Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Resistance - An interview with Carla Jablonski

Yesterday I posted a review of Resistance, a graphic novel that was written by Carla Jablonski. Today I am posting an interview that I had with her.


1. How did you get interested in the world of children’s books in the first place?
I actually never stopped reading children’s books! Long after I was a “grown-up” I continued to love books for all ages. And I was lucky enough to land a job soon after college working in children’s publishing -- and never left!

2. Tell us a little about the books you have written.
I’ve written a wide-range of books -- from humorous chapter books to intense YAs, from fantasy to historical fiction, along with movie tie-ins and adaptations. Most of what I write tends to be for middle-grade or teen readers. My most recent books have been Thicker than Water, a very dark YA for older teens about a goth girl who is drawn into an underground “vampire” lifestyle scene (out now in paperback!) and Silent Echoes, a YA novel set in both contemporary New York and the New York of the 19th century. Resistance is my first graphic novel, but I’m already at work on several more. I’m also a playwright/director and I think that’s why the comics medium felt very natural to me -- I understand “staging” and how to tell a story through dialogue.

3. Where did the idea for Resistance come from?
I love writing (and reading) historical fiction and I love research, so I was casting about for a subject that would allow me to use those skills and tell a compelling story for kids. The Resistance allowed me to pose the question “what would I do?” which I think is a very powerful place to start from when writing. The situation is inherently dramatic, so finding ways to make my characters active was easy. I also was interested in the idea of secrets -- when to keep them, how to keep them, their danger -- and the Resistance certainly supplied me with a situation rife with them.

4. How did you research the story? Did you go to France at all?
Oh, how I wanted to go to France! But no, all the research was done here in New York. I did LOTS of things - I read and read and read: histories of the war, memoirs written by resistance fighters as well as autobiographies of people who lived through the times, read up on winemaking in France; I also watched movies (documentaries and fictional films about the war and the resistance in particular) as well as films simply made during that period. I also looked at many images (The New York Public Library picture collection is a great resource!) for visual inspiration.

5. Did you work with the illustrator, Leland Purvis?
Leland was great to collaborate with. When we first started working I gave him character descriptions and he showed me sketches for my input. Because he is such an experienced artist, I left many decisions up to him. My “script” broke the scenes into pages so he would know what I wanted to happen on each page, but, unlike some comics writers, I only rarely told him how I wanted each individual panel to look. I did specify what I wanted the pictures in Paul’s sketchbook to look like, though I often gave him multiple ideas to choose from.

6. When can we expect the second book in the trilogy to be available?
Spring 2011. It’s called Defiance: Resistance Vol. 2.

7. In addition to writing books, you also edit them. Do you like doing this kind of work, and if so why?
I do. I think it’s kind of a left-brain/right-brain thing. I like being able to switch back and forth between the two modes of thinking. I also find doing the editorial work really helps me with my own writing when it’s time to revise.

8. For fun, you perform on the trapeze. How did this start?
As research! I was writing about circus performers and felt I would understand the characters better if I could experience what they did. For some reason I took to it, and I wound up performing in all kinds of shows in New York and in Edinburgh, Scotland. It was not exactly what I thought I’d wind up doing professionally with my masters degree…. But what a great -- and surprising -- detour!

Thank you Carla!

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