Saturday, October 13

Graphic Novel Author Interview: Mark Siegel

I am so excited about today's author interview: Mark Siegel, an author, editor, and publisher of graphic novels—a veritable graphic-novel-genius extraordinaire! And, with this being my first foray into graphic-novelist-interviewing, I'd say this is a pretty awesome way to start. Our particular focus today is on his series, 5 Worlds, with The Sand Warrior (which I reviewed back here, and garnering several awards and starred-reviews) and The Cobalt Prince, the recently released book two. 


EA: Hi Mark! Thanks for doing this interview. I have never had the opportunity to interview a graphic novel writer (graphic novelist?), let alone an editor of a whole graphic novel publishing office! So that being said, I really want to focus on the importance of graphic novels and the writing process. First up: how did you get your start in graphic novels?

MS: After college I spent a decade getting rejection letters on all my submissions—picture books and graphic novel projects, which I was sending to publishers in the U.S. and in France (where I grew up)... In order to make a living, I learned book design and eventually moved to New York, where I worked for Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers. That same year, I got my first break in picture books, with the beloved editor Richard Jackson, who launched the careers of many luminaries, including Judy Blume, Chris Raschka, and Cynthia Rylant. Our first project together was SEADOGS: AN EPIC OCEAN OPERETTA, on a Lisa Wheeler manuscript. This was pure fun, through and through, and I did it in a European comics style. It went on to win the Texas Bluebonnet award.

Our following project was written by my wife Siena, and was called To Dance—a comics memoir of ten years of her life in ballet, as a student of George Balanchine in the School of American Ballet. That won a Sibert Honor. Meanwhile, the big publishing houses were all turning their focus to graphic novels, and so those two books got noticed... I was developing a vision for an American, literary graphic novel house—and in 2005, Macmillan offered me an imprint to run at that crazy dream. And that's how First Second Books began. I never stopped working on my own projects alongside of that, though.

Wow, what an opportunity! So why did you choose to make 5 Worlds? And in particular, why did you decide to write to a kid audience?