Interview #104 – Author Scott Wilke, Part Four

Welcome back for the conclusion in our chat with Scott Wilke, author of The Legend of Everett Forge.

Read Part One here.

Read Part Two here.

Read Part Three here.

 

Airship Ambassador: What do you consider your first real writing experience?

Scott Wilke: Good question! Truthfully, even though I’ve been writing since I was a kid, I consider my first “real” writing experience to be in my last year of college. I was working on a short-film screenplay at the time and I learned of a film festival coming up at the end of the year that was having a screenplay contest. It was a national competition and was going to be judged by established film professionals. I spent the better part of three or four months crafting the screenplay. It was a story about a robot and a technophobic detective. You could say I have a theme in my writing! The screenplay ended up coming in fifth in the nation. So, as far as a first real writing experience, I was pretty fortunate!

AA: Wow, congratulations! That’s quite the achievement! After being fifth in the nation, how have you and your work grown and changed since then?

SW: I think nowadays I take more time developing my villains. In my earlier stories, my villains were all very one-dimensional. They were typical power-hungry types with no real depth. I realized over time that often it is the villain that carries the story. A good villain will make you hate him/her while simultaneously understanding them and in some ways sympathizing with them. Omega, although he’s a robot, has an extensive history and I think people will be able to empathize with him in certain ways. I love when stories make me feel conflicted and I hope I can do the same for my readers!

 

AA: I would agree that for today’s audience, and their expectations of stories and storytelling, there’s much more interest in seeing well-rounded characters, with substantive motivation and rationale.  Is there a story you would like to write but haven’t, yet?

SW: I’ve got a couple that I plan to write once I’m done telling Everett Forge’s story. One is a space opera and another is a war story that is like God of War mixed with Gears of War.

 

AA: If you weren’t an author, what else would you be doing now?

SW: Something creative. I’ve always been drawn to creative ventures. My mind is constantly going. I’m constantly doodling. Had I not been so into writing in school, I think I would have focused more on drawing, which was my other passion as a kid. So, maybe I would have become an artist? Who knows.

AA: Most of the authors I’ve talked with have some type of day job and that writing is their other job. What has that situation been for you?

SW: I mean, without my day job I couldn’t make comics. Even though I go to Kickstarter to help me fund the art, all other costs I cover myself; i.e. printing, posters, promotion, etc. I couldn’t do that without a paycheck. I’m also fortunate enough to work with a great group of people who are extremely supportive of my creative endeavors. They constantly show interest in what I’m doing and check in to see progress. So, yeah, I’m pretty lucky!

 

AA: that’s a more common refrain I hear these days – the day job feeds the body, the night job feeds the soul. It’s a shame that not everyone can say both jobs do both things.  In the time left between job, family, and writing, what other interests do you have?

SW: Video games and history. I love playing video games, like right now I’m pretty obsessed with Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. I’m literally cutting down my sleeping time to like 4 hours a night just so I can play. When I’m not doing that, I’m reading up on history or watching history videos on the internet. I especially love local history.

 

AA: Oh gosh, 4 hours of sleep. how much caffeine do drink during the day? How do those games and history influence your work?

SW: My love for history spawned my love for alternate history. In school, during history class, I would always think to myself… “What if insert event here happened instead? How different would the future be?” I love exploring that avalanche effect.

AA: What is on your to-be read or watched pile right now?

SW: There are a ton of indie comics that I have yet to get around to. That’s pretty much all I read lately. I do still love DC Comics, but I find a lot more entertainment these days from independent titles. So much more thought and passion are put into those projects. You can really feel it coming off the page.

 

AA: I grew up reading a lot of DC, too, but there is something really engaging about independent works. They seem to take more work and effort to come about, and if they are short runs, they have to be good to find any kind of audience.  Are there people you consider an inspiration, role model, or other motivating influence?

SW: There are a ton of indie comic creators that I really look up to. Too many to name them all to be honest. I follow a lot of their work pretty closely and have been for the past few years. There is one comic creator I’ve been following for well over 10 years now. His name is James Farr. He created one of my favorite animated series/comics, Xombie. He was a real inspiration in that the road to tell his story was not an easy one. But, even though it took him a few years to complete his work, he never gave up. I try to remember that as I see the long treacherous road still ahead of me.

 

AA: What is the best advice you’ve been given?

