Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Four Down, Many, Many, MANY More To Go

OK so if you missed it somehow (and if that's the case how did you even get to this blog?) LEGACY #3 was released as of... just over 2 hours ago. You can find it here: Digital Copies  or here for Print Copies   

I had made copies available 10 days in advance of the official release date at the Winnipeg Comic and Toy Expo and they sold through so well that I've already had to place another order in JUST for my "regulars" (co-workers and friends) as there are very few copies of the first print left to sell off. Sold out BEFORE it hits stands? Not bad. Also not great, hence the links above- if you're in a rush to find out what's going on after LEGACY #2's cliffhanger, head to one of those two sites. At this time the book hasn't gone live but it will be by the time most of you are reading this- give'm a break they need to sleep too.

So anyhow back to why I'm writing this at 2:30 in the morning. Besides the fact that I was busy watching hockey earlier (Go Bruins!) instead of doing this at a reasonable time.

As of today September17 Productions/myself have published 4 comic books. 

I know what you're thinking.

Wow! Four comic books? FOUR WHOLE COMIC BOOKS? Doesn't Marvel and DC do like TEN TIMES that each and every MONTH?? 

Yeah ok, so they do. They also have a HUGE stable of artists, writers and PILES AND PILES OF PRODUCTION MONEY. Jerk. Just kidding. 

What September17 has, however, is an incredibly talented and wonderful group of artists and myself. A guy who probably should've thought things through a little more before embarking on this adventure- sure it's all limousines and rockstar levels of fame (no, it's really not even close to that) but how much fun is writing a blog less than 6 hours until the day job? Pretty fun actually. But it's a lot of working making comic books. 

Luckily, as I mentioned, I have a great group of people to work with and I can honestly say that when you crack open your copy of LEGACY #3 today (or tomorrow or the next day) IT STACKS UP AGAINST ANYTHING ELSE ON THE SHELVES RIGHT NOW. I'm that damn proud of it. Every book has gotten better as we've worked together and my writing is finally getting closer to being as good as the art- and there is some AMAZINGLY GOOD art in the S17 books so even if you think the writing sucks, the pretty lines and colors will distract you and be worth your hard-earned money. 

So what's next? More books of course! 

LEGACY #4 was originally slated for a July release but we'll most likely push it back August because it isn't just another excellent 24 page installment in the chronicles of the city of Legacy, no this is the 32 page grand finale to the first story arc of LEGACY. It's big. And filled with action and story and everything you could ever hope to have in a comic book. It'll be worth the extra wait, trust me. 

We'll be rounding out the year with LEGACY #5 (sorry New Guard fans, you WILL see a new book but you'll have to wait til the new year- Kenan is currently hard at work on LEGACY as Andre has moved on to another project...a HUGE project that you'll see out next year as well) and a collected edition/trade paperback of LEGACY #1-4 which will have some neat extra stuff to go with it.
This July we'll be running a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds for the aforementioned project that Andre is currently hard at work on. 

In closing, thank you again for your on-going interest and support and never fear, we've got LOTS more in store for you!


Sunday, 13 April 2014

Inteview With Scott Fogg, Writer, Filmmaker, Whovian and Podcaster

I had this really great intro written up to tell you all about Scott (well not ALL about otherwise why bother having all these questions and answers below, right?) and somehow I managed to lose the file that I wrote it up on. Real smooth, huh? 

That's ok though because really all you need to know about him is two things: 1. He has a cool name. Scott Fogg? That's like some kick-ass pulp detective/action hero name. Fogg, Scott Fogg. See? Cool name. I'm jealous. 

Oh yeah and the second thing? He has cool ideas. Seriously. Phileas Reid and the Institute of the Impossible? WAY cool. You don't even need to know what it's about to know that it's awesome. The name ALONE is worth buying it.  

So yeah. That's what you need to know. But here's some questions and answers that will tell you what you SHOULD know about the man. Fogg, Scott Fogg. 
(so jealous...)

1. Hey Scott, thanks for taking the time to do this interview, why don't you give the readers a brief background on who you are and what it is you do?
1.) Absolutely! Thanks for reaching out to me! For those of you who don't know me (which, I'm guessing, is everyone reading this except for my Mom), my name is Scott Fogg and I'm a storyteller. I've been a storyteller for as long as I can remember. From my Transformers and GI Joes, to my Legos, and all the way through film school, I have been telling stories. I've written plays, short films, feature films, web series and last year I began a new chapter in my life as a comic book writer. Also I have two dogs, three cats and a 19 month-old baby that keep me very busy.

