10 Questions: The Gathering Edition – Elena Andrews

We continue our interview series with members of The Gathering and GrayHaven Comics. We’ve put out the same questions to numerous individuals and can compare their responses. A hopefully intriguing interview series.

Check out our previous interviews.

Up next is writer Elena Andrews.

Graphic Policy: How did you get started in the comic book industry?

Elena Andrews: I did a short story for The Gathering in their Romance issue illustrated by Aaron Bir. I typically write prose so this was an interesting experience having to write something with an artist in mind. I then did another short story for the All Women issue, a book I’m very proud of, that was completed created by women comic creators. That story, illustrated by Karen Wang, featured characters from another novel I’m doing but it also serves as a stand alone story.

GP: Were you a fan of comic books before?

EA: I’ve never really read comic books. My husband is a huge fan as well as my brother and our kids read some but I never really followed them. I did read some X-Men comics years ago when they relaunched everything in the Ultimate books and have flipped through issues of The Walking Dead because I love the show but I’m probably the least comic book person of the group. This is all new to me haha.

GP: Do you read comics now? If so, what are some of your current picks?

EA: I don’t really read anything on a consistent basis but I’ve flipped through some of the books that my husband gets like The Walking Dead or Saga.

GP: How did you get involved with The Gathering?

EA: Andrew put a call out for writers for the Romance issue of The Gathering and I had an idea I thought would be interesting for a short story with that theme and was paired up with Aaron on the art and continued to submit to issues that had themes I thought I could do justice to.

GP: Each issue of The Gathering has a theme, how did that factor into the comic creation?

EA: I think it helps. The stories don’t have to follow any sort of sequential path since they don’t necessarily continue from one issue to the next. If there’s a theme that I’m interested in and I can come up with a short I’ll submit something or wait until the next round. I think that’s what’s appealing for a lot of the writers. You don’t need to figure out how to come up with how to get certain characters into situations presented by the themes since in most cases these stories are all one and done.

GP: What advice would you give to independent creators just breaking into the business?

EA: Keep doing what you love. There are so many opportunities out there from self publishing your work in print to publishing ebooks or digitial comics there’s really no excuses left to sit back and wait for things to happen. You’re in control of your own destiny. But just because you have free reign you also need to be able to rely on others to lend a critical eye. Too many people rush to put out a product because it’s so easy now. Give it an edit. Then let some people you trust to not sugar coat it also give it a look and offer feedback. Take criticism well and learn from it. Editors are not the enemy, they’re just there to lend a helping hand and an impartial eye because when you do put your work out there for the world to see you want to make sure that it’s the very best it can be.

GP: What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned through your experiences?

EA: I’m still learning! One thing I quickly discovered is that with self publishing a book or having a story published for an indie company like GrayHaven you’re marketing almost as much as you’re writing. You’re out there competing for the attention of millions of readers with tens of thousands of other creators trying to carve out that same piece of the pie for themselves. I’ve appreciated every blogger and reviewer who’s taken the time to interview me or review the book because it does drive sales and it makes a huge difference but it does take time. My book was published in February of this year and it took a few months before people outside my family noticed it and I could see a noticeable climb in sales.  You have to make yourself available for people who want to know about the book and be interesting. With comics it’s been learning how to write in a completely different way than I’ve been used to. For my novels I’m responsible for describing every last detail and painting a picture for the reader. With comic books I’m giving direction to the artists but it’s more about making what goes onto the page exciting in a visual sense and trusting the artist to bring those details to life in a unique way.

GP: Do you think it’s easier today for creators to get published?

EA: I really do. Instead of waiting for an editor from any publishing company (comics or otherwise) to get back to you on critiques for your story (if they even get your work in the first place) you can self publish. My first novel, Run Like Hell was something I was very proud of and wanted to get out there for people to read. Rather than waiting for who knows how long I learned how to create it as an ebook and made it available that way once I went through edit after edit after edit haha. Years ago a creator would create and then the waiting began. Now everyone has the ability to instantly make their product available to readers in whatever format they choose. It’s amazing.

GP: How do you think technology like social networking or crowdfunding sites like IndieGoGo or Kickstarter are impacting comic book publishing?

EA: It allows those same self-publishers to help pay for the production of their work and get it into the hands of readers through their rewards and incentives. It eliminates the guesswork involved with smaller publishers who don’t need to print up 5000 copies of their books to have them gather dust as in many cases they’ll have direct orders via the crowdfunding sites. I don’t think GrayHaven could have expanded to the point where they’re at in only a few years without it and because of that I’ve been given an opportunity to do something very cool with my own work.

GP: What can we expect from you next?

EA: I have a story in The Gathering #14 which is the 3rd Horror issue that they’re doing. It was illustrated by David Aspmo and looks wonderfully creepy. He nailed the tone for sure. I can’t wait to see the completed book as the Horror issues are always something special. Thanks to a lot of the success with their anthology comics and the aforementioned crowdfunding they’re moving to a big new initiative which is to tell longer self contained stories. One of the first books they’ve decided to do is an adaptation of my novel, Run Like Hell. It’s going to be illustrated by George Amaru who’s done lovely work on other issues of The Gathering and the pieces he’s shown me so far have really been great.  It’s strange to see these characters brought to life visually like this but George is really getting to the heart of the characters. The first issue of Run Like Hell should be released in February, I believe.