The Furious Gazelle

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Eoin Colfer in conversation with Charles Soule in NYC

Eoin Colfer, author of the bestselling children’s series Artemis Fowl, is back with a new book for adults, Highfire. Last Friday, January 31st, he launched the American leg of the Highfire tour with a can’t-miss event at the Strand’s Rare Book Room.

Colfer spoke along with Charles Soule, author of comics including Star Wars and Daredevil. Both authors had a lot to say on everything from their personal writing processes to dealing with crazed fandoms and more.

How did Highfire come to be? In the book, a boy meets a dragon hidden in a New Orleans swamp, weirdness and humor ensue. Why a boy and why a dragon? When he first set out to write, the book was going to be about a boy that befriends a misanthropic old man who lives alone. After writing a chunk, Colfer realized it was similar to other ideas that had already been done better (his words, not ours). “But what if the old man was a dragon?”

He originally conceived the book as a children’s novel, but then “one day the dragon began to swear and was having a martini for breakfast” and Colfer realized it might be more appropriate for adults.

When Colfer realized the old man was going to be turned into a mythical creature, he set out to choose the right one to fit the story. Why a dragon? “My brain subconsciously had the answers and turned this character into a dragon,” said Colfer. “Also dragons are iconic as far as mythical creatures go.”

If you love reading about Vern and Squib in Highfire, you can look forward to a potential sequel. Colfer has another book planned, “if there’s an appetite for it.”

They also discussed the upcoming Artemis movie, which is finally set to be released this May after years in pre-production (plans for the movie were originally announced in 2001). Apparently, some of the delay came from a struggle to find the right creative team. In an early production meeting, they went around the table and everyone agreed to keep the film set in the iconic Fowl Manor in Dublin, Ireland – until the director asked, “But could it be set in outer space?”

 

Colfer and Soule also took questions from the audience. Here are selected tidbits from the Q&A:

 

  • On advice for new authors, Soule said to, “start small, hone your talent.” “Don’t start by writing a 75-page masterpiece of a comic, don’t start with a novel, write short work, even a page and work out who you are as a writer. Soule added that it’s important to practice finishing work that you start. “No one is going to buy half a novel.”
  • Per Soule, when you have a lot of projects with urgent deadlines, “you make it happen because you’re blessed that it’s happening.” Being an artist or writer is fun, but a lot of the time it’s just the same as having a job – you have to schedule your time, come up with a system, and get things done.
  • Airman is Colfer’s favorite standalone novel that he’s written, as he says it’s a classic old adventure story.
  • Fans are crazy: there’s a chance they’ll all turn on you for even minor things. People feel ownership of things that they love.
  • One of Colfer’s biggest writing regrets is a Doctor Who short story he wrote as a bit of a joke without ever having seen the series – he feels like he let fans down by not putting in the research to get the characters right. As a friend told him, he had “written a great Star Trek episode”
  • Eoin Colfer puts little jokes into his works for kids “for all the dads” he imagines reading the book to their children. He named one of the dwarfs in Artemis Fowl Kolin Ozkopy so that when read aloud, the dads would be surprised into saying “colonoscopy.” When asked why he was laughing, one dad told his kid, “There’s nothing funny about Kolin Ozkopy.”
  • Colfer puts an orange key ring on his office door so his family knows not to disturb him when he’s writing. “I’m either writing or having a nap, no one knows.”

  

To see the Strand’s other upcoming events go here

Highfire by Eoin Colfer is out now from Harper Collins. Click here to buy Highfire.

Announcing the finalists and winner of our 2019 Spring Writing Contest

Thanks so much to everyone who submitted to our 2019 Spring Writing Contest. This year’s theme was fury. We received hundreds of submissions, and it was a hard choice, but after careful consideration we’re thrilled to announce this year’s winner:

“Incensed” by Alison Theresa Gibson

Congratulations, Alison! She will be receiving $50. We’ll also be publishing a special print edition with her story and all of this year’s finalists:

FINALIST: “I Didn’t Cry At Her Funeral” and “Instead” by Rachel Nix

FINALIST: “Butcher” by Courtney LeBlanc

FINALIST: “School Bus” by Sara Backer

Bringing Moliere to Brooklyn

Moliere in the Park
Prospect Park is “Brooklyn’s beating heart,” according to Lucie Tiberghien. This year, she and her co-producer Garth Belcon brought a staged reading of Moliere’s play The Misanthrope to the Le Frak Center. She says that “just like Shakespeare has a home in Central Park, I thought Molière (who, if he were alive today, would most
certainly live in Brooklyn!) should have a permanent home in Prospect Park.”

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Q&A With Bill Posley on his new show “The Day I Became Black”

As a child, Bill Posley thought of himself as both white and black. However, he was told repeatedly that his biracial identity was invalid, such as when his teacher told him he couldn’t check both the “black” and “white” bubbles for race on a standardized test; he had to fill in just the black one.

Posley, who currently writes for CBS sitcom The Neighborhood, is a multifaceted performer with a gift for delivering serious messages wrapped in comedy. He tackles his quest to understand his own identity in his new one-man play, The Day I Became Black. When you’re biracial, he says, “you find yourself battling to maintain an identity that makes sense to you but the world is kind of forcing their identity on you.”

We spoke to him about his new play, his writing process, and how radical empathy can change the world.