2. Phileas Reid Knows We Are Not Alone was where I first came across your name, a Kickstarter that was run in the later part of last year. I loved the art, the concept and especially the tag line of Phileas Reid and the Institute of the Impossible (man, I wish I had come up with something that sounds THAT cool) and so did 267 other backers. For the folks who aren't familiar with it, how about you tell them what the book is about and how it came to be? Why a comic book/graphic novel?

2.) Wow, thanks! I'm really excited about it too! Phileas Reid Knows We Are Not Alone is an all-ages graphic novel about an alien invasion set in 1963 and the four characters that have to band together to save the world. It's a story I've been trying to tell for years now. Sitting on my computer is a screenplay version of it and a novel version of it. Neither of them made me very happy. Everyone who read them really responded to the story, the characters and the ideas presented in the story but everyone (myself included) all agreed that there was something missing, there was something wrong. It wasn't until I was talking to Vito Delsante about it that it clicked with me that this story needed to be a comic book or a graphic novel. That was what was missing. I was working with the wrong medium.

3. As we mentioned, the Kickstarter was a success, do you have any plans in place for doing a second volume or another Kickstarter?
3.) I recently completed a detailed outline for the second novel and have a pretty good idea what the third will be about. I am waiting on writing those, however, until we have completed the first one. I want to get this first book in people's hands. I want to know what they liked about it. I want to know what they respond to (the good, the bad and the apathetic). So I guess I feel like we're only half way through this process. I want to see the whole process from beginning, middle, and end before I decide how to bring Book 2 into the world.

4. How was it you came about finding the people to work with on the book?
4.) The magic of the Internet! For a network of tubes that is 83% cats and duck lips, it has done more for me and my career than any other tool at my disposal. It started with Dean Trippe (writer and author of that wonderful Something Terrible). Back in December of 2011, I interviewed him for my podcast Movies You Should Love. What I thought would be a 30 minute conversation turned into an afternoon-long nerd-out/geek-fest. We became fast friends and went on to launch our own podcast together, The Last Cast (which comes to us from the future, so I guess we stay friends for a very long time). He introduced me to Vito (the aforementioned writer who convinced me to make Phileas a graphic novel). And together the three of us found Marc (via Tumblr) and now Marc and I are thick as thieves, texting each other late into the night with story and character ideas and generally nerding out about all the things grown men should be nerding out about.

5. When I look at the art and the fact that it's an all-ages book, would you ever consider taking this the animation route? Or do you feel that graphic novels are best suited for the Institute's stories?
5.) Oh I hadn't thought of it as an animated movie! THAT WOULD BE THE BEST. With it being such a visual story, it's very easy to imagine it as a film for me. That being said, I always imagined it as a live-action film. But now you have me dreaming of an ongoing kids' cartoon in which the Institute finds itself exploring all the mysteries of the universe in episodic adventures that I could binge watch on Netflix after Fox cancels it after thirteen episodes (despite it clearly deserving six seasons and a movie).

6. What do you have lined up next for Phileas Reid?
6.) I want every book to go in a different direction. The first book is a sci-fi romp in which we discover the nature of the universe. It's about looking ahead and doing what you can to make tomorrow better today. The second book will be more archaeological in nature and will be about coming to terms with the past. You don't have to like it, but you do have to accept it and hopefully you'll learn from it. Sorry. That's purposefully vague. 

7. I did some digging and it seems you're into a lot of different things one of which is being the co-host of The Last Cast. What can you tell us about that?
7.) I co-host two podcasts! I co-host Movies You Should Love with my long-time friend and film school veteran Loren Small and sometime in the future I'll co-host The Last Cast with the ghost of Dean Trippe! Both are available on iTunes and both are, if I do say so myself, pretty fantastic. They're both about celebrating the things we love and discussing what makes them great. 

