Ian Brooks

Ian was born in 1982 and raised in the town of Harlow, Essex, United Kingdom to his parents Teresa and Les along with his sister Jacqueline and twin brother Peter. He currently lives in Glasgow with his wife Sandra and two children. His first published work, 'Mara: Part 1' (2016) was the start of a serialisation of a graphic novel "Mara", a hard-luck story that delves into crime and the paranormal.

Ian had previously been writing stories for fun in a variety of genres since the age of 16, though most of those works remain unfinished. He and his oft partner Daniel Tang created a spin on the Haikomic (a Haiku poem based comic) that is somewhat longer and fleshed out than the more usual 3 panel strip or single frame image. Their form of the comic has the haiku hidden within the story itself, ready to be discovered by the reader.

When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
I'm still not, I dont think. I have a lot of ideas of where a story might go and I try to think of what individual characters might do that's consistent with the personality they've been given or may develop, but a lot of the time the idea's remain in my head. Look at 'Rinno' and it's not really an issue because I draw the story and verbalise the communication between characters, I don't have to write anything there. But then take Mara, I write a very brief description of the scene and what's happening in each panel of a page, add the dialogue and then I send that to Dan. Then we usually have a discussion about it, clear up any misunderstandings and the rest is really Dans interpretation of the wire-frame story. Who know's what would happen if I had to write a book without pictures.

How long does it take you to write a book?
Not long. When you're talking about a part of Mara, all in maybe a couple of days. But I think I have the easy end of the stick when it comes to that story. If I tell Dan to make a panel when Mara throws a punch, he has to imagine how that would go - which may take a few goes to feel right - play it through his head and try to find an instance in that action that best suggests what happened in the moments before and what will happen in the moments after. By far that is the most time-consuming part of creating a comic.

What is your work schedule like when you're writing?
*Laughs* I don't have one. I dont write for anything to be published weekly like a manga, or bi-weekly or monthly like comics. I'm not attached to a traditional publisher either. One of the benefits of self-publishing is that you can, if you want to, publish when you're ready. But in general, I aim for an issue or chapter to be finished in around 6 weeks.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
Dan would say that I can't write small. That I always turn everything into an epic. When we did Night Skies and batted about these ideas til we came up the final idea for the end product, I only had to write for 18 pages - 9 of which would be splash-pages and would have, at best, 2 words on them - but I still end up with this story that could easily be extrapolated into a fantasy adventure not too unlike The Hobbit in style.

Where do you get your information or ideas for your books?
Search engines are great for getting info these days. If you want to see how a Samurai might fight, you can look up videos on Kendo, if you want to base a world on a real place you can look up a map of just about anywhere and if you want to know about anything at all, somewhere on the internet has it. It only becomes more difficult if you want to be very accurate in what you're writing about and you want to make sure its 100% true. Idea's come from anywhere though. Mara sprawled out of a picture Dan had drawn of the Reaver - before it was the Reaver. Rinno came from just drawing some frames of a comic page and just putting in what came to my head in the moment, and Night Skies is based on a haiku I wrote.

When did you write your first book and how old were you?
The first finished book was Night Skies. Dan came across this idea for a one-page comic that would mean we'd finally get one of our stories complete, but it took a lot longer to think of a way to publish it, which is why Mara was published first. But the first story that I wrote that was never published was a story called The Fallen. I was 28 when the story was done, but I had no experience turning it into a storyboard and sending it to Dan to illustrate, and it was this process that ended in not getting to the finished product. But one day? Who knows.

What does your family think of your writing?
I'm really paranoid when it comes to that kind of thing, I'm always concerned that people who love me will tell me nice things even if it's not very good. I'm almost willing them to tell me its bad so I'll believe them more easily. I think because I don't have a genre they dont always like what the story is about, but they generally think it's well written.

Do you have any suggestions to help me become a better writer? If so, what are they?
Never know the ending. It's so easy to paint yourself into a corner if you know the ending before you got there. You'll have this map that starts at 'A' and ends at 'B' and then you make the right turns when they come up - which sounds fine, but just like a road trip, sometimes things get in the way and screw up your journey and you can choose to force your way through, or you can find another longer, maybe boring journey to the end. I've found that having a range of acceptable destinations works best. It takes the pressure off the main events and you spend much less time trying to fight the story.