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Theresa Rebeck’s Put in Her 10,000 Hours and She’s Ready to Take on the World

On Friday, February 8th, the NY Indie Theater Festival kicked off its third season with a screening of Theresa Rebeck’s Poor Behavior. Continue reading

Amanda Quaid’s New Film “Toys” Brings Life to Poetry

amanda quaid toys

Amanda Quaid’s new film, Toys, packs a powerful punch in just two minutes. Based on a poem by stage and screen actress Peggy Pope, it tells the story of a father who uses gendered toys to mold his daughter into something she’s not, and a girl who resists.

An actress and playwright herself, Quaid stepped outside of her comfort zone in directing this film. She’d never done any kind of animation before – this was her first foray into the world of stop motion. “There’s real freedom and curiosity that can come from just being a beginner at something and seeing it through and not making it a livelihood or not making it my main focus. … I’ve been really fixed my whole life on what I was pursuing.”

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Q&A with David F. Walker, author of the Life of Frederick Douglass

the life of frederick douglass coverWhat does Luke Cage have in common with Frederick Douglass?

Answer: more than you might expect. At New York Comic Con in October, David F. Walker discussed the parallels between black heroes from fiction and real life, and the importance of both. “I wouldn’t be up here on stage talking to you if it wasn’t for the fictional heroes [like Luke Cage] and the historical figures like Frederick Douglass and Harriet Tubman.”

For the past few years, Walker has been bringing humanity back into black superheroes, such as giving Cyborg back some of his body. Recently, he turned his hand towards a hero from history, penning The Life of Frederick Douglass, a graphic novel designed to give an overview of Douglass’s life to young readers, or anyone who’d like to know more about history. It will be released January 8th from Ten Speed Press.

We spoke to David F. Walker about #BlackLivesMatter, the history of racism, and the importance of black representation.

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Holiday Gifts For Book Lovers 2018

It’s that time of year again. As book lovers, we believe that a book is always the perfect present. Whoever you’re looking for, there’s something on this list for them. We aimed for more obscure or lesser-known titles, as well as our favorite new releases from 2018. If you pick a book from this list, the odds are pretty good they don’t already have it – either because it just came out so they haven’t gotten a chance, or because it’s not on their radar.

Did you, like us, forget that Hanukkah starts December 2 this year? Most of the books on our list are available online with one- to two-day shipping – so no matter what holiday you celebrate, there’s a perfect last-minute gift for you in here somewhere. (You can also check out our picks from last year.)

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Q&A with cartoonist Gisele Lagace

Gisele LagaceGisele Lagace got her start in webcomics in the early 2000s, with Cool Cat Studio. Since then, she’s gone on to create a wide range of webcomics, including Menage a 3, a Three’s Company-esque adult romantic comedy, and Eerie Cuties, about a school for magical teens.

In addition to managing her own ring of webcomic titles, more recently, she’s also left her mark on cartoon characters straight out of your childhood. She drew several issues of Betty Boop and Jem and the Holograms, as well as reimagining the cast of Archie gender swapped.

Issue 1 of her newest title, Exorsisters (script by Ian Boothby), will be released tomorrow by Image Comics. (You can read a sneak peak online).

 

Q: You’ve collaborated quite closely, as a writer, with David Lumsdon and T. Campbell over the years. What do you like about working collaboratively?

I like that it sometimes takes me out of my comfort zone artistically. It’s also nice to be able to rely on another brain to solve a story problem.

Q: Anything you dislike about collaboration?

I guess I dislike it for the same things I like it for. At times, I can be sent outside my comfort zone a little too much, and too many cooks is also an issue sometimes with writing stuff collaboratively.

Q: David Lumsdon has his own titles now that grew out of Ma3, which you created. What’s it like having someone else working solo in a universe you built? Was it hard to let go of creative control?

I don’t have a problem with that. It also helps that I use T Campbell as editor on all properties, so I’m confident he’ll make sure everything works together. Maybe I put too much trust in people at times, but it’s generally the way I roll. Continue reading

New York Comic Con 2018 Roundup

New York Comic Con is one of the biggest events for people who love comics, books, and the people who make them. Fans come from all over to meet the writers, artists, and actors who bring their favorite stories to life. We recapped some of our favorite moments from this year’s Comic Con.

Thursday

From Page to Screen: Owning Your Own Intellectual Property

Left to right: Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti

On Thursday, Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti offered up practical information for creators, from creators who have been in business for years. The duo were tapped to create what is now DC’s wildly successful Harley Quinn comic; they also founded the multimedia entertainment company PaperFilms. Palmiotti offered up his life experience on having his work brought to live action.

The Gist:

“Hang on to your intellectual property, the only power you have in this life is to say no.”

“For protecting your intellectual property the keyword is: tangible.”

On film deals: “Always ask for back end but don’t expect it. You should always try to get as much money as you can upfront, and also executive producer; they give those away like candy.”

Hold out for the best deal possible, don’t feel compelled to say yes. If you’re worried about protecting that property, another key piece of advice was, before shopping or sharing your work, make sure to have something tangible. What they mean by that is to create a website with your character/description of your work on it. Something with a date, a digital paper trail that leads back to your distinct idea, will go a long way in protecting your work.

Both creators agree that you should know how to pick your battles: when a large corporation threatened a lawsuit over the name of Palmiotti’s comic Random Acts of Violence (formerly called splatter man) Palmiotti changed the name shortly before going to press. This is also a good lesson in not getting too attached to your work; it’s always a good idea to be flexible they said.

Their other shared piece of advice was to “be nice, it comes back in spades.” Both agreed that having favors to call in whether it was getting help in making deals or raising funds for their indie film projects it’s worth it to build connections and have friends that will want to help you.

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