8. Another thing I noticed is that you are a Whovian. Seems to be more and more Dr.Who fans these days- which is your favorite Doctor? And if you had access to the TARDIS, where or when would you go?
8.) I hate picking. I really do. We've had thirteen faces to one really fantastic hero who has continually thrown himself between us and danger. But if I had to . . . If you held something sharp or something ballistic to my head and made me choose . . . I'd have to say Matt Smith. In his run as the Doctor he was not only the kind of hero I love but he was the kind of man I hope to be. I say that as a huge, huge fan of David Tennant. And Patrick Troughton. And Peter Davison.
And if I had the TARDIS . . . I could do anything, go anywhere in time and space. I never knew my grandfathers. One died the summer before I was born the other passed away when I was five. Both died of heart attacks. I would have liked to have known them. I'd go back and spend some time with them. After that, I'd be sure to meet Thomas Jefferson, Winston Churchill, Jesus, Magellan, Cole Porter, Baroness Emmuska Orczy and the inventor of Red Vines. 

9. Recommend something that our readers should give a try- whether it be comics, books, movies, etc.
 9.) That thing you've been thinking about doing? Do it. We live in an age where absolutely anything is possible. The only thing standing in your way is you. Life is short (it doesn't always feel that way, but it is). And at the end of it you can either have experiences or excuses. Only you get to decide which you'll have more of. I realized that after reading Grant Morrison's All-Star Superman. So if I could recommend one thing to you, it would be All-Star Superman and whatever dream you've been toying with pursuing.

Saturday, 12 April 2014

Off to the Con!

If you follow the September17 Productions Facebook page or my Twitter (@AndrewLorenz17), you've probably already seen that tomorrow I'll be at the Winnipeg Comic and Toy Expo tomorrow from 10am-5pm. And if you don't, well now you do.

So what makes this worth mentioning? After all, it IS only a one-day show. It's also the first show that I'll be doing as a "pro". I put it in quotations because, in my opinion I won't count myself as a pro until 1. I finish my first year of publishing (that'll be July) and 2. I have a couple cons (conventions) under my belt (that'll be this Nov.).  It's all up to the individual if they consider themselves to be a pro- some would argue you need to put years in doing it full-time. If that's the case, I may never be one. 

Either way I'm pretty excited and a bit nervous about tomorrow. I'll be flying solo, which might make for a long day (I'll be setting up 9ish) but I'll be taking a notebook with me so that I can keep working while I'm there. Canadian Corps #1 is on draft number 60,421 (or so it feels like) but I think with this latest one I've really got the tone down that I wanted it to have. 

I know one person that will be setting up there (A.P Fuchs, Axiom-man), have plans to meet another (Rod Salm, Death At Your Door) and am hoping to see at least a couple familiar faces stopping by to say hi at one point or another. 

LEGACY #3 will be available ten days before it's actual release as a sort of "con incentive" to pull in some people that might not otherwise make the trip- I'm a firm believer in getting people out to shows because there is ALWAYS something cool to see at them. 

No matter what, it should be a good time- I'll be doing a little live tweeting if there's anything worth mentioning (or if I get bored)- and if anything else, it'll be a learning experience. If you're in the Winnipeg area, by all means stop by. If not, I hope to see you at a con one day down the road!

Friday, 11 April 2014

Interview with Kurt Christenson: Writer, Photographer, Comic Book Creator

Kurt Christenson was a name I heard about from Vito Delsante, who recommended that I check out Kurt’s work and when I did, I knew Kurt was someone who I needed to add to the interviews. 

Kurt is starting a new comic book company called Kings County Comics with a book called Thrust and has been working some time on another book called Power Play with Marvel Comics artist Reilly Brown.

To help fund these creative endeavours, Mr. Christenson has gone what I like to call the “Kevin Smith” route; putting his faith in his work and doing whatever it takes to make it happen, in this case selling off a sizeable portion of his comic book collection to help raise money for production and publishing costs. As a fellow comic book fan and creator that speaks volumes to me about how serious Kurt is and how much doing these books mean to him.

So let’s talk to Kurt and find out a little bit more about him and his books and where it’s all headed.
1 Kurt thanks for agreeing to this interview, why don’t you give us a quick rundown on who you are and what you do?

My pleasure! My name is Kurt Christenson and I, along with Marvel artist Reilly Brown, created the original NYC digital comic book series that went on to inspire Marvel's Infinite Comics, Mark Waid's Thrillbent, and what is now ComiXology's Guided View Native comics. My day job is working as a photo editor for Entertainment Weekly, which I'm attempting to bring more comics & geek culture to.

