Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

WHAZAMO! Interview with Hope Larson (plus book giveaway!)

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WHAZAMO! Interview with Hope Larson (plus book giveaway!)

Hope Larson talks about illustration, the process of creating a graphic novel and her latest book, Mercury (Simon & Schuster), which is set in Nova Scotia.

To have your name entered in a draw for Mercury, send an email to clelia@openbooktoronto.com with the name of the town Hope Larson was living in when she wrote Mercury. The contest closes on May 31st.

Click HERE for an excerpt from Mercury.

Q:

Mercury is set in a small town in Nova Scotia, what made you want to write about it?

HL:

I was living in Mount Uniacke, a small town in Nova Scotia, when I wrote the first draft of Mercury. There was history all around: In the Uniacke Estate, a Georgian manor/museum minutes from my house, and in the soil, which was tainted with arsenic and other chemicals left over from a tiny gold rush which took place during the 1800s. It was even under the floorboards in the farm house I shared with my husband. We found old report cards, drawings and newspapers from the 1920s. On top of that, Nova Scotia's severely economically depressed and visiting certain parts of can feel like going through a time warp. Many of the houses are from the early 1900s or older, and it's largely rural, so it probably doesn't look too different from the way it did a hundred years ago or more. I've never felt closer to history than I did there. It's an amazing place.

Q:

Mercury is set in part during the Gold Rush in the 1800s in Nova Scotia, can you tell us a bit more about it?

HL:

Gold fever was going around all of North America at the time, and various parts of Nova Scotia had their own little gold rushes. I think the biggest one was in Fall River. Towns sprung up overnight to support the prospectors who came from all over the world to try their luck mining for gold, and although NS never quite became the Wild West, the gold rushes did attract a criminal element. If you were smart, you'd set up a booth and sell overpriced food and mining equipment to prospectors, but most people preferred to try their luck in the mines.

Q:

What kind of research did you do?

HL:

I visited the Ross Farm museum, which is a working historical farm in the Annapolis Valley. That was incredibly helpful; I even used a house on the property as the model for Josey's house. I also read a bunch of genealogical texts and firsthand accounts of miners who participated in the gold rushes. Most helpful of all were the journals of women who lived in Nova Scotia and other parts of Canada during the 1700s and 1800s.

Q:

There's a supernatural element to Mercury - was that fun to write?

HL:

Yeah, it was! All of the supernatural stuff in the book is ripped from Cape Breton folktales and ghost stories from other parts of Nova Scotia.

Q:

What's your writing process? Do you write your story and then create your pages or do you create/write/draw as you go?

HL:

I write a complete script, which is very much like a film script, and revise that with my editor before I ever begin to draw. Once the story is in relatively good shape I break the script down into pages and draw it.

We do plenty of revision after the book's drawn, too!

Q:

What's your favorite graphic novel?

HL:

I don't have a favorite. I like lots of different books for lots of different reasons.

Q:

What are you reading right now?

HL:

The Girl Who Played with Fire on audiobook while I draw.

Q:

How did you start out in the world of illustration?

HL:

I never really made it into the world of illustration in the first place!
I tried, but not very hard; making comics was much more fulfilling because I was calling the shots instead of some art director. When I've done freelance illustration it's mainly been for money, and that never leads to satisfying art.

Q:

What was your first project?

HL:

My first illustration gig? I can't even remember.

My first professional comics work was a short story in volume 2 of the anthology Flight.

Q:

What advice would you give to budding writers/illustrators?

HL:

You have to love the work enough to do it for free. You'll need hundreds of pages of work under your belt before anyone will consider paying you, and more importantly, you'll need to draw or write hundreds of pages before you have any idea what you're doing.

Q:

What's your next project?

HL:

I'm not allowed to talk about it! Aaaa! I can say, though, that I'm currently working on four (yes, four) projects that I care about very much. The next couple of years are going to be an exciting time for me.


Hope Larson is the author of Chiggers, Gray Horses and Salamander Dream, the latter of which Publishers Weekly named one of 2005's best comics. She is 26 years old, vegetarian and lives with her husband, acclaimed cartoonist and graphic novelist Brian Lee O'Malley, in Asheville, NC. You can visit her online at www.hopelarson.com.

For more information about Mercury please visit the Simon & Schuster website.

Buy this book at your local independent bookstore or online at Chapters/Indigo or Amazon.

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