Sharing Creative Space: An Interview with Marvel Editor Daniel Ketchum

Saturday, August 15th, 2015 | Posted by Derek Kunsken

ketchu 3So far in this series, I’ve interviewed Marvel Associate Editor Jake Thomas, Assistant Editor Xander Jarowey, and Assistant Editor Heather Antos about their roles in the production process and their editorial voices.

Today, I wanted to e-talk about the sharing of creative territory between writer and editor. So, I’m having an e-conversation with Marvel Editor Daniel Ketchum, who edits A-Force, Magneto, Nightcrawler, Storm, X-Force, X-Men and other books.

Daniel, in an interview you mentioned that part of your job is deciding which villain the X-Men fight in the next issue. I suppose I assumed (naively) that the writer got to decide most things. How do you divide creative decision-making roles with your writers?

Haha. Truth be told, that answer I gave is more of an easy-to-grasp oversimplification of what Marvel editors do. Four times out of five, the conversation with a writer at the outset of a story arc starts with them pitching the story they want to tell. (That other one time is when something like AXIS or SECRET WARS comes up and you just shouldn’t avoid addressing it.)

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Victor Milan Talks Planet Paradise, His Many Pen Names, and a Plastic Dinosaur with Metallic Paint on It

Friday, August 7th, 2015 | Posted by Emily Mah

DinoLordsCoverSmall 74250_126262914098950_3697860_nI had the opportunity to sit down with Victor Milan last month to discuss his current release, The Dinosaur Lords. As a member of his writers group, I’ve read the early drafts of this novel and am very excited to see it in print. George RR Martin refers to it as “Game of Thrones meets Jurassic Park,” and that’s a pretty good synopsis.

Set on the lost Earth colony of Paradise, feudal society humans live among dinosaurs of all epochs – wild dinosaurs, tame dinosaurs, and even war-mount dinosaurs. Hence the awesome knight on dino-back image that graces the cover of the book. Combine this with the sudden manifestation of a mythical angel of doom, and you’ve got the kickoff event of the story.

While Victor Milan is a well-known, prolific author, many people don’t know how prolific. On top of the dozen novels out under his own name, he’s also written many, many more under pen names. His career so far spans thirty-one years of publishing history, including the infamous midlist apocalypse of the 1980′s. Together, he and I discuss the ups and downs of the business and his journey so far.

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Call for Backers! Tales of the Lost Citadel Campaign on Kickstarter, in Conjunction with a Video Interview with C.A. Suleiman, in the DARK!

Tuesday, June 16th, 2015 | Posted by Emily Mah

Tales of the Lost Citadel-smallC A Suleiman-smallThe Kickstarter Campaign for Tales of the Lost Citadel, a trans-media anthology with C.A. Suleiman at the helm, has gone live!

So, first off, go become a backer for said campaign. And then you can come back here and watch Colin (which is what the “C” stands for) talk about it in the video interview below. Or if you want to know more about said anthology and the video on the campaign page only whets your appetite, then watch the interview below for more information (and then go back the campaign!)

C.A. Suleiman has written novels and game content for over a decade and has worked for franchises like White Wolf and Dungeons and Dragons. Nowadays, when he isn’t working on The Lost Citadel or with Mark Rein-Hagen on I Am Zombie, he makes music with his band, Toll Carom, and posts random pictures of large cats on Facebook. He sat down with me this weekend for the following interview.

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Raya Golden on Building a Career as a Hugo Nominated Illustrator, Putting Up with Demanding Author Clients, and Her Talent for Gay Pinups

Saturday, June 13th, 2015 | Posted by Emily Mah

RestlessEarthSmallBlessingSkySmallIt is cover reveal day for my two upcoming novels, Restless Earth and Blessing Sky, and so these beautiful covers are being posted all around the internet. What better excuse to interview Raya Golden, the illustrator? Raya lives here in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and has been working as a professional artist for ten years.

Recently, she and I sat down to discuss a wide range of topics (hence the interview has a detailed guide below it that tells you where to click to hear about the topics that interest you.) First we discussed how to build a career as an artist; it isn’t easy. Then we got into the particulars of different kinds of art, from her Hugo Nominated work on George RR Martin’s Meathouse Man comic, to the graphic novel she is working on now. She was kind enough to explain the process of creating a graphic novel or comic step by step.

Then there are book covers, which present a plethora of challenges. She and I talked about everything from the design basics of an effective book cover to the challenges of portraying minority cultures. During this time I also explained the milieu and setting of these novels, which are essentially fantasy steampunk westerns.

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Neil Gaiman and Kazuo Ishiguro on Sword & Sorcery

Monday, June 8th, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

Neil Gaiman in The New Republic-small

The New Republic has posted a lengthy conversation on fantasy, titled Breaking the Boundaries Between Fantasy and Literary Fiction, between Neil Gaiman (The Graveyard Book, American Gods) and Kazuo Ishiguro (The Remains of the Day, The Buried Giant). Among other fascinating topics, the two discuss sword & sorcery, and the different cultural approaches to swordfights.

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Paolo Bacigalupi on Black Swans, Crashing a Drought Conference, and Being in a Weird Place

Wednesday, May 27th, 2015 | Posted by Emily Mah

headshotTheWaterKnife-PaoloBacigalupi-201x300Paolo Bacigalupi’s first novel, The Windup Girl, was named one of Time magazine’s top ten novels of the year, and yet he still talks to people like me, which makes him either very strange or very cool (probably a little of both.)

On May 25th his latest, The Water Knife, will be out, and this near future science fiction novel is set in a mega-drought-stricken, American southwest. The story explores issues of water rights, climate change, and the gratuitous destruction of the state of Texas, all of which we discuss in the interview.

