How did you end up collaborating with Mike Mignola? Can you describe what the writing process was like?
Mike and I have known each other for years, and speak fairly often. For ages, I'd heard details from him about a "vampire graphic novel" he planned to write. Out of the blue one day, he phoned me up and said he had come to the conclusion that he wouldn't ever have the time to do it, and would I like to write it as a novel. Of course I said yes. Mike sent me his notes and outline, which I revised, filling holes and adding sequences, fleshing out characters. Once we had agreed on the story, I set about writing. Every twenty pages or so I would send him the work in progress and we'd go over it on the phone, making changes, debating the fine points. There were places where he had specific visions he was passionate about, and I wanted to make sure he got precisely what he wanted, while in other places I pursued my own instincts. But the end result is very much a combination of our sensibilities and interests.
Did the artwork always come first (and how did it influence your writing) or were there instances where your prose affected the way Mignola illustrated the book?
Actually, other than a few sample drawings Mike did for the publisher when we were in the process of selling it, the illustrations were always done AFTER. Once a certain segment of the book had been completed, Mike would go and do illustrations for that section. We had talked about a number of different ways of approaching the art, but in the end Mike was determined that the illustrations should provide a counterpoint, a punctuation of sorts. Most illustrated novels feature art that is simply--though often beautifully--a repetition of the information in the text. Mike wanted most of the art in Baltimore to add emphasis and atmosphere, to work in tandem with the text instead of just presenting the events or ideas in a different medium.
What do you think will readers find appealing in Baltimore?
I'd like to think they'll enjoy it because its unique. To my knowledge, there's literally nothing else like it. We approached it through our love of the gothics, keeping Stoker and Shelley very much in mind, but also Melville and Poe and a million folk tales and legends we've read. On the other hand, we wanted to make sure the language was accessible for modern readers who might find some classic gothic lit a bit daunting. Beyond that, there's a definite human commentary in the story, though I'll leave that for others to parse. And, of course, readers are also treated to an amazing cover and over 150 interior illustrations by one of the great artists of our time. Mignola is a true original.
Our fundraising anthology, Jack Haringa Must Die! is now available. Price: $10