Interview with Shroud Media LLC

Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
Canada, one of the most mufti-cultural countries in the world. Although my travels all over North America is a big influence, growing up Canadian means embracing all cultures, languages, and different dialects of English, in order to be respectful to my friends, neighbors, teachers, the list goes on. It's never forced or out of obligation in Canada, it's just what we do. Out of that experience, a fascination with different cultures was born. So, to me, writing a story based in Tennessee is just the next level. We'll see where I'll go next.
What's the story behind your latest book?
Well, two books at once for now.

Cottonseeds, I still don't know exactly where the idea came from. Young lawyer type of guy, older guy in prison, mysterious daughter, a bunch of other stuff happens, cottonseeds floating on the wind. The initial idea anyway. The time and work I've spent on Cottonseeds has been about piecing together all these little ideas into an organized plot. It's possible a poem that's studied in many Canadian schools called The Cremation of Sam McGee is also an influence, kinda brewing in the back of my mind. As one section goes, “Sam McGee was from Tennessee, where the cotton blooms an blows.” Where the rest comes from, I'm not really sure. I think Cottonseeds is the sum of all my influences.

The Ash Garden started as a very simple idea. I came across an old occult saying. The unicorn died giving birth to the dragon, thus the Garden of Eden fell. I was intrigued by the phrase and thought, what if the Garden of Eden was a real person? What would she be like? What kind of life would she have? It occurred to me one day that she would be completely insane. It's like that old joke from the 1960's, if Jesus came back now they would throw him in a mental institution. So that's when I started writing.
Who are your favorite authors?
Neil Gaiman is my main favorite, I've been a fan since 1998. A couple of others I should mention, Patricia Highsmith, Frank Miller, Francesca Lia Block. A lot more I have greatly enjoyed, but I won't bore you with a long list.
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
Man, you're asking me to go WAY back in my memory. Okay, let's see. I'm not sure if this is the very first story I read but it's the first that I can remember. The Garden Gang, an illustrated children's book. It was written, illustrated, and published by a seven year old little girl in England. The fact she accomplished so much at such a young age was a huge inspiration to, well, keep reading.
What are your five favorite books, and why?
American Gods and Sandman by Neil Gaiman
The Talented Mr. Ripley by Patrica Highscmith
Sin City by Frank Miller
Preacher by Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon
The Rose and the Beast by Francesca Lia Block

Yes, I cheated and named two titles for Neil Gaiman, Sue me.

As to the reason why, pretty much the same answer for each one named. Mind-blowing experience. I live for that AHA! feeling when you realize, ohhhh, so that's how it is in this story.
When did you first start writing?
Around 2002 – 2003
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
Quite well. It's called The Ash Garden.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
How do you approach cover design?
Negative space. It's easy to fill up a rectangular space with all sorts of imagery, but I've learned over the years the way negative space is used will often make or break a cover design. It's not just about the focal point, the main subject matter, it's about the whole picture.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
Dialogue. I find it endlessly fascinating to figure out all the many different ways characters can interact with each other, especially with dialogue, and, in turn, paint a larger picture for the reader.
What are you working on next?
Trying to figure out how to draw an inside shot while still showing the outside. Oh wait, you meant projects, right?

Well, I will be working on completing the Cottonseeds series for the most part, while also finishing up the short series called The Ash Garden, a psychedelic graphic novel.
Published 2015-09-28.
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