Author/Illustrator Interview S.P. McConnell!

Today I am super excited to invite one of the most tenacious and supportive writers in our community onto the blog today – S.P McConnell! Let’s all take a moment to pay homage to he who is King Of Snark, Battler of Pitch Wars Extraordinaire, and Beacon Of Writing Hope! And I’m not even kidding. We’ve got to know each other pretty well through social media and one thing I have to admit – this is a man with the best attitude to the writing world that I’ve seen in a long time.

TAKE NOTE:  You can see the man himself showcasing at the Dallas Comic Con May 16-18!

And see all his wonderful stuff here:  Go there first.  Really.  Actually, read the interview and then go there, because it is a black hole of amazingness that you will fall into and never return from!

Yes, he drew this.  He is that talented.  I call cover artist!

Okay, fan adoration aside, let’s move onto the good stuff. Questions galore!

Me: Okay, I need to ask – why on earth did you want to get into this crazy writing and artist’s (arting?) world in the first place (physical torture not enough? 😉 ).

It has always been a love affair and tug-of-war between art and writing. During my first round in college, I was a double major with art and creative writing. Finances forced me to drop one and since I read a lot of the books assigned in lit classes, I went with art. To make peace with an angry muse, I wrote two novels during school. Ever since I was little, I was drawing or telling stories or telling stories with drawings.

Me: Are you allowed to tell us about S.P.O.O.K.? (hint: This is where you say “why yes, should I send you the whole book with a signed autograph and a lovely drawing to boot?).

Oh goodness, yes! S.P.O.O.K. is a labor of love that originally began as a story I wrote for my bookworm son. He’d read us out of house and home and needed new material. The story evolved and a series developed. Now the cast joins us at the dinner table as we share their imaginary exploits.

S.P.O.O.K. tells the tale of the less-than-perfect recruitment of Josh Clark to a society hidden under the facade of a prestigious academy. While on the surface it appears as though the students are learning advanced Calculus, they’re actually embarking on dangerous missions to do away with paranormal threats. The first book is all about Josh coming to terms with his new world and trying to stay alive. Imagine Ghostbusters meets Special Ops.

Now that sounds awesome!  *makes grabby hands*
I’ll figure out the book and drawing. 😉

Good!  Well played.  :p

Me: Talking of drawings, I hear you’re pretty nifty at the old “picture making” thing. And murals. And fine art. And basically anything that involves creating images we all drool over (then we secretly try to mimic on a pad of paper with a crumbling old pencil we found at the bottom of a drawer – and no, you don’t want to see that!). Can you tell us more about your artwork? What inspires you? How does it reflect on your writing?

I cut my teeth in art school with figurative art aspirations. It was nice to have a class where realistic depiction was encouraged. When I spent a semester in New York, I went to the Met and saw the Hudson River artists. After suffering a crisis of inadequacy, I decided I wanted to create landscapes that inspired me as much as those paintings. Channeling my ultimate muse (music) I spent years working to achieve the effects. I wanted the markings on the canvas to be as beautiful as the sounds of Enya, Loreena McKinnett, Altan and Vangelis among others. Not sure I ever reached symbiosis with the music, but I got better.

As art turned to business, I made sure every 10th piece was for me. Those works were more akin to my S.P.O.O.K. material with ghouls and monsters and all the lovable ghastly I could muster. Evanescence and Within Temptation tend to be more suitable muses for these works.

As for the writing and the art, the two go hand-in-hand. S.P.O.O.K. is designed to be multi-platform with collector cards, series art, graphic novels and an eventual video game.

That is so cool.  Really cool.  I want to be able to do that.  *looks at crumpled paper*  Maybe not then, so I guess we should just all hire you!

Me: Why are you so talented? Who did you bargain with to get these talents? What is your secret? No, really, I need to know.

I have been very fortunate to be desperately in love with a beautiful woman who never let me give up and always encouraged me to paint or write the next inspiration. With all the practice and support, I just figured a few things out like fuzzy side down for the paintbrush.

Me: This brings me to cover design. You’re branching out to create amazing author covers – what is it you hope to bring to an author’s book? Why is it you’re so passionate about this?

I want to create beautiful covers that make the author want to hug and squeeze and kiss their books. With my figurative background I hope to work with authors to achieve a character likeness that is their main character. I see a lot of photoshopped model covers—which I like—but I hope to get the personalization down to the very freckle on the heroine’s nose.

I also believe it is essential to let the author really embrace their world, especially in fantasy literature. I want to render as many sketches as necessary to ensure the horrible creature called a Drombuglin is as awesome and wretched as the author envisions.

Most of all, authors are beautiful people with great vision. I love working with them.

Me: Talking of books, tell us about your agent, the wonderful, lovely, amazing Terrie Wolf. (Some people may have noticed by now, my questions do not follow any particular order lol).

