Q: The cliché question: Why Writing?
It becomes you. If you know what I mean? It's intrinsic. I can't really explain the magic of writing, it enriches your entire being and at the same time it is a constant struggle. Yin and Yang kind of craft, pushing and pulling consistently, leading you one way and then another. When you lock into that state of mind, unconscious thought, where stories are hidden, and they appear before you, it's so addictive. To find the story within. I think everyone has one, or ten. I recommend writing to everyone, but without certain personality traits, many won't even start let alone finish.
Initially, I wrote to escape. Like drawing, it calmed my anxious thoughts and kept my overactive mind busy on something else. When I was writing, my anxieties seemed to be pulled out of my mind and onto the paper. I wrote strange, twisted stories, and they reflected how I was feeling. Over the years, I improved and gained much insight into how the mind works and the body reacts. I wanted to write something influential and positive, as I am a positive person, it's only my vivid imagination that gets out of hand sometimes.
Mark Twain once said, 'Write what you know', and I know anxiety. So I created, The Other Side of Eve. An entwining story of one protagonist battling monsters on the outside, and of another 'Eve' fighting her monsters within. It sounds like it could have been a sociological horror, thankfully it wasn't. To me, it became a unique and intimate fairytale. That's the magic of writing.
Paperback, without a doubt. There is a big difference between a real library and a digital library. Although I'm not against eReaders, I do have a Kindle Paperback, and it is a wonderful device.
As an indie author, one of the many skills I needed to require was how to format an ebook for both Kindle and epub readers such as the iPad.
'The Other Side of Eve' eBooks have the same 80+ chapter illustrations and now a Map of Mare-Marie. They look just as beautiful on the matt screen of the Kindle Paperwhite, and you can zoom in on details.
So many, but Douglas Adams would be one. Anyone who can create a hedonistic, irresponsible and narcissistic character like Zaphod Beeblebrox is down my alley. Adam's characters in Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy come alive in your mind, even Arthur Dent, which is hard because he's such a none.
Another on the extreme opposite would be Richard Matherson, for his novel 'I am Legend' a book that got me into writing. (Please don't mention the Hollywood movie with Will Smith—there is no comparison)
The novel is a masterpiece, at the forefront of its time, written in 1954. I dedicated a character in TOSOE to Robert Neville, the poor, lonely protagonist.
Q: Social media plays such a big role in author notoriety these days, especially for indie authors. What is your stance on the subject?
It's good to see indie authors gaining followers and reaching new readers, it's very hard without social media. I say, go wild! Today’s Indies are a new breed; they shouldn't be restricted, and I recommend indie authors get on the social media train and gain the notoriety they deserve (and write a damn fine book or two)
The Book of Disquiet, Fernando Pessoa.
Q: Describe the perfect setting for a really great writing session.
A full week day with no commitments other than to write. Coffee. Headphones+Soundtracks ignite my imagination. I played the Donnie Darko soundtrack a million times while writing TOSOE. You need to set the mood. I can write at home, but I do get distracted if others are home. I've also spent a large amount of time writing in cafes. I wrote TOSOE in cafes across the globe; from Melbourne, NY to Berlin where I lived for some time and wrote the second draft.
Q: Is writing a full-time affair, or do you fit it in with a ‘day job’?
I think it would be a strange life to be a full-time writer. Although, I wouldn't say no to an advance and the time to write another novel.
I work for myself as an illustrator and have many projects on the go at once. I paint a lot and exhibit, but now TOSOE has taken over I haven't had time.
Q: What was your favourite book as a child?
As a child I only liked books with pictures in them, even a novel must have had chapter illustrations, or I probably wouldn't pick it up. The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe was my favourite, the entire Chronicles of Narnia. They had beautiful illustrations inside and magical story to match.
Not really. I can procrastinate, but make up for it by being extremely dedicated once I sit down. I always have something to write about.
Q: Are you someone who likes to outline the story before sitting down to write, or do you prefer to fly by the seat of your pants?
The Other Side of Eve has two interwoven stories with a protagonist and fifty+ characters in each, many with their own mini-story that needs just as much thought put into it from the beginning. The complexities of such a novel needed the structure of a solid plot with chapter outlines keyed in before any writing commenced. From then on I write by the 'seat of my pants'. I let the characters take control, talk to one another and are free to do as they wish—as long as the chapter outline is fulfilled. I feel a story becomes more natural and visual this way.
