☆ 🎤 Author Interview ☆
Tell us a little about yourself and your writing goals.
My background is in theater. I’ve written plays and screenplays before. Then around ten yours ago I took a job in which I did not have weekends free to perform theater so I started telling stories in cartoons. I self-published a graphic memoir about my first few years as a registered nurse, called Welcome To Nursing HELLo. After that I decided to switch gears and publish a sci-fi space fantasy. The book is intended to be pure entertainment, escaping from everyday life into this different quirky universe. And in Journey to Gaytopia I am a character and am a successful actor.
Congratulations on your new release. Please tell us a little bit about it. What’s your favorite aspect or part of the story? Do you have a favorite character? Who/Why?
Journey to Gaytopia is about myself and my friend, C. Stephen Foster who are actors. We get cast on this made-up show, The Julianne Moore and Madonna Half Hour Comedy Show. But Madonna is secretly taking acting classes from Faye Dunaway’s evil twin sister, Mae Dunaway. Madonna does not want the show to fail due to her bad acting so she’s trying to improve her acting to make a success of the show. But Mae Dunaway, who is Madonna’s acting teacher, exists in an alternate parallel universe and she captures Madonna. Mae wants to use Madonna as an ingredient in her fountain of youth potion. So Julianne Moore (in the story she prefers to be called Julie) sends Stephen and I to rescue Madonna. We are transported by the computer to this other world, a planet called Zerock. There we have the challenge of rescuing Madonna and bringing her back home.
My favorite aspect of the story is after we have arrived on Zerock because I can use my imagination to create this whole other weird world. My favorite character is this character Stephen and I meet on Zerock who helps us rescue Madonna. That character is Cat Mandoo but we call her Cat for short. She knows who Mae Dunaway is but decides to help us anyway.
Are you a planner or a pantser? How much do you know about your story before you start writing? How often does your plan change? Why does this work best for you?
I suppose I’m more of a planner. I had to look up what p-a-n-t-s-e-r is. And the Mac autocorrect won’t even let me spell the word. I wish I could write more on the seat of my pants with no planning the story out. But as I write what I have planned out ideas occur and I let those ideas take my story to a different place than I originally planned. Sometimes that can be frustrating but for this story it really was a lot of fun.
Do deadlines motivate you or block you? How do you deal with them?
What is a deadline?
Do you schedule a certain amount of time for writing each day/week, or do you just work it in when you can? Would you like to change this, or does your current method work well for you?
I write and create when I can. I work in a full-time job that has nothing to do with writing so it’s tough. I would love to be a writer full time but maybe someday. Also with this story I not only had to write it but I had to wrestle with Adobe Photoshop to color my drawings which is something I had never done before. And then when I was nearly done with the book I learned that I could use a different software that would have made my work more stream lined. But the process, other than taking so long, was very satisfying.
What was the most difficult part of writing this book? Why?
The part that was difficult was that I had worked on the graphics for a year and a half and read the book. There were parts that did not work so I had to change those parts but that also meant more work in the graphics software to make those changes. Sometimes I felt like I would never finish this book.
How do you develop a story idea? Do you always use the same method? Specifically, which do you develop first in your story building, the characters or the plot?
I guess I don’t have a set way. When I first conceived Gaytopia my character and Stephen’s character I built first. These guys are failed actors but I wanted them to be successful actors. What kind of situation can I put them in where they are successful? Or what obstacle blocks them from becoming successful actors? So I concocted a plot around what they wanted and what stood in their way. The story plot took them to different places and the characters Joel and Stephen met along the way came as a result of the plot.
What are your favorite genres when it comes to your own pleasure reading? Do you prefer to read ebooks or print?
Genres I’m trying to read more of are humorous science fiction sort of like The Hitchhiker’s Guide to The Galaxy. I recently read this book called, The Man from C.A.M.P. by Victor J. Banis which is about this gay James Bond type of character which is very entertaining. It’s cool to see this secret agent guy as someone that I could identify with.
Does writing energize or exhaust you?
I would say energize more especially for Gaytopia.
What is your writing Kryptonite?
Probably looking at other writers who are doing what I am trying to do and thinking why would anyone want to buy what I’m writing. Readers already have bought this other guy’s writing and his drawings are so much better.
If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
To read different genres. For so long I was trying to write screenplays that had three characters and two locations so I could shoot it inexpensively. But with a graphic novel I could fly to the moon and back and not spend a dime.
What is your favorite underappreciated novel?
I know a graphic novel that I think is underappreciated. Drinking At The Movies by Julia Wertz. It’s about a young female cartoonist who movies to New York in her twenties to seek her fortune and what happens along the way. The book content has weight. Julia talks about the problems of moving to a big city, her evolution as a cartoonist, and finding out she has systemic lupis.
What do you find to be the most difficult thing about writing characters from the opposite sex?
I wonder if at times I really capture what they are really thinking. Will other women be able to connect with those female characters?
What did you edit out of this book?
Madonna, the entertainer is one of the characters in my graphic novel. I wrote a scene that showed an interaction she had with one of her brothers. But the scene really wasn’t relevant to the story. It was better to cut it out. The scene might be appropriate for some other story.
How do you select the names of your characters?
The character’s names are the same as the people in real life they are based on. The person Cat Mandoo is based on suggested that name for herself. Actually Faye Dunaway was a character in my book but I changed it and changed the character to her evil twin sister because I was afraid I’d get sued by Faye Dunaway.
What were your goals for this book? Did you achieve them?
Publicity and marketing are still in the early stages but the actual book I’m happy because this is the first first science fiction story I’ve completed from beginning to end. In the past there were storys I wrote but never completely finished the story.
What do you think about when you’re alone in your car?
If I am having trouble with a story I play out the scenario in my mind. But sometimes I listen to AM radio and wonder about the state of our country. But other times I dream about selling books and being able to be an author full time. Or I think about going home to my husband and two cats, Mia and Horatio.
What were you like in high school?
I was hugely unpopular. I went to a private school with a graduating class of 33 people so everybody knew each other. I was more quiet. I really didn’t see the humor in life situations that I see now.
What are the three best things about you?
I’m funny I think. I try to be funny. I really was born on this earth to make people laugh.
I have a wild imagination.
Okay, so you need one more. I have empathy for others and am not judgmental.
What was your favorite toy growing up?
My Star Wars collection from the original Star Wars movie and The Empire Strikes Back. I loved my Millennium Falcon.
What is your favorite ice cream flavor?
Coffee chocolate chip
If you could time-travel, where would you go?
I would go back to 1962 and be on the set of the film, Whatever Happened To Baby Jane.
Who would play you in a movie about your life?
Maybe Matt Bomer.