Most people know me as a book designer, but I’m also a writer. I’ve decided to get serious about it, and this blog will be the place for writings about my writings.
Lori DeBoer, founder of the Boulder Writers Workshop and writing coach recently interviewed me for the Colorado Writers News.
You wear a couple of hats when it comes to the book world—as a cover designer and as a writer. Can you tell us about your attraction to books and why you seem drawn to this industry both as a visual artist and a storyteller?
For me, the two disciplines are intertwined. I have always been both an artist and a writer. A book designer in particular must have an appreciation, and deep understanding, of the meaning and significance of words and literature. I began my professional work in advertising and marketing—from that I learned that words and visuals are powerful manipulators of human behavior. A book cover is not so very different—more on that later.
I started drawing very young and made my own illustrated picture books because I wanted to emulate what I saw in the ones I read. Though my parents were not highly educated, our home was always full of books—reading was something important and honored in our family. My sister became a publisher so for me to become a book designer just seemed natural.
What came first, the graphic design involvement or the writing?
Undoubtedly the art came first—and I got great feedback from parents and friends, which encouraged me to keep going. I’ve looked back at my early writing, and I must say I didn’t develop any real skill until after high school. I think working in advertising actually helped me develop as a writer, too.
You are working on a Young Adult novel that is historically based. Can you tell us about that project?
I have an abiding love of historical fiction, and I am fascinated by those difficult, emotionally intense, formative, teen years. The ones we all remember with possibly equal measures of nostalgia and mortification. I was just getting back into writing, trying different things … I decided to challenge myself by attempting to write in the voice of a fifteen-year-old boy. I found I could do it, but that it had to be one who’s life was set in a time I know better than circumstances for today’s youth. So the 1960s was the time and the Cuba Missile Crisis was a dramatic backdrop that I thought I could explore. My story has grown out of how I thought the characters would react to such a paranoid, scary time. I started writing it as much to learn about the time, place, and characters as to create a great story—but luckily the story came together also.
(Author adopts breathy trailer voice) Imagine a world: where 90 miles off Key West nuclear missiles are armed and pointed at the USA, and a crazy dictator has his finger on the button. A thousand miles away a teenager is ripped from his bitchin’ Southern California lifestyle to go live in a bunker in the desert—awaiting the “end of the world.” It might as well be the end as far as he’s concerned, but once there, he finds a hot chick and her sweet little sister, just dying for some excitement. Dad’s becoming a tin-foil hat-wearing nutcase, Mom is very unhappy, and his Down Syndrome little brother follows him everywhere. It’s a strange way to start a love life, but he’s willing to give it try—if he doesn’t get blown up by the Cubans first.