Anthony and Conor are the co-creators of the graphic novel "Kill Shakespeare". These two are VERY cool and I enjoyed getting to know them over the course of our interview. They are funny and charming! I was unable to review their book officially due to my current commitments but I was able to view it online and they are very talented individuals! Over the course of this interview it will become clear to you that they are a great team! I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. As always my questions are in color... red being the choice this time around!
Will you tell us a little about yourselves? How did you become an author or take up an interest in writing?
A: I have a lot of experience in the media business, ranging from producing a couple independent films and then serving as one of Nelly Furtado’s managers. I’ve always been involved in the creative process and love the creative process. In this case this was a story that would keep me up at night with the knowledge that we loved this story and knew that we had to tell it however we could.
C: I wrote when I was younger, and then worked for the university paper, and eventually fell into print and T.V. journalism. At the same time I worked with Anthony and others to create a kid’s T.V. series that was optioned, and an animated film that was funded to final draft status. So I guess I have always had the bug.
What is Kill Shakespeare about?
A: Kill Shakespeare is a graphic novel adventure story that pits the Bard’s greatest heroes (including Hamlet, Juliet, Falstaff, Othello, Puck) against his most menacing villains (including Richard III, Lady Macbeth, Iago) in a quest to track down and kill – or save – a reclusive wizard by the name of William Shakespeare.
C: It’s also about forgiveness, belief, and how to deal with yourself (and the world) when it seems like every action you take is wrong.
Did you have any specific inspiration that contributed to writing "Kill Shakespeare"?
A: David Carradine.
C: Which sort of tells you all you need to know about Anthony… Really, those two words are enough.
For me, seeing The Tempest at the Stratford Festival (North America’s largest Shakespearean festival) made me understand the Bard in a whole new way. I suddenly saw that the stories were really cool and that experience hid away in my belly until the idea for Kill Shakespeare hit us.
A: To justify my reference to Mr. Carradine, Conor and I originally were thinking about creating a video game for the Kill Bill film series and then we decided that rather than trying to hunt down and kill David Carradine, it might be cool to find another Bill… and that turned out to be Billy Shakespeare!
Who was your main support system when writing this book? Did you have anyone who specifically gave you strength, courage or advice while writing "Kill Shakespeare"?
C: I’d say Anthony, but he was actually covertly working to break me down psychologically so that I was driven mad, sent to an asylum, and he could own all the copyright himself….
A: We’ve received a lot of mentorship while working on this, from other comic book creators like Arvid Nelson and Ty Templeton to Shakespeare experts like Martha Cornog and Ted McGee (University of Waterloo).
What do you hope readers will take away from this book?
A: Our goal is to – in addition to entertaining the reader – have people put down the book and realize how great Shakespeare’s characters are. There are so many people that are scared of the Bard because they have memories of bad high school English teachers but when you boil Shakespeare down to his basic elements, they are great characters in fantastic stories.
C: Hmmm. That’s a good question. I don’t know if I hope readers take anything specific away from this book. For me Kill Shakespeare is not clearly about ONE BIG IDEA so I guess I hope that readers take something away. If we make people think about Kill Shakespeare after the cover is closed I’ll be pretty happy. I think there’s a lot in there to muse on, and hopefully readers will agree.
Do you ever see yourself writing a sequel or series?
A: This is currently a twelve-issue comic book series (the first graphic novel collects the first six issues) but we have a rough outline of what could happen in a second or third series
C: I have all sorts of weird and wonderful ideas in my head for those - we’ll see if Anthony lets me write them. But The Tempest definitely figures in quite heavily. We also have some neat prequel stories brewing in our brains…
What is your favourite memory in regards to writing "Kill Shakespeare"?
A: I remember writing a scene in an early treatment (outline) of the story and when the main character made a particular choice to sacrifice something important to them, I shed a tear. Yes, I’m happy to admit that. And I knew then that the scene worked!
C: He’s such a wuss.
