05 May Never Forget The 8 Deadly Words Of Storytelling
Meet the amazing author to whom I had a chat about his writing journey. As a storyteller, he expounds on the beautiful ways that make his book titled, “MARA”, stand out among others. Enjoy the author interaction between us!
Greetings to you Dylan. How’s life?
Pretty good, I’d say. My daughter is a year and eight months old now, so she’s learning to do more. I’m very proud of her.
That’s beautiful. Happy to hear that.
Tell us something about yourself
When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
I’ve been a writer for as long as I’ve been able to write. From stories about dragons and adventurers in my grade school notebooks to modern thrillers and cyberpunk stories today. Truth be told, there are probably more incomplete manuscripts scattered through notebooks than I’ll ever be able to publish. Especially since I end up with new ones all the time.
Tell us about your first published book. What was the journey like?
The first one is actually the graphic novel I’m doing now. Mara is being released weekly and will continue for quite a while yet. I started with the idea last September, and it remained bouncing around in my head until December, when I finally made the decision to release it. That’s when I started interviewing illustrators.
I reached out to a friend of mine who does design work, Louis Liao. She has a lot of contacts in the artist community, and she offered to put out a job listing for me. That day, I received about a dozen applicants. There were a lot of good artists applying, and I ended up with a shortlist of three people.
I talked at length with all of them about their storytelling methods, and hired each of them to complete a commission of the concept art for the main character, as they interpreted her. Rosi Woo’s work jumped out at me in a way the others didn’t, and at the end of the day, I could only hire one person. Sometimes you just have to go with your gut.
How long does it take you to write a book?
Each chapter takes me a couple of days to draft, including finding reference art. After that draft, I need to do some back and forth with Rosi to flesh out the visuals. Besides the actual script, there are companion documents describing different aspects of the world for her reference. This additional work can take up to a week per chapter.
A lot of work also goes into the management side. Besides writing, I also handle social media and website maintenance. Basically, anything that isn’t done by the illustrator or translators becomes my job.
What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?
I don’t schedule. For me, creativity doesn’t work that way. When I have a new idea, it’s important that I mill over it for a bit, then write it down. I can come back to it later to flesh it out more, and I’ll intuitively know when it’s time to do that.
When it comes to writing extra information, like the companion documents, those are simply done on demand. If my illustrator makes a request, that becomes my new priority. I like giving people everything they need to do their jobs.
What do you like the most about writing?
It’s the very definition of freedom. You don’t want your characters to be constrained by gravity? No one’s making you include gravity in your world. And that’s what it is – your world. You do with it as you see fit, in every way.
What were the key challenges you faced when writing this book of yours?
The big three (Marvel, D.C., and Dark Horse) almost completely dominate comic and graphic novel press. Trying to get journalists to pay attention to an indie work is exhausting. Obviously, some do, but they’re few and far between.
There’s a lot of amazing indie work out there, and I’m not just patting myself on the back. We got to do a crossover with Glyn in Monster Land, and there are plenty of others that deserve readers. Ten Earth Shattering Blows, Ava’s Demon, Ruin, Skullkickers, and honestly, the list goes on and on. Everyone should do themselves a favour and look into indie works for whatever genre they like.
Can you share with us something about the book that isn’t in the blurb?
Mara’s tribe – the Rein – takes inspiration from both Inuit and Viking culture. They used to be an arctic tribe, but after the war between gods, there is simply no place on the planet that snows anymore. The sky is constantly on fire, as the day/night cycle has been destroyed. There’s more desert now than anything else.
As a former arctic tribe, they now have one of the very few rivers left in the world. That’s the source of the conflict playing out right now with the Txiv tribe.
What do you think makes a good story?
For me, the characters have to be compelling. Never forget the eight deadly words of storytelling, “I don’t care what happens to these characters.” And to me, what makes a character compelling is actually quite simple. They need to have something exceptional about them.
Maybe they’re exceptional because of their persistence, or their genius, or even their circumstances. While being well-balanced is good for a real person’s well-being, it doesn’t make for the best storytelling. A really nice board is still flat.
Is this book of yours been made into audiobooks? If so, what are the challenges in producing an audiobook?
No audiobook yet, but it’s an interesting idea.
What message do you have for aspiring writers and authors?
Do it. Write. Even if it’s just for yourself, or a small group of friends. Write whenever you get a plot bunny stuck in your head. Write when you have time, when you’re bored, whenever. You don’t get better by not writing. You can worry about the business aspect of it when you have something you want to show the world.
All in all, glad to interact with you; but then before leaving you, kindly share something your readers wouldn’t know about you? Hehe.
Besides writing, I also paint at a 28 mm scale. Think Warhammer models, for a size reference. Or, if you’re unfamiliar, imagine that at this scale, the average adult human would be 28 mm tall. It can take days to complete a single model, and not everyone has the patience for it, but it’s a whole lot of fun.
Oh great. A time well spent with you, Dylan.
Kindly follow the author on the various platforms, as illustrated below: