Message From The Author
A Novel, Yet Comic, Month
PATRICIA BRIGGS GETS BUSY IN MULTIPLE FORMATS
Things certainly aren't slowing down for bestseller Patricia Briggs, who's running in several directions this year with new novels, new graphic novels and, possibly, even a film deal.
You have two books coming out Aug. 25, the novel Hunting Ground (part of the Alpha and Omega series) from Ace and the graphic novel Homecoming (based on the Mercy Thompson series) with Del Rey/Dabel Brothers. How does that feel? Is there going to be a movie or TV project too? Fantastic, of course. I'm very pleased with both, and how fun that they are coming out the same day! The movie rights for the Mercy series have been contracted by 50 Cannon Productions. They seem to be very serious, but in this kind of thing it's always best to have a "wait until the film rolls" outlook and they are not there yet.
Both of your series are about shapeshifters -- a coyote (inherited) and a werewolf (turned). How do you know or how did you learn so much about primal animal instincts? How do you communicate this passion so concisely to readers? I've always been fascinated by animals, especially the wild predators. I've watched all the wildlife films, read all the usual books [like those of Farley Mowat]. My husband's family had a wolf hybrid (15/16th wolf, 1/16 malamute) who taught me a lot. There was an exhibit on wolves and wolf behavior that came through the Museum of the Rockies in Bozeman, Mont., when I was there. And I take whatever opportunities have come my way for a closer look. One of the things I've always been interested in was the way animals communicate. I feel as though my cats, dog and horses try very hard to let me know what they want from me -- and, sometimes, I think I'm like a deaf person in a hearing world. Body language and tone of voice convey so much more than we notice -- and the language and behavior of animals is ever so much more so. As far as conveying it to readers ... it's like the old writer's trick of putting all five senses in your story -- only a bit more so.
What can you convey in comics that you cannot in a paperback? What can you share or do in a paperback that you cannot do in a comic? Why is each medium valuable and/or important? Comics are much more visual than books -- and that means you can do more with action, facial expressions and body language than you can in a book. Color, not language, sets the tone. Emphasis is on outer expression rather than inner dialogue, so the story works differently. And as a major bonus, you get to see what characters look like. In a book, you can get a better insight into character motivations and you can carry a complex plotline much better. They both have their strengths and weaknesses. Some stories work better visually, and some better on the pages of a book.
As a writer, it has been ... different for me to partner with other people when telling a story. David Lawrence [who adapted the comics] takes my words, shifts them around and interprets them for the artist, who brings them to life. I have much less control over the end result of the comic than the story, and that is both worrying and freeing. The result is an amalgam of me, David and the artists (for Homecoming they are Francis Tsai and Amelia Woo). The books also benefit from other people's input, but in the end the responsibility for all decisions (mistakes) is mine.
Is there anything you'd like to confide to readers about your series or yourself? I can fetch tools -- but you wouldn't want me to work on your car. I don't turn into a coyote when it suits me, though I have a number of them living on my back 40. I've never knowingly met a werewolf -- though apparently a few years ago someone broke into an office building in the middle of the night in my hometown and perched outside the second-floor windows (about 20-25 feet in the air). When the police came to get him, he claimed he was running from a werewolf.
For the writers out there, do you have any favorite writing habits or tips to share? I like to write with music -- any kind of music: folk, opera, classical, rock, whatever. I don't usually listen to it. I just let it barricade me away from the real world. I also try to write a little bit every day, even when I don't feel like it. Some of my best scenes have come from days when I didn't feel inspired until after I had a few pages under my belt. I daydream a lot. When I don't know how I want a scene to work out, I'll lie down, close my eyes and let it run in my head a couple of different ways. It's also fun, when my husband Mike comes in covered in dirt or grease or grime from working on whatever project he has going, to tell him that lying on the bed with my eyes closed is working.
What's next on the horizon for you? I'm just now getting started on the next Mercy book, Silver Borne, in which Samuel's problems come to a head -- though that doesn't stop a lot of other things complicating Mercy's life too. The Dabel Brothers are now working on comic versions of both series, Mercy Thompson and Alpha and Omega. And I have a short-story project going. Short stories are not my natural storytelling length, so sometimes they are actually more difficult for me than a novel is.
-- Anne Elizabeth
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