Your novels always have in depth characters and twisting plots. What is your writing process like before and during the process?
Thanks for mentioning that. I work hard to make my characters interesting. I think the most important detail is to create characters that are flawed. Start off with their flaws and build up to the traits that make them likeable and then move slowly, for some, to things that are redeeming.
My characters are meant to seem like everyday people. I do not like to paint them as black or white, I like to use the hundreds of shades of grey in-between. That, in my opinion, makes them more believable and fascinating.
Have you ever thought about exploring different mediums to tell your stories; ex. comics, games, etc.?
This year, I translated one of my novels into comic book script format and submitted it to IDW Comics. I then sent AND even hand-delivered those scripts and copies of my novels to them. I am waiting to hear back. I should be meeting with a representative of the company in the new year.
I am very much a fan of comic and anime. I would love to write for them. While it would be amazing to do so with my own properties, I would also like a shot at writing something like G.I. Joe or something else from the 80’s.
The way I write is imagining my story as a movie. So, my goal would be to have one of my novels or series to become a movie or TV series. With Netflix and Amazon picking up so many books these days, I need to get my works into their hands. If you are reading this Netflix, give me a call. 😊
Writers often find inspiration everywhere and in everything they do. Do you find yourself often looking at the world through the lens of a writer?
Well… I will point out weak writing in a TV show or movie I am watching, but for the most part I separate my two worlds now.
That being said, I do look at the world and see things as a visual artist. Which might be why people often compliment my writing as being so vivid. I spent so many years in art school struggling to force what I saw in my head onto paper in pencil, charcoal, paint, etc…. Over time, I realized I could take those imagines in my head and translate them to words. It was the only way I was able to truly creatively express myself. And it turned out to be much easier.
Since I am both an artist and an author, I do wish to experience life, but my inspiration comes from surrounding myself with the things I love and bring me happiness. Sometimes it just takes watching a good episode of one of my favorite shows to get me fired up.
What novel are you working on right now and when will it be available?
Good question. I finished the Water Kingdom Series and its final book is just being prepped for release. It should be out in late January 2019. It is called THREE BURNING RED RUNAWAY BRIDES.
Then, I will start editing book three in the four book SOUL BORN Series. It is written but needs work. It was originally 180,0000 words long, so I had to break it into two books.
Lastly, I will get back to working on the follow-up to THE LIFEBLOOD OF ILL-FATED WOMEN. Hopefully have that released in early 2020.
All Opal wanted was to be respected as a wielder of magic, but her teachers passed her over time and time again. When a mysterious warlord embarks on a conquest to destroy the lands of Illyia, Opal seizes the opportunity to step out from the shadows of her instructors and take her rightful place among them. Tala, an alluring young elf, was banished from her tribe, hunted and nearly killed by the beasts of the deep forests, but more than anything else she is a survivor. Joining forces with an ancient elemental power, Tala finds herself in the center of an unrelenting human war. Flesh like leather and bone as strong as steel, Karn, a veteran from the first kingdom to fall, is fueled by vengeance. While pushing headlong into battle Karn begins recalling memories of another life: ghosts that haunt his dreams. Through death of soul, their new world is born.
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Enter into a version of the world where humanity has been divided into Normals and Super-Normals: denizens of the planet with altered DNA that give them supernatural powers. In this fifth installment in the Dark Spore series, Braxton A. Cosby takes the world he has developed in previous novels and expands on it further. The Cape: Overdrive revolves around Sebastian, millionaire nerd-boy, Karla, his speedy girlfriend, Lydia his cousin and a few other characters. This is a perfect young adult novel with just the right amount of action, suspense and personal drama. Watching as our friends move towards peace while pulling in other members of the Super-Normal line to help shows that even those with the most questionable backgrounds and personalities do better as friend, and not foe.
Cosby has clearly honed his craft over five installments. He is very good at world building without flooding his audience with potentially redundant information. It’s clear that he knows there will be readers who come into a series part-way through and won’t have the background information that dedicated followers might have. Cosby makes sure that he shares the stories he wants to tell in such a way that newcomers can pick up an installment and dive right in without feeling lost. That can be tough to do, but the beauty of writing a book with superheroes that resemble the ensembles of comic book heroes of the now, means that readers will expect to be missing some of the story when they pick up a random volume. That doesn’t mean the story is any less engaging and interesting: it just means that Cosby knows his audience and knows how to hook readers, no matter where in his world they enter from.
