Girl In the Mirror | Interview with Alix Golden

I’d been following Alix Golden for awhile now, having stumbled upon her blog (and promptly falling in love). She recently published a book, and since I love to chat it up with creators, I asked to interview her. So here it is:

1. GIRL IN THE MIRROR is your first novel. I’d love to hear about your process. How long did it take you to write GIRL IN THE MIRROR?
It took 2 years from the time I wrote the first word until I finished my first draft. There was a lot of things going on in my life during the time I was writing. I hope that next time, it won’t take quite that long.

2. How much time did it take for me to find a publisher? How many query letters did you send out? Did you receive a lot of rejections at first? (Or did you self-publish? If so – what was that process like?)

I never tried traditional publishing. I decided to publish myself to retain control over the process. Self publishing is a lot of work, more work than I imagined. I never thought about designing a cover or choosing the font… When you self publish, writing the book becomes the easy part. The real work begins when you’re trying to get it on the shelf.

3. Did you ever feel nervous about putting your work out there?
Absolutely! I feel nervous about it now. I feel better since I’ve gotten the first review out of the way, but I’m still nervous. I put so much of myself in the book, it feels as though people are looking inside of me when they are reading. I can’t hide.
4. Your character is also a black lesbian. Can you explain to me a bit about what prompted you to create her? Did you draw from your own life experiences? Or did you completely make everything up?
The character reminds me of myself. She has a lot of me in her and I pulled a lot of this story from my experiences. Of course I took a creative license, but a lot of it is based on my own reality.
5. I hadn’t seen you on Twitter in ages! (I suppose you were writing!) Do you require a certain type of atmosphere in order to write? What is your usual process during the time you wrote this book?
That depends on what I’m writing. If I’m writing a regular scene with dialogue and interactions, I can write in any situation. It could be a party going on around me and I could write. If I’m trying to write a sex scene, I need to be alone with music to write the scene. The mood has to be set to be realistic.
6. Did you have a peer look over your work to help you as you wrote or did you handle all the edits yourself?
I’ve had a few people look over my work to catch things I may have missed. After you’ve been staring at words for months on end, you start to miss the obvious mistakes. Every writer should have someone review their work before printing. I was told once that you should let someone that knows more about writing than you do to read your work. It’s great advice.
7. What’s your favorite aspect of writing? What makes you love it so much?
It’s creating an alternate world. When I was writing this novel, my mother was diagnosed with cancer, and passed while I was writing. When you’re telling the story, you get an opportunity to take a break from your real life.
8. Do you plan on writing a second novel? Have you already begun work on something else?
I’ve already started working on the next novel. The working title is The Price of Paper, but it will probably change.
9. When is the release date? Will it be available in retail stores or through some other means?
It will be released on September 1st. It will be available on Amazon, but I’m not sure about retail stores. You will be able to walk into a retail store and have them place a special order for the book, but the decision to carry it in stock on the shelf is made by the bookstore, not by me. You can always find links to all of my work on my website:

Alix B. Golden, Author

Interview: Tameka Frost (Author)

While spending a lot of time on Twitter has proved to be fruitless in the past, about two weeks ago I “overheard” a conversation between my followers. One of them was talking about her writing! So I quickly decided to e-mail her and talk to her about her process. Here’s our interview!

So, it’s pretty exciting that you’re getting a book published!! I know we can’t talk specifics, but I would love to hear more about your process that got you up to this point: 

How old are you? Where are you from? What do you do now as your career? 

I’m 34, I was born in Kalamazoo, Michigan, and I now reside in north Mississippi. I work for a major cell phone company, not really what I call a “career”,  but for now, it pays the bills. 

When did you start writing? Did you ever want to do it professionally?  

I started writing when I was in the 8th grade, and my English teacher gave us an assignment to write a short Halloween story.  After intriguing the class with my weird, but scary story, my teacher tried to convince me to enter into a writing class for young gifted writers. I declined, but after realizing that I had that talent, I have been writing ever since. I just recently, about two years ago decided to go all the way, and do it professionally. 

Do you have any favorite books that inspired you? Or authors?  

Oh yes! It would probably be easier to just name my favorite authors, because I have several favorite books. To name a few favorite authors: Teri Woods, Miasha (My most favorite) Eric Jerome Dickey, Terry McMillan, Devon Scott, D.L. Sparks, and Daaimah S. Poole. 

Are there specific things like you to focus on in your writing in general: race, gender, sexuality, location, etc?  

Honestly, no, not really.  I have been through so many crazy things in life, and I also just sit up and think of things that I would probably like to read, myself, and I just kind of add them all in together.  As my writing career grows, I will be able to factor in more interesting things like different places that I have traveled to, different people and different cultures that I have encountered, etcetera. 

Were there any books that made you upset and made you think, “I am going to write something better than that!”?

I have to say that Miasha’s book, Diary of a Mistress, is the one that probably sets my writing on fire.  That was the first, and only book that I was able to read in one day. I can remember having the book with me in the drive through line at McDonald’s because it was so good that I couldn’t put it down! It was so suspenseful, and throughout the story, I was on the edge of my seat, as we do in movies! 

