Kobo Writing Life director Mark Lefebvre recently attended the 2015 Superstars Writing Seminars (Teaching you the business of being a writer) in Colorado Springs, CO. During the conference, he had a chance to interview several of the faculty and guest lecturers.
Presented here is Mark’s interview with Superstars Faculty member James A. Owen a comic book illustrator, publisher and writer who is best known for the comic book series Starchild and the The Chronicles of the Imaginarium Geographica novels.
Highlights from the discussion include:
- How Owen got to know Kevin J. Anderson and was first invited to be a guest instructor of Superstars Writing Seminars and that led to a permanent Faculty position
- The collaboration that Owen is working on with Kevin
- The regular standing ovation that Owen’s “Drawing out the Dragons” talk receives
- The speaking that Owen has done in Middle Grade schools, Art Schools and for Corporations
- Mark pauses to express the wonder he feels whenever Owen gives a talk, harking on how James is an example of one of the ultimate types of oral storyteller
- The mixture of storyteller and artist and how Owen self-identifies as a “Comic Guy”
- The manner by which the story beautifully derives from the words and pictures coming together
- How Owen puts the needs of others, of those he meets, those he works with, those who look to him for advice first
- Owen’s perspective on how all of us are born into this world without prejudice, without hate, without anger; but how some can become conditioned to that. The shewing of things into a positive light is a choice James makes as a way to perceive a life in an attempt to return to the more natural state
- Owen’s roll at Superstars in terms of a question he asks, which is “How can I serve you?”
- The philosophy of deciding to make things happen or allowing things to happen to you and the manner by which Owen embraces that at all turns
- Being in the depths of despair, and how Owen had posted publicly regarding where he had been and the demons he had been struggling with the previous year, his public posting of it and how, in the middle of it, he still had to do the “Drawing Out the Dragons” presentation on an empty gas tank
- Owen’s belief in the attendees of the Superstars Writing Seminars and how he knew that they all had his back and would not let him down
- The difficulty most people have in not surfacing those personal struggles in believing that we won’t be listened to and that we will be judged for our struggle. Which is why Owen is so open about that
- An intriguing depression-help line discussion that Owen was involved in when he’d been struggling with his own demons
- A moment when a story Owen shares is so emotional that interviewer Lefebvre is overcome with emotion and is rendered speechless
- Advice for writers: How no writer ever wrote a great book without first having finished it. Finish it and then it can be made better
- Owen’s next projects: The Fool’s Hollow novels (the novel versions of the stories told in Starchild) and The Hundred.
Mark then discusses the importance of drawing attention to mental health issues such as depression, which can affect writers and other creative types, outlining the need to discuss these things openly in an understanding way, rather than trying to blame those who suffer from mental health issues. He mentions online resources that might help in Canada (Healthy Minds Canada), the US (Mental Health America) and the UK (Mental Health Foundation)
Drawing Out The Dragons (Book on Kobo)
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Thanks for the wonderfully inspiring interview, Mark and James.
James, you’ve been through quite the adventure and I think a lot of writers could (and do!) gain a lot of courage from your story. I know I have from this one podcast. I think most people don’t know how big are the demons that writers and other creatives go up against on a daily basis. I know my sword arm gets pretty tired, but it’s certainly worth it to fight for your dreams. Cheers to you!