This book is a young adult novel, but that doesn’t mean that adults can’t enjoy it either. It isn’t rife with the teenage angst that many YA novels can drown themselves in, which is nice for older audiences who are interested in the story. The characters are solid with definitive personalities and goals. The relationships are clearly defined and developed: nothing is left to chance and accidental interpretation. There is no confusion and that goes on to create a wonderful atmosphere for readers. Using the discord that is plaguing the world of Cosby’s stories as a reason for the characters to come together for the greater good is deployed nicely and doesn’t feel too contrived or unrealistic.
The Cape: Overdrive by Braxton A. Cosby is a wonderful young adult novel that is sure to appeal to lovers of superheroes, regardless of their age. The story is intriguing, compelling with strong characters and solid world-building. The action is just right, and the character development is wonderful. This is a book that was crafted carefully and slides into the series nicely. Even if readers are freshly coming into the series with this book, they will not feel lost or as though they are missing crucial information. This is definitely a great read and anyone who is willing to take on this book won’t be disappointed.
Pages: 227 | ASIN: B078FNZP2J
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Voice of the Crimson Angel Part II: Poison finds Julissa ready to take on Chancellor Venloran while the United Nation Republic is gearing up to take over Mexico. Was this book an easy continuation of part I or did you have to plan and develop the story before writing?
VOCA Part II took quite a bit of planning, up there with End of Knighthood Part III: Ballad of Demise. I knew telling the entire story of The Expansion from start to finish wasn’t really possible (outside of a very, very, long novel), so I isolated the events that seemed most important and then tied the main characters to them. VOCA Part II, I think more than any other of my previous work, challenged my use of setting. Writing tests an author in odd ways, and one of those ways for me was geography. The setting in question, of course, Mexico. How big is this city? Is it dry or wet this time of year? Is it a metropolis or a small town? Luckily, my story takes place in the future, so I can tweak things, but I prefer going off reality. The first round of writing left VOCA Part II shorter than I wanted, but the final product I’m most pleased with.
Weird thing is at first, I was paying very little attention to the current situation. When I conceived of The Expansion, I was looking at it as a continuation of Manifest Destiny, where Americans expanded westward. The more I examined the history of expanded empires, The Expansion became more and more interesting to write. It went from being a small part of the original book to an integral backdrop for the Iranian characters. Now it’s the main focus in the VOCA trilogy. In future stories, I hope to explore neocolonialism more. Since 2016, immigration has become one of the most decisive topics in the American politics. It influenced me as I watched debates and heard different arguments, but it’s a bit different in VOCA Part II. In the book, the focus is more about imperialism reborn than the push for isolation that we’re experiencing now. What the book does do, I hope, is paint a picture of the circumstances that I feel are similar to current events. For example, I think no matter what side of the political spectrum you’re on, people accept that we live in an era where patriotism is a very touchy issue. Even critique from a person within the system can lead to harsh cries of them being “unamerican.” Blind patriotism, more than anything, fuels a beast like Venloran and his UNR. What I also wanted to focus on was displacement. Civilians can be turned into dissidents when pushed. People have forgotten that the Mujahideen that battled the Soviet Union was propped up by the United States. This same organization became Al-Qaeda, and in the age of the “War on Terror”, we’ve seen an upsurge in the formation of radical groups. I would argue that intervention, this need to intervene and ‘democratize’ other areas around the globe, fuels fundamentalists. Former New York Times writer Chris Hedges (who was fired around the start of the Iraq War) called the usage of violence a disease. Therefore “Poison” was the proper title for this installment. What I wanted to do with the book was take the “War on Terror” and move it closer to home. Instead of across the Atlantic in countries most Americans have never been to, I wanted to imagine it happening right next door.
Have you tried exploring other mediums for your series; games, comic books, etc? I ask because you have developed such a rich backstory already.
I’m not much of a gamer, so I’ve never really considered that route. Comics, however, have always intrigued me. I’ve always been obsessed with visuals (one of my worst habits was the tendency to doodle during class). Comics, namely graphic novels, have always been a favorite medium of mine. You can say a whole lot with just a single frame, and not to mention a good use of color goes a long a way in establishing the mood. The look of the cyborg uniforms, namely the overcoat, was inspired by the Blade design from Marvel comics, while the armor itself is actually manga-based. As a child, I’ve read my share of manga, including Dragon Ball. Unfortunately, I can’t draw all that well. If I could meet a comic book artist who wanted to tell a story from Reverence, I’d be honored to be a part of such a project.
