A few days ago, I reviewed a great new graphic novel for middle-graders called CALAMITY JACK. I am so excited that one of the authors of CALAMITY JACK -- the awesome Shannon Hale -- agreed to answer a few of my questions.
I think Ms. Hale's personality just shines through in her answers to my questions. I think you'll agree!
Booking Mama: You are the author of some wonderful novels, how did you decide to write a graphic novel?
Shannon Hale: Thanks, Bookingmama! There are so many answers to that. One is that I get bored easily, and I won’t keep writing if I can’t find new ways to challenge myself. But I also wanted to collaborate with my husband, who is a comics geek, and I just love the format. I read graphic novels, and I’ve seen how they can turn a reluctant reader into a voracious reader. It’s pure magic.
Booking Mama: How is it different writing a graphic novel than a traditional novel?
Shannon Hale: Very different. I can’t rely on my narrator, can’t employ the same kind of language. I have to be so brief. It’s like writing a screenplay--we write the dialog then describe the action for the artist to illustrate.
Booking Mama: You partnered with your husband, Dean, on CALAMITY JACK. What kind of challenges (if any) did you face writing a book with someone else, and what did you learn about your husband while working together?
Shannon Hale: Collaboration always takes more time! And you have to come to compromises. It helped when we established that I was in charge (come on, as if we really needed to say it aloud) and he was my employee, so to speak. I may be head-over-heels for this guy, but that doesn’t mean I won’t freely delete what he’s written. And the same for him too.
Booking Mama: For CALAMITY JACK, you also had to collaborate with the artist -- Nathan Hale. How does the entire writing process work? Is there any back and forth exchange, or do you write the text first and then the author draws the pictures?
Shannon Hale: We finish the script completely before Nathan starts to work. The art is WAY too much work to change script on him. When figuring out characters, he’d send us sketches and such. It was fun to get emails of illustrations! Like Christmas in my inbox. The process is long. Dean and I finished the script 2 ½ years before the book came out.
Booking Mama: CALAMITY JACK is the 2nd graphic novel that you have worked on -- the first being RAPUNZEL'S REVENGE. Are there future graphic novels in the works?
Shannon Hale: We’d love to do a third in the series. Dean and I have an idea we love, but honestly, we have to see how Calamity Jack does first. It’s way too time-intensive on Nate to validate unless the income is worth his time. Many people might not realize that authors and illustrators get a very small percentage on the sale of each book, and even smaller when it’s split two ways.
Booking Mama: What is next for you as far as novels go? What are you working on right now?
Shannon Hale: I’ve got a first draft of a new YA scifi trilogy (awesome girl action!), and I’m working hard on a couple Super Secret Projects that I can’t reveal yet. Ooh, does that make me sound mysterious….alluring even?
A huge thanks to Ms. Hale for taking time from her crazy schedule to answer a few of my questions!