.] I absolutely love to chat with readers. Here are some ways to reach me via social media, but they can always email me at asfenichel@hotmail.com

http://asfenichel.net/

http://asfenichel.net/blog/

http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5154640.A_S_Fenichel

https://twitter.com/asfenichel

https://www.facebook.com/A.S.Fenichel

https://plus.google.com/113195747154467378107/posts

http://pinterest.com/asfenichel/boards/

Ascension

The Demon Hunters # 1

By: A.S. Fenichel

Releasing October 6th, 2014

Lyrical Press / Kensington

Blurb

When demons threaten London, Lady Belinda answers the call. 

Lord Gabriel Thurston returns home from war to find his fiancée is not the sweet young girl he left behind. She’s grown into a mysterious woman who guards her dark secrets well. When he sees her sneaking away from a ball, he’s convinced it’s for a lover’s rendezvous. Following her to London’s slums, Gabriel watches in horror as his fiancée ruthlessly slays a man. 

Lady Belinda Carlisle’s only concern was her dress for the next ball—until demons nearly killed her and changed everything. A lady by day, and a demon hunter by night, she knows where her duty lies. Ending her betrothal is the best way to protect Gabriel from death by a demon’s hand. 

Gabriel soon realizes, like him, Belinda has been fighting for her country. He joins in the fight, determined to show her that their love can endure, stronger than ever.

Link to Follow Tour: http://www.tastybooktours.com/2014/08/ascention-demon-hunters-1-by-as-fenichel.html

Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22595242-ascension?from_search=true

Buy Links

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Ascension-Demon-Hunters-S-Fenichel-ebook/dp/B00MMMGY2M/ref

B&N: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/ascension-as-fenichel/1120138658?ean=9781616505592

Kensington: http://www.kensingtonbooks.com/book.aspx/30949

Author Info

A.S. Fenichel gave up a successful career in New York City to follow her husband to Texas and pursue her lifelong dream of being a professional writer. She’s never looked back.

A.S. adores writing stories filled with love, passion, desire, magic and maybe a little mayhem tossed in for good measure. Books have always been her perfect escape and she still relishes diving into one and staying up all night to finish a good story.

Multi-published in erotic paranormal, contemporary and historical romance, A.S. is the author of the Mayan Destiny series, Christmas Bliss and many more. With several books currently contracted to multiple publishers, A.S. will be bringing you her brand of romance for many years to come.

Originally from New York, she grew up in New Jersey, and now lives in the East Texas with her real life hero, her wonderful husband. When not reading or writing she enjoys cooking, travel, history, and puttering in her garden.

Author Links

Website: http://asfenichel.net/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/A.S.Fenichel
Twitter: https://twitter.com/asfenichel
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5154640.A_S_Fenichel

Rafflecopter Giveaway (Two (2) $10.00 Amazon or B&N Gift Cards)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The post Interview with A S Fenichel, Author of Ascension and Giveaway appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.

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8. NYCC ’14: Frank Quitely on Visual Process and Cyclical Influence

by Zachary Clemente

IMG 1341 NYCC 14: Frank Quitely on Visual Process and Cyclical InfluenceOn the extremely busy Saturday of this past weekend’s New York Comic-Con, I had the sublime honor of interviewing Frank Quitely (pen name for Scottish artist Vincent Deighan) about his visual narrative process, the cycle of artistic influence, and his once and future work. This was a wild treat for me as Quitely stands as one of my favorite artists in comics. Quitely has worked on We3Sandman: Endless NightsFlex Mentallo, New X-MenJLA: Earth 2Batman & RobinJupiter’s LegacyAll-Star Superman and many more.

Comics Beat: Frank, you’re currently working on Jupiter’s Legacy [with Mark Millar] which is ending after 10 issues?

Frank Quitely: It’s actually two volumes, both five and five.

CB: I see. Something I’ve always loved about your work is how versatile your storytelling can be. Hearkening back to Flex Mentallo, there’s some interesting panel layouts, All-Star Superman is a little more cinematic and straightforward, and We3 deviates a lot. I’m wondering how you approach that you want to train the reader’s eye the way you start talking about the story through your art and panels.

FQ: When I started out, I didn’t know a lot about storytelling because I never got a formal training in comics. It ended up being kind of intuitive and my main thing was about trying to make it clear and interesting. You know, I wasn’t really thinking in terms of narrative flow, it was more just about clarity and trying to make it as good as possible. Gradually, over the years, I just became more interested in storytelling. There was a DC editor I worked with named Dan Raspler – the Lobo editor amongst other things. He was my editor on JLA: Earth 2 and before I did JLA, I did a short Lobo story for them and it was the first mainstream DC thing I’d done; I’d been working for Vertigo and Paradox for a couple years. I sent him the pencils and it was the best thing I’d done up to that point and I thought “he’s going to phone me back and tell me how good this is” and he didn’t phone for a week. I was really panicking by the time he phoned; he started the conversation with “dude, I don’t know how to tell you this…”

Basically what he said was my drawings were really lovely, but my storytelling was really boring. He went through and told me what I should be thinking about and that was kind of a real milestone. As it was, that book never came out for different reasons. For JLA: Earth 2, he made me fax a rough for every page because he wanted to see that I could do art that makes sense in rough with a sharpie, then I could do it properly.

CB: Sort of like doing thumbnails?

FQ: Yeah. In fact, the new version of [JLA:Earth 2 has those thumbnails in it. That was a big leap for me.

CB: There’s a couple panels I’d like to ask you about, the first from We3. The one where it looks like the panel begins to turn across the page.

we3 frank quitely we3 NYCC 14: Frank Quitely on Visual Process and Cyclical Influence

We3 by Frank Quitely & Grant Morrison

FQ: With the cat leaping through?

CB: Yes!

FQ: Grant [Morrison] and I sat together, both of us with pencils, trying to work out a way of doing this. [...] That kind of “turning the panels” was almost like windows that the cat was going though – that didn’t come right until the last minute because Grant was describing something to me but it was like he knew there was something there we could do but he couldn’t quite visualize it. It was just a case of me sitting, drawing stuff and then asking if we were getting closer – it was very collaborative.

CB: Do you think that kind of collaboration is where you find the best of your work coming out?

FQ: Um, sometimes. Sometimes it works that way and sometimes it’s nice just to be left alone and work it out myself. Like in Jupiter’s Legacy, in the first issue there’s kind of cube thing. In the script, Mark said something like “he puts them in this cell” and I got thinking about “cel” as in animation cel as well as “cell” like a prison cell and it just kind of came together very, very organically in a relatively short time. It really goes both ways.

CB: I actually wanted to ask about that panel. It’s beautiful how it breaks down all the way to the linework and builds it back up again. I find it an interesting visual discussion on comics.

frank quitely jupiters legacy NYCC 14: Frank Quitely on Visual Process and Cyclical Influence

Jupiter’s Legacy by Frank Quitely & Mark Millar

CB: Changing gears a bit, I’m curious about your influences. Not necessarily artistic influences, but what comics have influenced the way you want to do comics, the way your approach working on comics?

FQ: An early one was Hard Boiled by Frank Miller and Geof Darrow. I set out when I was maybe 20-something and when I saw that, I was really blown away by that. More recently Chris Ware’s Building Stories, it’s a masterpiece – the guy’s a genius. I’ve gone plenty – Akira, the big black and white collections of Akira. Moebius, particularly [his] short stories.

CB: The sheer breadth of his influence is remarkable and that’s something I wanted to touch on with you. In my opinion, you and your work occupy a peculiar place in the comics “family tree” where your catalog is intensely influential for many contemporary creators, but it’s not like you’ve gone away, you’re still pushing yourself. Do you find yourself in something of a loop, being influenced by people you might have influenced?

FQ: Oh, yeah.

CB: What is that like?

FQ: It’s really cool. It’s actually really cool. Two artist who work I really like a lot who’re younger than me are Amy Reeder and Becky Cloonan and both of them, in some way, found something in my work that they liked and there’s now something in their work that I like. With Amy in particular, she started off at Tokyopop and she was only interested in manga. Brandon Montclare, who she’s working with now [on Rocketgirl], was an editor at Tokyopop at the time and he gave her a bunch of comics that he wanted her to look at to kind of broaden her horizons a bit. When she first saw it, she didn’t like my work at all; there was nothing there that she liked. Brandon told her to ignore that she didn’t like my drawing but to look at was I was doing because I was going about it a different way from her. After a while, she did actually start liking it and that’s the kind of funny thing – she didn’t like it at all at first but once she kind of get into it, she got something from it and now her recent work on Rocketgirl is just phenomenal.

When I see stuff like that, I always feel slightly threatened by a lot of younger artists. Because to me, a lot of this stuff seems really fresh and I keep thinking “shit, man, I’m going to have to up my game.”

frank quitely superman NYCC 14: Frank Quitely on Visual Process and Cyclical Influence

All-Star Superman by Frank Quitely & Grant Morrison

CB: Can that be a little thrilling?

FQ: Yeah – absolutely. I don’t want to get to a stage where I’m kind of quite happy with what I’m doing. Like every other artist I know, I see the mistakes in my work more than the good parts. Even things that work quite well, it always looks slightly better in my head. Every page I start I think “this is going to be the best one yet!” So I don’t want to get to a stage where I’m not influenced or threatened by other peoples’ work.

CB: That’s a very remarkable way to stay relevant. Though something I noticed is your lack of online presence. It seems being active on social media outlets is a big part for many comics creators. Is this something that’s never interested you?

FQ: You know, the thing is I can’t answer all my emails as it is, I answer maybe a quarter of my emails or something. So what’s the point of having Facebook? I’m already insulting enough people by not getting back to them. If I had a Facebook presence, I would never talk to anybody – I’d just never get back to them. Either you just that kind of person or you’re not, you know.

CB: Heading to the end, Jupiter’s Legacy will be wrapping up, what’s next?

FQ: “Pax Americana” – one of the Multiversity books at DC.

CB: And are there any dream projects? Characters you want to work on, people you want to work with, or your own stories you’d like to make?

FQ: I have written a bunch of short stories and some of them are thumbnailed. So at some point I want to get a collection out of just my own dumb stuff.

CB: That sound wonderful Frank, thanks for sitting down to chat.

FQ: Not a problem – thank you.

 

Frank Quitely lives in Scotland and draws some of the most amazing comics around. I encourage you to watch the 30-minute feature about him, part of a series called “What Artists Do All Day” produced by BBC4. His upcoming works are the next 6 issues of Jupiter’s Legacy and an issue of DC’s Multiversity called “Pax Americana.”

1 Comments on NYCC ’14: Frank Quitely on Visual Process and Cyclical Influence, last added: 10/14/2014
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9. The Picturebooking Podcast

Screen Shot 2014-10-12 at 11.24.42 AMHave you met Nick Patton? He’s the brain behind The Picturebooking Podcast, and he’s super awesome. And not only because he interviewed me. Take a look at his site, and take a listen to his interviews. This is a voice to the kidlit community that will be around for a while. Good stuff.

But it’s true, he did interview me recently. And it’s true, I did talk so much that he split our chat into two parts.

Here’s Part One.

And here’s Part Two.

011_Carter

It’s a bunch of snippets about a day in the life of a library, loud creativity, my debut picture book, and a slew of artists I adore. And of course, there’s lots of love for The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales. Always.

ch

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10. Interview with Sawyer Bennett, Author of ALEX

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Good morning, Sawyer!  Describe yourself in five words or less.

[Sawyer Bennett] Empathetic, funny, creative, honest, procrastinator

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you tell us a little about your book?

[Sawyer Bennett] Alex is the first book in my new series with Loveswept, called the Cold Fury Hockey Series. Alex Crossman is a professional hockey player with the Carolina Cold Fury. He’s a bit damaged, a little bit of an ass, and completely averse to developing relationships with people. He’s one of those men that you just want to “fix”. Sutton Price is a social worker that gets sort of gets stuck with Alex to create an outreach program for at-risk youth. Both of them have traumatic backgrounds, but both of them let it shape them differently in their adult lives. This is very much a book about Alex’s journey to really find himself and let the past go. Oh, and it’s pretty steamy and romantic as well!!!

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How did you come up with the concept and the characters for the story?

[Sawyer Bennett] The concept was easy. I’ve written a few indie books about hockey players that were well received and figured an actual series would be fun. The characters for this story very much grew organically, but I started with this very basic concept… Alex Crossman is a professional hockey player that hates playing hockey. I mean… how messed up is that? I knew I could fashion an interesting story of growth and redemption from that concept.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What did you enjoy most about writing this book?

[Sawyer Bennett] Honestly, I loved writing Alex’s voice most. This is dual POV, and I loved writing “asshole Alex”. It’s fun to sort of let go and make a guy distasteful and then try to redeem him later.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What gave you the most trouble with this story?

[Sawyer Bennett] Honestly, not much. I mean, there are some serious issues involving drug addiction and abuse, and I will admit writing the epilogue made me cry a bit. It’s totally my type of swoon, but this book flowed pretty easy for me.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If you had a theme song, what would it be?

[Sawyer Bennett] What A Wonderful World by Louis Armstrong (which is also my favorite song)

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Name one thing you won’t leave home without.

[Sawyer Bennett] My underwear! Ha ha. Okay, that’s not necessarily true so I’ll say my cell phone! I can’t stand not being able to have access to the digital world.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Name three things on your desk right now.

[Sawyer Bennett] Picture of my dog, a bottle of papaya scented lotion that I just noticed and have no clue where it came from, and a check dated August 28th that I just noticed I forgot to deposit.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If you could trade places with anyone for just one day, who would you be?

[Sawyer Bennett] Without a doubt it would be the President of the United States. I wouldn’t care who was in office at the time, just the acting President. I’d like to be in charge and have all that power (and stress) for just one day.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What are some books that you enjoyed recently?

[Sawyer Bennett] OMG! Black Lies by Alessandra Torre. I read it over a month ago and it’s still plaguing my thoughts.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?

[Sawyer Bennett] I love to read but I don’t have much time for that. I have an 8 month old baby girl so I spend most of my free time with her. The best is when she falls asleep on my chest. *swoons hard*

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How can readers connect with you?