SW: My mom has always told me, “Don’t ever feel sorry for yourself.” There have been a lot of times I’ve gotten down on myself as a writer…after rejection letters, negative reviews, and failed Kickstarters. Whenever that feeling starts to creep into my head, I remember what my mom told me. Feeling sorry for yourself doesn’t fix anything. It just leaves you stewing in your own pity. Get up, dust yourself off, and keep going.

AA: Your mom definitely spoke the truth. Three quick-fire random questions – what is your favorite candy bar, current song, and documentary?

SW: Oh man, uh Snickers, I don’t really listen to current music (I’m an 80’s guy), and any documentary about the Titanic.

 

AA: Ahhh, I love 80s music, too. Those were the days! Any final thoughts to share with our readers

SW: Thanks for reading this interview and I definitely hope you check out my comic, The Legend of Everett Forge! It’s a fast-paced Steampunk Western with tons of action and a lot of heart!

 

Thanks, Scott! We look forward to future releases!

Keep up with Scott’s latest news on Twitter and Facebook.

Support Scott and our community and get your copy of The Legend of Everett Forge here.

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Published in: on March 30, 2017 at 8:46 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Interview #104 – Author Scott Wilke, Part Three

Welcome back for part three in our chat with Scott Wilke, author of The Legend of Everett Forge.

Read Part One here.

Read Part Two here.

 

Airship Ambassador: How did you make the Legend history come alive for the readers?

Scott Wilke: I’ve got a lot of little touches throughout the story that I had hoped would add depth to the world and the history behind it. To give a little background, Genesis Automata is the company that built all the original Machines. The company also owned the entire western territory and had hopes of turning the territory into a paradise of sorts. So, throughout issue #1, you can catch glimpses of the promotional materials that still remain, like billboards and welcome signs. You can also catch the company logo scattered throughout.

AA: I’ll have to go back and look for that. Hmm, that might be a fun belt buckle J You worked with Click Art Studios and About Time Comics to bring this project to publication. How did that collaboration come about?

SW: Back in 2014 I posted an ad on DeviantArt looking for an art team that would be interested in doing a Steampunk Weird West comic. Literally, one of the first responses I got was from Rai at ClickArt Studios. I didn’t even have to look at the other responses. I knew immediately that I wanted to work with them! Their art and character designs were off the chart and I knew they’d be able to bring my characters to life in a truly unique way. About Time Comics I met with after my first failed Kickstarter. I was looking for a publisher to help me understand more of the ins and outs of the indie industry. I saw a post about this great looking story called Godsend. I checked out the website, saw they were open to submissions and sent my story over to Lee Jiles. Lee shared it with his partner, Eric Dotson, and they both loved what we were doing and asked us to be part of the About Time Comics family!

 

AA: Great partners are a boon to every project, and sometimes, so hard to find. Glad to hear you did well on both counts! How long did it take to write, and rewrite, Legend?

SW: Most of the work was in creating the universe for Legend. To be honest, that has been a decade in the works. I should clarify, I didn’t spend ALL of the decade creating the universe. Every now and then I would go back to Legend and add more backstory to the world and the characters. As for the script for Issue #1: Fire and Brimstone, that took a couple months with rewrites happening here and there during the year between the failed first Kickstarter and the successful one.

 

AA: If someone likes “X”, then they’ll like Legend. What is “X”?

SW: Westworld. Obviously our robot cowboys are a bit different. haha. Like Westworld, I try to explore similar topics in my work, such as the relationship between man and machine. Also, with Omega’s character, I’m able to delve into the theme of what it means to be human. Something I feel that Westworld nailed with the Dolores character. Oh, we also have a bunch of cool gunfights like Westworld.

AA: I thoroughly enjoyed Westworld, both the original movie and the new series. The new series was pretty amazing in so many respects. What do you think puts Legend on someone’s must read/have list?

SW: I think its uniqueness. There aren’t a lot of stories about robot cowboys. Even fewer stories that have airships, battle mechs, and winged robot assassins.

 

AA: That’s true, not many spring to mind. If a movie were on the horizon, who would you cast?

SW: Oh, that’s tough. Forge is a pretty stoic character and a man of few words. We’d need someone who can communicate a great deal through just their eyes and facial expressions, like Tom Hardy maybe. Since most of the characters in Everett Forge are robots, we’d have a lot of voice actors. I honestly hear John Malkovich’s voice a lot when I write Omega’s dialogue. I imagine it to be a very labored and intense voice with just the right amount of volatility.