I started creating comics on January 1st, 2001. I've been a paid script-writer, then gone the self-publishing route, co-created an groundbreaking graphic novel with artist Chris Chua called LEGEND OF LIQUID FURY, and I'm a founding member of the art collective I have just launched Kings County Comics as my own comic book company to tell NYC local stories by local creators.

2 What made you decide that selling off your personal collection of comics was the way to go to raise money for Kings County Comics?

I have been lugging around 30 long-boxes from apartment to storage, and back again. I knew I was holding on to them for a reason, but I just wasn't sure what that reason was, until I started selling off small collections as various movies & TV shows were coming out (didn't get as much as I hoped for my original Watchmen issues, but I paid a month's rent with ten issues of The Walking Dead). 

I started asking friends to become investors in Kings County Comics, selling to them collections of things that would either hold their value over time (The Ultimates HCs), or would most certainly go up in value (full Preacher run). I refer to them as investors because I want them to see that these comics are collateral and that the money they are giving me is allowing me to get this company off the ground, and that I want them involved with the company as much as they wish to be creatively.

Then Mark Waid announced he was selling off his massive collection, and well, I knew it was the way to go. 

3 How about a quick breakdown of what Kings County Comics is and what your books Thrust and Power Play are about?

Power Play is my most recent series with artist Reilly Brown, who is also a founding TenTonStudios member. When he was looking to do something creator-owned outside of Marvel, well, we'd be sitting up on rooftops, or drinking in dive bars around NYC, and we knew we wanted to do something that featured the city as it actually existed. Once we started reading ComiXology comics on an iPod Touch, well, we knew the new direction we really wanted to start heading in.

POWER PLAY is about a group of New Yorkers with superpowers competing in a series of underground street-games, hosted by ICE QUEEN from Astoria, WESTSIDE FLAME from Chelsea, TEKTRONIX from the Bronx, and our cult fan-favorite, GOWANUS PETE from Brooklyn. Contenders from all over the Five Boroughs sign up to represent their neighborhood in order to win the League Cup, which will bring notoriety to their local business of choice, which most people tend to use for a year of free drinks at their favorite bar.

Kings County Comics is my new comic book company which will feature stories about Brooklyn and NYC by local creators. KINGS COUNTY is the first title, featuring THRUST, a hipster with electromagnetic propulsion powers who uses them to bounce around the city, avoiding his superpowered ex-girlfriends who all have a vendetta against him, for one reason or another. It's my way of addressing the truly never-ending battle that puts us all in peril, saving the dating scene! 

Future titles include KINGS COUNTY CRIME: ABSALOM, a 70's Mafia story, PA:NyC, a post-apocalyptic rock band, and comics based on actual local superheroes, musicians, burlesque troupes, and more!

4 Your books are set in what many consider to be the greatest city in the world, New York City. Is authenticity something you strive to bring to the books and what are some of the things you do to ensure that what we see is the real New York?

I love New York City. My grandparents all came here as young adults and they instilled this awe and wonder of the city that I will never shake. I've driven, walked, and ran across every inch of this city, and every block is different, let alone every neighborhood. Most times when you see NYC represented in comics it's a fairly generic city. In my comics I walk the paths characters walk, taking photo reference of everything of note, and with Kings County Comics I use those photos for my storyboards as I'm trying to reinvent the digital comics format that I pioneered with Power Play. 

There's just too much cool public art, neighborhood flavor, local history, etc. to NOT tap into all that. In many ways NYC always writes its own stories, and as I began working on these comics I found boundless amounts of research that fed into ideas I had been developing that enhanced the story. I'm also in the early stages of developing an original app for Kings County Comics that will enable the readers to go to actual locations and see parts of the comic book come alive through Augmented Reality. 

5 I did some digging and found that the character Thrust is on that you’ve had for quite some time- how much has he evolved over time and what sort of stories are you planning to tell with him?

Thrust is indeed from way back in my High School role-playing days. Back then I wanted to make a superspeed character based on my love for the Flash, but I knew I wanted to take it in a different direction beyond just pure speed, mixing in a bit of Spider-Man. Once I had the idea that he created inertia and propulsion, well, my game-master dubbed him Thrust and it just stuck. 

I revisited the character when I moved into the Lower East Side a decade ago. After many years in a relationship on Long Island, I began writing short stories with Thrust as my alter-ego to deal with the insanity that I continue to go through as I started dating in the city. It has been a very strange ten years, filled with all sorts of team-ups, secret origins, and super-villains. 

