How did you get into art?
I was surrounded by art as a kid, and I started doodling the moment I could pick up a pencil. My parents encouraged me to be creative and always gave me the resources I needed to practice. My mom had a habit of saving every scrap of paper I ever scribbled on and praised me. Meanwhile, my dad - who has a degree in Fine Arts from the College of Creative Studies - took the constructive criticism approach to help me improve. I was about seven, I would take my mom's film camera and run around the neighborhood taking photos of birds, my cat, and my friends. I have a basket full of loose photographs from my young years before I learned how to "properly" take photos and factor in things such as lighting and composition. As for other mediums, such as painting, I would paint with my dad and eventually took a class to learn proper techniques.
What is your favorite thing to draw / take photos of?
My style is very heavily influenced by cartoons and anime, so most of my drawings are character designs. I'm not as skilled with realism, though my drawing classes have taught me to draw a mean still life. I love taking photos of nature, animals, and landscapes. I've learned that I enjoy being in the background and capturing candid moments, so photojournalism is right up my alley. I don't have a ton of experience with studio lighting, so portraits aren't my strong suit, but I have taken outdoor senior photos with excellent results.
What mediums do you work with?
I often use acrylic and watercolors for my paintings, but am particularly fond of oil paints. I find them to be a perfect balance of watercolors and acrylics, but don't get the chance to use them often. For traditional drawings, I tend to use mechanical pencils and Faber Castell ink markers. I'm still learning how to use Ohuhu alcohol based markers. For digital art, I currently use Paint Tool SAI and a Wacom tablet, but have used other programs such as Photoshop Elements and Lightroom. Of course, I've also had experience with your standard supplies, including HB Pencils, Charcoals, Prisma Colored Pencils/Markers, Sharpie Markers. I also have experience with developing black and white film and prints, but lack the supplies to do so from home. It's a craft I deeply miss, but digital photography is satisfying enough.
When did you start writing?
I started writing when I was very young. My earliest stories I wrote in elementary school. They weren't great, but they were surprisingly well written for a nine year old. I was more focused on drawing at the time, but I loved to read and imagine stories to play with my friends. I never really thought about pursuing a career in writing until I was in tenth grade. I tried writing my first book and got through 100 pages of rambling before dropping it. My second and third attempts were better, as I had an idea of where I wanted them to go, but they fell flat as well. The Art of Falling was my first successful manuscript that I completed.
Why do you want to be an author?
There are a few reasons. Of course, I have a natural affinity to writing. Some people are naturally good at sports, others at math and science, some for music and singing. Writing and art is what I can do, and I want to be able to pursue that skill. Of course, I also want to be able to make a career out of my novels so I can support my future. Lastly, and most importantly, I have dozens of stories to tell. I want to share it with those who may enjoy my tales. I don't plan on stopping writing, even if I never make it big on the New York Times Best Sellers.
What is Age of Mythos?
Age of Mythos originally began as a group of roleplays that my good friends did when we were kids. For about five years, we would roleplay online and in real life, in our basements, bedrooms, and backyards. Eventually, we grew out of acting out our stories, and we tried making a webcomic titled "TimeSOS" based on our adventures. However, that didn't quite follow through either. I decided to write a series of novels using the stories and characters we created. I renamed the series "Age of Mythos" because I believed it best suited the direction the story will go. Although the events of The Art of Falling were one of the last roleplays we ever did, the novel itself marks the start of the Age of Mythos series of events.
How many books will be in Age of Mythos?
I don't have a set number just yet, because my stories tend to grow as I write. The story of Regal and Keir will be four books long. After them, I have other characters who will have their own mini series within the Age of Mythos universe, and each of them may have one novel or multiple. However, expect a very long journey ahead of us!
What is the hardest part and the best part of writing a novel?
The most difficult part of writing a novel, for me, is keeping my ideas concise and on track. My Flash Fiction and Short Stories typically become novels, and my novels become series. The Art of Falling was meant to be a stand-alone story and now it's going to be (at least) three books. Another challenge that I feel all writers face is sitting down and actually writing. All of my successful manuscripts were written during NaNoWriMo, where I was focused on cranking out a rough draft in one month. As for what I love about writing, I adore the brainstorming process and discussing ideas and theories with my friends. A lot of my best ideas came from a suggestion, critique, or question they asked. Lastly, I love the editing process - which is something most writers dread. I enjoy going back and re-reading and hearing from my editors on how I can improve. I love fine tuning my stories until they're as close as they can be to perfect.
Do you ever work on more than one book at a time?
I've tried juggling multiple ideas at once, but my brain likes to work in a linear, "accomplish one task on the to-do-list" manner. Typically when I'm into an idea, I can't break away from it until I feel satisfied. I do have other story concepts in my head for when I'm ready, but for now I just focus on creating one solid story before trying to move onto the next.
Who are your favorite authors / what are you favorite books?
My tastes in books have changed over the years. When I was younger and starting to really get into writing, I was in love with fantasy series' such as the Maximum Ride Series by James Patterson, Twilight by Stephanie Meyer, and Cirque du Freak by Darren Shan. Then, I started getting into dystopian types of novels such as Divergent by Veronica Roth, Unwind by Neal Shusterman, and Zodiac by Romina Russell. Now, I've been reading more stand-alone "real life" novels such as This is Where It Ends by Marieke Nijkamp, Seven Ways We Lie by Riley Redgate, and When We Collided by Emery Lord. Some of my all-time favorite novels include Challenger Deep my Neal Shusterman, Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion, and Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov. You can check out all of the books I've read, as well as my ratings for them, over at goodreads.
Do you have any advice for an aspiring writer or artist?
I highly recommend getting involved in a writing or artist group. Hearing from other creators helped me learn to become a better artist, writer, and editor. That alone is one of the biggest blessings. As cliché as it is: never give up and always practice. I have almost a dozen 3" binders filled with drawings and stories all the way back to first grade. It's hard to see your own progress until you look back - which can be embarrassing, but think of those old journals as time capsules showing how far you've come. You need to keep creating despite what people say. You'll receive negative comments and dozens of rejection letters. However, you'll also get a lot of praise and support. Learning how to decipher which comments are productive and which comments are a waste of space will help you build your confidence and know what to take into consideration for your next project.
Can I draw fanart or write fanfiction of your characters?
Oh, please do! I love seeing other people draw my characters - and honestly, what creative person doesn't like that? I would also love to see what side stories you can come up with for my characters. If you do, please e-mail me and let me know!
How did you come up with your cats names?
I intend to give all of my cats pseudo-literary names. Oxford is named after the oxford comma, although most people assume he's named after Oxford University.
For a short time, we also had a kitten named Fable - which was tragically fitting. We only had her for a month before she passed away from medical complications.
Our newest kitten is named Foreshadow, which is self-explanatory. She's a black cat, so it's a play on the more common name "Shadow," while using the literary twist. Foreshadowing is one of my favorite tools when writing.
Some other names I hope to use one day include Pilcrow, Motif, Stanza, and Volta.