I’ve actually given some thought to this! After all, as I write I often listen to my favorite movie soundtracks. This helps me set the mood and envision a scene: scary might be Ennio Morricone, action-oriented Hans Zimmer, and somber along the lines of Michael Giacchino. Naturally, sometimes I envision certain faces of certain characters. The big one is Will, and for him I could see Will Smith or Denzel Washington taking the role. They are both older and can play action heroes, but all while still giving them emotional resonance. Another instacast for me is Liam Neeson as Chancellor Venloran. This is largely due to his portrayal of Ra’s al Ghul in Batman Begins (2005). He’s calm yet menacing, all without being over-the-top. One of my favorites to envision would be Jessica Chastain as Gabriella Neeson. After seeing her in Interstellar(2014), I was thoroughly convinced. She’s both gorgeous, tough as nails, and can portray a character who is anything but a damsel in distress (no thanks Cameron Diaz). Others are mind boggling. In the case of Marisol Leone, for example, it’s really hard to pin down. One of these days, I’ll sit down and sort them all out.
Julissa Marconi is finally ready to be a soldier again, and now it’s time to take on the tyrannical Chancellor Venloran. With Captain Halsey and her daughter Zaneta by her side, the resistance is the last line of defense preventing the United Nation Republic from seizing the country of Mexico. The combat will prove bloody as Venloran sends his cyborg warriors to squash all opposition. As bullets fly and bodies pile up, Julissa will be forced to consider what she’s capable of. To defeat the enemy, she may just have to become the enemy.
Welcome back to the world of the Reverence series with Voice of a Crimson Angel Part II: Poison. Witness the spark that lit the fire.
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YEGman is a thrilling crime novel taking place in the underworld of Edmonton, Canada. Why did you want to set your story in this location?
I had several reasons why I wanted to have the story take place in Edmonton. I prefer to write Canada-based stories and I’ve spent a lot more time in western Canada than I have out east, so can craft stories in these locations easier. A second reason is the name YEGman itself. YEG is the airport code and a common hashtag for the city. It is easier to say than – for example – YYCman for Calgary.
I also have grown up in Edmonton and have seen the city change over the decades. It is a pretty (no offence Edmonton!) bland city when it comes to major issues. So it is a good thing. That raises the question, how can you make a tame city feral and gritty? This was an interesting challenge to me.
This story takes a uniquely gritty look at the Edmonton crime scene. What were some ideas you wanted to capture when developing this underworld?
For YEGman’s version of Edmonton, I wanted to paint a crime-infested city that has some similarities seen in superhero comics. Daredevil/Hell’s Kitchen and Batman/Gotham are examples. A city that is in dire need of help. It becomes a motivator for someone to become a vigilante when they feel the city isn’t making any progress.
The details of the drugs and music scene I wanted to make real by showing there are good people that get caught up in these dark worlds of gangs and violence. Either they feel trapped or do not know any better to get out and just try to keep their friends safe.
Where did the idea for YEGman come from and what were some book titles you considered?
YEGman actually was birthed from the album that accompanies the launch – Sounds of Society. Both YEGman and the album tell a story of someone who can’t handle the constraints of society and go off the deep end. They also share similar content in the lyrics. Originally I was working on this album in 2012.
The plot and character of YEGman came to me in the summer of 2015 when I was at a book signing in a comic store. It was a quiet period and was daydreaming about super heroes because of the increase in popularity due to the Marvel movies, DC movies, comic expos and I was in a comic store at the time. Personally I am not a huge comic book far so I asked myself – what type of superhero story would someone who doesn’t like superheroes read?
From there I drafted out the concept of the superhero YEGman. Quite quickly I decided against super powers and made him very earth-bound. This helped map out the ending as well. If he was just an average person, and didn’t have any tech toys, money or ninja training, he’s going to have a pretty difficult time being a crime fighter. After writing out the outline for the ending I reverse engineered the story – a process I do not normally do with writing.
In November of 2015 I wrote the first draft during NaNoWriMo but shelved the concept because my horror novel, Seed Me, wasn’t fully edited yet. That took a higher priority and I didn’t revisit YEGman until 2017 after doing some heavy research into police procedures and psychology. These two points of study helped craft the inner thoughts of Michael.
