Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Celebrate Transparent's Release: Art & Words

Today on the blog I have the very great pleasure and honor of hosting an author I've admired for years. Natalie Whippleis the author of TRANSPARENT, a book about a girl who's born invisible in a world where having super powers can be very dangerous indeed. It made me cry on the airplane. Twice. And it also made me laugh. On the airplane. Once, while I was also crying. The people sitting next to me thought I was insane, and I have never seen anyone leap up out of their seats so quickly after landing.

While I loved the set-up of the book--invisible people are awesome, yo!--the scene that was the most powerful to me was also the most human, and had nothing at all to do with super powers. Hurry up and read this book so I can talk to you about how awesome that scene was (which, sadly, is also totally spoilerific and I can't talk about it here).

In addition to being a brilliant author, Natalie's also a fantastic blogger (hers is one of the blogs I read pretty dedicatedly), she looks great in heels, and she's an amazing artist! And Natalie's here today to talk about the connection between art and words--and to showcase a beautiful piece of original art she made for TRANSPARENT's release! (Which is today. So, you know. GO BUY IT NOW PLEASE.)

Art And Words
by Natalie Whipple

When most authors are asked what their characters look like, I imagine they have “real people” references. Actors, models, singers—I see writers compare their characters to famous, good looking people. I’m not saying this is a bad thing, but I have a confession to make:

I see all my characters as cartoons.

This is an inevitability, since animation has been a big part of my life. Okay, it still is. Give me an animated “kiddie” show, and I will gladly watch it and revel in the art and how it gives mood to the story. Let me watch anime over CW dramas. Please, for the love, don’t make me “grow up” and stop watching cartoons.

The truth is, I’m pretty sure animation has had a bigger impact on my writing than books. I wasn’t a ravenous reader growing up, like many of my fellow writers. Don’t get me wrong—I loved stories—but I found something infinitely more interesting when it was a piece of art, whether moving or still.

I gravitated to comics adapted into animated TV shows, like my beloved X-men and Spiderman. I gobbled up fun stuff like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Ghostbusters, Dexter’s Laboratory, Rugrats, Invader Zim, and The Powerpuff Girls. I had to see every Disney movie, and I still remember when Pixar released Toy Story. Blew. My. Mind. Anime entered my life fairly early on, thanks to my mom finding My Neighbor Totoro, Kiki’s Delivery Service, and Castle In The Skylong before Disney bought rights to them (and subsequently butchered the English dub of Totoro with the Fanning sisters, ugh). Then I found Sailor Moon, and it was all over.

Anime became my art of choice from about 12 years old and on. I devoured any anime I could get my hands on. I pretty much dedicated my teen years to becoming a better cartoonist, creating dozens and dozens of characters that I swore someday I’d write a real story for. And I did. The people I drew inspired me to write “episodes” of the anime I would someday create. My friends would read them and beg for more. I still have some of those old, horribly written pages—my first real attempt at long fiction. Eventually those episodes became chapters, and the chapters became books.

My first published novel, Transparent, is debuting now, and I think it’s safe to say that anyone who reads it will see the comic/anime influences. Honestly, all my writing is unavoidably infused with the art I’ve spent so much of my life creating. Scenes unfold like comic action sequences in my head. My characters have exaggerated cartoon features when I imagine them. I think even my chapters end where I imagine a “commercial break” would come.

So yeah, my writing is very much informed by my art, and I suppose my art is informed by my stories. They’ve always gone together for me, and I think it gives my books a unique flavor.

And since I’m talking art and words today, I had to draw something special. The picture in this post is from Transparent,specifically Fiona’s first day of school. I had a lot of fun trying to create an image for an invisible girl. All these years I haven’t actually drawn her because I wasn’t sure I could do it justice, but I hope you like what I came up with.

Thanks so much, Beth, for hosting me today. It means a lot that you’d let me use your blog space to talk about myself. You’re so generous like that.

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