The main point of Thrust is to help guys (and girls) see that we all too often demonize ex's, telling ourselves we are the hero, when in actuality, we're all somewhere in that moral middle grey zone. I also have a much larger plot going on regarding a prophecy about the destruction of NYC, and to that end Thrust is my metaphor for Mercury, who is portrayed all across the city in very interesting sculptures and public artwork. I just want to tell real stories about living and working in New York City, with a dash of modern mythological, spectacular superpowered action!

6 Where’s this all going? Do you have plans in place for Power Play and Thrust to be on-going series? Any new projects in the works that you can tell us about?

I can't say much about Power Play at the moment, except that there will be more in the future, and not just comic books! 

Kings County, starring Thrust, will be the one main title I write (and direct) going forward, leading straight into animation to flesh out a 21st Century publishing/marketing model I have been developing over the last few years, but after that, my main role will be as editor-in-chief of Kings County Comics, pairing up writers and artists to help creators tell the stories they want to tell.

Later this year I'll also be self-publishing my novel, The Tower of Brahma, which is an experimental, noir memoir, that was written on a T-Mobile Sidekick as I went from Long Island to living in the city, and all the craziness that came of it. And hopefully in the next few weeks I'll be able to make an announcement about a burlesque comic I'm developing. 

7 Photography seems something that you’re pretty passionate about and involved in. What about it appeals to you?

I had a talent for writing early on, and found it incredibly easy to create scenes from words, but when I was younger I felt I didn't have much that I wanted to say. Film though, is really my true love, and I started getting into photography after my aunt had introduced me to it as a teenager. For me, photography was really that middle ground between film and comics, and I found that I loved composing shots, which has helped my comic book writing significantly. 

There's something about stealing that moment in time, about capturing things that people pass by, portraying the random scribbles of people on dive bar bathroom walls as artwork, that I am obsessed with. To me it's a form of magick. The immediacy of being able to capture an image, caption it with keywords, and then post it to the internet for the world to see instantly...that is the science-fiction future that I'd been waiting for my whole life.

Also, I found that photo editing was an easy paying gig if you knew Photoshop and had an eye for composition, saturation, contrast, etc. As a photo editor I've worked for the paparazzi, the NY Daily News, and now, I'm at Entertainment Weekly, all of which have helped me see the city in a very specific way, networking across all media, and being able to create a visual as a non-artist is still very much a thrill for me.

8 As we mentioned earlier, you were selling off a bunch of your comics to raise money to make your own. Do you still buy comics or are you focused mainly on making your own?

As I mentioned, moving thirty long-boxes from storage units to apartments, well, I better really love that comic book to justify owning it in print. That was really the impetus, even beyond creating a comic for ComiXology, to start reading comics digitally. I pick up anything that's Guided View Native to see what people are doing with it, anything from a publisher that I think is ahead of the curve or doing something interesting (Monkeybrain), but very few mainstream titles. Mostly I buy books for market research or to support friends of mine. I never thought I would be too busy making comics to have time to sit down and read them!

However, right now I am thoroughly enjoying a print version of Punk Rock Jesus.

9 When you aren't writing what do you like to do for fun?

If I'm not writing, which actually doesn't happen nearly enough these days, I'm probably plotting & scheming for some ridiculous project, scribbling notes in a dive bar in Brooklyn, scouring the city for a decent dance-floor, or hitting up a gallery, a friend's rock show, or a burlesque performance. If you're ever looking for something to do in NYC hit me up and I'll let you know what's going down!

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Interview: Damian Wampler, creator/writer of Sevara

Damian Wampler is the creator of the comic book Sevara, whose issue #0 was recently successfully funded through Kickstarter. Sevara features the art talents of two people whose work you’ve seen before in LEGACY #2- Andre Siregar and Anang Setyawan, which is how I became aware of Damian’s book. 

Sevara is an epic story in every sense of the word, showcasing Andre and Anang’s art at the highest of levels as Damian weaves a story spanning thousands of years with intrigue and action, both.