What is your writing schedule like? Do you like to listen to music or have a playlist that gets you into the groove?  

I don’t really have a writing schedule.  I have found that when I try to say, “Ok, when I get home, I am going to write for an hour, at this time, or that time” I have writer’s block, or I feel some kind of anxiety: like I am putting pressure on myself.  I have to do it, in silence, when the rhythm hits me, which is pretty often, luckily. 

Do you attend writing groups or workshops and let others read your work? 

No, not as of yet, but I do have in mind to start a writers/readers group. 

How long did it take for you to start and finish your current novel?  

It took way longer than it should have. I thought of the idea for the book about four years ago after a terrible break up.  I started on it, then stopped.  I lost the content, then started on it again. I gave up after a huge writing block, and no direction, because I didn’t carefully plan it in my mind before I started.  Now, the book is almost complete, and prayerfully, will be published and flying off shelves very soon! 

What inspired the plot and idea for your current novel?  

I had a bad break up a few years ago, and the original idea for the book was to write a story based on that relationship and how things went down. Instead, once I started writing it took on a mind of it’s own and became way more interesting than the relationship, itself. LOL! I don’t really do outlines or anything for my blogs, short stories, etcetera; I just let it flow. 

Do you have any tips or advice for writers who are starting out and want to be published?  

Yes, my advice is one word: WRITE! Also, do your research. Use the internet to search how to get started, who to contact, and how to contact them. If you have any books that you have read, especially by your favorite author, search the book to find information on who published them, and contact them for information on how to get in touch with them to possibly discuss publishing your book. Don’t put  a lot of your work online, and don’t give out too much information unless you have it fully secured and copyrighted. 

How many agents did you query before your book got accepted? Did you face a lot of rejection during that time? What did you do to keep yourself motivated?  

Actually, I’m still really looking for a publisher.  I am in talks with a publishing company that will handle the professional editing for my book, and honestly, this may be the one that rolls for me.  

You can contact Ms. Frost through her Twitter (@_TheHurricane) or her blog (http://mizzhurricane.wordpress.com)

 

Ross Campbell, Comics and an Interview!

After attending NYCC almost two weeks ago tomorrow (!!) I’m significantly more interested in getting to know more comic creators and their experience in the business. I’ve been chatting back and forth with the wonderful Ross Campbell for-EVER, and even though we somehow magically missed each other at the Con, I DO have an interview he did for me.

Background in: Campbell is both the artist and writer for his own series ShadowEyes and Wet Moon – which is published by Oni Press —> the series that initially drew me to speak with him about doing an interview for me! He’s also currently the artist for GLORY, while Joe Keatinge is the writer (who I got to meet with at the Con and is so very awesome!).

Here’s the interview below; enjoy!

What inspired the story for Wet Moon?
I wanted to do a sprawling teen/20-something drama romance comedy kind of thing with horror undertones, which wasn’t inspired by anything in particular but was naturally what I was interested in, but a few big inspirations I can cite were the city of Savannah, Georgia and the art college there, and just real life and real people I’d met over the years, all thrown together into a plotless soap opera type set-up. I guess the college aspect was probably the biggest inspiration, I liked how kids from all over, kids who might not have ever met or associated with each other, were thrust together in an environment with no parents to tell them what to do. And I’m into horror and scary stuff in general so I wanted to mix that with lurking weirdness and ambiguous supernatural elements, like Twin Peaks or something.

What initially drew you to creating comics?
I think Calvin & Hobbes and old Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles comics were what got me into comics initially, and I used to draw little strip comics for fun when I was a kid but for most of my childhood and adolescence I actually wanted to be a prose writer/novelist. And I almost majored in fashion at college (that would’ve been a mistake, haha). I ended up going into comics in college but more out of not really knowing what I wanted to do, I actually didn’t get really interested in drawing comics and taking it seriously until junior or senior year of college. I don’t know why it took me so long to come around to actively wanting to do comics, but I eventually realized that I could tell the types of stories I wanted to tell and write the types of characters I wanted to write much better in comics than I could in prose.

Do you have a background in art (college degree, etc).
I guess I incidentally already answered this question but yes! I went to the Savannah College Of Art & Design and majored in Sequential Art, which is a pretty much useless degree. I never really paid attention while in college, I was too wrapped up in my own world, so I did most of my artistic learning after I graduated on my own when I realized I sucked and had to bust my ass to catch up.

How do you come up with designs for your characters? Why did you choose a more alternative look for your characters?
My designs are mostly inspired by real people, people I know, people I’ve met, strangers I see, photos of people, etc. I don’t copy an entire outfit or translate a single person into a character, I always mix and match, that sort of thing, whatever fits the character I’m looking for. I also make up things from scratch, like making up my own outfits and hairstyles or fashion ideas, particularly in Shadoweyes where the fashion trends aren’t quite real-world and I can make up stuff nobody in the real world is wearing. Sometimes I try to come up with designs I’m not totally fond of, like designing an outfit I don’t personally find visually appealing but that I think is something the character would wear, so that’s kinda fun sometimes, trying to think outside of the aesthetics I personally like.