 

AA: A crowd-funding campaign was run to help create this book and bring it to market. What was that whole experience like? What prep work had to be done before even launching it?

SW: Well, we have to go all the way back to 2014 when I first started work on Everett Forge. After teaming up with ClickArt Studios, we assembled some concept art and a couple pages. With probably only three or so months of actual prep time, I foolishly tried my first Kickstarter. It failed MISERABLY. At that moment I seriously contemplated giving up. I took the horrible turnout as a sign that I wasn’t creating anything worthwhile.

But, after talking with Madeleine Holly-Rosing, writer and creator of Boston Metaphysical Society, I realized that it wasn’t my material that sucked…it was my preparation! So, I spent the better part of a year putting together more concept art, paying for more pages, promoting my comic in every imaginable place, and networking with other fellow indie creators. By 2016, I was set to relaunch and within 15 days we were fully funded.

AA: Knowledge and hard work definitely pay off. Once you were funded and ready to go, what was your publishing experience like?

SW: During that year after my failed Kickstarter, I started looking around for an indie publisher. I realized I didn’t know nearly as much about the indie industry as I needed to. As I was searching Facebook indie comic groups, I stumbled upon some artwork for a comic called Godsend from About Time Comics. I fell in love with the cover and the concept so I headed over to their website and saw that they were open to submissions. I sent an e-mail over to Lee Jiles and showed him what I was working on. He forwarded it all to his partner, Eric Dotson, and within a week I was part of the About Time Comics family! I mean it when I say I couldn’t have done it without them. Their expertise with not only comics but the comics business has helped me start to build a foundation in this industry!

 

AA: What do you do to keep a balance between writing  and the rest of your life?

SW: I try to keep to a schedule for both of those aspects of my life. When I get home from work, I try to devote that time to my wife and daughter. Once they’re in bed, I head to my office and start to write. It usually means some long nights with little to no sleep. But, in the end, my family comes first and I’d rather lose sleep than time with them.

 

AA: Good to have clear priorities and a plan. Do you get to talk much with other writers?

SW: Totally. I work very closely with Lee from About Time Comics. I have him review scripts, look over panel layouts, etc. We are also brainstorming a new story idea that we hope to start working on this year. It’s a zombie/war story. Very exciting!

AA: Some people might say that writers need to be readers, too. What do you think about that and what would you say your ratio of reading to writing is/was?

SW: It’s extremely important. Reading is when I become most inspired. I learn new tricks and I figure out what storytelling methods I like and don’t like. It allows you to take a step back and view your craft from a new perspective. It gives you a fresh set of eyes each and every time. I would say my reading to writing ratio is about 60/40. I’m always reading more than I’m writing.

 

Time for a pause in our chat with Scott. Join us again for the conclusion when Scott talks about his writing process and other interests.

Keep up with Scott’s latest news on Twitter and Facebook.

Support Scott and our community and get your copy of The Legend of Everett Forge here.

Published in: on March 29, 2017 at 7:28 pm  Comments (1)  
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Interview #104 – Author Scott Wilke, Part Two

Welcome back for part two in our chat with Scott Wilke, author of The Legend of Everett Forge.

Read Part One here.

 

Airship Ambassador: Looking behind the scenes, how did you keep the characters relatable to the readers yet still grounded in the circumstances of the story?

Scott Wilke: Issue #1 I wasn’t able to really dive too deep into the inner workings of each character. Truth be told, I didn’t want to at this point. I want there to be mystery yet for the sake of the reader experience. A friend told me, after reading Issue #1, that he could see Forge being either the hero OR the villain. I thought…good! I purposely left out narration in my work too because I want to create an uncertainty in the reader. Is Forge the hero of the story? Is Omega really the villain?

Similar to the Old West, there is this blurring of the lines between good and evil. For instance, if you ask most people whether or not the Earps were “good” guys, they’d say yes. But, if you read more about them and what actually transpired before O.K. Corral, you’d think, “Hmmm, well maybe they weren’t THAT good.” Same for Forge, he’s not a hero. He’s not an anti-hero either. He’s somewhere along the spectrum and I want people to determine his place themselves and not be told right off the bat. Wow, what a digression! So, long story short, there really wasn’t an opportunity to make these characters relatable yet, because we don’t really know who they are yet.