I’d tell you more about it but why don’t we go straight to Damian and hear it from the creator himself and see what he has planned next for Sevara.
1.  Damian how about providing us with a short bio so we can get to know you before we dive into Sevara?
Sure thing! I consider myself first and foremost a photographer, a passion I've had all my life, although I didn't figure that out how to pursue that until later in life. I studied English literature and Anthropology in college and then joined the Peace Corps. I then traveled and studied more, focusing on Russian language and Central Asian areas studies. I ended up going to the School of Visual Arts in New York City to study digital photography, and also produced a play called Twin Towers that same year. Comic books are a fusion of images and words, so my photography and theater background have really helped make Sevara a spectacular book. I'm from Delaware, married with one 7 year old boy, and I travel all the time as an international cultural liaison. Luckily, writing comic books and graphic novels is something I can do from anywhere! 

2.  What is Sevara about? Why did you choose to tell this particular story?

Sevara is about a goddess who awakens from a 10,000 year sleep to find that the memories of her mortal life have corrupted the future. I chose to tell this story because it is a reflection of what is happening today, showing the power of language and storytelling in our modern lives. Regardless of what technology we have, stories will always have a hold on us, for good or for bad. Sevara uses all of my cultural and theological background as the foundation to build a world much like ours but in a future so distant that all traces of our own civilization have been erased. It gives me a blank slate to dig deeper into human nature and investigate some of the core aspects of humanity - war, faith, love etc. But I adhere to a very strict formula - "Don't be boring!" so there's also lots of action and some ironic humor.
3.  The Kickstarter was a smashing success, reaching its original goal in next to no time and though it didn’t quite hit the stretch goal, you still raised over double what you were initially after. What was that like? Anything you would have done differently?

It was a ton of work. I didn't sleep much during the campaign or the months leading up to it. Although I'm glad I did it, I'll never do a Kickstarter again. You really need a year to prepare and a team of people working together to pull off a campaign. It really did kick start Sevara though - we are now producing pages of art and doing the color using the money we've raised, and hopefully sales from the first graphic novel will allow me to publish more volumes. There are a ton of great Kickstarter campaigns out there and its hard to get noticed int he sea of comic book review sites and bloggers, I think some of the success is having generous friends and family and some of the success is just getting spotted by some journalist who likes your work. 
4.  What was it about Andre and Anang’s work that made you say “these are the artists I want on this book”?

I searched for an artist for about a year. I had to have realistic people, beautiful women, and technology that spans all of human history. The artist had to be able to draw a medieval siege engine as well as a hoverbike. That's a tall order. But I saw Andre's work and I was impressed. His attention to detail is phenomenal and his figures and emotions are top notch. He's a rare talent. I loved the lines, but I didn't realize how important the colorist is until I started looking for one. Andre recommended me to a few colorists but Anang was the best. He adds so much depth to the pages and really brings them to life, I have a new respect for colorists now.
5.  Where is Sevara going now? Your Kickstarter did well and grew awareness of the book, but what’s next? Will we see future issues in our local comic shops one day down the road?

I wrote 3 issues of Sevara which will be combined and sold as a graphic novel in the spring of 2015. You'll be able to find it in comic book shops and on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. The first issue will only be available at select comic book conventions and for Kickstarter backers. But I'd love to do more, these three issues are just the beginning of a long saga about love and betrayal. 

6.   These days it seems everyone’s goal is to write a comic book/graphic novel that Hollywood buys the rights to and throws up on the silver screen. Does that sound like something that you’d be interested in? Or do you feel Sevara is better suited as a comic book?
I'm open to anything, I've got to put my son through school and put food on the table. This was never the intention of Sevara when I first wrote it however, I just had a story in my head and it had to come out. I originally wrote Sevara as a play, but found that it was impossible to produce overseas. I then rewrote it as a comic book, and it works much better this way. The story is so visual it makes a great comic book, and TV and film are also visual mediums so it could work there too. I think Sevara would work really well as a cable TV show along the lines of Game of Thrones - a fully realized fictional world that mirrors our own without bring saddled by the need for historical accuracy. 
7.  When you aren’t writing comic books, what do you do for fun?

Educating my son in things like Star Wars, Transformers G1, Jurassic Park, Indiana Jones, Ghostbusters etc. These days most of the movies and TV shows come from my childhood, and my son is always saying "How you YOU know that?" and I have to explain that this idea isn't new but was around when I was a kid. It is fun reliving my childhood with him.   

8.  You lived overseas for some time- what was that like? How was it coming back?
I'm not back for long, only a few months before I head out to Pakistan and Georgia. I love living in interesting places, it puts life in the US in perspective. You learn to appreciate the things you have in America, but you also realize that other countries do things differently and sometimes better. It can be disorientating to have to get to know the new technologies, and I spend a lot of time living out of a suitcase.  