For body types and facial features it’s pretty much the same process, I’m really inspired by real people. I like figuring out ways of stylizing real features into shapes to make each character distinct (resulting in various levels of success, I suppose). My character designs also depend a lot on how a character moves and holds themselves physically, which again is inspired a lot by real life people, and even though my stuff is static images I think a lot about this when drawing the characters and when trying to decide on body type or how a character’s limbs (or lack thereof) are.

There’s nothing really behind why my characters are almost always kind of alternative-styled or punky or whatever you want to call it, I just like drawing those sorts of looks, even though in real life I actually like simple, more conservative, even preppy sorts of styles but for whatever reason I don’t enjoy drawing those as much so they don’t usually end up in my comics.

What made you choose female main leads versus male ones?
It feels natural, I guess. I feel like I identify with and relate to women more than men so when writing female characters I feel like I “get” them more than I do guy characters. A lot of time I even feel confused when writing guys, like I’m not quite sure what to have them do or say, that sort of thing. I like drawing girls more than guys, but it’s mostly a writing preference. Plus women usually get better outfits. XD

Are there certain things you’d like to see more in the comic industry that isn’t already there? (Many people have complained about the depiction of female superheroes, for example).

Yeah, the sexism is obviously a big thing, most superhero comics suck in that regard, it would be great to get more women and other less-represented folks into comics, but the biggest thing I’d like to see a broader range of genres. I’ve been thinking over the past year or so that despite the diverse types of comics being done the medium is still pretty narrow compared to prose and film, at least in my experience. Or maybe comics need LESS genre confines, since many of them seem to almost box themselves into a genre/subgenre on purpose. The thing that really got me thinking about this is when I read Laurie Halse Anderson’s book “Wintergirls” and Alice Sebold’s book “Lucky,” one of which is fiction and one a memoir and both awesome and powerful. And I started thinking how come there isn’t really anything like that stuff in comics, and obviously I’m not aware of every single comic being made but as far as I’ve seen how come nobody is attempting anything like this? Is it because comics are usually cartoony or illustrative and tackling serious topics like rape and eating disorders would seem tacky or inappropriate when drawn in visual styles like that? Even genre fare in comics seems narrow to me, like take horror for example, there isn’t really anyone in comics doing anything like David Cronenberg’s body horror stuff or Vincenzo Natali’s weird sci-fi horror thriller movies. Everyone seems to either stick with imitating George Romero (myself included, heh) or generic pulpy vampire/werewolf/monster horror mash-ups. Maybe I just don’t read enough, maybe if I searched more I’d eat my words.

It seems like you use a lot of social media to promote your brand. Have you found it useful for getting people aware of your graphic novels?

I’m not sure, actually, I think this is probably more quantifiable for some artists out there but I’m not sure how much the various websites I’m on actually translate into readership. Deviantart has been by far the best, setting up a gallery there was one of the best things I’ve ever done for my work, and I came along on the site when it wasn’t booming yet so I got a lot of attention in the earlier days. But as far as purely social sites like Facebook or Twitter go, I’m not sure if they’ve actually helped that much. They sure can’t hurt, though.

Have you been able to get in contact with other industry professionals since you’ve started?

Definitely, I think it’s unavoidable. Once I put out a couple books people started to know who I was, both other creators and also editors. I’m not a huge name or anything, I’m pretty small-time and relatively obscure, but it’s enough that I’ve met a large group of colleagues over the years.

Do you have any plans or hopes to move to a bigger press to get your comics out to a wider audience?

I have in the past, I’ve done work for DC Comics/Vertigo but I can’t really quantify if that stuff got me any significant numbers of new readers or not. It would be cool to do something for Marvel, or a traditional book publisher like Simon & Schuster but I can’t see that happening. I don’t think my work is really their type of material.

Do you draw heavily from real life for your comics? What exactly inspires you?

I guess I kind of already answered this in question #4, d’oh! But yes, real life is the best! Real people, places, cultures, animals, science, the occult, weather, outer space. Music is also a big inspiration for me. Probably the most inspiring works that other people have created are the movie Alien, which has also been a big influence since childhood, just thinking about it makes me want to do comics. Hayao Miyazaki is also really inspiring. Some artists that get my creativity going are Frank Quitely, Amy Reeder, Jillian Tamaki, Lamar Abrams, Becky Cloonan, Kevin Eastman, Gerda Beuchel, among others.

Where do you see yourself and your work in the next 5 years?

I have no idea! Freelance comics is a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants type job, things change so fast, one day I’ll think my career is about to collapse and then the next day I’ll get some great gig out of nowhere. Never can tell. Hopefully in 5 years Wet Moon will be completed or almost completed, and Shadoweyes will probably be finished, too. Maybe in 5 years I’ll finally have time to get back to Mountain Girl!

 

The images are from Campbell’s DeviantArt, it has loads of amazing images!