[Sawyer Bennett] I love interacting with readers. They can reach me at:

www.sawyerbennett.com

www.facebook.com/bennettbooks

www.twitter.com/bennettbooks

sawyer@sawyerbennett.com

Alex

Cold Fury Hockey # 1

By: Sawyer Bennett

Releasing October 14th, 2014

Loveswept

Blurb

USA Today bestselling author Sawyer Bennett scores big-time with the first novel in a sexy new series hot enough to melt the ice.
Hockey star Alexander Crossman has a reputation as a cold-hearted player on and off the rink. Pushed into the sport by an alcoholic father, Alex isn’t afraid to give fans the proverbial middle finger, relishing his role as the MVP they love to hate. Management, however, isn’t so amused. Now Alex has a choice: fix his public image through community service or ride the bench. But Alex refuses to be molded into the Carolina Cold Fury poster boy . . . not even by a tempting redhead with killer curves.

As a social worker, Sutton Price is accustomed to difficult people—like Alex, who’s been assigned to help her create a drug-abuse awareness program for at-risk youth as part of the team’s effort to clean up his image. What she doesn’t expect is the arrogant smirk from his perfect lips to stir her most heated fantasies. But Sutton isn’t one to cross professional boundaries—and besides, Alex doesn’t do relationships . . . or does he? The more she sees behind Alex’s bad-boy façade, the more Sutton craves the man she uncovers.

Link to Follow Tour: http://www.tastybooktours.com/2014/07/alex-cold-fury-1-by-sawyer-bennett.html

Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/21794306-alex?ac=1

Goodreads Series Link: https://www.goodreads.com/series/125350-cold-fury-hockey

Buy Links

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Alex-Cold-Hockey-Novel-Carolina-ebook/dp/B00JTCH5RQ/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1410967793&sr=1-1&keywords=Alex%3A+A+Cold+Fury+Hockey+Novel

B&N: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/alex-sawyer-bennett/1120019672?ean=9780553393002

iTunes: http://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/alex-a-cold-fury-hockey-novel

Kobo: http://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/alex-a-cold-fury-hockey-novel

Order: Amazon | Barnes and Noble | iBooks | Kobo

Author Info

USA Today bestselling author Sawyer Bennett is a snarky Southern woman and reformed trial lawyer who decided to finally start putting on paper all of the stories that were floating in her head. Her husband works for a Fortune 100 company which lets him fly all over the world while she stays at home with their daughter and three big, furry dogs who hog the bed. Sawyer would like to report she doesn’t have many weaknesses but can be bribed with a nominal amount of milk chocolate.

Author Links

Website: http://www.sawyerbennett.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/bennettbooks
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/bennettbooks
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6950682.Sawyer_Bennett

Rafflecopter Giveaway (Alex Crossman/Carolina Cold Fury Hockey Jersey)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The post Interview with Sawyer Bennett, Author of ALEX appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.

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11. NYCC ’14: A Conversation with Marc Evan Jackson on the Detroit Creativity Project

by Zachary Clemente

IMG 1337 771x1028 NYCC 14: A Conversation with Marc Evan Jackson on the Detroit Creativity ProjectAbove and away from the crowds of this year’s New York Comic-Con, I had the pleasure of sitting down with Marc Evan Jackson (known for his roles in Brooklyn 99, 22 Jump Street, Kings of Summer, & Drones as well as his role as Sparks Nevada Marshall on Mars in the Thrilling Adventure Hour) who is promoting The 2nd Annual Detroit Party to benefit the Detroit Creativity Project, where he serves as President. This was personally quite a thrill for me being a fan of TAH and hailing from Detroit. Bits where we went off-topic reminiscing about The Hunter House or the Woodward Dream Cruise have been removed, but know they at least happened.

The Detroit Creativity Project (DPC) is a group of working actors, writers, directors, and musicians whose roots are in Detroit. The roster includes artists from across the spectrum of the performing arts: a musical director for a Grammy award-winning pop artist, a rising young film director, and the creators and stars of popular television comedy shows. We are alumni of The Second City Detroit and graduates of Wayne State University. For so many of us, Detroit was the launching pad for our careers in entertainment. We are committed to giving back to the city that gave us so much.

Comics Beat: This is actually very personal to me as I was born and raised near Detroit.

Marc Evan Jackson: Really, where from?

CB: I was little outside in Bloomfield Hills, but moved away when I was 12.

MEJ: That’s not a little outside, my wife is from Bloomfield Hills. Did your family work in the auto industry?

CB: Sort of. My dad worked for a company that worked closely with GM, but we left before some of the major flops; around 2002.

MEJ: I love that you talk about a time very recent as though it were classic.

CB: Well, I’m 24…

MEJ: Gosh, are you really? Good for you. Get me my wheelchair. [Laughs]

PhotoBy Roman Cho Marc Evan Jackson 01 NYCC 14: A Conversation with Marc Evan Jackson on the Detroit Creativity Project

CB: What about Detroit is so important to you and what is your connection to it?

MEJ: I don’t know if you witnessed this in the 12 years that you were there, but there’s something about Detroit; it has a spirit or vibe. I only lived there for about three and a half years; I moved to Detroit to join the Second City and in that three and a half years it became home. I grew up in Buffalo, NY, I went to school in Grand Rapids, MI; I then lived all over Michigan and Maine briefly after college. Only when I moved to Detroit did I feel that draw, that pull; there’s just this underground heartbeat to Detroit. There’s a pulse of vibrance, coolness, and expression of creativity.

So Detroit is a place that has suffered a lot of egress; a lot of people have left. They took a census right before I left and they were hoping not to fall below 1,000,000 people and it ended up being 720,000, so they missed it by more than 25% – there’s just been a lot of flight of every stripe out of Detroit. But there are still students in Detroit and arts funding has gotten cut and cut; Detroit has been so good to me and to my friends and the arts have been so good to me and my friends that we wanted to give back. In 2012, my wife Beth Hagenlocker and I, as well as people I was in the Second City cast with – Marybeth Monroe from Workaholics, Keegan-Michael Key from Key & Peele, Larry Joe Campbell from According to Jim - we got together and asked “what could we to give back to Detroit?”

Our background is in improvisation and that’s what has gotten each of us our careers, and we decided one easy way to give back is to offer improv instruction free of charge in middle and high schools in Detroit. We started out flagship program, The Improv Project to do just that: to offer this instruction. One big caveat is that we’re not hoping to create more actors or comedians or writers necessarily. Improv is a skill for everybody. In order to improvise well, you have to listen and respect those you’re working with, you have to use your imagination and show up with energy, you have to find yourself saying a lot of “yes” and being overwhelmingly positive, and you have to work well as a team – it’s a great skill set for anybody. Whether you’re going to go be a doctor, a teacher, or anything at all.

Comics Beat: It’s a skill that seems like it can open doors you never thought were in front of you?

MEJ: It absolutely does. It also makes you see doors that you might’ve not been aware of otherwise. It takes the pressure off everything being perfect, it takes the pressure off having the right answer – it spurs curiosity. [...] You’ll do an improv scene about something and realize when you’re done that you may not know much about that subject and find yourself researching it. It inspires a confidence and a communication skill. [...] When you’re in middle and high school, the stakes seem high; everything seems important. There’s such an impetus to be cool or tough or whatever and especially in a hard-bitten place like Detroit that’s the case. Improv erases a lot of that, it makes you feel fine about saying “I don’t know the answer, could you tell me about that?” rather than going “I know.” Instead of the knee-jerking with “you can’t teach me anything,” it puts you in the other direction and makes you think that it doesn’t make you dumb to ask a question.

“Tell me about what you do, I don’t know anything about that. I’m 13 years old, why would I know about that?”

CB: So it can take down that front that people feel they need to put up?

MEJ: Exactly. It crashes through that barrier, in crashes through those obstacles that we put in front of ourselves. The ones that keep you from talking to people, that keep you from asserting an opinion, from finding yourself. It’s such a good communication skill, and again, it’s overwhelmingly positive, it’s good for interviewing skills for jobs or colleges. We are working on measuring our results; doing incoming and exiting surveys with our students, seeing how it affects their test scores. All the schools want to know that this has correlates to the Common Core Curriculum. It really does though, [improv] will make you a better learner; a more curious, more interesting, and more interested person.

CB: How does it feel to lend credence to an enterprise for good with your name and career?

MEJ: My career and my name has become whatever it is currently so gradually that it doesn’t feel like there’s anything to offer.  This is something I’d care about whether I was in the public eye or not, it’s a total no-brainer. I think far more drastic a name are people like Keegan-Michael Key. When we go back to Detroit, we were there last in August for the improv festival; the performances go: middle school, high school, my group The 313 (the area code of the city of Detroit and features Keegan-Michael Key, Larry Joe Campbell, Joshua Funk, Nyima Funk, Andy Cobb, Maribeth Monroe, and Jaime Moyer), and then we had the kids come back and perform with us. To watch these middle and high school students perform with Keegan was something I’ll never forget as long as I live.

For myself and for people far more famous than I’ll ever be, it’s easy. It’s such a good thing to watch the transformation in these kids and I can’t imagine not doing it.

CB: While I’ve never been back, I kind of think that underground pulse you mentioned is expressed in a hope for Detroit. Sort of the certainty that it’ll come back?

MEJ: I think that a Detroit renaissance is inevitable, but if it doesn’t happen now with all that’s going on – all the focus, all the dollars, all the energy – then it never will. My wife and I, representing the DCP, were back in Detroit just a few weeks ago for the 1st Annual Detroit Homecoming. They reached out to expats all around in business, entertainment, sports, government, everything, to come back to Detroit for a summit. They said “let us take you around Detroit, let us show you the changes that have taken place already, and have your input on what you can do.” Beth and I were back as liaisons, sort of, to the Hollywood community, but Warren Buffet was there – there people there that were billionaires who run companies that can decide to put a call center in Detroit, they can decide to open a branch in Detroit, they can look into manufacturing their next product there.

It was encouraging to know that it wasn’t just some underground, improv theatre, artistic thing. People from all walks of life that got their start in Detroit or went to school in Detroit – anybody who has any connection to it looks back and says “I want to be part of the conversation in Detroit, I want to help with what’s next and see what I can do.” This meeting was powerful; so good for connections and networking. We were able to match-make for people who should know each other and people did that for us and it’s been pretty great.

CB: I have some friends who are interested in urban development and urban planning and it’s been such a foundational place for them to go.

MEJ: It’s a laboratory, right? There’s nowhere else like it right now.

CB: People have the opportunity to almost beta-test infrastructure systems like urban farming.

MEJ: Sure, like communal living. I mean, you can buy a house there for $5,000 right now.

CB: Yeah, but you will have to remove the tree.

MEJ: Oh sure, the one’s that’s growing inside your house? No, that’s true. They’re calling it the new Berlin, but they’re also calling it the next Silicon Valley. Companies are moving there because there’s skilled work forces, housing is cheap, and there’s an awful lot of land around.

There’s nothing like Detroit. You have an idea, you’ve been there, but for people that haven’t it’s so hard to describe Detroit and what it looked like. Even in the late 90’s when I was there…to describe the block-after-block of burned out buildings that had been burned since 1967 and nobody’s touched it. It’s hard to convey that to people who haven’t gone.

CB: Looks like we have some overlap, time-wise.

MEJ: Yes, but you were likely in diapers.

140422 TAH 236 734x1028 NYCC 14: A Conversation with Marc Evan Jackson on the Detroit Creativity Project

Credit: Roman Cho

CB: One of the things about DCP that really excites me is that it reminds me of the little movements that ended up spawning things like Motown; these beautiful things that could have only come out of Detroit.

MEJ: I’ll tell you what: this Detroit Homecoming made us aware of other groups doing similar things that we’re doing, people doing complementary things – a lot of puzzle pieces got put together. We’ve met groups of people that are literally doing expatriate fundraising for Detroit. There’s a group called Born and Raised Detroit and there are a number of groups like that without this homecoming, we would’ve never known existed.

CB: Thank you so much Marc for discussing this project.

MEJ: Of course, and thank you.

 

Marc Evan Jackson is a improv performer, voice, TV, and film actor currently in Los Angeles. He is the voice of Spark Nevada, Marshall on Mars on the monthly live radio show, Thrilling Adventure Hour and is one of the founders of the Detroit Creativity Project, where he serves as President. Find more information on the Detroit Creative Project here.

Find tickets for the 2nd Annual Detroit Party benefiting the DCP, hosted by Second City Detroit alum Keegan-Michael Key from Key & Peele here.

4 Comments on NYCC ’14: A Conversation with Marc Evan Jackson on the Detroit Creativity Project, last added: 10/17/2014
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12. Blog Tour, My Illustration Process

Blog Tour

I wasn’t recently asked by talented illustrator Josh Cleland to participate in a blog tour sharing my work process and answering a few questions. As many of you know Josh is a rock star when it comes to working with Adobe Illustrator which is super cool because I love Illustrator too. Josh and I differ a bit when it comes to our style and how we use the program which is why I thought it would be fun to show a project I’m working on right now done almost exclusively in Illustrator. First however let me get to the questions that go along with blog tour

What am I working on right now?

photo bob ostrom with childrens booksI am working on a host of different projects, unfortunately many of the contracts I have signed keep me from discussing them until they are published. That’s the tough part of working in this industry especially because sometimes it can take up to a year for each project to reach the market. I guess those are just the breaks. So instead of getting into projects that I can’t talk about I’ll mention a few that I can. For many of you who are familiar with what I do when I’m not illustrating you may recall I have another site, BobTeachesArt.com, where I teach artists how to use programs like Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign. Right now I’m in the process of putting together a very special new class demonstrating advanced line art techniques using Adobe Illustrator. The great thing about this class is you don’t have to be a rock star Adobe Illustrator user to take the class. It starts right from the beginning with each tool I use. I show how it works and how to combine them to create amazing results.

Why do I illustrate what I do?

photo of the mr. and mrs. wiener truck logo designed by bob ostromIt’s no big secret I’ve always loved cartoons. As a kid I learned to draw by tracing all my favorite comic strips over and over again. It kept my busy for hours. As I got older I knew one day I would find a way to draw cartoons for a living. It took me a few years to figure it out but eventually I found my way into children’s publishing and once I did I knew that was exactly where I belonged. Aside children’s books I also create custom one of a kind cartoon logos. If you asked me to pick one over the other I’d have to say you’re crazy. I love doing both. In fact just about anywhere I can find a market for my art is interesting to me …and that’s where you’ll always find me.