Q: The illustrations in TOSOE are stunning. Have you always been interested in drawing?
I've always been interested in drawing. Although, coming from an artistic family I thought I would be a natural, but it didn't come easy. I spent years studying & practicing. I would buy endless rolls of brown wrapping paper on a dispenser and practice, practice, practice. I'm captivated by fairytale illustrators from the past (1800-1900) like John Bauer to playwright illustrators like Edward Gordon Craig & John Austen, to the beautiful hand cut shadow-puppets by Lotte Reiniger.
I've thought about Eve for so many years. It's as if she's real.
I have moments where I wonder what she is up to. I think about the characters of TOSOE most of the time. Daydreamer.
Q: What message are you trying to convey in TOSOE?
Several messages but I tried my best to have them as an undercurrent and it not be a self-help book.
Don't give any weight to your thoughts, the mind can be a trickster.
There are destructive repercussions in harboring guilt and running from your fears. Both can manifest into a mental disorder if they're not confronted.
Help can be found through the most surprising people and places.
Yes, it's hard to be a writer and not include your own personal traits. My personality is a combination of most of the main characters. To say the least, it's very confusing to be me.
Q: You once said your plan was to have TOSOE in school libraries to help children with anxiety. Is there a specific reason you are passionate about overcoming anxiety?
Yes, I feel TOSOE should be in school libraries and be known about its protagonist, Eve, who is dealing with anxiety. The right children will find it and if anything take them away from their negative thoughts and follow someone else searching for inner answers. To me, a panic attack has got to be one of the most terrifying things anyone can experience and until recently it was looked down upon to talk about mental health.
There definitely is! I recently redrew the map of Mare-Marie and visited a few places that I look forward to writing about in the next novel.
That's impossible to say without my head hurting.
Q: Reading about Eve reminds me of my childhood; magical lands in the back of a cupboard or down a rabbit hole. Is writing about Eve a similar experience?
Every time I sit down to write TOSOE I get taken to that place of deep wonder, it truly wonderful falling down the rabbit hole. Adjusting to the real world after a writing session can take some time. Sometimes when I write for several days in a row, I don't speak to anyone. After that, I'm basically visiting from Mare-Marie.
Q: Overall, what has been your experience in terms of how people have received TOSOE?
I'm delighted that the response has been very positive, with comparisons to the Brothers Grimm, Hans Christian Andersen, and Lewis Caroll. As a debut author, this is joyous to hear, and I should probably quit now.
I enjoy the opportunity to talk to my readers and am honored by their reviews. Many mentioned they were drawn to the cover and illustrations first and were delighted when the story went beyond their expectations and was something original. Something I aimed to achieve, even though I knew it would be extremely difficult.
Q: What can we expect from the upcoming prequel to TOSOE?
I'm so excited about the prequel. It was a hard decision to make, as a sequel is also roughed out, but writing about the younger versions of many of my favorite TOSOE characters is such an appeal; what they did before TOSOE, the defining moments and choices to get them where they are in TOSOE. It's a writer's dream if you ask me.
There will be similarities in structure and format to TOSOE. It too will be a stand-alone novel and jump from chapter to chapter; from the reality of Yellow Tree to the fantasy world of Mare-Marie.
This is an exciting time before magic is banned and will follow the young Queen Anne Vera, Belleny's mother, on her quest to learn the mystical arts of witchery. Unfortunately, the great wizard, Neré, has other plans for her.
Our entwining story revolves around Evelin's mum, Eva, a fresh school leaver wading into the real world. She's taken on a roller coaster ride when a vivacious yet unstoppable, Astina Francis, makes her appearance and Eva is employed by this relentless real estate tycoon. Welcome to a world of lies, tricks and rat infested mansions.
Also many from Mare-Marie and of course the Weatherman is back!
It's good to know that there are other writers out there that fall down the rabbit hole coming up for air only when life calls. (Sorry family.) As well as giving readers a look into where such an imaginative story comes from, I now feel the need to re-read TOSOE while listening to the Donnie Darko Soundtrack!!
If you are looking for an escape from reality or a fun-filled adventure just like when you were a kid, read The Other Side of Eve. It will be the best thing you do.
Follow the links below for more information about Paul Ikin and The Other Side of Eve.