Blake Northcott, Canadian Indie writer (Vs. Reality, Relapse), has a new project, and she wants your help. Read my interview with Blake and then head on over to her Kickstarter.
1. You’ve recently started Noösphere Publishing with Jim Deley and Kiri Callaghan. How did you guys meet up and why did you decide to band together and use your powers for publishing?
I’ve known Jim for years, and he lives nearby, which is helpful for brainstorming sessions on the weekends. Without his editing and input on my first drafts my work would read very different – he’s such a genius when it comes to structure and pacing.
Kiri and I met online last year and we just hit it off right away. She is so incredibly talented and as soon as I read her work I knew I wanted to do something with her. She lives in the Seattle area, so it’s a lot tougher to get together with her since I’m in Toronto, but we met in person last September at Stan Lee’s Comikaze Expo in Los Angeles.
I think the reason we all assembled for Noösphere is because it’s always easier to get work done when you’re collaborating with other creative people – especially if they’re honest. Kiri and Jim are like family, but they’re not going to hold back when it comes to constructive criticism, which is imperative.
2. You have a Kickstarter project coming up. Tell me about that. Spare no shameful plug!
(laughs) Okay, I will plug away.
So my new book is called ARENA MODE; it’s a sci-fi/fantasy novel about superheroes fighting in a dystopian future. It’s my attempt to blur the line a little between novels and graphic novels, and address the “who would win if these guys fought?” flame wars that are always raging online.
I think what sets it apart from other superhero-themed books is that it’s going to include original artwork. I have assembled some amazing artist from Marvel and DC Comics, who are designing and illustrating the characters; all of their sketches and final work will be included in the book.
There are some really well-known artists involved – guys who have worked on Iron Man, Deadpool, Spider-Man, X-Men, the new World of Warcraft graphic novel…a list and some samples of their work are on the ARENA MODE Kickstarter site.
More than anything with ARENA MODE I wanted to tell a superhero-themed story that simply couldn’t be told in a comic book. When you have a set of popular characters, whether they’re heroes or villains, they simply aren’t going to die in a Marvel or DC comic. And if they do, they’re going to come back to life in some form or another.
Being a Game of Thrones fan I love how the world they’ve crafted is so dangerous and unpredictable. Anyone is fair game in George R. R. Martin’s universe, and you never know who is going to die – even a main character. ARENA MODE will be similar in the sense that there are very ordinary people who just happen to possess extraordinary powers – and magic doesn’t exist. If someone kills you, you’re dead…a potion or an enchantment or all-powerful deity isn’t going to conveniently resurrect you for future volumes.
If you love Joss Whedon, Ernest Cline’s Ready Player One, comic book movies like The Avengers, or just action and sci-fi/fantasy, I think you’ll enjoy ARENA MODE!
Okay, plug over (laughs).
3. Anyone who follows your social media feeds knows that you’re big into comics and movies. Who in the industry right now impresses you? Which content creators are making you stand up and say, “Hey, now that’s cool.”
Wow, that’s a big question!
I think that Image Comics has make a huge rebound in 2012, and continues to impress with every new title. From Chew to Saga, they just have such an amazing line-up of titles that you can’t help but be impressed with them as a company. Marvel, DC and Valiant all had big years, but I think Image came out as the winner in ’12.
Movie-wise I’m extremely impressed with Disney. They pulled off an incredible feat with Marvel’s The Avengers; there’s never been a movie that incorporated characters and storylines from four different franchises. They just seem to be letting the artists do what they do best: create. And the fans and critics are rewarding them with excellent reviews and big box office numbers.
And now that Disney has Star Wars to work with I’m so excited to see something fresh from that world as well!
4. You’re kind of being paraded around the internet as one of these cases of Indie authors who harness the power of social media for success. Could you tell the readers how you built that following and what steps you took to make sure you were ready before launching Vs. Reality?
I’m on parade? Really? (laughs) I didn’t realize that. People need to keep me in the loop so I know where all the parades are!
To be honest I didn’t really build a following with the intention of leveraging it for a specific project – I just go online most days, share content and speak my mind. I also follow people as much as possible, and I follow back those who follow me.
Social media is a great way to reach like-minded people, but if you want to get serious about it for marketing your work you have to almost treat it as a part-time job. You can’t slack off and just post once a week or when you’re in the mood – it has to be a part of your lifestyle. Some people have a very hard time with that, and while it was easy for me, it’s doesn’t feel natural for others.
My Twitter and Facebook accounts have been online for close to two years now, and I don’t usually go more than a day without updating. I use Hoot Suite now, which is the best free program there is, in my opinion – I can update all my social media accounts at the same time, and it saves me having to reproduce the same content everywhere.
And I do my best to get back to people…this is the hardest part of social media because of the time it takes – especially now that I have over 20,000 Twitter followers and more than 3,000 Facebook friends – but it’s so important. I don’t feel like I have ‘fans’…I have friends, and I want them to know that I’m listening to them.
5. Last year you started appearing at fan conventions, such as Stan Lee’s Comikaze. What is it like to be a guest at a con? Where will you be appearing in the future?
The Comikaze was amazing, and it was a surreal experience. Standing on the other side of the table for the first time was kind of a shock…some people told me they came to L.A. just to see me, and it was baffling. I was like “Really? Me? You do know that Todd MacFarlane and Stan Lee are here, right?” But I am so grateful I had the opportunity to meet everyone, and I can’t wait to do it again.
Right now I don’t have any plans for 2013. I will most definitely be making an appearance or two, likely in the Toronto area, but I don’t have anything scheduled in America or overseas just yet. It depends on how ARENA MODE does on Kickstarter, and what my next move will be professionally. As soon as I find out I will let you know!
Thank you so much for the time, Amy!
And thanks to Blake Northcott for sitting down to answer my questions! Once again, if you like the sound of ARENA MODE, head on over to the ARENA MODE Kickstarter and pitch in what you can. Put the power of content creation in the hands of the people by supporting projects that excite you.
You can read my reviews of Vs. Reality and Relapse in the archives.
Update- Arena Mode has passed the $25k mark and now comes with a PDF version of an RPG. Get on this sweet deal NOW!