This weekend I’m sitting down with Meghann Doyle!
Hi, Meghann! Thank you for stopping over and chatting with me!
Me: What books/authors have influenced your writing?
Meghann: I read a lot and a wide variety of authors. I have to say the biggest influence and the author I most try to emulate is Sir Arthur C. Doyle. We’re no related, I just like the concise and purposeful approach. It lends itself well as a model for graphic novel scripts.
Me: How did you come up with the title?
Meghann: It was a slow process. I went through several before landing on the final title. I decided two words was a comfortable title. I started with about a page of points I wanted the title to evoke. I narrowed it down to three or four and started sifting through a thesaurus and double checking the synonyms in the dictionary. I finally settled on ‘Shadow’s Caste’ and typed it into google. An ongoing blog story came up. So I scratched it and started again from the beginning. I was getting really frustrated when I shot up out of bed with the word ‘end’. As in ‘the end’. The Post Apocalyptic ‘hangover’ is the heart of the subject matter of my story. Not only the shadows or echos of the previous society but of the tragedy and finality of the passing of that age.
Me: Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
Meghann: Yes. I try to keep my references loose and let my characters and events remain true to the story and the world they take place in. I often use our dog Jackson as a model for Gazh. He’s really animated in his expression which is important for a character that doesn’t speak. Although the first panel of Gazh is from what I remember from being bitten by our neighbor’s giant German Shepard when I was a kid. I thought we were going to be friends and fearlessly walked up, he disagreed.
Me: What books have influenced your life most?
Meghann: Do you know those ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’ books? They were a big deal when I was a kid. We had a science fiction one and any time I could get it out of my brother’s hands I’d read it again and again until he’d stake his claim on it again. It definitely shows in my process. I write and outline with various possibilities and outcomes and choose the most dynamic satisfying plot. That and I’ve grown up to really enjoy Science Fiction.
Me: What are you reading now?
Meghann: I’m reading several books right now. Among them a science fiction, “Astronomicon: Distant Relatives” by Paul Vincent and a YA paranormal fiction, “Paradox Child” by Jane Yates.
Me: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
Meghann: Jane Yates is lovely. We’ve become good buddies over the last month or so. As well Jack Croxall is wonderful. He’s also a new friend and very talented. I’ll be watching for new books from both of them.
Me: What are your current projects?
Meghann: I’m squeezing in a couple things before I get serious with Volume Two “End’s Shadow Caste: In the Shadow of the Wind Walker”. I’m finishing up a Science Fiction short comic for an anthology produced by Gurukitty Studio. It’s a space opera and really heartwarming.
I’m doing a poster for Jack Croxall’s “Tethers”. I loved the story and can’t wait to create a scene from his imagination.
I’m also reviving a strip I did a few years ago call “Crushed”. It’s about an adult woman and her imaginary friend. I’ll be giving it a regular post on my site soon.
Me: Do you see writing as a career?
Meghann: I’ve done poorly at keeping other jobs for many reasons, not the least of which is probably because I’m distracted by my projects. Writing, especially for comics and graphic novels is something I’ll do forever… regardless of success.
Me: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
Meghann: I really like the final product of “End’s Shadow Caste”. I said everything I was hoping to, and it’s open enough to allow the reader to make their own opinions and interpretations.
There are many things that changed through the course of writing and drawing it, but the only thing I would change now is a few process things. I learned a lot through creating it, and luckily I get the chance to take a different approach with Volume Two.
Me: How did you get started with the writing venture?
Meghann: “End’s Shadow Caste” made it to publishing because I was fired. I was lost to fill my time and the idea, a horrible script, and some mediocre character sketches became my new focus.
Likewise “Crushed” was created for a newspaper when I had broken my leg and needed a focus.
Me: Is there anything you find particularly challenging about writing?
Meghann: Sometimes I spend too much time trying to ‘be in my reader’s head’. It’s a futile venture. Clarity has to come from the author, but knowing whether or not I’m doing a good job at it is tricky. I think that’s why I’m happiest writing things that come with pictures. It gives me an extra layer to work with.
Me: Do you have any advice for other writers?