He also takes the time to talk about his long and winding path towards a writing career. Anyone who’s ever reached the point of despair (in other words, all aspiring writers) will want to give this a listen.

After getting off Skype with me, he had another interview with NPR. So, without further ado: Paolo Bacigalupi’s warmup interview on the day he spoke to NPR.

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Editing Indie Comics and Editing Marvel Comics: The Different Worlds of Heather Antos

Saturday, May 23rd, 2015 | Posted by Derek Kunsken

Star_Wars_Princess_Leia_Vol_1_3_TextlessI’ve had a chance to e-chat with Marvel Comics editorial staff Xander Jarowey and Jake Thomas, as well as the indie comic creators from Mirror Comics. Now, I’m e-sitting down with Heather Antos, a newly-minted Assistant Editor at Marvel who also spent a year editing indie comics.

Heather got noticed by Marvel with her biggest indie credit, a comic anthology called Unlawful Good: An Anthology of Crime, which mixed together the innovations of creator-owned, anthology format, and Kickstarter crowd-funding. Crowd-funding takes a lot of work; check out its completed Kickstarter page and youtube promo video.

Kickstarter in prose as well as in comics is still relatively new as a business model, so New York Comic Con invited her to speak on a panel, which led to her hiring as assistant editor on Night of the Living Deadpool, Star Wars, Darth Vader, Deadpool and others.


So, some of your indie editor work still hasn’t come out yet. Are you able to talk about any of those works? Can you talk about Unlawful Good and how that was different for the industry?

Sure! My time in the industry as an editor is actually quite short. It was a little over a year ago that I began freelance editing. In fact, the whole point of UNLAWFUL GOOD was a bit of an experiment with myself to see even if comic editing was something I was capable of (I was a recent college grad trying to find ‘my place in the world’).

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Professor Patrice Caldwell on Exploding Cows, Peanut Buster Parfaits, and Why Grand Masters Flock to Portales, New Mexico

Saturday, May 16th, 2015 | Posted by Emily Mah

JackW1photo patrice 600The Jack Williamson Lectureship is a little known, hidden gem of science fiction. Taking place every April in Portales, New Mexico, it always attracts an impressive list of authors, who gather in an unnaturally high concentration in places such as the local Dairy Queen.

I’ve attended the Lectureship for over a decade, so I remember the days when Jack was alive and we held events in his house. He was a brilliant, unassuming man who was one of the founding fathers of science fiction. Words such as “psionics,” “terraform,” and “genetic engineering” had their first appearance in his fiction, and he also coined concepts such as The Prime Directive and androids. He was the second ever SFWA Grand Master and holds the record for publishing stories in more consecutive decades than any other author (nine decades in total!)

This year I sat down with Professor Patrice Caldwell (far right in the picture above, next to Connie Willis and Betty Williamson, Jack’s niece). Patrice coordinates the Lectureship every year, and we took a moment to discuss Jack’s legacy, and this annual event that honors him. If you’ve never heard of the Jack Williamson Lectureship, listen up! It’s an event you won’t want to miss.

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Read An Interview With Author Christopher Moore, Windycon 42 Guest of Honor

Sunday, April 26th, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

Christopher Moore-smallMy Guest-of-Honor interview with Christopher Moore, author of Bloodsucking Fiends, Coyote Blue, and many other fine fantasy novels, has just been posted. Here’s a sample.

So, did you became a full-time writer with your very first novel? Because, damn.

I did. Disney bought the film rights to Practical Demonkeeping before the book rights ever sold and that gave me enough money to quit my job as a waiter and go to writing full time. Although I didn’t get paid for six months and I ended up kiting credit cards and eating grilled ham and cheese sandwiches on credit at my friend’s diner… I wrote my first three books in his diner.

I’m interested in what you felt you were writing. What genre, I mean. I frequently hear you described as a “comic fantasy” writer. Did you set out to be a fantasy writer?

I didn’t really think about genre. I knew what I was doing would be “between genres.” I had read an essay by Kirby McCauley, who was, I think, Stephen King and George R.R. Martin’s agent at the time, that said, “any genre can be combined with horror except for whimsy. Whimsy and horror just won’t work.”

Something like that. So I decided, “Hey, I think I’ll write a whimsical horror novel.”

Read the complete interview at the Windycon 42 blog.


Susan Kaye Quinn on Mind Control, Cashing Out Souls, and Publishing Your Own Way

Sunday, March 29th, 2015 | Posted by Emily Mah

The Legacy Human-smallSusan Kaye Quinn is an author and a rocket scientist who hails from the Chicago area. It’s hard to say what she’s best known for. Her YA science fiction Mindjack trilogy, noir science fiction Debt Collector serial, South Asian steampunk Dharian Affairs trilogy, and middle grade fantasy Faerie Swap have all been well received.

Her most recent release is dystopian cyberpunk The Legacy Human, which is the first book of her Singularity series. A member of the Indelibles (one of the first indie author groups to take off, back in the day) and the Emblazoners (an equally pioneering middle grade indie author group), she is also the author of The Indie Author’s Guide.

Now, this interview is a little out of sync with reality. I conducted it in September 2013, and then hit some technical difficulties, and then got buried by my startup business, so I apologize that the projects she’s talking about are now all published (but that means you don’t have to wait to read any of them.)

I have the privilege of sharing a German translator with Susan, and we both started our indie careers at around the same time (I’m E.M. Tippetts in indie world, a chick-lit writer). Together we’ve seen indie publishing evolve from an unheard of option with a strong stigma, to what it is today, providing both her and me a living. I’m just lucky.

She, on the other hand, is good, so I strongly recommend you hear what she has to say!

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