9.  In your opinion, the best superhero movie made to date is…?
I have to think carefully, this will characterize me forever! I like Hellboy II and Blade. The Rocketeer, X-Men 2 and X-Men First Class are high on my list. Batman Returns, Batman Begins, Superman the Movie and Superman II the Richard Donner Cut are special to me as well. All 3 Iron Man movies are wonderful, as well as the Avengers film and the Averngers franchise as a whole. Superhero movies are so much better than now than before, probably starting with the first Spider-Man movie. Even comedies like Sky High and the Incredibles are wonderful. But the best to date would have to be Megamind. Seriously, watch it!

Monday, 7 April 2014

An Interview With Laura Akers

Laura Akers was someone who I never even knew existed until one day she messaged me on Twitter in regards to a post I had made about reading a book by Simon R. Green. I’m glad she did. 

Laura’s passion for John Taylor (Simon R. Green’s protagonist from his Tales of the Nightside series may border on obsession but… Well it’s kind of unhealthy. 

Pretty sure if she could she would live inside those books. 
Unfortunately you can’t live inside books. Something that pains me to know end or I’d be living in Robert B. Parker’s Boston or one of a thousand comic book universes.

What you CAN do, however, is create a world of your own, by WRITING a book. Hell you can create a whole UNIVERSE. See why us writer folks get a little headcase-y sometimes? The power…the power… Bwah ha ha ha ha!!!

But I digress…

As many of the conversations that I’ve had with Laura have done. They may be all over the place but they are always one thing.


