Friend and writer Lia Eastep sent me these questions for sort-of a blog self-interview. You should check out her site to see her responses, but here are mine.
1) What am I working on?
Predominately, I’m working on a novel, my first. The story involves some characters who are ghosts, others who can freely interact with the ghosts, and others who don’t believe in ghosts at all but who think they’ve stumbled on a way to produce truly clean energy. I’m about 2/3 through the first draft, although I’ve already rewritten most of the middle part, so maybe it’s more like draft 1.5?
In addition to the novel, I’m working on the next series of my online comic, The Outbreak. One series, “Monster at the Institute,” is already online and freely available, and the next one, “The Hunter,” is being drawn by Michael Neno now. Hopefully, I’ll have that one ready to go by the end of August. I’m working on additional stories and scripts for The Outbreak as well.
2) How does my work differ from others of its genre?
The Outbreak uses a unique presentation platform, Prezi. As far as I know, mine is the first comic to use Prezi in this way. When I started this project, I knew wanted to have an online comic (for ease of production and cost reasons), and I didn’t understand why so many online comics look like they’re intended to be print comics that are then scanned and slapped up on a website. At best, this requires reader software that allows you to zoom in on the panels in order, like the Comixology and Dark Horse apps allow. But often, you’re basically just looking at a portrait-oriented PDF on your landscape-oriented monitor, zooming in to see the art and text better. I’d used Prezi at work before, and I really liked the way it directs viewers through a large canvas, pointing you to exactly what you need to see at the zoom level you need to see it. This seemed like a good way to push viewers through my born-digital comic without requiring too much re-learning from readers or custom programming from me. And I really like the way it has turned out. (BTW, all “Monster at the Institute” issues are now available on the public Prezi site, in addition to my website, for free!)
As for the novel, I’ve tried really hard to balance character development, plot, and larger themes. So many books I read rely on one of those three significantly more than others, and the work as a whole suffers for it. Hopefully, it works!
3) Why do I write what I do?
I write things I’d want to read. I know that sounds obvious, but I spent a long time trying to write things that I thought other people would want to read. That’s actually very difficult and involves a lot of self-doubt. Eventually, it dawned on me that I’m a reader (and I certainly read more of my own words than anyone else does), so it only made sense to write the kind of stuff I’d actually enjoy. Even though I’m not as far along in the novel as I’d like to be, I would never have made it this far—or produced The Outbreak—without learning to trust my own judgment on what makes an entertaining and compelling story. And if that makes me my own biggest fan, well, so be it. That’s better than disliking what takes so much time and effort to do!
4) How does my writing process work?
I have to treat writing like a job, otherwise it’s too easy for me to push it off for “easier” work with a more immediate payoff. I have to set aside some time—like right now!—and have some kind of goal. Occasionally, my goals are product focused, like finishing a blog post or a comic script. I actually keep a to-do list of these smaller projects so I know exactly where to dive in. But more often, and especially when working on my novel, my goals are time focused. For example, I’ll decided to write until 4pm; when my lazy, instant-gratification-monkey brain wants to knock off by 3, I have to make myself keep going until quittin’ time, even if I don’t think the writing is as good. Half of the battle is just getting the first draft down on paper—I can always go back and edit later (and, oh trust me, I will)!
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