Daniel Tang

Daniel was born in 1982 and raised in Essex, UK. With a keen interest in all things deemed 'arty', he has been illustrating and drawing for as long as he can remember. Having collaborated with oft partner Ian Brooks on multiple projects since the age of 16, it wasn't until 2017 that they finally published their first book, "Mara: Part 1". With this, the duo have developed a taste for showing their projects to the public, and have already put other projects into motion for release soon.

When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
I never wanted to be a writer. I did, however, always want to be an artist or illustrator - comics and animation - those were my first loves. I did always like to tell stories visually.

How long does it take you to work on a book?
Depends on the story. Ian and myself used to have this idea that we needed to complete a book before we released to the world. Because our ideas are so ground-breaking, we would only show the public once it was completely finished, so that readers couldn't steal our ideas while we were halfway through a project. The biggest problem with this was that we would build up all these ideas for a story, Ian would write and write and write, give me the script, then I'd work on it until i was bored or frustrated, because Ian was so far ahead, he could work on something else. Something like Night Skies was the easy one, took maybe 3-4 months to complete, because it was such a small, self-contained story. And thats what we needed to get us a complete project under our belts. And then with Mara, we made a decision to make it a weekly webcomic, making up the majority of the story as we go along. Before we knew it, we had a whole chapter finished and ready for publishing. And now we're two issues in, and so far, its working out pretty well in terms of timescale.

What is your work schedule like when you're working?
You mean day-to-day? I usually wake up pretty early - probably around 4-5am. Sometimes earlier. I don't know why. Probably because I'm feeling old before my time and have trouble sleeping. But I like to think its because my mind is racing around constantly, and as soon as I feel the slightest bit of consciousness from waking up, I just get up and start my day. I used to try and force myself back to sleep, but if I do that, I find I wake up later even more tired and it fucks up the rest of my day. So yeah, early starts for me. Then its the regular checking up on emails and messages before I wash, breakfast, quick workout/run, then work.

What would you say is your interesting writing (drawing) quirk?
I like to hold my drawing utensil with both hands at the same time while I'm doing advanced yoga poses. Nah, not really. I only draw. How quirky do you think it gets drawing pictures?

How do books get published?
By publishers. I'm sorry, I really have very little experience with that side of the business. I do believe that as the creator, its our duty to make something great, and that in turn will get the right people to want to publish your book for you.

Where do you get your information or ideas for your books?
Usually just from reading a lot of different types of magazines & websites. I tend to flick through a magazine, preferably one I'm not familiar with, and just see what catches my eye visually. I might make sketches and scribbles based on the stuff I see, and usually just take it from there.

When did you write your first book and how old were you?
I'm sure I made little comic strips as a kid. I remember in nursery (kindergarten for you American fans), I drew a picture of He-Man and I made out this whole scene of setting a trap for Skeletor to walk into and when he got to a certain point, a bunch of grapes would fall onto his head. I did all this using wax crayons and all withina one-frame shot. I remember that very clearly, for some reason.

What do you like to do when you're not working on a book?
I love listening to music. I love a good workout. I love a good drink. And of course, I love drawing and sketching, and its something I do even when I don't have any work.

What does your family think of your artwork?
I'm sure they think its good, technicaly, but a lot of the subject matter may not be to their tastes. My daughter's starting to draw more monsters and villains now though, in addition to the usual bears and flowers and beautiful park settings.

What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?
Usually when looking back, the stories do hold up well. I'm still proud of the stuff we did 4-5 years ago. And how easy it is to create a book. We could have been published authors ages ago if we'd just stop being so secretive about our projects. Just do them, and show them to people. Because the feedback we get drives us on.

Do you have any suggestions to help me become a better writer? If so, what are they?
Not necessarily to become a better writer, but if you're a creative and on the grind, trying to catch your first break, and occassionally in doubt as to whether you want to continue grinding it out, I love this Kevin Smith quote, "Do what you love, what you're good at. Then figure out how to make money doing it."

Do you like to create books for adults?
Yes. I think our books are more suited to adults. Saying that, I think it would be fun to write a children's book. Might have to swing that idea by Ian.

What do you think makes a good story?
I'm not sure. I've never been a writer, so I don't think I can write a gripping tale of...whatever. I usually have ideas for certain parts, and like to focus on details in certain scenes, but if you're talking about a story as a whole, then I am not the one to come to for advice.

As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?
A comics illustrator. So I'm living the dream, baby.