Which is something that Ms. Akers brings to her debut novel which I’ve had the pleasure to be included in the beta-reading of, entitled The Law of Rule. The entertaining part that is. Not the digression… Ok, enough of that- on to the interview!
 1.  Ok, Laura, you once commented to me that writers love to talk about themselves, so here’s your chance. Tell us all about why you’re so awesome.
Jung's Briggs-Meyer test indicates I'm an INFJ. (Introverted, Intuitive, Feeling, Judging) It's the rarest type, only 1% of the population.  Plato, Gandhi, and Thomas Jefferson were INFJ's. Oh, and Adolph Hitler.  
What does this mean? I might seem outgoing, but after group contact I need to go hide in my house to rejuvenate with a book and cup of tea. And secretly plan world domination.
I grew up in a small town in the Imperial Valley, California. It's economy is primarily agriculture and it's surrounded by desert. I drove tractors and rode horses, competing in professional rodeo barrel racing.
I've played the piano since I was three and that uber-feminine instrument, the trumpet. I got to tour Europe, Canada and the East Coast of the USA with a concert/marching band. I'm currently stalking Paul Williams so I can talk to him about his lyrics for "Old Souls" from Brian De Palma's movie "Phantom of the Paradise."  
Originally, I planned to be a veterinarian. I  became a lawyer by age 24. Overachievement is my middle name. I try not to inflict it on anyone.
2.  So you love books, anyone who follows your Twitter can see that you spend as much time reading as anything else, so what made you decide to throw your hat in the writing ring?
Being an only child, books were my best friends. I read across most genres, both fiction and non-fiction. Some of my favorite writers are Michael Chabon, Carlos Ruiz Zafon, Douglas Adams, Terry Pratchett, Dorothy Sayers, Georges Simenon, Robert van Gulik, Simon R. Green, David McCullough...(This list will take too much room. Must stop!)
Starting around age seven, I began to write short stories using hot pink and green ink on notebook paper. I was so cool. I also started a neighborhood newspaper called "The Treasure News." It was handwritten and liberally doused with glitter. When I was 13, I mailed off what I considered to be an epic romance to Good Housekeeping magazine. Never mind I was 13 and didn't know anything about romance. I liked escaping into my head and playing with my imaginary friends. Wait, I still like that.
3.  The Law of Rule. Your first novel. Actually IS it your first? Or just the first one that you’re ready to shop around? Give us some background on it and tell us what The Law of Rule is all about?
I have two other books that I've finished. One is a Regency Romance titled "The Three Antidotes." The other is a mystery/thriller/romance called "Dior or Die."
Then Simon Rule muscled his way into my life (which is rather out of character for him) and I started The Law of Rule. The other books are there, waiting to be edited. Since I was a prosecutor for twelve years, people always tell me I should write about my experiences. There's never been anything done like that before, of course. No one's ever heard of Law and Order.
I decided it would be a lot more fun to put a prosecutor 150 years in the future. Simon Rule is a rising star in the Intergalactic DA's office, destined to make the god prosecution unit in record time, until all the evidence goes missing in his high-profile serial killer case against Danny Perdition. He's demoted and given assignments to planets no one's really heard of. With him in exile is his investigator, Vas Mondragon, who's a vampire with a problem controlling his blood lust and who's also addicted to couture fashion and his archaic iPod. 
Simon wants to find out what happened in the Perdition case and bring whoever tampered with it to justice. He also has to contend with being mind-nabbed by an ancient god, something roaming about his moldy apartment, assassination attempts on his life and the threat of world annihilation only the Karma Police can stop.   
4.  Do you have an overall plan for Simon’s adventures or are you taking it book by book? And how awesome would it be to write a short story collection featuring Mr. Rule and title it Simon Says?
At this point, I see Simon's story as a trilogy. I'm definitely a pantser, not a plotter. I have an overall idea of where I'm going, but too much structure's a bit confining for me. I'm not a person with notes all over the wall, like Rust Cohle. (Cool people will get that reference)  Simon Says? I visualize a short story collection with just such a title! Some really awesome Canadian suggested it to me. What a coincidence.
 5.  How do you write? Are you one of those people that park themselves in front of their laptop and hammer away until it’s done? Or do you go old-school and pen/paper it? Do you listen to music as you write? Or do you just perform some strange magic ritual and have fairies come and deliver it to you chapter by chapter?
I write wherever I can, whenever I can, mainly on a laptop. When my daughter had geometry tutoring at a coffee/tea shop that played dreadful music, I always took headphones so I could listen to iTunes while writing. In my "Dior or Die" book, I listened to the James Bond theme when I wrote a car chase scene.
Since my main character in The Law of Rule is part-Fae, I know about fairies. They look pretty, but they cause more problems than they're worth. I want them to stay the hell away from my manuscripts.
 6.  Besides Mr. Rule, do you have plans for doing other stories?
Writing's in the blood, so I will never stop. I'd like to do some non-fiction, maybe a memoir about my parents. Also, I have a personal story. I won high-profile homicide cases at 7-9 mos. pregnant and had my daughter five days after the last conviction. Got demoted by the DA, told I was lazy and was written below-standard performance. I sued him and won. That case made California Supreme Court law on the issue of retaliation in the workplace.  
Publishers/agents love that story and mob me for it, but I don't particularly want to write it and get doomed to discussing that misery forever. I might change my mind someday. Am thinking of developing it into a story for The Moth.
7.  Your Twitter info indicates you’re a Toastmaster- how did you get into that and what do you like about it?
A former law clerk told me it would be a terrific opportunity to meet people. A club was forming in the town I lived in right about then, so I figured it wasn't coincidence and joined. Although I don't have any problem talking in front of people, I needed to get away from sounding like I was sending everyone away to prison for life. I went to LA and took stand-up comedy classes so I could learn to lighten the hell up when I talk. I'm doing much better now. Toastmasters is an inexpensive way to better your public speaking skills and make friends.
 8.  It also indicates that you’re a part-time Batman. I’m fairly certain that is the best job ever. When you aren’t being Batman or writing, what are you doing?
 When I was about five years old, I demanded a Batman costume for Halloween. I patrolled my neighborhood to keep it safe. My iPhone cover is the Batman logo. People always tell me my level of morality is like Batman (I'm fairly sure Batman is an INFJ)
I'm still practicing law, primarily criminal defense. I also train speakers of all levels, from writers who need to learn to pitch or promote their books to experienced people who want to freshen up their presentations. I coach lawyers in trial skills and teach them to remember they're human. That's the hard part. I have a German Shepherd and a cat that work as my office staff.  My daughter is a senior in high school, speaks fluent Japanese and plans to go to art college in LA. She also doesn't drive yet, so I'm still a chauffeur.
9.  I know that you were formerly a prosecutor- does that mean you’ll fact-check all the law stuff (for free) for me in LEGACY since the main character, Alexander Vance aka Paragon, works for the District Attorney’s office?
Of course I'll be glad to help you out, as long as you make sure all the legalities are based on California law. If you make me learn the Canadian system, I might have to come up there and whack you with a hockey stick.