How is my work different from others in my genre?

Every artist has their own style. Cartoonists also have their own special sense of humor that shines through in their art. It’s kind of like a finger print and it originates from a lot of different things… Life experiences, artistic training, what happened on the way home from the grocery store that day, what the cat vomited up (art isn’t always pretty). You name it, it finds its way into a cartoonist’s art and that’s what makes it unique. My style is constantly evolving (and hopefully improving) but at this point I think it’s become pretty recognizable. There are a few other artists out their who have similar styles but in my opinion we are all very unique.

illustration of herbie bear alone in the shallow end of the pool illustration of herbie bear paiting a fnece illustration by bob ostrom of flamingo mrs. garcia from the herbie bear children's book illustration by bob ostrom of herbie bear children's book cover art illustration by bob ostrom of herbie bear at the destist illustration by children's book illustration by bob ostrom of herbie bear with lotts of pets at school

How does my illustration process work?

This is kind of a tough question because I don’t always work the same way or in the same style but rather than give you a long detailed explanation of my process I’ve created a short video that shows an actual project starting from a rough sketch. This is pretty typical of many of the projects I work on using Adobe Illustrator. The first thing you’ll notice is I’ve compressed the time for the video and done a little bit of editing. The things I’ve left on the cutting room floor is all the trial and error experimenting I do with shapes and colors as I work through a project. I am a visual person but I don’t always trust my first instincts so I often try many different color combinations to see if I can find better options. Sometimes it can be a tedious process which is why I’ve trimmed it from this video. Other times things just flow and I get it right the first time. It all depends on which way things happen to be leaning that particular day.

Ok enough with the typing here’s the video. Enjoy

nosferatu-sketch nosferatu line art by bob ostrom nosferatu cartoon illustration by bob ostrom

 

Next up on the blog tour I’m inviting  two amazingly talented artists and good friends:

photo-fian arroyo Fian Arroyo, with his creative mind and quick draw, has been creating award-winning illustrations and character designs for his clients, including Fortune-500 companies, in the advertising, editorial, toy & game and publishing markets for over 20 years.

http://fian.com/

 

photo greg newmanGreg Newman has been a freelance artist and illustrator, designer and developer since 2001. Newman now specializes in portraiture, uncannily realistic caricatures and wildlife illustrations, as well as design and development for the intertubes.

http://gregnewman.org/

 

The post Blog Tour, My Illustration Process appeared first on Bob Ostrom Studio - 919-809-6178.

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13. Call for Submissions on Travel or Place: cahoodaloodaling

The online journal, cahoodaloodaling, is seeking writing and art submissions with the common theme of travel or place for its January 2015 issue, Travelogue. Issue #15 – Travelogue 

We are seeking submissions inspired by unique destinations, travel, international adventures, or simply the comforts of home. Send in your best works of “place” by the end of the year. Remember, we are open for all styles and forms of visual and audio art, poetry, literature, as well as essays, non-fiction, screenplays, collaborations and even letters home. Make us stand up and take notice. 

Submissions due 12/31/14. Guest editor April Michelle Bratten of Up The Staircase Quarterly. Issue live 1/31/15. 

Check out previous issues here.

Please review our submission guidelines here.

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14. Jen Wang Aims To Give Gaming A Real World Context For ‘In Real Life’

Jen.Wang  695x1028 Jen Wang Aims To Give Gaming A Real World Context For In Real LifeBy Kyle Pinion

IN REAL LIFE, a graphic novel collaboration between journalist/author Cory Doctorow and comics creator Jen Wang, centers on a young gamer named Anda who becomes enraptured by an massively multiplayer online game (MMO) called “Coarsegold Online”. While logged-in, she makes new friends, including a gregarious fellow gamer named “Sarge” and a “gold-farmer” from China named Raymond. It’s the latter whose activities, which center on illegally collecting valuable objects in the game and selling them to other players from developed countries, begin to open up Anda’s perspectives on the concepts of right and wrong, and the power of action towards civil rights.

The book was a true eye-opener for me, as I’m not a gamer by any stretch of the imagination beyond the occasional dalliance on my console system at home. I was delighted when I received an opportunity to chat with Jen Wang about the origins of this project, its underlying themes, and how much of her own gaming experience played into the development of the narrative.

How did IN REAL LIFE (IRL) find its genesis? Did you know Cory Doctorow prior to working on this project?

Prior to IN REAL LIFE I was familiar with Cory Doctorow as a blogger and activist but I hadn’t read his fiction. ANDA’s GAME, the short story IRL is based on was actually the first piece I read. My publisher First Second sent me a link to the short and asked if I’d be interested. After reading that, it was hard to say no!

What is it about the subject matter that drew you in initially?

I like that it takes gaming, which many people see as frivolous entertainment, and gives it a real life context. The internet is inherently a social platform and it makes sense that it reflects our darker tendencies, such as exploiting people. I also like that it touches on the tension between China and the West. There’s just so much interesting material to explore and at the end of the day it’s still a simple story about two teenage gamers from different countries who become friends.

Your previous work, KOKO BE GOOD, also published through First Second, was solely written and illustrated by yourself. Do you find that there are inherent advantages in the collaborative process, and is there a method you prefer over the other? 

It’s definitely a lot easier to illustrate your own work, that’s for sure. The collaborative process is more challenging, but you also get a second point a view and a direction to work towards. Sometimes in your personal work it takes a lot of soul searching to figure out what you’re trying to say but a collaborate project allows you to bounce off other people’s ideas and that’s really refreshing.

InRealLife 2P 12 1000x670 Jen Wang Aims To Give Gaming A Real World Context For In Real Life

On the day to day work on the graphic novel, what was the working relationship between Cory and yourself? Were you in constant contact? 


During the scripting phase of the book we were sending a lot of emails. I would write a draft, send it to Cory, and he would send some notes and bounce some ideas back. We went through maybe 8 or so drafts so it took a little while to nail down the final. I was pretty much left alone at the drawing stage, however.

How much of a specific vision did Cory have in the initial “Anda’s Game” script, and how much input did you have on character design before the development of IRL? Do you feel like Anda specifically has your “stamp” on her?



I had pretty much free reign as far as design went, so that part was fairly easy. When First Second approached me to do the project they wanted me to feel comfortable writing my own take, so mostly it was me pitching ideas to Cory and him giving me notes. I do feel like I have my stamp on Anda but then again I don’t know how it wouldn’t have happened naturally. She’s a nerdy teenage shut in and having been one myself I can relate to that a lot.

The gaming details throughout are very specific, do you have a significant gaming/MMO background as a user? If not, is that an area where Cory contributed significantly?

I don’t really have a background in MMOs but I played World of Warcraft for a couple weeks prior to starting the project. That plus a combination of sandbox games I’ve played were the inspiration for Coarsegold online. I mostly tried to create a game that felt familiar and yet tailored it to things I like in games. I’m very much into customization and resource management so it was fun to add things like to the book.

How do you sense that communication has changed for Generation Y and The Millennials? Do you find that you side more with Anda or her mother in what technology brings to social interaction? 

I’m definitely on the Millennials side. I can’t imagine what my life would be like now if I didn’t have access to the internet as a teenager. I met so many other young artists online and they really motivated me to create and challenge myself. Without it, I would’ve had to seek these people out in college in person and I would’ve been a lot more lonely and isolated. There are risks to putting yourself online but there are risks to be alive in the real world as well.  The best you can do is exercise caution and be smart about your privacy in the same way you would anywhere.

Is there anything from your own experience pulled into Anda’s story, at least from a characterization standpoint?

 Do you see Anda as a role model? Was that the intention all along?

I was a lot like Anda in high school. I was a teenage hermit who spent a lot of time connecting to peers online within my community of choice. Like Anda, I found my identity online because I was able to meet other people like myself. I see Anda less as a traditional role model and more as someone readers could relate to. Like Anda, most young people now are discovering the world through the internet and it can be a difficult place to navigate.

InRealLife 2P 14 761x1028 Jen Wang Aims To Give Gaming A Real World Context For In Real Life

What drove the design of the world of Coarsegold? Any specific influences?

World of Warcraft is the main one, but I also looked at the Final Fantasy games, Skyrim, and more open world games like Animal Crossing, The Sims and Second Life.

What was the thought process on the color-design that differentiates Coarsegold from “the real world”?



I definitely wanted Coarsegold to be more bright and colorful by contrast as a reflection of Anda’s feelings toward both realities. I used different filters and colored textures so that real life was a little more tan and monochromatic while Coarsegold looked lively and exciting.

When Anda somewhat bridges the gap between the two by changing her hair color to match her avatar, what kind of sea-change does that indicate for her personally?

At that point in the story Anda has finally found purpose and confidence in her role as a Fahrenheit. Not only has she befriended Raymond and discovered this world of goldfarming, but she’s taken on the task of helping him. It’s a decision she’s been able to make for herself separate from what her peers have led her to believe, and changing her hair color is a symbol of this newfound confidence.

IN REAL LIFE defies expectations a bit in that it shifts a bit touching briefly on females in gaming (with the very succinct hand-raising scene in the classroom and some of the concerns of “Sarge”) and then moves into an area centering on economics and specifically civil rights. Do you sense a strong correlation between the two themes?

Oh, for sure. As in real life, the conflict within Coarsegold comes from who is considered an “other.” As a young girl in gaming, Anda is a minority, yet she’s in a position of power compared to Raymond who is not only a foreigner who doesn’t speak English, but also a goldfarmer. They’re able to connect as outsiders of this gaming establishment and both are fighting for the right to be themselves and be seen as equals.

I have to admit that the term “gold farming” is fairly new to me (as a non-gamer), and IRL paints a very morally grey picture around that activity, what do you feel as though readers should take from the book’s portrayal of that subject?



Gold farming was new to me too until I started researching for this book. There is a lot of grey area and it’s still evolving. What I do hope the readers takes away from IRL is the ability to keep an open mind about the people on the other side of the tracks and be empathetic to their struggles. On the surface the gold farming community appears to be taking advantage of game-makers and the “purity” of the game. On the other hand the gold farmers themselves are actually big fans who can only participate by being taken advantage of.

What inspired the creation of Raymond? Both in the look of his avatar and the character’s plight in China?

I wanted the goldfarmers to look small and vulnerable compared to everyone else.  They haven’t been able to level up their characters and they’re not customized so Raymond doesn’t look any different from his peers. I also wanted them to not look human so as to “otherize” the goldfarmers in the eyes of Anda and Lucy at the beginning of the story. For Raymond’s human backstory I took a lot of inspiration from a book I read called FACTORY GIRLS: FROM VILLAGE TO CITY IN A CHANGING CHINA by Leslie T. Chang. It paints these very compassionate portraits of young female migrant workers and the everyday victories and struggles they face.  Raymond comes from a very disadvantaged background but he’s also clever and ambitious enough to get what he wants (to play Coarsegold) with the means that he has.

Do you feel a sense of responsibility to educate as a creator publishing a book within the Young Adult literary genre? Does that affect the kinds of stories you hope to tell?



I don’t make it a point to be an educator, but I hope my stories reflect the world I’d like to see and the problems I’d like us to overcome.

If there was one-key take away or message from IN REAL LIFE that should highlighted, what would that be?

Be compassionate to others and be aware of how your role in the community may be inadvertently hurting others less privileged than you.

What’s next on the horizon for you post the release of IRL next month? Any new projects that you can share?

I have a couple new projects I can’t really talk about yet, but I’m excited to share I’m co-organizing a new comics festival in Los Angeles called Comics Arts LA. It’s a one day event that will take place on December 6th. We’ve got really great exhibitors lined up so it’s going to be fun. If any readers out there are in Southern California that weekend, I encourage you to come check it out! http://comicartsla.com

IN REAL LIFE will be available in a bookstore near you on October 14th through First Second

1 Comments on Jen Wang Aims To Give Gaming A Real World Context For ‘In Real Life’, last added: 10/8/2014
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15. B. J. Novak is not a celebrity author. (Oh, really?): An interview

novak photo B. J. Novak is not a celebrity author. (Oh, really?): An interview On October 2, the Harvard Book Store hosted B. J. Novak (from TV’s The Office, Saving Mr. Banks, and many others; also a Harvard University grad, thank you very much) reading his new picture book — The Book with No Pictures — at the Brattle Theatre. He invited kids on to the stage for a rollicking reading of his hilarious book. At least I thought that was rollicking, until I saw him read again the next day in front of about two hundred first-through-third-graders at a nearby elementary school. Pure kid bliss, complete with Q&A at the end (Kid: “Did you write books when you were little?” BJN: “Yes! Spooky books for Halloween, stories about the beach when it was summertime…”) and an invitation to send him story ideas (um… Uncle Shelby, anyone?! If you don’t get that reference, read on). We spoke afterward about standup comedy, childhood rebellion, and metafiction.

(BTW, as @RogerReads asked: “Is @bjnovak ‘s THE BOOK WITH NO PICTURES still technically a picture book? I hope it makes the Caldecott committee squirm.”)

novak bookwithnopix B. J. Novak is not a celebrity author. (Oh, really?): An interview EG: How involved were you in designing The Book with No Pictures?

BJN: I was extremely hands on — I think I drove everyone crazy.

EG: Who were the editor and designer on this project?

BJN: I worked with two designers: Lily Malcom at Penguin and Kate Harmer, an independent designer I’ve worked with before, with Hum Creative in Seattle. The editor was Lauri Hornik. My approach is always to ask a million people for advice.

talking B. J. Novak is not a celebrity author. (Oh, really?): An interview

B.J. Novak at the Brattle Theatre.

EG: Were kids involved in that part?

BJN: Not knowingly, not wittingly. I would observe kids as they were read to, not just by me. I would ask parents to read so I could watch what they would naturally do. My original draft of what we call the “mayhem spread,” with all those crazy syllables, was very intimidating for a parent to read, I found. I mean, kids loved it. I showed my original black-and-white version to a two-year-old, and he started cracking up as soon as he saw the page. It had a lot of Hs in it, a lot of silent letters — I wanted it to look complicated. And while kids were delighted, I thought a parent would give up. So I simplified a lot of those syllables. That was a combined design/editorial decision.

EG: Who reined this book in? Because for all of its wackiness, it is very controlled and subtle. It could have gone crazy…

 B. J. Novak is not a celebrity author. (Oh, really?): An interview

His head is made of blueberry pizza.