So overall, comic books were the inspiration and I looked at comics such as the Punisher, Sin City, The Watchmen, and Hellboy to name some.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
I really need to wrap up the dark fantasy series Mental Damnation. Book three is coming out in the fall of 2018 and the fourth is in the works. I also am working on a slasher novella but it is in the early plot outline stage.
In the darkest streets of Edmonton, crime is around every corner. The police have exhausted their resources. Citizens are in a constant state of fear. The city is in dire need of justice. Someone needs to give the felons what they deserve – skip the courts and deliver their verdict with a fist full of fury!
At least that is what Michael Bradford tells himself. He struggles with violent tendencies while personally investigating the Crystal Moths, Edmonton’s most notorious gang. His vigilante methods get caught on film and are uploaded to the web with the hashtag YEGman. These videos catch the attention of a rebellious journalism student whose aspires to cover the developing story on the city’s underground hero.
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Bitter Awakenings is a genre-crossing novel with elements of a fantasy, paranormal, and urban as well. Did you start writing with this in mind, or did this happen organically as you were writing?
I think starting out, I had a concept in mind. I wanted supernatural elements in full swing and within a small town setting. As I wrote, however, the characters started demanding more elements be added as their individual personalities, backgrounds, and even locations dictated the overall direction and feel of the book. In the end, it made sense to combine a few genres based on the characters and the locations used in the book. The world of magic, as I found out through writing this book, tends to blur the lines between what we know, what we expect, and what is possible.
The supporting characters in this novel, I felt, were intriguing and well developed. Who was your favorite character to write for?
I liked them all, but I absolutely loved writing for Dusty. The mix of blood that flows through her veins makes for interesting interactions with her fellow Keepers. There are times when she’s sweet, then sour, bossy, yet vulnerable. You can sense her wanting to take charge and lead, but there’s a disconnect with her emotionally that shows up in the work, some funny, some not so much. She’s the perfect blend of “I know what I’m doing” and “What the hell just happened?” with the slightest dusting of, “Told ya so.”
The most enjoyable interaction between characters came from the conversations and situations Gordy and Niles had throughout the book. The back and forth banter of two men in love makes for some comedic moments between the more perilous scenes throughout the book. You just can’t help but smile and giggle whenever they get on lobbing one liners and can’t help but think they sound like an old married couple.
The world you’ve created is very detailed and creative. What was your inspiration for the background of your story?
Growing up I was an avid fan of comics and cartoons. Most of my favorites centered around “team” mechanics, like the Avengers, X-Men, JLA, Bionic Six, Dungeons and Dragons and many others. I enjoyed how everyone worked together to combat evil, but at times ran the show from a single perspective.
I also loved the aspect of witchcraft, the supernatural, and the unseen world. I quickly became fascinated by the massive amounts of information available on the subjects while supplying myself a healthy dose of horror cinema and books to quench my thirst. I switched between books and movies through my teen years when I learned, all too well, that ginger haired and fair skinned people do not fare well in Florida’s, almost constant, stream of burning sunlight.
I grew up in the South and among the cow pastures, orange groves, and lazy summer days of sweet tea and mosquito bites, I listened and watched. Most of the things I remembered, the people, the talks, the places all became inspiration for parts of my book coupled with my love of the supernatural and superhero worlds I so fondly remembered from my youth.
Bitter Awakenings is book 1 in the Keeper Chronicles. Where does book 2 take readers?
Book 1 set the stage when it came to uncovering secrets, opening the door for more drama, and introducing the world of the Keepers, but Book 2 will basically throw the curious head first into the magical rabbit hole.
Readers will get a chance to check in on Leesa amid the Utah landscape and how she’s been handling life with Lee and Myrna. An uncovering of a “friend” involvement that builds on the revelations in Book 1 will put Truddie Mae and Niles in the line of fire way out in the swampland of Louisiana. A ghost from the Keepers’ past makes a return visit that could spell the end for them all while a new Keeper joins their ranks in the most unforeseen way.
Expect more drama, more supernatural mischief, and more revelations as the Keepers struggle to maintain the veil while dodging a conspiracy to finish them off. Can they uncover the secret agenda meant to end them before it finally does?
It had been a quiet three years for Truddie Mae Watts, an almost immortal woman sharing the body of an eleven-year-old girl alongside an injured demon. As a Keeper, those chosen by the fates and granted supernatural powers to protect the veil between our world and the astral planes, she has grown accustomed to the tranquility of her home magically hidden away within the swampy wilderness along the outskirts of Dade City, Florida. That is until the veil calls out for her assistance urging her back into action and into the path of a sinister new enemy.
