I’m pleased to welcome fellow GLAWS (Greater Los Angeles Writer’s Society) member, D.H. Brooks to No Wasted Ink. A fellow fan of fantasy, comic books and vintage science fiction, Daria is a woman of many talents and I’m sure you will find her story as interesting as I did.
When and why did you begin writing?
I took a few creative writing courses at university but did not begin to write fantasy tales until the late 1990s when I built a fan-fiction following online. Being a big fan of the comic book heroes ‘Gambit’ (Marvel Comics) and ‘Tempest’ (DC Comics) gave me rich background material to work with, plus I wrote Thunderbirds adventures as well.
Can you share a little about your current book with us?
A Legacy Of The Pacific is the tale of three teens, raised separately, who come together upon the revelation that they are heirs to a kingdom in the Pacific Ocean near Southern California. As the story unfolds, distrust and sibling rivalry turn to mutual respect and understanding. They learn to work together to save their home-waters and our coastline.
What inspired you to write this book?
Our family spent many idyllic Sundays at Point Fermin in San Pedro, which taught me to love the beauty of the ocean. However, I also recall the cola colored water at Cabrillo Beach and terrible pollution and litter in Santa Monica Bay. My novel was inspired by a desire to end public apathy to these dangers.
How did you come up with the title of this book?
It was the title of a one-off comic book I created in 1993. The title indicates one particular tale of the Cote D’Or family, but there could be other ‘legacies’ to explore later on.
What is the significance of the dolls that you hold in your headshot? Did you make them yourself?
I created the dolls using the Madame Alexander Workshop through the FAO Schwarz toy store; they allow for various shades of skin, eyes and wigs of numerous styles. The dolls were inspired by the trio of siblings in the tale. I’ve been an avid doll-maker for many years, so it was an enjoyable task to create the clothing and to style their hair. Of course, in the novel the kids are teens, not little children, but doll fans love the little guys. What was truly important about this exercise was that all the while I was writing my novel, I was also thinking ahead to the promotion and marketing of this tale. Part of such a project includes coming up with items that readers (and a future movie audience) would connect with and wish to collect, so I explored various elements within the novel which would fit. The Sagara dragons, the glowing swords, the Victorian bubble wand and Pincin’s sea animal friends, Bubble and Squeak, were the obvious choices for tie-in toys and a video game, plus the inevitable princess dolls for Lile and Ciona and action figures all around. I’m looking forward to working with designers on all of the above. Novelists have to envision the “whole package” these days, not just print media.
Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
I am hoping that readers are inspired to follow safe litter discarding practices in their daily lives and to donate toward protecting our coastline and the marine animals that call our shores home, particularly cetaceans and sea otters. We are killing them by the thousands with discarded fishing nets and cat litter being flushed out to sea. On the human side, I also want readers to understand the value of working together to achieve our common goals. People bicker too often about petty things, ignoring what we have in common.
If you had to choose, is there a writer who you consider a mentor?
Not a mentor but more of an inspiration: Clarence Day, Jr. I’ve long enjoyed the way he managed to convey life within his delightful, prestigious family so that it is still hilariously clever nearly 150 years later.
Who designed the cover of your book? Why did you select this illustrator?
A little lady named Daria Brooks translates what I see in my head to the sketch pad. I illustrated the book because I knew exactly how best to express the look and feel of the characters.
Is your novel illustrated or did you only design the book cover? How many illustrations would you recommend to other authors that are considering illustrating their novels?
A Legacy Of The Pacific was created with four full-color illustrations, and the Kindle e-book version includes them. (The book will soon be available for iBook and Nook within a few weeks). The artwork depicts each of the siblings, with the fourth one being a portrait of Princess Ciona and her beau, the romantic Asterus The Messenger. My publisher, being decidedly small press, was concerned about the ratio of the cover cost for a debut novel vs. the price of printing with full-color illustrations. As a test, we created a short run of full-color prints at a low cover price, which happily sold out almost immediately. (Even I don’t have one)! All print copies available via Barnes And Noble and Amazon.com right now are without the illustrations, sorry to say, as I did not want to raise the cover price. There are plans for later this year to release a second edition of the illustrated version, as I’ve had numerous requests for a copy.
As for my process as an illustrator, I always pencil sketch my ideas first, then transfer the line art to Photoshop where I work with various color palettes and tools to achieve whatever vision I’ve dreamed up. Since I am constantly learning to use various options and filters within the program, each piece of artwork features a unique style. When I read novels as a kid, I enjoyed the inclusion of illustrations, particularly in classic novels which often included beautifully etched, dramatic frontispieces. I’m a very visual reader, so I always used my own imagination to decide what this or that character looked like, judging by the descriptions given, but illustrations were always welcome. My suggestion to authors who write in the fantasy or science fiction genre would be to include between two to four pieces of art, if they deem it worthwhile to their project. Grayscale or line art is a great alternative to costly color art. Often, the difficult part is trying to describe your vision to an illustrator, if you are not an artist, since only the writer really knows what the characters should look like. Luckily, I started out as an artist who worked my way into writing; now I enjoy creating both print art and the printed word.
Do you have any advice for other writers?
Be very careful and patient when seeking a publisher. I picked what I thought was a reputable small press publisher and lived to regret it. Join a writers’ association which matches your chosen genre and get as much legal information as you can. It pays off down the line.
Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
Thanks to all who have taken an interest in my young heroes and have sent e-mails or otherwise contacted me to say how much they have enjoyed my novel. I appreciate all of the feedback I have received and look forward to working on the sequel for their further enjoyment.
Nothing pleases me more as a writer than to find the exact word that fits the mood or tempo of a sentence. I enjoy playing characters against each other in verbal sparring matches; if their banter makes me laugh, I know it will do the same for my audience.
Novel: A Legacy Of The Pacific
Published by Cedar Grove Books
Written and Illustrated by D H Brooks.