BJN: Yeah, controlled rebellion. That was my approach. I looked at the original copy I made — I bought an 8 ½ x 12 moleskin journal and printed out pages and paper-clipped them in, with the font the size that I pictured and typewriter font. I glue-sticked a cover onto the journal so that a little kid would think it was a real book, so I could get a real reaction. It took like fifteen minutes per book, so you can’t just give them away, but I would carry them around places. And when I looked at that original paper-clipped version recently, it is almost identical to the finished book. So when I first had the idea, the tone of it was part of the idea. It was something that’s very rebellious for a three-year-old but actually not that edgy. “I am a monkey who taught myself to read” is very unedgy. “BooBoo Butt” is about as borderline as we get. A kindergartner once asked if he could whisper something in my ear so the grownups couldn’t hear, and he whispered, “I liked when you said BooBoo Butt.” He thought it was extremely rebellious and transgressive that I had said that. Controlled rebellion is the key to enjoyment because it makes a kid feel safe. And I’ve noticed that since I was a kid, trying to make other kids laugh, which I did, that younger kids — and especially, I’ve found, younger girls — can be scared of a book that is too wild. And a way to combat that is to keep assuring a kid that this is silly. This is ridiculous, what’s going on here. So the book repeats many times, “This is so silly,” which is partly to make a kid feel safe. Nothing too crazy is going to happen.

EG: It’s not Sendak.

 B. J. Novak is not a celebrity author. (Oh, really?): An interview

The mayhem spread, mid badoongy-face.

BJN: Yeah, who I loved, but whose work can be a little scary — you don’t know where it’s going. So with this book I wanted kids to feel safe in this rebelliously experimental environment.

EG: Was “preposterous” in your original draft?

BJN: No, “preposterous” I added later because I had said “silly” and “ridiculous” too many times. I was working on the movie Saving Mr. Banks, which was about the making of Mary Poppins, and I was enamored of the way kids learned certain words aspirationally. And I thought it’d be nice to have one word in this book that kids don’t recognize, that sounds funny, and it would be nice if they went around saying “preposterous” because they knew it from the book. So that was the one word I added to give a little… aspirational vocabulary.

EG: The Horn Book’s winter company outing last year was to see Saving Mr. Banks.

BJN: Well, I definitely identified with P. L. Travers, because I had written this book that I had intended to cause nothing but easy joy, and here I was being pretty much a monster the way P. L. Travers was. “No, no, that color is all wrong. This font is ridiculous. You can’t have pictures in the book.” I said no picture of me on the flap jacket. I even asked, at one point, if we could take off the little penguin logo on the spine of the book.

EG: They said no?

BJN: Well, I actually changed my mind on that. I think the brand is so wonderful and inviting that I decided technically the jacket isn’t the book, the jacket is the cover. But I was really a monster in the P. L. Travers mold.

EG: Had you read Mary Poppins?

BJN: I hadn’t, but then I read it when we started making the movie. What I was struck by is that the book is so sweet and clever, that I can only imagine how stunned the Sherman brothers must’ve been to meet this sour, negative person. You’d expect it to be a breeze. It’s not like she wrote The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.

EG: Or Where the Wild Things Are. Were you a reader as a kid?

BJN: Yes. My very favorite was Matt Christopher who wrote sort of wish-fulfillment sports books. The Kid Who Only Hit Homers I loved. Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are and In the Night Kitchen.

EG: Do you know the story about how librarians used to pencil in little diapers on the kid?

BJN: I think they had a point! Reading it again recently I thought, “This is insane.” But at the time I thought it was spooky and exciting. I loved Amelia Bedelia, Harriet the Spy. I was caught under my covers reading Harriet the Spy with a flashlight. My mom was very angry because I had promised I’d go to bed. Danny, the Champion of the World. Roald Dahl in general but especially that. And Shel Silverstein I really liked. As I write both for kids and adults, he’s someone who comes up, for me, as a role model. Even the way he maintained his aesthetic, so deliberately, with black and white and a certain font.

EG: Do you read those books differently now than when you were a kid?

BJN: Actually, I probably read them the same. I flip through the Silverstein poems, I never read them in order. My book for adults, One More Thing, is influenced by that, too, the different lengths and playfulness, the black-and-white cover.

EG: The slightly transgressive nature… or more than slightly.

BJN: The important thing for me about The Book with No Pictures, and Shel Silverstein embodied it well, and Dr. Seuss embodied it extremely well too, is that it does encourage kids who will inevitably be rebellious to think of books as their allies. I was very lucky to grow up thinking that every time I was sort of angry and ambitious and didn’t fit in and wanted to do something cooler, I thought of books as the place where you’d find that. As a teenager it would be Jack Kerouac and Bukowski. And as a little kid it might be Dr. Seuss. Dr. Seuss was never on the side of your parent or the authority. He seemed completely anti-authority. And even though he’s so rightly accoladed for his educational books now, when you’re a kid you think: this is the opposite of learning. You think: this is freedom. And that, to me, is an extremely important decision that gets made in a kid’s mind, whether books are the ally or the enemy when they are feeling certain feelings. And I think that what excites me about something like The Book with No Pictures is making kids feel words are on their side, not their parents’ side. Words are this incredible code that can make people do things that they want them to do.

EG: It’s really a performance, reading this book, in a way that some picture books are not. You really have to, as a grownup, embody all of it.

BJN: On the one hand you do, on the other hand you don’t. Performers really take to this book, and I’ve especially found it to be good as a dad book. Dads often want to be a little more wild and rowdy with sons, and a lot of picture books are very gentle, so this is a rowdy book. But I’ve also found people who are not performers, who are shy about picking it up, get wonderful reactions, too. A shy or more quiet parent saying these things, even in a flat, straightforward voice, can be especially funny to a kid, because they’re not the type of parent who would normally say, “My only friend in the whole wide world is a hippo named BooBoo Butt.”

EG: Is the experience different reading to groups rather than one on one?

BJN: Well, I love groups because of all the years I spent as a standup comedian. You just want an audience. It’s a universal truth that comedy’s better with an audience. When I was growing up watching Seinfeld with my family we would all laugh, and now when people tell me they watch The Office on their laptop or on Netflix it’s a little sad. I think that’s why there’s so much activity on Twitter and Facebook about TV shows because you want to be watching this with everybody.

EG: You’ve really thought about all this.

BJN: Yes.

EG: It seems like many projects you’re involved in have this sort of meta quality to them.

BJN: Yes! Nice observation. What else?

EG: Well, even Punk’d is kind of meta. The Office goes without saying. Saving Mr. Banks — a movie about a book about the making of a movie. It’s just that you’re really smart, right?

BJN: I think it’s taste. My friend Mindy Kaling, equally smart, has no patience for meta.

EG: Some of it is really poorly done.

BJN: There seems to be a really sort of clever-teenage-boy drive toward the meta. I loved Mr. Show because it was meta. I loved early Simpsons. And when I was a teenager I loved Borges for being meta. So, yes, that’s always been my taste. The Book with No Pictures — even that title is meta. It’s commenting on itself, its own existence as a funny idea. So I’m always drawn to that. The conceptual, the meta.

EG: Could you write an article for us on gender and meta?

BJN: Interesting. Well, it’s a very small sample set, but I’ve tended to find that equally smart, equally literate people of opposite genders — meta is a dividing line, often. That and Bob Dylan.

EG: You are not a typical celebrity author.

BJN: I think the crazy thing is that I’m a celebrity, not that I’m an author. I’m an author by nature. My father is an author. I went to Harvard and studied literature. I was an ambitious and successful television writer. And then I started doing stand-up and acting, and for years I think the quiet nudge from my friends was, “Are you sure about this acting thing? You’re so clearly meant to be a writer.” And so now I actually take it as a compliment when people are skeptical about celebrity books. I’m like, “Really? You think I’m a celebrity? Wow! No one ever thought I could do it.” No one ever doubted I could be an author growing up, they doubted that I could be a celebrity.

EG: Do you have both these introvert and extrovert sides to you?

BJN: I’m very much both, in the way that very many comedy performers are, famously. And really this is my  ideal career. Most of the time I love being alone, writing, in my own mind, no one bothering me, dreaming up things, like a teenage boy in his basement laboratory. Plotting about how the world is going to crazy with excitement about what he’s writing.

EG: Sounds like your next middle-grade novel.

BJN: And then I want to go out and show it to the world and see people’s faces. So I really feel that what my real goal is, and always has been, is to be a public author. There was an era in which Mark Twain was America’s author. Everyone knew he was a writer. Dickens, too, performed live. All these guys performed their writing live and were public personas as writers. And in Europe there’s still something of a public persona as a writer. But it’s not really the case in America. You’re an author or a celebrity.

EG: Although now with Twitter, John Green and people like that…

BJN: Yes! I think it’s changing somewhat. And I would like to be that. What John Green is for his audience and his genre, I would like to be for mine. Which is meta comedy, I suppose. I would like to be the representative of it. Someone who is a hero of mine that I also want to be like is Rod Serling. He presented his writing, looked like his writing, embodied his writing. He wasn’t an actor, he was a public writer. So that’s what I want to be.

EG: So, picture book is your niche? Or are you going to come out with a YA — what was that toilet zombie book the kid suggested during the Q&A?

BJN: My first book, the short story book, is very personal expression. And this book is an expression of what I want to write for kids. Yeah, I would like to write YA as well, and middle-grade…

EG: See, you know what the words “middle-grade” mean. That’s great.

BJN: Well, again, I’m not a celebrity. That’s our secret.

Liz (the school’s hip librarian; cameo appearance): HA!

EG: He knows “middle-grade.” He used it in conversation! Oh, Shel Silverstein… Liz sending you all the kids’ story ideas… it makes me think of Silverstein’s ABZ book.

BJN: Yes! I loved it as a kid.

EG: As a kid you read it?

BJN: My father gently introduced me to it with the explanation that this is a fake kids’ book. I got the joke, I loved it…

EG: “L is for lye…”

BJN: I remember: “Steal your parents’ money and mail it to Uncle Shelby.”

EG: So there weren’t any books that you weren’t allowed to read as a kid? Was everything up for grabs?

BJN: Everything was up for grabs, in fact probably more than for most kids because my father had a library at home of all the books he would do for research. He had written a book on marijuana use. There were books on heroine in our house. There were books on Iran-Contra. Books on all kinds of things. And he never stopped me from reading any of that. I think he was secretly quite happy. Again, if your rebellion comes… look, rebellion’s going to come, for every kid. And if it comes in the form of literature, you’re much better off than if it comes in opposition to it.

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16. Seven Questions Over Breakfast with Ben Clanton

Pumpkin granola with vanilla almond milk. Sourdough toast. And a cup of hot apple cider with caramel. Mmm. That’s the breakfast I’m having this morning with author-illustrator Ben Clanton.

Once upon a time—2010, to be exact—Ben visited 7-Imp before he was even a published author and illustrator, and it’s good to have him back. As you’ll read below, Ben has several picture books under his belt and more on the way. His brand-new picture book, Rex Wrecks It! (Candlewick, September 2014), is filled with what the Kirkus review calls a joyous energy. And I know for a fact that it is a story-time hit.

I love, in particular, to see Ben’s pencil and watercolor drawings (there are many in this interview today), and guess what? He recently started a Facebook page showing off his darker doodles. It’s called—you guessed it—”Dark Doodles,” and it’s here. Want to see one? Ben posted this just last night.

Perfect. It is nearly Halloween, after all.

Ben seems to be enjoying the new Facebook page, and so do those who have gone to visit it (including me). “I’m always careful about which sketchbooks to bring to signings and school visits,” he tells me. “Often there are dark things amongst the oodles of cute.”

So, to see both the dark and cute, keep reading below. Ben sent tons of art (which is how you win this blogger’s heart). I thank him for sharing.

* * * * * * *

Jules: Are you an illustrator or author/illustrator?

Ben: Author/Illustrator!



Jules: Can you list your books-to-date?

Ben: I’ve written and illustrated four picture books: Mo’s Mustache; Vote for Me!; The Table Sets Itself; and Rex Wrecks It! And I’m happy to say several more are in the works.

Books I have illustrated: Jasper John Dooley: Star of the Week by Caroline Adderson; Jasper John Dooley: Left Behind by Caroline Adderson; Jasper John Dooley: Not in Love by Caroline Adderson; Max Has a Fish by Wiley Blevins.


(A 2015 Jasper John Dooley title)

Jules: What is your usual medium?

Ben: Typically, I use a mix of ink (micron pens and dip pens), watercolor (Daniel Smith watercolor sticks), and pencil (6B or HB) — plus a bit of digital magic (Photoshop CS5).

My preferred paper is Strathmore Aquarius II.



Jules: If you have illustrated for various age ranges (such as, both picture books and early reader books OR, say, picture books and chapter books), can you briefly discuss the differences, if any, in illustrating for one age group to another?



Ben: I find that illustrating a chapter book comes with certain expectations — generally the pieces are black and white, have backgrounds and/or depict scenes, and do less of the storytelling than the words. Not always the case! But usually it is.

I find that picture books are much more open and allow for greater creativity. The format is more malleable when it comes to shape, size, color, the integration of the text, content, and design. For me this sort of freedom is both challenging and rewarding.





The above spot illustrations are from
Caroline Adderson’s
Jasper John Dooley series

Jules: Where are your stompin’ grounds?

Ben: I currently live in an old brick mill next to a pond in North Andover, MA. But Seattle, WA; Kalispell, MT; and Portland, OR, will always be home, too.


The mill
(Click to enlarge)

Jules: Can you tell me about your road to publication?

Ben: I first became interested in writing children’s books when I was a freshman at Willamette University. I had a developing passion for social justice and service-learning and figured that I could make a difference by addressing important topics in children’s books. As a result, my original story attempts were extremely didactic. But with some encouragement from my girlfriend Kelsey (now my wife!) and her mother, Teresa Walsh (who happens to be an illustrator), I started to read picture books voraciously and began drawing and painting.



I became hugely passionate about making books. I joined SCBWI (an excellent decision for anyone who has an interest in creating children’s books) and attended conferences and workshops. When I graduated from Willamette (Anthropology major, Politics minor), I moved to Seattle and started to work at a before- and after-school program. My typical day started with reading stories with kids (sometimes my own stories — great opportunity to test them!), working on my stories between shifts, and playing with the kids. I learned A LOT about how to make books of interest to kids because of that experience.