Something has breached the veil into our world. An entity that marks her and those she loves, for death. Driven by a ravenous appetite for energy, a craving for the occult, and a desire to end all of Keeper kind, it will stop at nothing until this world, her reality, is erased.
Now, forced to work alongside the tri-blooded Dusty, her adopted son and nature mage Niles, and Valda the snobby ice enchantress, they must race to stop this new evil that is hell-bent to destroy them and ultimately cause two worlds to collide that would unravel the universe.
Against all odds and against a ticking monstrosity of devouring evil, the Keepers must rally and protect not only their reality but also themselves before time runs out for them all.
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Suzy Spitfire Kills Everybody is a genre-crossing novel with elements of over-the-top action, science fiction, and dark humor as well. Did you start writing with this in mind, or did this happen organically as you were writing?
The science fiction part was planned, but the rest evolved. I started out with a loose goal to try and write something like Neuromancer, but it ended up being a lot less serious.
Suzy is a fugitive on the run and takes no crap from anyone. What were some of the trials that you felt were important to highlight her character’s development?
The situations involving her tendency to be impulsive – her inclination to shoot first, ask no questions, and then shoot again. Also, the situations involving trust. Suzy isn’t very trusting, but it’s hard to get through a good fight without a few friends, and she needs to deal with that.
There was rarely a dull moment in the story and I enjoyed the rapid fire action. How did you balance action with storytelling?
I try to make the action all about how the characters react to the stress. The real story is in the characters, otherwise it’s just a bunch of empty gunfire and explosions. To paraphrase Jim Butcher, “The action is just a light show.”
Also, I think action comes in different forms. Two people talking is action – as long as there’s tension, or it’s entertaining in a way that relates to the plot, or both. Kurt Vonnegut once said that “Every line should either reveal character or advance the plot.” I think about that quote a lot.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
I have outlines for four new books, but I’m not sure which one I want to do. One of the outlines is for another Suzy Spitfire story, and I might do it. It was a fun book to write. It would be available next year.
When outlaw Suzy Spitfire discovers her father was murdered after creating a super-duper artificial intelligence, she races across the solar system in search of the brain he built—but it’s a rough ride, and she’s soon forced to tangle with pirates, predators, and her father’s killer—as well as a man she thinks she can love.
Suzy Spitfire Kills Everybody is a smash-bang sci-fi adventure filled with action, intrigue, and a dose of dark humor.
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Across the Realm: When Two Tribes Go To War is the second book in the Across The Realm series that continues the overall story yet is able to stand on it’s own. What direction did you take in this novel that you felt was different from the first book?
In the first book I was introducing my story and how the war that my series is based on came to be. I was giving background information and introducing the main characters. I was also describing this Earth of the 27th century. I knew then that I would write the consequent books in the series based on each territory of the North. There is a book for each one coming.
When Two Tribes go to War is based on the war front of The Arab Territories. That gave me a chance to develop the Arab Territories, show my readers their way of life and their belief systems. I wanted that unique feel of the Middle East.
I created new characters and a new story for the North. I kept my Southern characters intact from book 1. I didn’t use all the Southern characters because I split them up. In each book in the series, four or five of my Southern characters will get center stage. The series gives me a chance to develop them so that the reader gets to know them better.
I would say that When Two tribes go to War goes straight into action and stays there. There is no need for background information because the first book, Across the Realm Life Always Finds a Way had already dealt with that. I could increase the pace of war without being encumbered with explanations. I loved that.
You have a fantastic ability to create three dimensional characters. What was your favorite character to write for and why?
I love all my characters. In fact, I am very protective of them all. But, Khadija stood out for me. She came to me very softly. (I totally believe my characters introduce themselves to me.) She was meek and didn’t have a story to tell for a while. And then she rose and shared with me her past, her present, her strengths and her weaknesses. I fell in love. She lives in a very masculine world and was a child bride whose husband raped her. But, she retained love and compassion despite her hardships and in the war she found her strength. She was a surprise to me. I had not expected her to develop that way.
What science fiction novels or writers do you feel most influenced you?
I am going to make you laugh at me and admit that I have never read a single scifi novel. Ever. I am however a trekkie to the day I die and I have all of Battlestar Galactica in every way that I could store it. I am a scifi movie or cartoon or comic junkie. Anything scifi and I am there.