AA: May they aren’t totally transparent in Issue #1, but neither are they quite black-and-white stereotypes, either. What kind of steampunk tech plays a role in telling the story?

SW: Tech plays a pretty large role in the story. I wish I could get into more details on the specifics, but I don’t want to give anything away. Let’s just say there is an airship that plays an EXTREMELY large role. Check out our Facebook page and Kickstarter to get a look at it!

 

AA: You’ve done really well avoiding the spoilers so far. What interesting things will readers find in the upcoming issues?

SW: There are lots of cool things up ahead. Airship battles, pirates, and giant mechs…just to name a few!

 

AA: Toys! Was there a scene which was really memorable to write?

SW: There’s a scene coming up in Issue #2 with Forge and his friend/mentor, Aces King. It is the first time we’ll see the two of them together. It’s memorable in that with every re-write the relationship between the two morphed. At first, I imagined their relationship as one of just friendship. But, as I wrote it, the relationship played out more like a father-son relationship. I struggled to correct this as it wasn’t my intention, but I realized the reason why I couldn’t correct it is because it was natural and organic. It just made sense. Knowing their history, knowing what both of them went through, I realized that…yeah, Aces King views Forge as his son and Forge looks to King as a surrogate father. It just goes to show you how sometimes your stories take on a life of their own.

AA: That idea of ‘characters taking over’ and telling the author what the story really is comes up a lot in these interviews J  Was there any scene that you loved but which just didn’t work in the story?

SW: In issue #2 there will be a scene between Forge and his father. A pretty emotionally tense scene. There was a passage that I really wanted to keep but ended up scrapping because it removed some of the emotional weight from a later scene. I wish I could go into more detail than that, but I don’t want to ruin anything!

 

AA: What kind of back story is there for Legend which didn’t make it into the final story?

SW: To be honest, not a lot of the back story was revealed in issue #1. That was all intentional. I wanted Forge to be shrouded in mystery when you first meet him. I want people to be curious about what happened between Forge and Omega? What set Forge off on his path to vengeance? Why does Omega have a soft spot for Forge? Who is Angel of Death? These were the questions I wanted people to have. Issue #2 will definitely include more back story and explain pieces of all of those questions.

AA: Did aspects of your own life find their way into Legend?

SW: A number of characters in Legend are inspired by people in my life. Aces King, Forge’s friend/mentor, was inspired by my dad. So much so, that my dad actually dresses up as him at conventions. Forge’s other friend, Willa Sawyer, was inspired by my wife. I have a character named Penny who was inspired by my mother and a character named Raven who was inspired by my niece. So, as you can see, Legend has turned into quite the family affair. Beyond that I think some of the hardships I’ve gone through and my family have gone through have sort of bled through onto the pages. Not always in a literal sense of course. For instance, my dad battled cancer back in 2012. A lot of times I feel like Forge’s story is representative of my dad because he faced some pretty unthinkable odds but was able to come out stronger on the other end.

 

AA: What was one memorable story while writing this story?

SW: There was one cry in the corner moment I think and that was after my first failed Kickstarter. There I was, finally having the courage to bring this story to life, a story that had been in my head for 10 years…and no one was interested. As a writer, I had come to terms with rejection pretty early on. But, that was an especially brutal blow. But, thanks to my family, I brushed myself off, got back up, and tried again!

AA: That is really hard, sort of a public judgment. Sometimes though, it’s other factors which play into why a given effort isn’t successful. What research did you do to create the Legend world?

SW: I am constantly doing research as I write. I realize I’m writing a Steampunk Weird West story, but I still want the environment and the history to feel authentic and be grounded in some level of reality. Whenever I give ClickArt Studios new things to draw, I like to provide them with photographs of the actual item from the 1800’s and then have them build the “Steampunk” on top of that. For example, Forge’s guns in the first issue are Magnetic Accelerator Revolvers. The gun itself is actually a Colt pistol. So I had ClickArt start with that design and add the Steampunk pieces on top of it. I think it makes the gun look more believable.

 

That’s a great idea, and a great way for other people to imagine items for their own props and accessories.

Time for a pause in our chat with Scott. Join us again when Scott talks about writing the story.

Keep up with Scott’s latest news on Twitter and Facebook.

Support Scott and our community and get your copy of The Legend of Everett Forge here.

Published in: on March 28, 2017 at 7:05 pm  Comments (2)  
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