It was during that time that I was featured on this very blog (a 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks post)! Shortly after that post (and because of it!), I received an email from Tara Walker at Kids Can Press saying she would love to see more of my work. I sent her several picture book dummies but none of them were quite right for Kids Can. However, Kids Can was interested in having me illustrate a new chapter book series, Jasper John Dooley by Caroline Adderson. Not very long after that I came up with a picture book that Tara and Kids Can were interested in, Vote for Me! [pictured below].



(Click each to enlarge)

Jules: Can you please point readers to your web site and/or blog?

Ben: www.benclanton.com.



Jules: If you do school visits, tell me what they’re like.

Ben: I love doing school visits! Generally I prefer to meet with smaller groups (one or two classes) at a time, because that way I can do more specialized hands-on stuff with the kids — like play drawing games or make up stories with them! I enjoy getting the kids involved. Often when I’m making drawings for the kids I’ll have them come up and pose as angry unicats and that sort of thing.

I also really like corresponding with kids. It is fun and inspiring to hear about what the kids enjoy, and I love the drawings kids make.


(Click to enlarge)



Jules: Any new titles/projects you might be working on now that you can tell me about?

Ben: My latest picture book, Rex Wrecks It! (Candlewick), just came out. The story started out in an unusual way for me. Typically, a story idea comes all at once for me and I start by writing it down. This one started with pictures. I wanted to do a book that featured some of my favorite things to draw — things like dinosaurs, robots, monsters, and unibbits. The narrative came about from a comic I had drawn in my sketchbook about a little Godzilla character who kept messing up playtime for everyone.

My next book will be Something Extraordinary (Simon & Schuster), pictured below. I think I set the bar rather high with that title! It comes out next June.


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I’m also currently working on a graphic novel and just finishing my first draft of the first chapter book I’ve ever written.

 


A cover mock-up for the chapter book
(Click to enlarge)

Mmm. Coffee.Okay, we’ve got more cider, and it’s time to get a bit more detailed with seven questions over breakfast. I thank Ben again for visiting 7-Imp.

1. Jules: What exactly is your process when you are illustrating a book? You can start wherever you’d like when answering: getting initial ideas, starting to illustrate, or even what it’s like under deadline, etc. Do you outline a great deal of the book before you illustrate or just let your muse lead you on and see where you end up?

Ben

: So far, I’ve found that each book is a little different. But I have noticed that my best ideas usually come in a flash of inspiration. Often this happens when I’m allowing my mind to wander (not an uncommon occurrence). I might be out for a walk, taking a shower, or driving somewhere when suddenly I stumble upon something I find funny and/or interesting. Next thing I know a story is playing out in my mind. Often I’ll let it tumble around my head for a bit and write down the occasional note about it in my sketchbook.

Funnily, some of my best ideas also come about when I’m under pressure. When I was working at a before- and after-school program in Seattle, I would make comics for the kids on the spot. Two of my books (Mo’s Mustache and Rex Wrecks It!) were a result of such comics.

When I feel like it is time for the idea to really get my attention, I sit down at the computer and type up a manuscript. I let it sit for a bit and then start the process of editing and fine-tuning. For me writing a picture book feels the same way as writing a poem. Each word counts, and the way they are organized (or not!) is imperative.

Once I have actually written the story down, I start the process of drawing the characters and exploring the visual style of the story. I also start the storyboarding process at this point. Typically, I start with small thumbnail scribbles and with each revision make it all a bit bigger and more precise. At this point I have to change up a lot of the wording to fit with the visual half. I want the words to be able to stand on their own and for the pictures to be able to as well, but for both to work best when together. The interplay of the two is very important to me.


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When creating a book dummy, I draw all the elements by hand and then assemble them in Photoshop so that I can move them around easily on the spread and try a number of compositions.

I approach final art in a similar way. I draw and paint each character and element individually, scan, and then assemble in Photoshop. It can be a bit of a time-consuming and meticulous affair, but also strangely cathartic. There is the danger at this point in the process of snuffing the life out of the illustrations. I try to allow happy accidents. I want the human hand visible in my work. I often find myself battling the perfectionist in me.


Final art
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Final art
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2. Jules: Describe your studio or usual work space.


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Robot helpers
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View from the studio window
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Ben loves books
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Ben

: I work from home and pretty much everywhere I go (always have a sketchbook with me). I tend to be a messy person, but recently I’ve been doing a good job of keeping it all somewhat organized. I definitely feel best when my work space is on the clean side.


I have a number of studio assistants [pictured above]. My dinosaur, Rex, isn’t so helpful. When my workspace is messy, it is usually his fault. My robot helpers make much better assistants.

I also have an intern, who joins me for walks in the woods. Her name is gigi.





Ben and gigi

3. Jules: As a book-lover, it interests me: What books or authors and/or illustrators influenced you as an early reader?

Ben

: A lot of the classics! Where the Wild Things Are, The Very Quiet Cricket, Make Way for Ducklings, The Story of Ferdinand, everything by Tomie dePaola, and all the books by Dr. Seuss were frequent reads for me.

And when I say “reads” I mean that I read them visually. I wasn’t too keen on reading words when I was a kid, but I loved the pictures. Recently I discovered some correspondence between my mom and my third-grade teacher in which my mom expressed concern that all I did was look at pictures. She was afraid I’d get too far behind, because I didn’t bother with the words. It was Harry Potter that ended up getting me into the words. That series made me the book addict I am today!

Oh, also, It Zwibble and the Greatest Cleanup Ever! LOVED that book!

[Pictured below are some early images and final art from
Mo’s Mustache,
published last year by Tundra Books.]


Thumbnail doodles
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Pictured above: Early drawings
(Click the last two to enlarge)


 


Character work
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Cover wrap idea
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Cover wrap
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Cover
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“Mo’s Mustache Manual”
(the flip side of the dust jacket)


Endpapers
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Dummy image
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Final spread
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Dummy image


Dummy image
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Dummy image
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Final spread
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Final spread
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4. Jules: If you could have three (living) authors or illustrators—whom you have not yet met—over for coffee or a glass of rich, red wine, whom would you choose? (Some people cheat and list deceased authors/illustrators. I won’t tell.)

Ben: Quentin Blake, David Roberts, and Chris Riddell. I have a thing for those British illustrators!

[Pictured below are some early images and final art from
The Table Sets Itself

,
published last year by Walker Books for Young Readers.]


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Final spread: “Where in the universe were Dish and Spoon?”
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Final spread: “It looked like Dish and Spoon might never return. …”
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Final spread: “Izzy would have taken off for France right then and there,
but her parents didn’t understand.”

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5. Jules: What is currently in rotation on your iPod or loaded in your CD player? Do you listen to music while you create books?

Ben: I like to listen to audio books, when illustrating. I go through several per week. Currently, I’m listening to Stoneheart by Charlie Fletcher and read by Jim Dale. I’ve got a voice crush on Jim Dale. Kelsey (my wife) and I have all the Harry Potter audiobooks (read by Jim Dale), and we fall asleep to them every night. Many people are surprised when they find out I work while listening to an audio book, but for me drawing is sometimes like breathing and, at other times, a meticulous task. In both cases, it is nice to do something else at the same time.


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When I write, I tend not to listen to anything, but sometimes I’ll listen to music — Jack Johnson, Vampire Weekend, and James Taylor are a few favorites of mine. My book Mo’s Mustache was a bit of an exception. When I worked on that book, I listened to The Bee Gees and anything else that put me in the mood to dance. Drawing and dancing at the same time is lots of fun! I also make sound effects when drawing, but typically when I’m the only one around.


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6. Jules: What’s one thing that most people don’t know about you?

Ben: Whenever I mow a lawn, I imagine it is a televised lawn-mowing competition. The announcers evaluate my technique and everything. Speed matters — but so does the quality of the cut. Yep.


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7. Jules: Is there something you wish interviewers would ask you — but never do? Feel free to ask and respond here.

Ben: What is your dream project?

I really want to start or take part in making a quarterly children’s magazine with 100+ pages, printed on uncoated stock. It would have oodles of random awesomeness — stories, comics, coloring pages, drawing games, jokes, nonsense, and art made by kids. And all of my favorite illustrators would take part, of course. Something akin to The Goods but magazine format — so room for even more.


(Click to enlarge)


 

* * * The Pivot Questionnaire * * *

Jules: What is your favorite word?

Ben: “Doodles!”

Jules: What is your least favorite word?

Ben: I feel that most words (even the ones that grate on me a bit) have their place. But one that does send a shiver down my spine is “moist.”

Jules: What turns you on creatively, spiritually or emotionally?

Ben: Walking in the woods, ice cream, bookstores, hot chocolate, games, drawing …

Jules: What turns you off?

Ben: Apathy.

Jules: What sound or noise do you love?

Ben: The sound of the ocean.

Jules: What sound or noise do you hate?

Ben: Shouting. But that depends on the situation.

Jules: What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?

Ben: Professional basketball player!

Jules: What profession would you not like to do?

Ben: Butcher.

Jules: If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates?

Ben: “What do you want to go back as? I think you’d make an excellent dragon!”

All artwork and images are used with permission of Ben Clanton.

REX WRECKS IT. Copyright © 2014 by Ben Clanton. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Candlewick Press, Somerville, MA.

The spiffy and slightly sinister gentleman introducing the Pivot Questionnaire is Alfred, © 2009 Matt Phelan.

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17. Five questions for Julie Berry

JulieBerry 500pxTall 242x300 by Bruce Lucier Five questions for Julie Berry

Photo: Bruce Lucier

Julie Berry’s 2013 book All the Truth That’s In Me (Viking, 14 years and up) is a dark, claustrophobic — and beautiful — novel set seemingly out of time and narrated (in her own head) by a young woman whose tongue was cut out by a captor she escaped. The Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow Place (Roaring Brook, 11–14 years) could not be more different in tone or content. A Victorian-set, girls’-school, murder-mystery farce with seven distinct young-lady main characters (with names such as Dour Elinor, Stout Alice, and Smooth Kitty), the book is light as air (well, except for all that murder).

1. This book is so different from All the Truth That’s In Me. Where did it come from?

JB: In some sense, from a lifelong love of Agatha Christie mysteries and a deep infatuation with farcical plays and films such as The Importance of Being Earnest and Arsenic and Old Lace. The real catalyst, though, was an audio lecture by Professor John Sutherland, who contrasted the regiments of soldiers in Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice with the large number of unmarried young ladies in the novel. He called them a “regiment of maidens.” It was a light-bulb moment for me. I knew I needed to write about a regiment of innocent maidens who were, perhaps, not so innocent. The Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow Place was the almost immediate result.

2. How did you keep all the voices straight? Did the girls “talk” to you as you were writing?

JB: It is a handful of voices to keep track of, to be sure, but they were very distinct in my mind. I grew up in a family of seven children so, to borrow from the title of Holly Goldberg Sloan’s beautiful book, I was well accustomed to “counting by sevens.” My five sisters and one brother and I are very different people, with lots of practice living, teasing, eating, working, squabbling, and angling for the last molasses cookie, all in one space. It felt natural to me to let my seven pupils talk to one another, and to me. Their conversations took more playful, naughty, and intriguing directions than I could have planned for them if I were in charge.

berry scandalous sisterhood of prickwillow place Five questions for Julie Berry3. Which came first: the characters’ names or their descriptors? (My favorite is “Disgraceful Mary Jane.”)

JB: Me too! She is always stealing the scene. She was tons of fun to write.

Both the girls’ names and their monikers appeared hand in hand from the very first page of writing. That same day when I had my “regiment of maidens” light-bulb moment, I sat down and wrote the first scene. When Disgraceful Mary Jane first appeared, she was just that: Disgraceful Mary Jane. It was not a device I had ever used before, but it felt right, so I ran with it. As I explored it more, it felt Victorian to me, and fitting for my little farce, since farces are all about exaggerating, and thus challenging, stereotypes.

4. Did you do a lot of research about the time period?

JB: Oh, for a Tardis! What I could do with a time machine.

I did a great deal of research into the Victorian era, and this was one of the chief pleasures of the project. Fortunately, the Victorian era is extremely well documented. We have access to volumes upon volumes of books, journals, magazines, fiction, art, photographs, and moving pictures of this vibrant window of history. The project offered me a delicious cocktail of inquiries: fashion, cosmetics, manners, teacakes, candies, and girls’ schools, alongside poison, murder, police procedure, burial, and grave-robbing. Fun stuff.

Part of my research included a visit to Ely, Cambridgeshire, the setting of the novel. Incidentally, Prickwillow Road is a real place. I did not make it up. I spent a week in the UK, both in Ely, touring the small city and its rambling country roads, and in visits to several marvelous London museums to learn more about travel, banking, schooling, dress, food, crime, and home life during the late nineteenth century. It was great fun, and I can’t wait to go back and do it again.

5. Is a strawberry social a real thing?

JB: Indeed it is. In Jane Austen’s Emma, most of the characters gather on a sunny day to enjoy an outdoor strawberry-picking party and picnic. Closer to home, in my childhood haunts in upstate New York, a church strawberry social is a regular fixture of small-town life. Mounds of biscuits, great tubs of berries, troughs of whipped cream, and plenty of neighborly gossip — I highly recommend them.

From the October 2014 issue of Notes from the Horn Book.

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18. Finishing a Trilogy: Interview with Meagan Spooner, author of Skylark

Happy Hour banner

by Susan,

featuring

Meagan Spooner

meagan spoonerToday, I’m delighted to have Meagan Spooner back on the blog. The final book in her Skylark trilogy, Lark Ascending, just released last week, and if you haven’t yet read these books, then now’s the time!

For one, the books are EXCELLENT (and if you’re a fan of my Something Strange & Deadly, then you’ll definitely love Skylark).

For two, the book is only $0.99 on Kindle right now!!

For three, just read this summary and tell me you’re not intrigued:

Now, let’s get down to the interview!

Lark Ascending1. Alrighty, Meg. Biggest author inspirations/influences. Go!

Way too many to count! I’m one of those who firmly believe everything you read (or watch or listen to or see or eat…) goes into the imagination compost and shows up in your work when you least expect it. But some big ones include: Diana Wynne Jones, Garth Nix, Robin McKinley, Neil Gaiman, Peter Beagle, Philip Pullman, Tanith Lee, Tamora Pierce, Patricia C. Wrede, and pretty much every myth or fairy tale I’ve ever heard.