My greatest influence in writing. Stephen King. He weaves a world and characters that blow my mind. I read everything he writes and I watch every Stephen King based movie. The shocker is that I don’t like horror stories. His books keep me awake at night, absolutely frightened out of my mind. And that is why I am a fan! That is amazing writing. When I grow up, I want to write like him.
Besides Stephen King, I will have to hand the baton to Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games. That trilogy blew my mind. I like to think though that the authors who influenced me the most were British Author Enid Blyton of the Famous Five series and William Shakespeare.
Where does book 3 in the Across the Realm series take readers?
Book three, The Land of the Forefathers takes readers to the war front of Asia! The Asian territories get a spotlight. The themes are slavery, heredity and so much more. I must warn my readers that this is a dark story. It is very dark.
Isobel Mitton seamlessly weaves in love, humor, betrayal, loyalty and brutality in a new fantasy novel that stands uniquely on its own. This is one of her best new science fiction books. Across the Realm 2: When Two Tribes Go to War is a reflection from the future that hits close to home as the reader comes to realize that this future world is not so different from our own. There are many fiction books on sale. However this is one of the best science fiction books because it has action, adventure, fantasy, diversity, technology, and more.
One of the most exciting parts of this tale is its subtle exploration of larger current societal issues like racism; the fuzzy lines of ethics created by scientific advancement and the unwillingness to compromise with those we view as “different” in a futuristic landscape. This Science Fiction Space Adventure will not disappoint.
Across the Realm 2: When Two Tribes Go to War is a science fiction short story about complex relationships that endure trying times and experiences. Forbidden love, illegitimate pregnancy, strong childhood attachments, betrayal, abuse, and bastard kings reminiscent of the Game of Thrones, all complicated by the rules of a rigid society makes this latest instalment of the Across the Realm franchise difficult to put down.
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The Hungry Monster Book Awards are given to books that have astounded and amazed us with unique writing styles, vivid worlds, complex characters, and original ideas. These books deserve extraordinary praise and The Hungry Monster is proud to acknowledge the hard work, dedication, and imagination of these talented authors.
25 Perfect Days Plus 5 More by Mark Tullius
Legends of Perilisc by Jesse Teller
The Dragons of Alsace Farm by Laurie Lewis
Spikes by Kelvin Kettle
Paralian by Liam Klenk
Lord Athina by Danny Estes
The Hobbymen by Tim Owens
Voodoo Child by William Burke
Thawing AC Nielsen by Paul Carey
Call of the Conjurer by Ryan Grimbly
Deadly Troubadour by Brent Thomas
Drop Dead Gorgeous by Donald Kirch
Paroxysm Effect by Ashleigh Reynolds
American Flowers by Michael McLellan
The Scalian Legacy by Norbert Monfort
The Mansions Twins by Rose Channing
Dominion of the Star by Angelica Clyman
The Alienation of Courtney Hoffman by Brady Stefani
Books have the ability to entertain and inform us. They can make the impossible possible. They are vehicles of time travel and windows into perspectives. In books, authors are gods and imagination is their power. Transforming letters into words; words into characters and places; and these into emotions and worlds. Even if we never meet, we are connected by the stories we tell.
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Chicken: A Comic Cat Memoir is about a girl named TJ who grew up allergic to cats, but over time, the allergy faded. As an adult she finds a tuxedo cat with bright green eyes. It’s a beautiful story of life, cat’s, and loss. What was your inspiration for this story?
My daughter who, when she was 5-years-old, repeatedly wanted to hear this true story about how we found our cat, Chicken. I told her every night for a year, at which point she suggested I “make pictures” for it. That lead me down an unexpectedly long path to finally officially publishing.
Do you have cats? If so, what are their names? What do you think your cat named you?
Yes, we now have Cha-cha who, like Chicken, also found me in a dream. I’d have to say Cha-cha named me “hu-mom” (made up word for human mom) because she wanted me to find her as much as Chicken did. She’ll be the star of the next story!
Through the story there are little doodles and background decorations that tell a different story. Can you tell us more about that story and why you chose to weave that in?
About halfway into creating the artwork, it hit me that through telling the cat’s story, I was telling my own. I think that every life is multi-layered and wanted to communicate some of those other layers that coincided with the one of finding a cat through a dream that then materialized. While I wanted to offer a “nod” to some of the details of my life as a relatable subtext, I didn’t want it to take over the primary cat story as told to my daughter. I think this may be why much of the positive feedback I’ve been getting is essentially saying it’s “fun for all ages.”
