Welcome back to the conclusion of our interview with Phaedra and Tom Mintun, creators and authors of Margaret Magee Meets Morris.
Part one of the interview can be read here.
AA: Welcome back, Phaedra and Tom. We left of talking about the research which went into your book. What kind of back story is there for Margaret Magee which didn’t make it into the final version?
We have an incredible amount of back story going on with Margaret, Morris, and the Inari steam universe as a whole. Because we have so many books on the way we have created a rich, full world to play in!
AA: Are there any plans for a sequel or spinoff?
Yes! Margaret Magee Meets Morris is the first book in a series that follows these same characters as they grow up. Readers will be able to move from the picture books to early chapter books, all the way up to young adult books.
AA: When I get my young nieces and nephews to read Margaret Magee, what would you like for them to take away from the story and the characters that they could apply to their own lives?
That everyone has the ability to be strong and everyone has moments of vulnerability. Everyone should be given the chance to reach their full potential and not be judged based on their exterior or station.
AA: What are some of the initial reactions to Margaret Magee which you’ve heard about?
Jeff’s art is really the first thing people see and I think it speaks to his talent that everyone who sees these characters smiles. Everyone we have talked to about the project with has been really enthusiastic. I showed some of the early sketches to my best friend’s little boy, he is four, he lit up and exclaimed, “I love this little girl!!!”
AA: People heard about Margaret Magee at Steamcon last year, among other sources, and now continue to hear about it every day. How are those new readers finding you – conventions, website, word of mouth, etc?
The majority of our interested readers are coming to us via word of mouth, our website or our twitter account currently. Now, as we launch the web serial and the beta set for Steam Rolled, we will be launching significantly more marketing initiatives. Heck, with characters like these, the marketing is a big part of the fun!
AA: The web serial was fun to read, as was playing the dice game. What book tours, conventions, and signings are coming up for you?
We have a few other conventions on our list for the summer, namely Fairy Worlds and San Diego Comic-Con, which we are hoping to get the chance to go to. As we currently have predominantly digital products coming out we are still working on how to do tours and signing.
AA: Aside from a small initial printed release, Margaret Magee is available in electronic format. What platforms can people use to read your work?
In the next few weeks we should be releasing eBook versions of Margaret Magee Meets Morris for iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, Android, Nook, and Kindle. We will announce and provide links for each platform on our website as they become available.
AA: Every author I’ve talked with has a different journey to seeing their works in print. What was your publishing experience like?
Aside from our pre-release print run, available at the Iguana Comics Anniversary Party, we won’t be seeing this book in print yet. Digital was a natural avenue for us as Tom is an experienced mobile device programmer and easily adapted to the eBook publishing environment. We are still doing our research and deciding what is right for our projects.
AA: For the aspiring writer, what lessons did you learn about having an agent and editor, their feedback, and your writing?
We are still in the learning process, so I’m not sure we can offer much advice. What we have learned is that it is important to really do your research and make choices that are a good fit for you and what you want to accomplish.
AA: If you weren’t authors and artists, what else would you be doing now?
I originally set out to teach high school English literature, and even planned on starting a school directed toward students with non-specific learning disorders. I have always loved words and stories so finding ways to share that with others would without a doubt be a part of my life.
Tom is a marketer and analyst for large corporations and is continuing with that.
AA: Do you get to talk much with other writers and artists to compare notes, have constructive critique reviews, and brainstorm new ideas?
We are regular attendees of the Iguana Comics book club, which is attended by a vast array of creative minds, it has become a wonderful place to go and get fresh views. I am a voracious reader and have made a lot of friends who share that love, and I have people I depend on for discussing things with. Tom and I are also lucky to have each other, we are always sharing new things, we both love to learn so we are constantly reading articles, current events, research on history and science… well the list goes on and on, we are interested in the world as a whole and we love to discuss whatever we are interested in at the moment. I think this fascination with learning new things and sharing ideas influences the way we approach writing.
AA: How is western Oregon for writing? Does location matter for resources, access, publicity, etc
We actually live in Southern Oregon. We live in a log house on 300 acres about 20 minutes outside of Grants Pass. We love it here, it is one of the most beautiful places on earth! I find that having so much space to explore is always a good way to find inspiration and get my imagination going. We haven’t run into the problem of being limited by our remote location, technology really knocked down those barriers and we are always willing to travel!
AA: In addition to Margaret Magee, you are also releasing a steampunk dice combat game, Steam Rolled. What can you share with us about that? (How did the idea start, how is it played)
Steam Rolled is a one on one combat game, in the tradition of games like Button Men and Brawl, that is quick and easy to play but keeps the encounters fun and dynamic. We have released 4 beta characters as the first set for free on the website and will be adding new 10 character sets as time goes on. We already have a set in process for summer and have a set planned for fall.
We will be interested in what the players think of the game, and what kinds of characters they would like to see. We encourage anyone who tries it to email us and let us know what they think!
AA: As if that weren’t enough to keep you busy, you are also publishing a free web serial. What will those stories be about?
The web serial, which I touched on above, follows Scottie, a Skyman on the dread ship Shirley led by Captain Jim Daniels lovingly dubbed Stickwicket by all who know him! It is a throwback to the pulp fiction serials, full of high adventure and daring escapes. The crew takes on the contracts too weird or dangerous for other ships. We see this as a great way to allow our older readers to jump in and explore the Inari Steam Universe.
You can look forward to regular, weekly episodes starting April 11th, chock full of daring and adventure!
AA: Looking beyond steampunk, writing and working, what other interests fill your time?
We have a house full of pets, including Josephine, my Great Dane/ German Shepard mix. We have a core group of friends we hang out with regularly and we can often be found hosting game and movie nights. When we have the time we like to play video games, we are currently playing Marvel Super Hero Squad: The Infinity Gauntlet. When the weather allows we are down at the park a few evenings a week playing tennis or walking Josephine. Tom plays guitar and is learning to play the mandolin and cello.
This is the hardest question for me to answer, it’s like asking what do you like to do other than the thing you like to do! I love books and words so writing and reading things that inspire me never feel like work. I am very lucky that I get to do something that I really enjoy! Over the last six years or so I have gotten into baking, that is what I do when I need to clear my head and sort out ideas. In the summer I love doing anything outside, I love to swim and camp.
AA: How do those interests influence your work?
A lot of these things are what we do to refresh. It’s all that stuff that keeps us from stagnating. In the young adult books we have a group of gypsies and they are very musical, they play instruments but even just the goings on around camp has a lot of rhythm to it, a lot of that came from Tom and his passion for music.
AA: This has been great to hear about your book and other projects. Are there any final thoughts to share with our readers?
My father would tell this story about when he was in the army. There was a room full of payphones and everyone would use them to call home. He would get up early every morning and stuff cotton in the coin returns. In the evening he would go back and collect all the change that he had trapped. He loves this story, forty years later he still thinks this was the most awesome way to make money ever. It might sound crazy but this was my big aha moment when I realized that what makes something worth the effort is how much you enjoy what you are doing, and that thing might not always be the most well worn path.
AA: Where can people get Steam Rolled to play?
As stated above, the beta set will be available for free on the website next week. We will also make the majority of the characters for future sets available for free on the website, with full sets being available from us in person at cons or from the website by purchasing physical copies.
Very exciting plans coming up! Thanks again for joining us, I’m looking forward to more stories and more characters.
For the latest news and releases, visit the Inari Steam website for more information.