2. You have basically listed all of the authors on MY list as well. ;) Plotter or pantser or…plantser?

Definitely a pantser. When I first started writing Skylark, the first book in this trilogy, I had absolutely no idea where it was headed. There were a few twists and themes I knew I wanted to hit, but part of the joy of writing for me is the act of discovery. Often the ideas that come to me as I write, whether totally out of the blue or as a response or solution to some problem that pops up, are my best ones. Of the three, Lark Ascending is probably the most “planned” of the three, simply because most of the ideas in it came to me while writing Skylark and Shadowlark. I had all these awesome, epic scenes that I knew I wanted to hit in this third book. It was tons of fun.

3. I feel you on the “art of discovery” bit. So now that you’ve finished, how does it feel wrapping up an entire trilogy?

AMAZING. I think it’s no secret that writers often have a love-hate relationship with their books, particularly with their series books, and I’m definitely one of those. Like any long-term relationship, being with someone–or some story–for that many years means you know it inside and out. Its good, its bad, and everything in between. But despite every time I wanted to throw the story–and my computer along with it–out the window, seeing all three books lined up and knowing that I finished telling Lark’s story in a way that feels complete and satisfying—and TRUE—to me… that’s an amazing feeling.

4. Wow. I’m even more excited to read now. Okay, here’s a fan question: in the Skylark trilogy, which character do YOU identify most with?

Definitely Lark herself. Skylark was the first novel I ever wrote, and for me, at least, that meant that of all my characters, my main character was the one most drawn from my own thoughts and personality and experiences. Lark is an odd combination of things I wish I was, things I’m afraid I am, and things I one day hope to be. She’ll probably always be the character most like–and most unlike–me in all my books.

5. That’s TOTALLY how I feel about me with Eleanor! She’s both part of me and who I wish I could be. So cool. Now, final question: If Lark Ascending were a literary cocktail, what ingredients would it need?

Equal parts fantasy and dystopian with a shot of steampunk and a sprinkle of moral grey area. Garnish with a rebel uprising, and serve on the rocks.

 HA! Love the “garnish” bit. Nice touch. ;)

Okay, dear readers. To celebrate having Meg stop by, we’re doing a giveaway (international!)! Just fill out the Rafflecopter form below, help us spread the word about Meg’s amazing series, and we’ll choose a winner next week.

Also: if you weren’t aware, both Meagan and her coauthor, Pub Crawl’s own Amie Kaufman, have a short story releasing tomorrow. It’s called This Night So Dark, and it’s free!! You definitely don’t want to miss it.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Meagan Spooner grew up reading and writing every spare moment of the day, while dreaming about life as an archaeologist, a marine biologist, an astronaut. She graduated from Hamilton College in New York with a degree in playwriting, and she currently lives and writes in Asheville, North Carolina. In her spare time she plays guitar, plays video games, plays with her cat, and reads. Learn more about her at her website.

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19. Interview with Frances Housden, Author of Chieftain by Command

[Magna Maniac Café] Good morning, Frances!  Describe yourself in five words or less.

[Frances Housden] Persistent.

[Magna Maniac Café] Can you tell us a little about Chieftain by Command?

[Frances Housden] After the death of the Comlyn Clan Chieftain, Gavyn Farquhar is commanded by King Malcolm Canmore to take his place, but first he must wed Kathryn Comlyn. An unwilling bride, Kathryn feels perfectly capable of leading the clan in her father’s stead and she leaves her new husband in no doubt of her feelings. The truth is that her disinclination suits Gavyn. His survey of the Comlyn fortress, Dun Bhuird has revealed that the defenses require expensive structural work. To earn the wealth necessary to keep the fortress and the way south safe from the Norsemen of Caithness, as the King expects, Gavyn intends that he and his men will spend time in France as mercenaries, even if it means leaving his young unbedded wife in the care of trusted retainers. His only words to Kathryn as he departs are that on his return he had better find her as he left her—intact.

[Magna Maniac Café] Can you describe your favorite scene?

[Frances Housden] To describe the scene that brought me to tears would act as a spoiler, but another favorite is when Gavyn and his men return from France without warning his wife. Kathryn awaits him bow in hand, fortunately for Gavyn she misses and later claims it was done deliberately, the readers will have to make up their own minds about that.

[Magna Maniac Café] What did you most enjoy about writing this book?

[Frances Housden] Having just written my RITA nominated book—The Chieftain’s Curse— my first in the Chieftain trilogy, I loved revisiting a lot of my original characters, Rob, Nhaimeth and Jamie—who are all somewhat older in this book—as well as Gavyn and Kathryn who played smaller parts the first time around. To be able to make your characters grow as you sit at the keyboard is very satisfying, also the ability to explore a new setting is exciting as this time the story has moved to the Cairngorms and northwest to Caithness where the Norsemen rule.

[Magna Maniac Café] What’s one thing you won’t leave home without?

[Frances Housden] A book, or my Kindle, loaded up with books. I’ve always felt that sitting down anywhere without a book in my hands is a waste of good reading time.

[Magna Maniac Café] Name three things on your desk right now.

[Frances Housden] Bluetooth keyboard and touchpad, as well as a pile of history books that I frequently use for research.

[Magna Maniac Café] What’s your favorite snack when you’re working on a deadline?

[Frances Housden] Coffee is always on the go, but a cup-a-soup and crackers help fill me up.

[Magna Maniac Café] If you could trade places with anyone just for one day, who would you be?

[Frances Housden] I think my friend, Nalini Singh, her writing appears to come with an ease I feel I lack, and when she’s not at home writing she’s traveling. I love to travel.

[Magna Maniac Café] You have been granted a superpower for one week. Which power would you choose and what would you do with it.

[Frances Housden] The power of healing would come in handy. My husband has Parkinson’s disease and I’d love to relieve him of that burden, also my mother had dementia before she passed away. I think that is a terrible way to end what has been a good and productive life. That is something I would love to help cure.

[Magna Maniac Café] What are some books that you enjoyed recently?

[Frances Housden] Before I went to RWA 2014 I loaded some early Eloisa James onto my reader, her Pleasures trilogy. Now, Eloisa has a great way with fairytales I have never tried to emulate, not unless you are into the darker Brothers Grimm tales, but I do believe a writer has to stay true to the era they’re writing about and I always picture Cinderella in the beautiful Georgian dresses Eloisa describes.

[Magna Maniac Café] How can readers connect with you?

[Frances Housden] Readers can get in touch with me on Facebook, or on Twitter @HousdenFwriter, as well as my website www.franceshousden.com

Title: Chieftain by Command

Author: Frances Housden

Genre: Historical Scottish Medieval

Release Date: September 2014

Format: eBook

Pagination: 142

Blurb:

From the bestselling, RITA-nominated author Frances Housden comes the gripping, sensual, suspenseful follow-up to The Chieftain’s Curse…

Gavyn Farquhar’s marriage is forged with a double-edged blade. Along with the Comlyn clan’s lands, a reward from the King, he is blessed with an unwilling bride, Kathryn Comlyn, and an ancient fort with few defences that desperately needs to be fortified before it can act as a sufficient buffer between Scotland and the Norsemen on its northern borders.

Gavyn needs wealth to meet his king’s demands, and he knows of only one way to get it — with his sword. Leaving his prickly bride behind in the hands of trusted advisors, he makes his way to the battlegrounds of France and the money that can be made there.

Two years married and Kathryn is still a virgin. A resentful virgin, certain that, like her father before her, she is perfectly capable of leading the Comlyn clan. In her usurper husband’s absence, she meets the clan’s needs, advising and ruling as well as any man.

But she is an intelligent woman, and she knows the only respect and power she will ever hold will be through her husband. And to wield it, she needs to make him love her. An easy task to set, but impossible to complete, when said husband has been gone for two years, and there is no word of his return. But Kathryn is undeterred. After all, a faint heart never won a Chieftain.

About the Author:

Frances Housden has only recently discovered the delights of writing Mediaeval Scottish stories—part fantasy and part memories of her early life in Scotland. Now living in New Zealand, she happily writes at home and lives vicarious adventures with her heroes and heroines. Frances is married to the man she travelled to the ends of the earth for, and together they have two sons and four grandchildren who make sure life is never dull. 

The post Interview with Frances Housden, Author of Chieftain by Command appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.

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20. Seven Questions Over Breakfast with Hadley Hooper


“Would it be a surprise that you grew up to be a fine painter
Who painted red rooms …”

Over at BookPage, I had the pleasure of reviewing Patricia MacLachlan’s newest picture book, The Iridescence of Birds (Neal Porter/Roaring Brook, October 2014), illustrated by Hadley Hooper, pictured left. I fell hard for this book, you all. It’s probably my favorite from this year. It’s simply exquisite in every way. I won’t go on. If you want to know what the book is about and why I love it so, that BookPage review is here.

I’m happy that Hadley obliged when I asked if she’d like to visit 7-Imp for a cyber-breakfast and talk more about her illustration work, this book, and what’s next for her. Best of all, she sent lots of art. This is her second picture book (her first being Shana Corey’s Here Come the Girl Scouts!, published in 2012), though she’s hardly new to illustration. She’s spent years as an editorial illustrator for magazines and newspapers.

When I ask her about breakfast, Hadley says, “well, I’m in Denver where we have A LOT of choices for morning coffee, perhaps because the night before we had A LOT of choices for craft beers. So, there are many opportunities to frustrate a barista with orders like a triple dry cappuccino or shots of espresso over ice. We’ll wait to eat until later if that’s okay!” I’m good for an espresso, though I’ll take mine hot. Let’s get right to it so that we can see more of Hadley’s art.

I thank her for visiting.

* * * * * * *

Jules: Are you an illustrator or author/illustrator?

Hadley: I’m an illustrator/painter. I’d love to write a book one day.


Jules: Can you list your books-to-date?

Hadley: I’ve done two picture books. The most recent is The Iridescence of Birds, a book about Henri Matisse (out in October of 2014!) by Patricia MacLachlan for Neal Porter. And Here Come the Girl Scouts by Shana Corey.


“And she let you mix the colors of paint …”
(Click to enlarge)


“And on the dirt parlor floor
So all the world looked red …”

(Click to enlarge)

Pictured above: Spreads from Patricia MacLachlan’s
The Iridescence of Birds …

Jules: What is your usual medium?

Hadley: In the ’90′s when I started as an editorial illustrator, I was still working in oils. Early on I Fed-Exed a piece of final art that was still tacky but well packed to Ray Gun magazine. I waited until the magazine came out to find the art director had published it with the packing tissue stuck to the image. It actually looked okay, but after that I switched to water-based paints.

For most illustrations, I’ll cut and/or emboss foam and cardboard to make relief prints. I use different transfer techniques and old carbon paper to get interesting line qualities. I’ll scan all the parts in and assemble in Photoshop.


Hadley: “This is a photo of the relief print parts.
(Some of my Photoshop files had over 100 layers.)”

(Click to enlarge)

Jules: Where are your stompin’ grounds?

Hadley: I live with Hugh and Maddie the dog in a now trendy part of Denver called Highland. My studio is ten minutes away in a now trendy part of north Denver called RiNo.


(Click to enlarge)

Jules: Can you tell me about your road to publication?

Hadley: I got out of art school with degrees in both illustration and painting and messed up my first assignment and got a kill fee. I put my portfolio away forever and started working odds jobs — as a scenic painter for theatre, painting murals in homes, painting traditional cells for an animation studio (that was GRRReat!), and waiting many, many tables. In the meantime, I did my own work, joined a co-op to exhibit, and after a time I felt I had something of my own, so I made cards of my paintings and sent them to art directors at magazines. I figured I might as well fail at the top, so I sent samples to the New Yorker and Harper’s and Rolling Stone and got jobs right away. After a year, I quit my waitressing job. My road into children’s books was through the editorial work.


(Click to enlarge)


(Click to enlarge and see text)


(Click to enlarge and see text)

Pictured above: Spreads from Shana Corey’s Here Come the Girl Scouts!

,
published in 2012 by Scholastic. See more art here in this previous 7-Imp post.

Jules: Can you please point readers to your web site and/or blog?

Hadley: www.hadleyhooper.com.


(Click to enlarge)


(Click to enlarge)

Jules: Any new titles/projects you might be working on now that you can tell me about?

Hadley: I have three books on the boards right now with three wonderful publishers, including another for Neal Porter. (My agent of 12 years has great folks, like Serge Bloch, and is responsible for me meeting Neal.)





Illustrations for a workbook from Chronicle, called Back to Us
(Click each to enlarge)

Mmm. Coffee.Okay, I’ve got more espresso, and it’s time to get a bit more detailed with six questions over breakfast. I thank Hadley again for visiting 7-Imp.

1. Jules: What exactly is your process when you are illustrating a book? You can start wherever you’d like when answering: getting initial ideas, starting to illustrate, or even what it’s like under deadline, etc. Do you outline a great deal of the book before you illustrate or just let your muse lead you on and see where you end up?

Hadley

: I love to do research. I will still go to the library, since there’s nothing like having real books sitting open around the studio. I like Pinterest for finding references online. Since the Matisse book is fresh in my mind, it’s easy to talk about in this context.

I looked at every painting of his I could find. What a great luxury! I tried to find fabrics that he may have seen in his hometown, which was a textile town. I looked at the era’s fashion, architecture, even thought about the music he might have listened to. I used Google Maps to knit together the street he grew up on, which really hadn’t changed much, architecturally.


Rough of the opening spread of The Iridescence of Birds


 


Final art: “If you were a boy named Henri Matisse who lived
in a dreary town in northern France where the skies were gray …”

(Click to enlarge)


Final art: “And the days were cold
And you wanted color and light / And sun …”

(Click to enlarge)

I didn’t leave myself much time for the finals on Matisse, because four completed spreads in, I decided to start over. It was the right thing to do for sure, but it was sort of painful. I had been feeling uncertain about my direction but sent a spread to Neal and Jennifer Brown (the art director) for a look anyway and waited. Uncharacteristically, I didn’t hear back from them right away. That silence, intended or not, was the best art direction ever; it felt like they were letting me come to my own conclusion that it wasn’t quite working. In the next days, I did a totally new “market” spread, the scene of Matisse and his mom, and knew right away it was the way to go. I sent that one back, got approval, and was off and running.


