It was my pleasure to interview Allan Linder, author of “Grasspeople”, a vibrant fantasy graphic novel, both in its illustrations and its story. For the full review, click here.
Below are my questions in italics and Allan’s full, unaltered answers following.
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I am a 4th generation artist in my family and I’m very fortunate that they were always encouraging me to pursue my talents. I won my first drawing contest at age 5 and an art scholarship at 17. After that, I started working for Disney, WB, Sony, and many others as a freelance artist over the past 20 years. I primarily worked in animation character design and storyboards for film and television. Sequential art has always been in my life as a way to escape. I feel like it’s one of the few methods of visual story telling that only requires imagination, pencil and paper. You don’t need to have a big budget to develop an idea.
What do you do when you are not writing? Do you have a day job as well?
When, I’m not writing, I am drawing or painting in my studio. I’m always working on commissions from children’s book illustration to painting. I made a name for myself in Fine Art over the years, so I exhibit and sell my paintings in art galleries in New York and internationally.
Is “Grasspeople” your first graphic novel or have you published in this genre before?
Grasspeople is my second work, but it’s the first in the fantasy genre. My first graphic novel is Prisoner of the Mind, a black and white neo-noir thriller set in the near future. That book was published in both digital and print format last year.
The book’s cover is striking. Can you speak a bit to the inspiration behind it?
Thank you. The Grasspeople book cover was inspired by alchemy symbolism from the 14th century that was used to document their pseudo-scientific process. The symbolism includes the cycles of life, birth, growth; death and transformation are just parts of it. I’ve also included elements of the study of Zen and various philosophies. I wanted to execute the artwork with a very primitive look, so I used oil crayons because they have a much rougher finish to achieve this instead of other media for a really polished looking piece.
What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your book/s?
Marketing, I am just one small voice in a crowd. When I started marketing my books I had no idea what I was getting into. It seems like everyone everywhere is trying to get everyone else to listen to what they have to say. It’s a lot harder than you think to get a few true followers that like what you do, buy it and then share it with their friends. Fortunately with my fine art background marketing is in my blood. As a visual artist I have to constantly sell myself to get noticed, this is no different in publishing books, it just takes longer. My first book royalty check I received from Amazon was a whopping $2.10, which I cheerfully taped above my desk as inspiration to double that amount each week.
What do you think makes a good story for this type of book format?
That is a very good question. I am a child of the 80’s, so my stories play out in my mind like movies, which also comes from my storyboarding background. I seem to be happy creating something more fantastic than my everyday reality. I’ve always had a soft spot for science fiction and fantasy, but certainly this format lends itself to a huge range of ideas. I think it really comes down to balance between the art and the written word. When I write a story like this, I tell myself to follow the action with the art. If the action happens to be two people talking then so be it, but I try to show it in an interesting and creative way.
Why did you decide to self-publish as opposed to going the traditional publishing route?
After a pile of traditional literary rejection letters I decided to take matters into my own hands. I knew I was going to make books, I just didn’t know how until the past few years when technology and my skill set caught up.
Is there or will there be the option to order a print version of any of your books?
Yes. Digital is great, but there really is nothing like holding a printed copy of your blood, sweat and tears when you finish a book. I have an author page on Amazon where I currently sell my first graphic novel and Grasspeople soon. You can also visit my website to learn more about my work at http://www.eloquentpress.com
Are you working on any other projects right now?
I’m the kind of artist/writer that can’t sit still creatively. I always have at least 4 or 5 projects going simultaneously. The main reason for this is gestation. It takes time to really develop a story to the point of completion, and then create artwork to interweave with the written word and then finally lay it all out so that it can be printed and placed in your hand. So, with multiple projects going at once, I always have something to work on even when I’m waiting on other things. My next story is titled Quantum Enigma. This is a pure 50’s style Sci-Fi space adventure story from a unique perspective. Release date is scheduled for summer 2016.
Do you have any advice to give to aspiring writers/artists? Or a favorite motivational phrase?
Never give up! Writing a complete story is very hard, and it takes time without distractions to truly see your vision come true. Don’t get discouraged. My first graphic novel Prisoner of the Mind took me 16 years to complete, but I always went back to it until it was finished.
Many thanks to Allan Linder for taking the time to be interviewed on Amid the Imaginary!
To learn more about the author and his work, explore his website here