Tuesday, 9 August 2022

OANIS RAWBONE - Whippoorwill Lane - Author Interview (Q&A) - Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books #35

Here we have something a little different for you today. It's an epic interview with Oanis Rawbone, author and publisher of Whippoorwill Lane. The book is a fantastic collaboration with the amazing illustrator Karl James Mountford. Some of you will already be familiar with his work especially if you follow Mr. Ripley's Book Cover competition. In this post, we want to give you the full flavour of the book as it's an atmospheric tale of a creepy nature. It really is an absolute stunner that has an unusual lyrical narrative. 

If want a scary treat then you might want to put it on your shelves for the day you fancy a little scare - maybe Halloween?  We hope you enjoy this post and if you want to find out more you can BUY a copy HERE or visit the author's website for more gentle persuasion: www.whiplane.com 
  1. Whippoorwill Lane is your first venture into children's books, what was your intention when you started to write this book?
Originally Whippoorwill Lane began life as an animated short film script but it became obvious to me that it would really suit being a book series.Writing a book series has always been on my 'to do' list, lurking somewhere in the far recesses. I wanted to write a series that was funny and very unpredictable, with a macabre streak running through it, something that could be enjoyed by both parents and children. Something specifically for those dark and stormy nights, a bit creepy to read on your own and fun to read aloud at parties with your friends and family. A book series perfect for the Halloween season.
Initially, I thought about what interested me as a child, I always gravitated towards things that were a little edgier and older than my reading age.I wanted excitement, with a pinch of danger. I've concluded (within reason) that the best approach to writing fun stories for children is to not think about your audience at all, at least not in the idea stage. That has freed things up massively and keeps things interesting, it’s really helped me explore ideas outside of the well worn roads. I'm quite tough on myself, if it doesn't have the right mix of ingredients and hold my attention, it gets binned immediately!2.  How did you come up with the ideas for the book and do you have a particular way of remembering ideas to use later?I was very fortunate when I stumbled onto Whippoorwill Lane, I knew on the spot that I wanted to write about it, it's a very bizarre place. I really want to document it all. I'm afraid I can't reveal it's location as I could not guarantee your safety!Other inspiration comes in many forms, like most writers I'm constantly jotting down interesting anecdotes and true life stories, watching and listening, soaking things up around me and filing things away. Sometimes it's a bolt from the blue and a story pretty much writes itself, other times it's a slower process of discovery.
3. How are you putting the 'BOO!' back into books?I lean towards the darker, more twisted side in all of my writing, much like the classic fairy tales of old (on closer examination are actually quite dark). The Brothers Grimm, Edward Gorey, Roald Dahl, Tim Burton, Edgar Allan Poe,I'm really inspired by creators that are masters at blending humour with the macabre in exciting ways, who play with our expectations, and expose how ridiculous we can be, our human foibles.I think being young and feeling a chill through your bones when you're sat alone, reading a story, that's exciting, so I like to add an element of fear/ threat into my stories.It's all done very tongue in cheek but I think many readers crave that, it's different from the usual 'happily ever after' route, it's unpredictable, which I love.Whippoorwill Lane on the surface appears very normal but it quickly becomes fiendishly off the wall.
4. The illustrations have been produced by the very talented Karl James Mountford. How did that collaboration develop and how important was it to get the right illustrator for your brilliant words?Working with the right illustrator is everything. Karl is my creative soul mate, he is the ying to my yang. Creating Whippoorwill Lane is very much a partnership. Karl and I met at University. I was struck by one of his paintings that was on display in the Uni reception area, it really stood out to me. I had researched many different art styles for the book but none of them were a good fit, I knew immediately when I saw his work that Karl was the man for the job. 

Karl has such a unique style and command of his craft, his work is instantly recognisable and he has produced countless stunning pieces of work.I approached Karl to work on the illustrations for the book, he really loved the story and totally got the humour and we became firm friends.We bounced around idea's for Whippoorwill Lane's 'look' for a long time, we were not in a hurry. We experimented with lots of different styles, it had to be right. When Karl showed me the first completed illustration for Whippoorwill Lane it was an electric moment, it was absolutely perfect, it still gives me goosebumps to think of it! Karl captured the spirit of the book so perfectly. Working with him is always magical, every time that I look at Whippoorwill Lane’s illustrations I 
see something new, Karl’s work is fantastic.On a side note, Karl will be releasing his debut novel this September called 'Circles In the Sky' which looks absolutely stunning, so keep an eye out for that. I'm so thankful that we crossed paths, he is an outstanding creator, a good friend and a more down-to-earth chap you will never meet.5. What was your plan to get this book published and in the hands of readers?The road to bring Whippoorwill Lane to the world has not been a straightforward one. The book is a bit of an anomaly, most children's picture books are around 32 pages on average, Whippoorwill Lane is 133 pages!Similar to the length of an illustrated graphic novel. Through my agent we initially approached a few publishers, they loved the stories and the illustrations but were worried about taking a risk on an unknown author with an unusual page count.Fortunately, a lot has changed in the publishing industry in the last few years and so much more is possible now. After a lot of research, I decided to set up my own imprint (Buffalo Book Press) and release the book myself.It's been a brilliant learning experience, having complete autonomy and control over the whole process is wonderful. We are completely free range!I don't think many people realise how many distribution channels are available now and this, along with social media, means there is very little that you can't achieve with the proper planning.If you believe in your project and have done your homework (that's very important, don't delude yourself, be honest with yourself about your project because putting a book out into the world is forever, so make sure that it's dynamite!), then go for it. Established industries are often afraid to take risks, which is understandable, why risk anything when the tried and tested is working for you? Innovation often comes from risk though, so, do your homework, be honest with yourself, then go for it.6. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself as there is very little information on the internet about you?By day I am a video editor, VFX artist at a film post-production house and by night I am a scribbler of short stories, scripts and children's books.  I'm also currently directing my first documentary film, which is very exciting.I live in South Wales with my wife, our three children and our demanding dog, Velma.7. What future plans do you have for Whippoorwill Lane?I'm so excited about the future of Whippoorwill Lane and really looking forward to writing the next instalments of the series.I recently visited the Lane and have managed to fill several notebooks full, so that will keep me busy for a while! (Whispers: I have just made a start on book two!) After that who knows! An audiobook version, a stop motion animation perhaps, watch this space!Also, we love the community that is growing on our website, there are a lot of fun things to do on there and we'll be adding more content soon. You can find us at www.whiplane.com, subscribe for all the latest updates and we'd love to hear any suggestions for additions to the site.8. What have you learned from writing your first children's book and how will this help you in your future writing?Working on Whippoorwill Lane has been a massive learning experience on all fronts. When you are writing your first book, naturally at times, you can have some low moments of self-doubt, moments when you feel like giving up. However sometimes there are projects that just will not leave you alone, you go to bed and wake up thinking about them and when that happens you don't really have a choice, self doubt or not! Creating Whippoorwill Lane was like that, one way or another it was going to happen. Through this experience I have learned patience, perseverance, to believe in what I am doing and most importantly, to believe in myself.Making book one involved a lot of unknowns, discovering what worked and what didn't, now that those elements have been established we can build on book one and find out where things will go next. We can't wait.The response to Whippoorwill Lane has made the whole experience so worthwhile, we are getting wonderful reviews and letters, our readers seem to really connect with it and say that they go back to it for multiple readings, ultimately that is the job of any good story isn't it. I am so proud of the book and would like to sincerely thank all of our readers, your enthusiasm is like creative rocket fuel, I can't wait for us to take our next trip down Whippoorwill Lane.

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