“And let you arrange the fruit and flowers
She brought from the market …”

(Click to enlarge)

I do lots of drawings to get the characters to where I understand what they look like from different angles and poses. I use grease pencil on butcher paper, so I can’t get too detailed or too attached to my first drawings.

I typically like to have more time on roughs, so I’ll design each spread and decide what the color story will be for each. This way when I go to finals, I’ve got a good road map. But I always try to allow the final art to have its own say about where it’s going. I try and pay attention and not kill the energy. It’s a real challenge.


“And the iridescence of birds …”


 


Jacket art from The Iridescence of Birds
(Click to enlarge)

2. Jules: Describe your studio or usual work space.

Hadley

: On a typical day, I’ll put Maddie in the car and drive about ten minutes to my studio. Ironton sits on three quarters of an acre and has 20 studios, including a couple wood shops, a metal fabricator, a one-man bronze foundry, painters, and a gallery. All these different people with their diverse approaches to making art and objects are really fun to be around. Plus, there’s a new artist and show in the gallery every six weeks! I’ve got a studio that looks out onto the garden which I care for. It’s a big room and often a chaotic one. As of this writing (mid September 2014), I’m painting for a gallery show in early November and, yes, the paintings will be wet. The room reflects the different hats I wear, as the gallery coordinator, the gardener, illustrator, and painter.


A photo of the view of the Ironton garden from Hadley’s studio
(Click to enlarge)



Studio photos
(Click each to enlarge)

3. Jules: As a book-lover, it interests me: What books or authors and/or illustrators influenced you as an early reader?

Hadley

: As a young reader, Are You My Mother? was my favorite. I had to Google the book and found that P. D. Eastman did Go, Dog. Go! too, another one in heavy rotation. And all the Seuss books and anything Peanuts. I had the whole Childcraft series, which was heavily illustrated. It’s the same one that’s part of the set dressing for Andy Cohen’s Clubhouse on Bravo! Later reading was Judy Blume and Tolkien.

Weirdly, the most visually memorable thing as a little kid was my favorite sheet set. It had a farm scene on it, and I would spend lots of time daydreaming, looking at all those drawings of hens and animals and a girl with a pail, sort of Roger Duvoisin-like in style.


4. Jules: If you could have three (living) authors or illustrators—whom you have not yet met—over for coffee or a glass of rich, red wine, whom would you choose? (Some people cheat and list deceased authors/illustrators. I won’t tell.)

Hadley: I’d invite Georganne Deen, Robert Andrew Parker, and Vivienne Flesher. And someone who’s a friend already, whom I don’t get to see but once a year, and he’ll make everyone laugh — John Cuneo. Let’s raise the dead and invite Saul Steinberg, Edward Gorey, Dorothy Parker, and Ben Shahn.

5. Jules: What is currently in rotation on your iPod or loaded in your CD player? Do you listen to music while you create books?

Hadley: I think that music is the number one perk of my job. I love music. I can’t draw a line or even type a letter without it. Recent purchases are the new Damon Albarn, the soundtrack to The Great Beauty (great movie, too), Sylvan Esso, Tindersticks, Sam Amidon, Arvo Pärt. I’m counting the days until Nick Cave’s movie 20,000 Days on Earth opens here.

6. Jules: What’s one thing that most people don’t know about you?

Hadley: I was named after Hadley Hemingway, the wife he liked the best. According to my mom.

* * * The Pivot Questionnaire * * *

Jules: What is your favorite word?

Hadley: “Ennui.”

Jules: What is your least favorite word?

Hadley: “Panties.”

Jules: What turns you on creatively, spiritually or emotionally?

Hadley: Generosity.

Jules: What turns you off?

Hadley: Self-confidence. I guess it’s more confusing than anything.

7-Imp: What is your favorite curse word? (optional)

Hadley: “Fuck.” “Screwed the pooch” is a great and useful phrase.

Jules: What sound or noise do you love?

Hadley: Cicadas.

Jules: What sound or noise do you hate?

Hadley: Those gas-powered leaf blowers.

Jules: What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?

Hadley: I’d love to be in a band, something truly collaborative. I’d be the drummer.

Jules: What profession would you not like to do?

Hadley: Accountant.

Jules: If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates?

Hadley: “Surprise!”

All artwork and images are used with permission of Hadley Hooper.

THE IRIDESCENCE OF BIRDS. Copyright © 2014 by Patricia MacLachlan. Illustrations © 2014 by Hadley Hooper. Published by Neal Porter/Roaring Brook Press, New York.

Illustrations from Here Come the Girl Scouts! by Shana Corey, illustrated by Hadley Cooper. Copyright 2012. Published by Scholastic Press.

The spiffy and slightly sinister gentleman introducing the Pivot Questionnaire is Alfred, © 2009 Matt Phelan.

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21. Garth Nix on Clariel

nix clariel Garth Nix on ClarielIn the September/October 2014 Horn Book Magazine, reviewer Katie Bircher asked Garth Nix about Clariel, the long-awaited prequel to his high fantasy trilogy Sabriel, Lirael, and Abhorsen. Read the review here.

Katie Bircher: Do you think the walker chooses the path, or the path the walker? Which is it in Clariel’s case?

Garth Nix: This is one of those questions that doesn’t have an answer, or the answer changes all the time. In Clariel’s case, she chooses her own path, but there are definitely forces at work that both influence her choice and limit her selection of paths. Neither predestination nor entirely free will, but a mixture of both…

From the September/October 2014 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

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22. SPX: Hana Doki Kira – A Beautiful Homage to Shōjo

 

by Zachary Clemente

photo main SPX: Hana Doki Kira   A Beautiful Homage to Shōjo

While at SPX this year, I was able to grab a quick word with seven amazing cartoonists about their work in Hana Doki Kira, a Shōjo comic and illustration anthology released earlier this year after a rather successful Kickstarter campaign. Not only filled with gorgeous work inspired by Shōjo – a sub-genre of manga covering a wide variety of subjects, often with a strong focus on human and romantic relationships. As the anthology itself describes:

Shōjo is known for its distinctive use of flowery imagery, magical plot devices, and romantic themes. Out book takes its title from three key elements of the Shōjo world: Hana meaning flower, Doki echoing the sound of a pounding heart, and Kira – the impression of sparkling beauty.

Contributors to Hana Doki Kira in attendance at SPX were: Alice Meichi Li, Carey Pietsch, Kris Mukai, Megan Brennan, Rebecca Mock, Tim Ferrara, and Annie Stoll – who served as “art director” on the project. I asked each their introduction to Shōjo, how it has influenced their work, and what working on an anthology was like.

captiverosesalice SPX: Hana Doki Kira   A Beautiful Homage to Shōjo

Captive of the Roses by Alice Meichi Li

One of the most popular and influential Shōjo series, Sailor Moon was named as a gateway for many not only into the genre, but into comics in general.

When I was very young, one of my babysitters introduced me to Sailor Moon and at the time I had a serious need for stories about ladies and stories about girls who are fully-realized characters who got to be silly and dumb and got to express their wants and needs; but also be powerful and have agency in their own world. That started a life-long love affair. [...] I love stories about girls, about things girls love by women – it’s a wonderful thing. – Carey Pietsch

Megan Brennan: I wasn’t really into comics until some of my friends started reading Sailor Moon and other Shōjo comics and I realized that comics could be something completely different and I connected with it [Shōjo] really strongly. It was the only comics I read for a really long time because it was telling these stories I couldn’t get elsewhere; girls were the main characters, girl-things were important, and the things they cared would we life-changing and monumental; it was great. – Megan Brennan

Someone handed me Sailor Moon volume 10 in middle school at a school dance; I sat down, read the whole thing, my life was changed forever and I never looked back. – Rebecca Mock

It’s an understatement that there’s a drought in comics for stories starring or aimed at girls and it seems that many readers left wanted found what they needed in Shōjo such as Sailor Moon. Though he didn’t interact directly with Shōjo until later, Tim Ferrara remarked on how it informs his current work:

I didn’t actually grow up reading Shōjo; it was always a genre I thought should exist but I never knew that it did. [...] I’m glad it exists; it’s a needed genre – especially here in the States where we don’t have a lot of things that are representative for that demographic. – Tim Ferrara

janet sung 1000x839 SPX: Hana Doki Kira   A Beautiful Homage to Shōjo

Art by Janet Sung

Each artist is influenced or at least informed by Shōjo, many in the depiction of specific themes or use of ornate illustration.

There’s a lot of tropes that I use – a lot of decorative elements, lots of flowers, lots of sparkly things. [...] I also focus a lot on the clothing design and the hair. In Shōjo manga, there’s always beautiful, gorgeous, flowing hair. I love putting that in my art. – Alice Meichi Li

An untranslated copy of Candy Candy volume 10 was one of the earliest comics that I read and absorbed – and since I couldn’t read it, all I could do was look at their facial expressions and try to understand what was going on through the artwork alone. [...] One of the earliest things I learned from that was how to do was how to convey an emotion in a comic. – Kris Mukai

I think the themes and the beautiful linework have always been a big influence on me. My style is very sketchy and bold – you might think I would be more drawn to Shōnen, but there’s something beautiful about personal relationships as well as flowing lines that have always captured my heart. You may not think I’m a very Shōjo-inspired person, but I’m always thinking about beautiful lines and interesting stories. – Annie Stoll

It’s easy to latch onto the evocative beauty of how the work, but the influence Shōjo has had goes beyond that – granting an underserved readership access a necessary more.

It’s made me more conscious of writing all characters with agency; that’s something Shōjo manga does well – expanding beyond a traditional, mainstream narrative. I think some of the aesthetic seeps into my work too, I’m a fan of expressive faces and the ability to show emotion very clearly. – Carey Pietsch

It was a way for me to connect with comics. There’s a void in comics. [...] There’s comics for young kids and comics for young adults; but theres a gap there for pre-teens and young teens; there aren’t comics that speak to them and specifically not a lot of American comics that speak to girls. Shōjo fills that void, even if it’s cultural appropriation. These comics are coming from Japan – it’s an entirely different culture, we don’t really understand it, but even then there’s something there that we connect to viscerally and you can see how much they’ve caught on in a culture that they weren’t made for; there was such a hunger for that kind of comic. – Rebecca Mock

joyce lee SPX: Hana Doki Kira   A Beautiful Homage to Shōjo

Art by Joyce Lee

Lastly, I was happy to hear that all were pleased with the process of working towards an anthology and though many only had the responsibility of working on their own pieces, they came together and pulled off the project with aplomb, befitting an homage a spectrum of manga.

I do participate in a lot of anthologies; I take it as a way of making new friends. I love getting to know new artists and just getting to be part of that group is an honor. – Alice Meichi Li

It was so cool seeing the final book come together because everybody else’s stories fit together but they were all so different. You could see completely different perspectives of the same basic ideas. – Megan Brennan

It was at times exhilarating; we felt very powerful with all the possibilities available to us. At other times, it was very stressful because we were taking on a huge responsibility for no reason other than we sat down one day and decided we wanted to do this. We had to commit to this idea that you just come up with without any set due date, nobody backing you; it was really empowering to know that we were able to create something from nothing. – Rebecca Mock

It was so much fun; we really lucked out with Rebecca [Mock] and Annie [Stoll], and the Year 85 Group is so wonderful. It was so excited to get to see other artists talk about their themes and show sneak-peaks of their process along the way, and they did a wonderful job putting it all together. – Carey Pietsch

It was good having that initial group of six people who were really interested in helping out; everyone had a very unique job or position – it was a little bit like a Shōjo manga honestly. [...] It was a really good balance of personalities that all worked together – it never felt like a competition. – Annie Stoll

On the actual process of putting together the Hana Doki Kira anthology, Stoll described how it was born out of love for Shōjo.

There was a core six of us who hung out and drew and once we realized that we all loved Shōjo manga and started talking about making some kind of anthology. We ended up structuring it kind of like a pyramid scheme where each of us would invite two or three more people into it, so before you knew it, we had 26 amazing artists that were all making new friends and talking about Shōjo. – Annie Stoll

Stoll is a seasoned veteran in the world of comic anthologies, contributing in the astronomically successful Valor campaign, actively working on the second volume of Hana Doki Kira, and launching an extraordinarily ambitious project, 1001 Knights - a people-positive, feminist bent collection, aimed at making a tome of illustrations, comics, and unconventional art representing no less than 1001 characters.

hdkgif SPX: Hana Doki Kira   A Beautiful Homage to Shōjo

Here is the full list of the Hana Doki Kira contributing artists: Aimee Fleck, Alex Bahena, Alice U. Cheong, Alice Meichi Li, Anna Rose, Annie Stoll, Becca Hillburn, Carey PIetsch, Catarina Sarmento, Catherine, Chelsie Sutherland, Elisa Lau, Endy, Janet Sung, Kaitlin Reid, Kelly / Hkezza, Kris Mukai, Lindsay Cannizzaro, Megan Brennan, Rebecca Mock, Sarah O’Donell, Shelly Rodriquez, Sloane Leong, Stefanie Morin, and Tim Ferrara. For more, check out their Facebook and Tumblr pages!

1 Comments on SPX: Hana Doki Kira – A Beautiful Homage to Shōjo, last added: 10/1/2014
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23. Interview with Cecy Robson, Author of Once Perfect and Giveaway

[Manga Maniac Café] Good morning, Cecy! Thanks for dropping by!

[Cecy Robson] Thank you to the good people at Manga Maniac Café for the lovely Q&A and feature.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Describe yourself in five words or less.

[Cecy Robson] Creative goof obsessed with Thor.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you tell us a little about your book?

[Cecy Robson] Evelyn (Evie) is a spunky waitress working at the exclusive Club Excess. Once she supposedly had everything, and now is just struggling to survive. Mateo (Teo) is the lead bouncer at the club and an underground mixed martial arts fighter. He’s had a rough upbringing and despite his efforts to better his life, everything he worked for is robbed from him. Both Teo and Evie have troubling pasts. Both lead hard lives. Both can’t fight their red-hot attraction to each other.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How did you come up with the concept and the characters for the story?

