The Launchpad welcomes Ed Briant, a Summer '06 alum, and former faculty member Lisa Clough. Ed and Lisa have co-authored and illustrated the new Petal and Poppy series, with books one and two, Petal and Poppy and Petal and Poppy and the Penguin launching this week!
About Ed and Lisa: Ed Briant: Tim Wynne Jones once referred to me as a strange and talented man. There's little I could add to that. Lisa Clough: Lisa is an author, illustrator, and professor. She is talented, but not at all strange.
Petal and Poppy are best friends. Sometimes they disagree. But they can always count on each other when the waters get rough!
Who was your favorite character to write and why?
Petal (the elephant): she is such a whiner, and yet she is hilarious. Totally over-the-top. I've never worked on an over-the-top character before, and I loved drawing her and working on her dialogue, just making her reactions sillier and sillier.
What was the spark that ignited this book?
I think the characters are myself and Lisa. All the plots are highly autobiographical, but I won't say which character is which.
What authors do you love for their sentences? How about plot? Character?
I love the romantic poets, especially Keats, Coleridge, and Elizabeth Barrett Browning. Plotters: Steven King, HP Lovecraft, Karen Russel, Jennifer Egan. Characters: I love evil characters: Robert Cormier, Elmore Leonard, George RR Martin, and Neil Gaiman all create delightfully wicked characters. Haruki Murakami for more quirky characters. Deb Wiles and Rita Williams Garcia for lovable characters.
What nugget of craft advice has been especially helpful to you?
Using index cards (from Anne Lamott's Bird by Bird). I use index cards for as long as I can. Keeps the writing minimal, and keeps the plot clear. If you don't have a good plot you're wasting your time with all the fancy stuff that goes on top.
Do you write in silence? If not, what’s your soundtrack?
I listen a lot to the Japanese composer Joe Hisaishi who does the soundtracks for the Miyazaki movies. Or classical piano music. My favorites are Liszt and Chopin. I also like orchestral works by Bruckner.
What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever Googled as research for your writing?
What is a hurdy gurdy? I've probably searched for weirder things, but that the weirdest that comes to mind.
Who were your advisors at VCFA?
Tim Wynne Jones, Lisa Clough, Jane Resh Thomas, and Mark Aronson.
How did attending VCFA affect your writing life?
Gave me a fantastic, supportive, caring writing community.
What is your favorite VCFA memory?
Surviving my critical thesis semester with Mark Aronson (just kidding).
What advice would you give to a prospective VCFA student?
If you have the opportunity, then take it. It will transform you in ways you cannot imagine (in good ways).
What do you wish you had known before you first set foot on the VCFA campus?
When I started it had been about twenty years since I'd taken a writing class. I wish I'd just taken some basic composition and grammar classes before I started.
Ed Briant http://edwardnau.com/
Lisa Clough http://www.lisajahnclough.com/
Petal and Poppy (series) (HMH Books For Young Readers, 2014)