Describe your creative process: schedule, materials, environment, and inspiration (including African folktales).
Well, I don’t have a general schedule for when I’m writing. Although I should give myself one; it may be more productive. But for the most part, I’d write in my notebook: ideas, scenes, dialogue, or whatever, whenever I’m on a bus or train. Over time, I’d fill a majority of what I want to put down on the computer. Or I’d write the general story beats and then find time to sit in front of the computer and go to town writing. I try my best to write a little something every day. If I haven’t written, my mind is probably developing some sort of idea and churning to make sense of it and figuring out the time line and so on. Before typing the final script, I also tend to write all the scenes out of order. It keeps me from being bored and helps me figure out the pacing and structure of the story. I usually write three drafts before I’m satisfied to send to the artist. Before that third draft, I’ve probably sent it to some people whose opinions I trust to let them read and critique and give me thoughts and feedback. Depending on certain critiques, and if they fit my narrative or strengthen my themes, I’d fine tune accordingly into that final or third draft—or fourth.
Walk me through the publishing process from final draft to final product and talk about your marketing strategies.
Well, after I finish a couple of drafts of the script, I send it to the artist. He or she begins to lay out the art, usually with thumbnails, and we go over it together, which is followed by my approval or any changes. From there, the artist would pencil and ink the script, and there are a few occasions where this process leads to another draft of the script. Sometimes the artist and I would shoot some ideas back and forth to make a scene stronger or visually more appealing. Then I’d make an edit of a new draft, which I would have ready for the letterer. After the pencil and line work are done, we move to the colorist, and after that the letterer, who will put the dialogue and sound effects into the pages. The production designer, who is usually the letterer, will begin to finalize the pages to prepare it for print. We send to the printers and they start to proof, and soon enough receive my approval to print. After a few weeks, or a month or two, depending on where it was printed, I get a final product in my hands ready to sell.
In terms of marketing, I sell a lot at conventions and online. I have a pretty strong Facebook presence that allows a lot of interactions and fan base building. My fans and supporters are great people and can sometimes go above and beyond to help me financially by buying and sharing my work. Kickstarter also helps me with marketing, pushing to another and usually wider audience. I try to do at least two conventions or events a month to push the product. Some cons are more profitable than others, but as long as I got a good bit of new readers, I’m usually happy. I also get messages from retailers, schools, and sometimes libraries for copies.
Tell me about your support system online and IRL; who are your biggest cheerleaders?
Well, as stated above, I have a lot of great supporters online, many of them from Facebook and Kickstarter. In real life, I have a good couple of friends who are always down to support my dream, especially having watched me develop my craft since I was a kid to now. My partner is also very supportive. My family also pushes and support as much as they can, especially if things aren’t going too well for me financially, even though most of them don’t really read my work—haha. But my parents get super hyped when the see me on TV, see a feature on me, or when I win awards. They’ve always encouraged and pushed me with my writing, so they’re happy seeing the success of my books thus far.
How does your art / work influence your life and vice versa? Here you can share about your journey of bringing your creative endeavor to fruition.
Well, my work is my life for the most part. There’s not a day that passes where I’m not thinking about my work. I would be miserable if I didn’t have my writing and my books as my outlet. In just a few short years I’ve achieved a lot, met wonderful people, and have gotten wonderful opportunities. And with each new release, I gather more of a following and come closer to financial stability. I teach on the side and do other odd and side gigs. I’d love to get to the point where I can just live off my work, do shows, and not do anything else. That may take some time, but I’m glad my work is a part of my life, and seeing it grow and prosper has helped me a lot, especially with my own mental health.
What do you love most about your creativity?
I love the fact that people take to my work. I’ve always felt like an oddball growing up and books were always a source of escape for me. I felt at peace with books. So the fact that I now have my own work and people are finding it as a form of escape is one thing I love most. I love that I’m writing what I want and that I’m trying to showcase types of people I feel aren’t always showcased or represented the way I feel they should and people, other oddballs like myself, take to it, support, and ask for more.
I am also very grateful of how my mind works. I do hear that many people have trouble writing or coming up with ideas or being inspired. My head continues to be a well of sorts and I can’t turn it off. I always have something churning and I love problem solving my ideas in my head to make them work. I have a lot of fun with that. So whoever blessed me with that, thank you.
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