[Cecy Robson] My agent told me to brainstorm a few blurbs for a potential new series. Since she wanted me to focus on the New Adult genre, I started to think about what twenty-something year-olds would be interested in. Back in the day, I loved dancing and hitting the clubs. I thought it would be fun to write a story where an exclusive club could serve as the background. What makes clubs hot? Well, sexy muscular bouncers of course! Enter Mateo, lead bouncer and alpha baddass male with protective instincts–the perfect hero for my very heartbroken heroine, Evelyn. Life hasn’t been good to either of my characters. As the story unfolds, readers will see how good they are to each other.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What did you enjoy most about writing this book?

[Cecy Robson] I really enjoyed the journey Evelyn and Mateo shared. They both grew and changed tremendously. During times of incredible weakness and pain, they were each other’s strengths. Their relationship while ultra steamy and laced with tremendous sexual attraction, is unique and beautiful. These are two people who genuinely care for each other and want to see the other happy?no matter what it costs them.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What gave you the most trouble with this story?

[Cecy Robson] Ha, ha. That would be the love scenes. I kept trying to fade to black. My agent, bless her heart, wouldn’t let me. I was worried readers would be too distracted by Evelyn and Mateo’s physical relationship and forget there was more to their story. In the end though, I think I managed to create both: a great love story with some equally great love scenes.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If you had a theme song, what would it be?

[Cecy Robson] Wild One by Flo Rida. It describes Mateo and also sets the tone for the club scene. It’s also a song I picture Mateo and Evie dancing to at a party. 

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Name one thing you won’t leave home without.

[Cecy Robson] My iPhone.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Name three things on your desk right now.

[Cecy Robson] Laptop, pens, and my iPhone.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If you could trade places with anyone for just one day, who would you be?

[Cecy Robson] Jennifer Lawrence, but who wouldn’t? She seems happy and appears to be having a blast!

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What are some books that you enjoyed recently?

[Cecy Robson] Frost Burned by Patricia Briggs and Deadly Chemistry by Teri Anne Stanley.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?

[Cecy Robson] I love to read.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How can readers connect with you?

[Cecy Robson] I seem to be everywhere these days, but I’m primarily on Facebook and Twitter and also answer frequent emails from fans on my website. Drop me a line, readers and writers. I’d love to chat. :-)

<http://www.cecyrobson.com/> cecyrobson.com
<http://www.facebook.com/Cecy.Robson.Author>
facebook.com/Cecy.Robson.Author
<http://twitter.com/#!/cecyrobson> twitter.com/cecyrobson

Once Perfect

Shattered Past # 1

By: Cecy Robson

Releasing October 7th, 2014

Loveswept: Flirt

Blurb

His life was never easy. Hers wasn’t supposed to be this hard. They come from different worlds, but fate lures them together in a way neither expected in Cecy Robson’s raw, steamy series debut—perfect for fans of Monica Murphy and J. Lynn.

Evelyn Preston’s future once looked perfect—until her wealthy father was caught in an embezzlement scandal and took his own life. Alone and struggling to pay her college tuition and bills, Evelyn finds a job as a waitress at the ultra-hip nightclub Excess, where she used to have more in common with the privileged private-school clientele than her fellow staff members. But something attracts her to the sexy six-foot-four bouncer and underground MMA fighter Mateo Tres Santos. Although they’ve led different lives, their troubled pasts bonds them in both survival and love.

Mateo is ex-army who wound up in prison for assaulting the man who harmed his sister. Now he’s feeling the same protective impulse for this petite blond waitress. When Evelyn experiences a panic attack at the club, Mateo comes to her rescue. And when Mateo is wounded shielding her from a brawl, Evelyn returns the favor and comes to his aid.

As their attraction intensifies, Mateo is determined to find out what nightmares are lurking in Evelyn’s past—even if that means tackling his own to save her.

Link to Follow Tour: http://www.tastybooktours.com/2014/07/once-perfect-shattered-past-1-by-cecy.html

Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/20699759-once-perfect?from_search=true

Buy Links

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Once-Perfect-Shattered-Past-Robson-ebook/dp/B00JNQMLE0/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1409516722&sr=1-1&keywords=once+perfect

B&N: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/once-perfect-cecy-robson/1120019665?ean=9780553391169

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/once-perfect/id862226886?mt=11

Kobo: http://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/once-perfect

Author Info

Cecy Robson is the New Adult author of Once Perfect, Once Loved, and Once Pure and the award-winning author of the Weird Girls urban fantasy romance series. A self-proclaimed professional napper, Cecy counts among her talents a jaw-dropping knowledge of useless trivia, the ability to make her hair big, and a knack for breaking into song despite her family’s vehement protests. A full-time writer, registered nurse, wife, and mother living in the Great Northwest, Cecy enjoys spending time with her family and silencing the yappy characters in her head by telling their stories.

Author Links

Website: http://www.cecyrobson.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Cecy.Robson.Author

Twitter: https://twitter.com/cecyrobson

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6177334.Cecy_Robson

 

Excerpt

“Malibu Barbie. We need more cocktail napkins!”

I stopped wiping the bar booth, torn between throwing my bucket at Sam or at the cluster of bouncers chuckling at his Barbie dig. I still had two more booths to clean before the doors to the Main Line’s infamous Club Excess opened and the real work began. A crowd of spoiled brats?offspring of Philly’s wealthiest families?with too much money and too much attitude already crowded the doors. I should know. I used to be one of them. Except they still had the money.

I had a screaming boss.

“Malibu!”

“Jesus, Sam, I’m going.” I tossed my towel on the table and stomped across the dance floor in my black, thigh-high boots. If it weren’t for the crazy tips the drunk idiots dropped like bowling balls, no way would I work at a place where I had to accessorize tiny black shorts and a skimpy tank with these hooker boots. The white dress shirt tied at my belly was Sam’s way of compromising when me and a few of the other waitresses complained about our new “uniforms.” The more desperate among us tied it closer to their cleavage. I didn’t. Even if it meant less money, I wanted to hang on to what little pride I had left.

My steps slowed as I neared the group of bouncers huddled around Mateo. He was young, younger than at least half of them, and still they looked up to him. ’’Considering Mateo was an ex-con who fought in fight clubs, you’d think the staff would avoid him’’. I sure did. Hell, I’d barely spoken to him in the six months I’d worked at Excess, using any excuse to keep my distance. That said, there was something about him that made people take notice. His burly arms crossed his chest. Power was inked on one forearm in bold Gothic lettering, Wrath on the other, and black flames crawled up both, disappearing beneath the sleeves of his tight black T-shirt.

My puny shoulders tensed as I drew closer. Mateo had served time for beating some poor guy so brutally the guy had spent two weeks in the hospital recovering from the bashes to his face and body. I watched Mateo, a lot. Every now and then, I’d catch him glancing my way, too. He’d offer me a brief nod or a small smile, but I never offered anything in return. His size, the depth of his voice, and his aptitude for violence scared me, despite his captivating looks. He moved like a panther staking out his turf, ready for anything, his steely hazel eyes taking everything in.

He spoke low and rough as the last of his crew arrived. “Listen up. Keep the drugs and the dealers out. They come in with that shit, you see anyone selling?send their asses out the door. Sam doesn’t want another OD in his place. If those rich pricks want to die, they can do it somewhere else.”

The others answered Mateo with stiff nods, except for Dale, who whistled as I walked by. “Nice ass, Evelyn . . .”

His voice trailed off. I turned to shoot him a dirty look over my shoulder only to catch the death glare Mateo was firing his way. “Leave Evie the fuck alone and pay attention, Dale,” Mateo told him. Dale immediately dropped his gaze, allowing Mateo to return his attention to the rest of the group. “With the first week of classes over, these fools are looking to party hard, and the dealers are ready to assist. ““Don’t go it alone. Call for backup if you need it, when you need it. I’ll take point near the bar. Ant’s my second. He’ll take point left of the floor. If I’m mixed up in some other shit, you call him. Got me?”

The bouncers collectively muttered in agreement. Even Dale.

My heart was thumping against my sternum and I lost my footing. I reached for my ponytail and tightened it fast, trying to pretend that was the reason I’d tripped and not, absolutely not, because ’Mateo had stuck up for me and shut Dale up on my behalf. Or because he’d called me “Evie.” Again. No one else had ever called me that.

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24. Interview: Anim’est Festival Director Mihai Mitrică on Romania’s Budding Animation Scene

While animation has been made in Romania for many decades and the country has even produced some internationally recognized figures like Ion Popescu-Gopo, the contemporary animation scene hadn't received much exposure until the founding of the Anim'est festival.

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25. Interview with Sara Jane Stone, Author of Caught in the Act and Giveaway

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Good morning, Sara Jane!  Describe yourself in five words or less.

[Sara Jane Stone] Reader, writing, wife, and mom.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you tell us a little about your book?

[Sara Jane Stone] Caught in the Act is a super-sexy contemporary romance set in Oregon logging country. And this story features one of my favorite tropes—revenge. Beyond that, I love the back of the book copy for this one!

Falling for his rivals’ little sister could cost him everything …

For Liam Trulane, failure is not an option. He is determined to win a place in Katie Summers’ life before she leaves Independence Falls for good. But first, he needs to make amends for the last time they got down and dirty.

Only problem?

His professional success hinges on striking a deal to buy Katie’s family business. And after Liam’s relationship with their Katie went south years ago, the Summers brothers are more enemy than friend. If both parties agree to set the past aside, they can reach an understanding. But when Katie welcomes him back into her bed, Liam risks everything to make her his.

After Liam betrayed her trust, Katie Summers will do anything to keep him from walking away with the family business. She decides to seduce him, knowing that when her brothers find out, they will back off from the deal. And she’ll finally have her revenge. But when her plan spirals out of control, Katie learns that payback may come at too high a price …

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How did you come up with the concept and the characters for the story?

[Sara Jane Stone] Caught in the Act is the second installment in the Independence Falls series, and both the hero and heroine—Liam and Katie—played a significant role in the first book, Full Exposure. Katie and Georgia (the heroine in Full Exposure) are friends. And Liam is Georgia’s big brother. He also works for Eric, the hero from Full Exposure. Lots of connections! I knew as I was writing Full Exposure that Katie and Liam had a history—and chemistry.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What did you enjoy most about writing this book?

[Sara Jane Stone] Over the course of the book, Katie is planning Georgia’s bachelorette party. But, she faces a few challenges. Georgia is an Army veteran with PTSD. She doesn’t like crowds, but she loves dancing. And the invite list includes a second veteran, who takes a PTSD service dog with her everywhere. The hunt for the perfect venue and the ideas for certain ‘party activities’ were lots of fun to write, especially when Liam got involved.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What gave you the most trouble with this story?

[Sara Jane Stone] Liam’s desire to buy Katie’s family business and Katie’s refusal to sell is one of the driving conflicts in the story. I was excited to write about how they moved past this conflict to their happy-ever-after ending. But Katie’s family business is a trucking company that hauls timber. I needed to learn a lot about the timber industry, everything from the estimated resale value of a used truck to how much a trucking company might be worth. And before I started writing I knew very, very little. Thank goodness my husband grew up in Oregon. His family and friends in the area were happy to answer questions and make suggestions!

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If you had a theme song, what would it be?

[Sara Jane Stone] I think Roar by Katy Perry is the perfect theme song for the Independence Fall series. These stories all feature strong women who go after what they want.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Name one thing you won’t leave home without.

[Sara Jane Stone] My phone. I can do anything with it. Write notes for a scene while at the playground, order groceries, or read. I’d be lost without it?

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Name three things on your desk right now.

[Sara Jane Stone] My laptop, a legal pad, and a stack of romance novels.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If you could trade places with anyone for just one day, who would you be?

[Sara Jane Stone] Jennifer L. Armentrout. I love her books and she writes so fast. I would love to live in her world for a day—and spend most of that time writing?

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What are some books that you enjoyed recently?

[Sara Jane Stone] I’m crazy about Lauren Blakely’s Seductive Nights series! I loved it!! I also enjoyed Samanthe Beck’s Best Friend with Benefits, and Laura Kaye’s Hard Ink series.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?

[Sara Jane Stone] Read and play with my kids. I spent a lot of my non-writing hours at the playground, the zoo, and the aquarium. My four year old discovered Coney Island last spring and loved it. We made quite a few trips this summer.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How can readers connect with you?

[Sara Jane Stone] I’m addicted to Facebook! I love chatting with readers and encourage them to PM me if they have a question or just want to chat. I especially love talking about my favorite books and series with other readers. Please find me on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/SaraJaneStone. Or visit my website at www.sarajanestone.com.

Caught in the Act

Independence Falls # 2

By: Sara Jane Stone

Releasing September 16th, 2014

Avon: Impulse

Falling for his rivals’ little sister could cost him everything …

For Liam Trulane, failure is not an option. He is determined to win a place in Katie Summers’ life before she leaves Independence Falls for good. But first, he needs to make amends for the last time they got down and dirty.

Only problem?

His professional success hinges on striking a deal to buy Katie’s family business. And after Liam’s relationship with their Katie went south years ago, the Summers brothers are more enemy than friend. If both parties agree to set the past aside, they can reach an understanding. But when Katie welcomes him back into her bed, Liam risks everything to make her his.

After Liam betrayed her trust, Katie Summers will do anything to keep him from walking away with the family business. She decides to seduce him, knowing that when her brothers find out, they will back off from the deal. And she’ll finally have her revenge. But when her plan spirals out of control, Katie learns that payback may come at too high a price …

Link to Follow Tour: http://www.tastybooktours.com/2014/08/caught-in-act-independence-falls-2-by.html

Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/20359727-caught-in-the-act?from_search=true

Buy Links

Amazon: http://amzn.to/1q9uLm4

B&N: http://bit.ly/1q9uTC2

iTunes: http://bit.ly/1qXu7Ge

Google Play http://bit.ly/1m9AjEH

Author Info

After several years on the other side of the publishing industry, Sara Jane Stone bid goodbye to her sales career to pursue her dream-writing romance novels. Sara Jane currently resides in Brooklyn, New York with her very supportive real-life hero, two lively young children and a lazy Burmese cat. Join Sara Jane’s newsletter to receive new release information, news about contests, giveaways, and more! To subscribe, visit www.sarajanestone.com and look for her newsletter entry form.

Author Links

Website: http://www.sarajanestone.com/

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/SaraJaneStone

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

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7036481.Sara_Jane_Stone

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