I liked the artwork through the story. I thought it went very well with the story. Were there any panels that you didn’t include in the story? What was the biggest challenge in creating the art for the book?
As the author/illustrator, I did all the writing and artwork. Once I did the rough sketches and managed to capture the accurate mood of most of the panels, I was preparing to ink them in the way that traditional cartoonists work. However, I faced a rather daunting creative block in taking that next step. I didn’t do anything for about two whole years and then my daughter and I made a mini book called The Frizzball from Outer Space. The fun of working on that project and getting it done so quickly, gave me the courage to begin the Chicken illustrations. Once I got ball rolling, I quickly realized that I wanted to include some photography and collage so it made more sense to to all of it digitally. My background is in graphic design—both practicing and teaching it—so I know how to use the tools of the trade. What I hadn’t done before this book, was create artwork on an iPad. While I’m always up for learning something new, it took so long to get up to speed that by the time I reached the end, I had to start back at the beginning and re-do most of those first panels. Also, there are limits to digital tools and, in some instances, such as creating the front cover title art for the word “Chicken,” I was only able to attain the look and result I wanted by doing it by hand with brush and ink then scanning it in. In the end, keeping track of and backing up the thousands of files it took to create this was a real accomplishment in and of itself!
What is the next book that your fans should be on the look out for?
When you get to the end of Chicken, the next character presents itself. It’s very small, but if you look closely you’ll see the star of the next book.
A true tale about the magical meeting of a cat and her person told in 72 full-color illustrations in a rustic, cartoon, doodle, collage style. A cat allergy sets the stage for this colorful romp in which a cat named Chicken finds her way into the arms and affection of TJ, an artist in search of adventure and meaning. Brought together by seeming divine intervention, the storyline ranges from funny to emotional, sweet to silly, thoughtful to mystical, as readers travel with TJ and Chicken between coasts, encountering diverse friendships along the way.
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At first glance, Chicken: A Comic Cat Memoir by Terese Jungle is, on the surface, a children’s picture book about a woman and her cat. It’s a memoir of the author’s life as well as a beautiful memory of her cat, Chicken. But it’s also a book adult readers will enjoy not only for the delightful art but also for the greater story of TJ’s life. I’m a reader who enjoys graphic novels, and the further I got into the story, the more I realized this was more than just a children’s book. The art, the words, and the doodle-like notes in the margins are where TJ celebrates her journey as an artist and a friend to many other creative people.
TJ grew up allergic to cats, but over time, the allergy faded. Now an adult, she dreams of a tuxedo cat with bright green eyes and when she can’t find the cat at the local shelter, her friend Mimi announces that the cat must be looking for her. Of course, the cat finds TJ and they are a perfect fit for each other. The cat, named Chicken, follows TJ on her journey through life, sometimes at her side and sometimes in the care of others. But, like all pets, Chicken’s life comes to an end, and TJ and her daughter have to deal with it. It’s a beautiful, tenderly told story that’s appropriate for both children and adults.
I can see why the author calls this, “A great book to read to cats (and kids).” The illustrations are delightful, even child-like. The book would be a good way to help young children talk about their feelings about the loss of a beloved pet. But if you pay attention to all the little doodles, background decoration and the notes scattered throughout the illustrations, there’s a second story brewing that’s just for adults. Look carefully, there are little gems buried in the details of the illustrations!
TJ’s story is woven into the pictures, including multiple moves, hinting at the unsettled lifestyle of an artist and student. There are also cat fights, both feline and human, with one side note, “They didn’t stay friends for long” that will make any cat-lover snicker with recognition. The author also takes great care to include the people who were important to her life in the illustrations. At the end, there’s a listing of notes (marked with asterisks in the story) that give a little more insight into the people, artwork, cat behavior and poetry that appear in the book.
I recommend this for parents to read to their children, but be warned. If you are a “cat person” read it through the first time by yourself because (as they say on the internet) it will hit you right in the feels.
Pages: 82 | ISBN: 0976203510
Tags: amazon books, art, author, book, book review, books, cats, chicken a comic cat memoir, children, children fiction, comic, ebook, ebooks, fantasy, fantasy book review, fiction, memoir, publishing, reading, review, reviews, stories, terese jungle, tuxedo cat, urban fantasy, writing, YA, young adult