Terrie is a wonderful agent and I am blessed to be represented by her. She really, really, REALLY loves, understands and supports every manuscript she represents and defends her clients passionately. I am so fortunate to have an agent who understands I am in this career for the long-haul and desire to build a path of sustainability. In a business that places so much importance on numbers, I am thrilled to have an agent who ensures I’m placed with not just any publisher, but the right publisher. Terrie is a manager, a counselor—when needed, a sounding board and most of all a dear friend.

Me: This question is a little side-track-y (it’s a word. Well, no, it’s not, but hey, I like it). Do you design websites? Because WOW. Your website rocks. I could spend all day there. And if you do, can I break your arm (I mean twist it) into doing mine?

I mostly work to create web images that work within the parameters of a webdesign template: banners, headers, wallpaper etc. I think the actual nuts and bolts programming is in the better hands of a full-time programmer. As for your site, just let me know what I can do to help as you’re Fiona and therefore epic and stuff. 🙂

Note:  I will hold you to this.

Me: How do you find the time to do ALL of this?

I work whenever and wherever I can. There have been many swim meets where I am balancing a netbook on my knees while a manic crowd of parents scream for Timmy to go faster. Coffee helps too.

Me: I want to live in your book. That is not a question.

You’d be welcome. I must warn you: its a dangerous place. Be sure to visit Gertrude in Research and Development to pick up some field armor and a fully armed Disruptor.

Me: Tell us about your experiences as an artist and a writer. Favorite parts? The parts you hate? What you hope for the future?

Highs: When I create art, my favorite moments are when I see how much a client appreciates all that went into their image. I’ve had clients shed tears, pull me into bear hugs, and invite me to parties as a VIP. I’ve been fortunate to have my work in some truly amazing homes, but the ones that really tug at my heartstrings are the clients who really sacrificed to own a painting. These clients and my repeat customers—I have a client who owns seven murals and has another on order—are the guardian angels who give me hope and validate my career.

Lows: There was a 70′ exterior mural that had to be entirely redone. I think that was one of the rare low-points of the art side of things. I still have nightmares about sanding and priming and repainting and sanding and priming…

Highs: The greatest joy from writing was when I watched two teenage boys share their favorite parts of my book. They used quotes, voices and the occasional belly-laugh to relate. As they laughed and laughed, my eyes became a little watery, but in a good way.

Lows: The hardest part of the writing side is waiting. You work so hard on your baby and put it out there and try everything you can to forget about it even though you obsess over it every minute of every day of every…ack! With all the multi-platforming involved with S.P.O.O.K., I have an entire army of projects meeting me every morning with the same question, “Can we meet the world today?” The next morning, they’re all there again to ask, “How about today?”

Oh I feel you on that.  I can’t imagine how tough it must be on multi-platform!

Me: Now the juicy question – what was your biggest mistake as a writer and as an artist? (Okay, since you didn’t ask, I’ll tell you mine first – as a writer, I sent hand written copies of my first book to all major publishers – not the editor, the actual publisher. I was sixteen. As an artist – I am not one. At all. But I think it’d be awesome to be one. I drew hedgehogs. And rabbits. They were very bad). Now you go…

My worst writing mistake? I wrote my first novel in middle school and PAID an agency to read it. Gah! I know, right. What kind of agency takes payment especially from a 13 year-old. That was a lot of lawn mowing money those crooked agents took.  Oh my god!  They took money from a thirteen year old!  God have mercy on them!

My worst art mistake? I sold an super large mural commission to a client that was supposed to have gorgeous angels with roses, and swirling rose petals. It promised to be the most amazing mural I ever made. Even though the client approved of angels—adult angels—they made me rework the giant panels with cherubs. Somewhere there is a house with ugly, fat, baby angels leering down at people in hopes of eating them of whatever cherubs do. Don’t look for it on the website, its not there.

Me: Last but not least – what is better – hedgehogs or rabbits…wait no, that’s not it. What is better – art or writing?
I am going to wimp out and give a very politician-esque answer. I like them both equally. They are both such rewarding and demanding pursuits filling my heart and voraciously eating what little time I have. If I could drop one and have more time to catch up on this Walking Dead, Breaking Bad, Orange in the New Black world I hear about I would. I just can’t seem to let either go. I love both so much.

Thank you so much for interviewing for us today!

Thank you so much for the request! I’m honored, even though it seems like I have to design a web site, send a book and make a drawing. I can’t help but think, “That Fiona sure is a crafty one.” 🙂

 Darn, he worked that out!  :p

So everyone, PLEASE for the love of all that is right in this world, go to Sean if you’re looking for your book cover, swag or general “need something really awesome” for your book!

1 thought on “Author/Illustrator Interview S.P. McConnell!

  1. Great interview, Fiona, and way to get some web design work & an autographed book from the deal! Well played. 😉

    The combination of so much talent, humor, and such a generous spirit makes Sean a favorite to follow on Twitter. I must admit, the thought of carnivorous cherubs both disturbed me and made me laugh. You may have to work those into one of the S.P.O.O.K. series books, Sean.


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