Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Interview with Cecil Castellucci

1. What's the biggest difference between writing a novel and writing a graphic novel?
The basic parts are the same.  After all, a story is a story, so the coming up with an idea part of writing them is the same.  But there is this economy to how you tell the story because there are the images that are such a huge part of the telling.  And there is the fact that there is an amazing possibility for moments of silence.  That is different.  Words here are not the star.  Narrative is.  And I don't draw the book,  I work with an artist.  The collaboration with the artist is key.  And I must say it's nice to have someone else who cares as much about the characters and the way the story is being told as you do.  Writing a novel gets lonely. 
I never though about the moment of silence point. It is really interesting how much emotion can be portrayed with a look instead of a page.

2. What was the process like for the graphic novel? Pictures first? Story first?  
I write the script first.  With the Plain Janes I did a page and panel breakdown.  Then Jim Rugg, the artist, and Shelly Bond, the editor, and I would talk about the script.  Jim and Shelly would make suggestions.  Like Jim would ask if he could open up a scene to be a few more pages or condense panels to tell a scene in fewer pages.  Then he'd thumbnail the pages, which basically means that he'd sort of do quick sketches of what the pages would look like.  We'd take a look at that and then he'd pencil, ink and tone.  And then, when I'd get the inks back, I'd actually adjust the text.  Removing captions or balloons because suddenly words were no longer needed.  I really find that in the scripting, I tend to over write, and I think that's fine because I'm just trying to pack in all the emotional information that's needed.  But then, when you get the images back, it's all there and you can be brave enough to trust the images to do their work by removing the words. That's the beauty of a comic book.  You can trust that the story is being told.  I remember once, someone asked me if I felt that the story was no longer mine the less words there were.  On the contrary!  The bones of the story I wrote is still there. And it's just a glorious blend of art and words that flesh the whole thing out.  

3. Which Jane do you relate the most to?
In The Plain Janes I related more to Main Jane.  Because she is an instigator.  But in Janes in Love I really fell in love with Theater Jane.  She's so sassy and wears her heart on her sleeve.  She breaks my heart in that book.  We never got to finish book three, Janes Go Summer, but I can say with authority that Brain Jane was my fave in that one.   
I hope that maybe someday Janes Go Summer might grace our shelves!

4. Have you done any fun Art in Neighborhood things? 
I've participated in art pieces. I secretly want to be conceptual artist.   And in fact, I'm in the process of doing my first big conceptual art piece called The Literary Diaspora. ( ) It's a mail based art project involving words, art and authors.   It's been totally fun and I'm sure to do more art in the future.  

5. Tell us a little bit about your upcoming novel, First Day on Earth.  
First Day on Earth is just coming out in two weeks!  It's about a boy named Mal who believes that he has been abducted by aliens.  He starts going to an alien abduction support group where he meets a man named Hooper, who may or may not be a traveller from the stars.   I am excited about the book because it's my first book with a boy as the main character.  It's also my first  (maybe it is, maybe it isn't ) science fiction novel.    
Can't wait for this!

6. What's one book you've read recently that you can't stop recommending?  
Stories for Nighttime and Some for the Day by Ben Loory. It's this beautiful short story collection of  hopeful, sad, beautiful, fragile fables  about sea creatures, aliens, space ships, animals and human beings dealing with the fantastical and the every day.  I would have loved it as a teenager as much as I love it now.  
 I will have to check this out soon.  

7. Anything else you'd like to share?  
I have a mini comic story in the anthology Dear Bully, which is drawn by my Mom!  And in May 2012, I've got a new half prose/ half graphic novel coming out.  It's called The Year of the Beasts and it's drawn by the amazing Nate Powell.  (You should also check out his new book Any Empire)  my web site is

Don't forget I'm giving away a copy of The Plain Janes right here!
Also you can see my thoughts on The Plain Janes and Janes in Love here.

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