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    Fiona Avery already has the trifecta. TV? Check. She dazzled television viewers when she wrote for Babylon 5. Novel? Check. Fiona’s book, “The Crown Rose,” is coming out in May. Comics? Check. She penned Amazing Spider-Man, X-Men and now the new series Arana: Heart of the Spider. In addition to all that, Fiona now has a publishing company that just launched this month. Success? Check.

    You’ve written for many mediums. How is writing for comics different? What have you learned from those other mediums that made you a better comic writer?
    Writing for comics is like writing as a photojournalist. You have to pick the most important moments as snapshots and put those on the page, utilizing only about six to eight shots maximum for the page on average. Narrative still counts in comics, and you still need to bring your bag of tricks from prose in order to provide poetry, flow and casual narration where it matters.

    What is Lucky Bamboo Productions? How did you form it?
    Lucky Bamboo Productions is like my private label winery but for comics. My creator-owned titles that are my favorites go into LBP and are made into series or mini-series for fans to enjoy. It’s not technically a small press since Diamond is interested in distributing my comic books, but it is small in the sense that it’s something I do pretty much on my own. I actually didn’t account for needing a Web site and the time it takes to maintain one, and that has been a new and fun challenge.

    How do you approach your writing duties with an established title vs. one you’ve created?
    I treat them identically. If you hold anything back on a work-for-hire, it shows. If you’re being mercenary and just doing a crap job on someone else’s title, you won’t work on it very long. On a personal level, you have to understand that it’s not your property when working for hire, and you have to let other people call the shots. That’s about the only difference.

    I’ve read about your interest in anthropology and archaeology. How is research part of your job as a comic writer?
    I like myth and legend, and I think all stories that touch on the fantastic are rooted in our love of ancient mythologies and legends. Stories first sprung from these sources. People want to understand mysteries in some way, and superheroes are no different than Greek gods when it comes to this. Superheroes are today’s modern saviors in many ways. Whatever I write always seems to have a touch of the historic, legendary or mythic in it. I tend to go back to source and draw from classics when I write.

    Sex and a disproportionate female form sells comics. So you write your characters with realism?
    I do. I write my characters as people first and then add layers on top of that. I don’t know any woman who wakes up in the morning and has a cup of coffee just because she has breasts. You know what I’m saying? We’re all human at the most basic level, and you start there and add layers that differentiate and show unique qualities as you go along. You create by saying, “I’m human, but I crave a smoke often; I’m human and I’m a woman, I’m human but I’m really half-Vulcan. …”

    What tips would you offer to aspiring comic writers?
    Don’t be afraid to write outside the main publishers. There’s nothing wrong with self-publishing in this day and age, and it’s very affordable. Stories were meant to be told, and if something is interesting to you, it will interest someone else. Cerberus is an example of a story about an aardvark, of all things, that has been extremely successful. If someone can write about an aardvark with feeling and realism, you know publishing is for everyone. (I love that Cerberus made it on its own, by the way.)

    So find ways to tell your stories, and let your craft grow with your reputation over time. Our society is obsessed with product over process, and everyone’s often looking for “the next big thing.” For example, book publishers tend to market the hell out of, say, a new Stephen King book, but generally very little is spent to promote new writers. To them, King sells, he’s a sure hit and he’s always the next big thing. Your job is to move beyond the market mentality and write what you love. Writers are innovators; let the big houses be the conservators. Write anyway, and worry about how you get marketed later. Worrying about how you get marketed without writing won’t give you any stories to market in the first place.

    Are there repeated amateur mistakes you see out there? How can they fix them?
    The biggest mistake I see with new writers is that they didn’t spend time writing. They spent their time marketing, writing query letters, convention-hopping, lamenting the lack of jobs over a beer or even daydreaming. Write if you want to write. The act of writing generally opens doors for you, but you must commit yourself to writing first and publishing second.

    What’s the most important thing you’ve learned since entering comics?
    It’s a good idea to self-publish. Even if it’s a four-part mini-series or a one-shot, if you self-publish, other people pick this up and see your vision completed. It’s very hard to pitch, but it’s far easier to show a complete work and say, “You now hold exactly what tone, style and vision I had in my head when I wanted to do this. Do you like it?” What’s nice in addition about self-publishing is that you have full control over the rights if it is ever adapted to TV or film.

    You can also see Fiona’s other work at her Web site -

    —Interview by Tim Leong

    Posted by Tim Leong on April 6th, 2005 filed in Story Archive |

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