Is Kill Shakespeare your first novel? If so, what is it like to see your debut novel, a dream for most, in print and on the book store shelves?
A: Yes, this is my first novel. The first time I was the completed, printed book I shed a tear. It looked so good – glossy, fantastic colours, great weight. It’s amazing that something that one day was just an idea that Conor and I shared is now a physical product that people can read and be entertained by.
C: Like I said, such a wuss…
Do you have any other novels in the works? Should be expect to see more from you?
A: We have a number of other projects (film, television) that we’ve developed in the past but have put on the backburner while working on Kill Shakespeare. In the future, when we have the time, we’re re-explore them.
C: I’ve got a children’s book I have been (slowly) working on and a bunch of essays, although I am not sure where those are going to go. As Anthony said, it’s hard to find time, so I have a whack of first drafts of these things on my computer.
What is your favorite book?
A: Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes.
C: One Day in the life of Ivan Denisovich by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn (I actually haven’t read Don Quixote as Anthony won’t lend it to me).
A: Now who’s being the wuss?
Have you read a book whose hype ruined your reading experience? If so, which one?
A: I actually wasn’t impressed by A Tale for Two Cities. I had heard so many good things about it but found that it wasn’t focused and I couldn’t get into it.
C: Not really, I had a similar experience with Les Miserables. But I figure I just may need to try that again when I’ve grown as a person a little. Or maybe I will still think it is over-rated. We’ll see.
What is your preferred writing atmosphere?
C: I’ll either write upstairs with the door open to get some air in the place, or I’ll write downstairs on the couch with a mindless movie playing in the background.
A: I like to listen to classic film scores while writing in my home office.
Are you a night owl or early bird?
A: I am a night owl trying to learn how to wake up earlier every morning…
C: Neither, really.
Do you have a favorite reading/writing snack?
C: I like tart fruits.
A: Peanut butter!
Who is your favorite Author?
A: Other than the Bard himself? I’ve read all of Malcolm Gladwell’s books – he is an incredibly talented storyteller.
C: I’m sorry to say that I don’t really have one. I have quite a few authors I like, but nobody that I think “I have to buy (this person’s) latest book”.
What is your favorite sport?
C: To watch? Basketball. To listen to on the radio? Baseball. To play? I really liked playing Lacrosse and Rugby. But I’m pretty happy playing any sport – although I’m not good at racket sports.
A: Other than rock-paper-scissors? Basketball.
A: Anything that Pixar puts out.
C: I’d agree there. But for the old-school amongst us, I really love Scooby-Doo and all the original Warner Brothers.
How do you react to a bad review?
C: I take the points I think are fair and try to remember them to help make me a better writer. And the stuff I don’t agree with I think on for a bit. Sometimes I realize the reviewer may have hit on to something I didn’t realize at first, and other times I just chalk it up to personal opinion. It’s sort of the same with a good review. “They ain’t right when they damn you, but they ain’t right when they praise you either.”
A: The first bad review we read put me into a bad mood for a couple hours but I’ve eventually learned that not everyone will like your work and that’s a part of it. It’s great working in the comic format because we can slightly adapt our story to the reader’s feedback as it goes on.
What do you do with your time when you’re not writing?
A: Promotions, promotions, promotions. Every writer these days has to learn to promote themselves – it’s an absolute essential element to the industry these days.
C: Anthony hit the nail on the head with that one. I also am incredibly fortunate to live with the love of my life, Crystal, so I get to spend time with her as well which always makes me smile (love ya, honey!).
Name something on your Christmas list?
C: Well I am happy to say I received a drill set, a vest, toilet cleaner, a copy of Inception (which I have yet to see), and this rocking book about the elements. So I was sufficiently satisfied by Santa (woah, sling those syllables, Sam!).
A: Time off!
Thank you very much Anthony and Conor! I enjoyed having you both as my guests today! Make sure to stop by their website http://www.killshakespeare.com/creators.html for more information about "Kill Shakespeare".