Marianne de Pierres is my guest blogger today. Her new book, Peacemaker, began life as a short story, turned into a comic book and is now galloping towards us a a novel by Angry Robot book. I asked Marianne to talk about writing a comic versus a book.
Peacemaker: Comic vs Book
My new novel Peacemaker started out as a short story about ten years ago. Even after it was published, the story kind hung around in the back of my mind, whispering subliminal messages to me that it wasn’t done yet.
When I got around to thinking about it again, it demanded to be turned into a novel. I set about making the story transition from short fiction to long form, delving deeper into the narrative and the characters. The protagonist felt very natural to write, and the setting excited me, so it was a fun experience.
That’s what made it all the more curious that, when seventy pages into the novel version, I became smitten with the idea of turning it into an online comic.
I began to talk to friends in the industry. Nicola Scott, Andrew Constant and Paul Jenkins were fantastic and gave me much helpful advice. I knew I was a complete beginner at this kind of writing, and I was acutely aware of my inexperience. Somehow, that still wasn’t enough to stall the whim. I just loved how this world looked in my mind. I had to see it drawn. Thanks to Nicola, I hooked up with emerging artist Brigitte Sutherland, and we opened a dialogue that lead to the first issue being published about a year later.
In that time, I learned a huge amount. I’ve always been someone who writes fairly lean prose. I like to get to the point. I like that you can use just a few words and still pack them full of electrical charge. I take it as a challenge to do that.
Writing the comic then, I told myself, should just be a more compacted version of what I was already doing. Not so!
I soon came to the realisation (by the end of the second issue – still unpublished) that it is really the artist telling the story. The writer gives signposts, enhances characterisation and makes sure there is an overall coherence to the plot (a thousand comic writers are going to POW! me off stage right now). Remember, this perspective is framed by a novelists brain. A novelist controls everything about his/her novel. A comic writer has an entirely different process.
I had to take myself out of the equation and let the artist and their images tell as much of the story as possible. Most interestingly for me was the fact that I felt compelled to show the reader a glimpse of the antagonist in the very first issue, something I would rarely do in a novel. It was then that I realised the luxury that even a lean writer has in books, playing with their words, creating a slow burn, luring the reader along.
So much time; so many words; such bliss …
Peacemaker will be released as an e-book on 29 April 2014. Check out Angry Robot for links and the print book release dates!