Ferguson’s 7 Questions With… Susan E. Connolly
We recently announced that Atomic Diner would be publishing a new book Gráinne O’Malley Queen’s Gambit with art by Ruairí Coleman. Writing the book is, new to the Irish comic scene, and answering 7 questions… Susan E. Connolly.
What was the first comic work you did that was published?
Gráinne O’Malley Queen’s Gambit will be my very first published comic work! Hopefully not the last, although I guess that’s up to everyone else. Previously I published a children’s middle-grade fantasy, Damsel, and this year I was a winner of the BBC Scriptroom with a sample pilot TV script.
What is the biggest thing you have learned since that book?
Cut down on the words. It wasn’t until I saw Ruairí’s beautiful artwork that I realised that each piece of dialogue would cover up some of those amazing panels – queue some hard decisions about whether each individual word was really worth that sacrifice.
What’s your process for writing a comic book?
It mostly involves a lot of tea. In general I approach it the same way I do all writing work. A general outline of beginning, middle and end, a cup of tea. Jotting down of any bits of dialogue or scenes that I think would be cool. Reward self with more tea. Fill in all the gaps, even if all I can write in is “Something really awesome and evocative will happen and someone will say a cool thing”, leaving that work for future-Susan. A bit more tea, and expansion of the summary scenes. Drink some tea and realise none of it works. Move everything around. Cry. Drink more tea. Realise that none of the descriptions work in comic book form. Sleep. Get up and have some tea. Realise that some of the previous day’s work was ok! And so on.
What is the biggest influence on your work?
I think life in general is a pretty big influencer. I don’t mean that in a naff way – but there are scenes in books and moments in movies that can certainly inform work in the comic book genre and vice-versa. I’m a huge consumer of media in all forms, from long-read articles and election coverage to YA novels and pop music to classic literature and silent film. Trying to select just one thing, or even a few things is an impossible task!
What are you working on right now?
Well, Issue 2 of Gráinne O’Malley Queen’s Gambit in the comic book zone, some secret things *looks mysterious*, and a middle-grade fantasy novel about pirates.
What do you have out now or coming out next?
Gráinne O’Malley Queen’s Gambit #1, written by me, art by Ruairí Coleman and published by Atomic Diner comes out in July.
What is your favourite Irish comic?
I love Half Past Danger by Stephen Mooney – War stories and dinosaurs, together at last! And the artwork in Anthea West’s The Earthbound God is amazingly innovative, telling a great story.