Meghann: Two things, I learned these both in University, first hand.
First: Write what you know. If you write in subject matter that you deeply familiar with, it is a comfortable place with warranted detail from where you can ground an launch other ideas. Plus you don’t sound like a fool to people who know the subject matter of your book.
Second: Read. Read a lot. Read everything. It’s a great way to train your own voice. If you’re always reading, your voice is growing and will never become stale or defunct. In exploring someone else’s style you’ll discover things about your own. It’s a good place to find examples of both what and what not to do.
Me: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
Meghann: I like to leave my readers lots of space to think for themselves. That’s easier in the graphic novel industry as I often choose to leave out dialogue and let that pictures stand for themselves. Mostly I want them to enjoy themselves, feel inspired and use my book(s) as a place to escape and think. That’s what they are to me after all.
Me: What are the challenges (research, literary, psychological, and logistical) in bringing it to life?
Meghann: Lots more than I anticipated. As I mentioned earlier I had many hurdles in the production. That being choice of paper, easy to fix for next time. More difficult is working in real materials and bringing that to a finished digital book. I had the pages scanned and because the paper is wet in the paint process it ripples when it dries. Any straight lines show this ripple. I spend a lot of time ‘dressing’ my pages, months really, to get them square for publishing.
Logistically, I’d love to print hard copies. Colour printing is expensive and my end product would be a $40 paperback… I’m still looking into it.
I make jokes about if ‘the authorities’ saw my web history or my library borrows list I might have a major problem on my hands. A profiler might think I’m a little off and potentially dangerous.
Psychologically I’m still working out that this is what I do. All the jobs I’ve lost an given up bring me back to this. Those lessons worm their way into my content one way or another. As much as that security is attractive, it really only amount to research to me. Ultimately I have to remind myself I’m better off in my studio.
My work also deals with the repercussions of some dark points in history and the human condition. The day’s that I really get into that content are long days. I have to separate myself from that sometimes. I physically have to leave the room and chase the dog around the yard and roll on the grass with him. If I’m not careful I start crying all over the page and tracing paper doesn’t agree with water very well.
Me: What genre do you enjoy writing the most?
Meghann: I love anything with a science fiction and paranormal twist. I see them as the same thing. You could argue that psychics are scientifically or physiologically different… that grey area is really interesting to me. As a fan my favorite werewolf or vampire stories always get into the science behind the afflictions. I love the idea that all those supernatural things are explainable by hypothetical science. That’s my ambition for “End’s Shadow Caste”.
Me: Do you ever experience writer’s block?
Meghann: Yes. All the time, but I’m getting better at kicking it’s butt. I have several tricks I use to get going again. I take a walk and bring my dictaphone, once I get moving the ideas tend to follow. Sometimes I’m able to draw a scene before I’m clear enough on the action and dialogue to write the scene. A sketch often unlocks all kinds of inspiration. The real trick is write notes when they wake me in the middle of the night. It’s easier to remember them when I’m stuck for an idea when I scribble some illegible note down.
Me: Do you write an outline before every book you write?
Meghann: Usually I write what I call a ‘working draft’. It’s a loose outline of the issues I’d like to cover. From there I simultaneously write script or do sketches of what each scene will entail and the number of pages and panels each will take. I usually have a rough idea of the number of pages of the finished book and I have to make it all flow and fit. It helps me keep the content rich and balanced so the story progresses.
Me: Have you ever hated something you wrote?
Meghann: A few, but if papers for my degree don’t count, one in particular stands out. I wrote a crime novel a few years ago that bugs me still. It’s 300+ pages are sitting in a box waiting. I hope to rework it into a graphic novel, because I hope pictures will redeem my attempt, even if I have to rewrite it a couple times to get it there.
What is your favorite colour?
I like them all but I’ve always been drawn to cerulean, unfortunately it makes me look sickly as a clothing choice. It is nice as a paint though.
What’s your favorite food?
I have to say brie cheese. …I’m going to eat some now…
Puppies or bunnies?
Puppies for their silliness.
Chocolate or vanilla?
Ice cream should be vanilla. Chocolate is best dark and all by itself.
Thanks for reading everyone!
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