Interview with R.M. Wilburn

Facebook can be marvelous for meeting new folks. I have joined a few writers group and I was thrilled when I read about RM Wilburn’s unique work. A combination of collage and story…right up my alley. I’m happy to introduce the rest of you to this novel novelist. (Okay, that was even too much for me.)

Tell my readers a bit about yourself.

When I’m not writing/drawing, I work at my real estate investment business, buying houses at auctions to either rent out or flip. I have a sort of insane love for houses, particularly the old scary ones with lots of ornate woodwork and secret little nooks and crannies, if you can imagine that.

What inspired you to start writing?

I started writing and drawing when I was very young, around the time I discovered and fell in love with dinosaurs. Very quickly, the dinosaurs morphed into monsters and have evolved into the characters I work with today. I remember writing a book when I was around six years old that detailed how to build your own monsters—fully illustrated, of course. I remember a hammer and lots of nails were involved…in building the monsters, not the book.

I didn’t seriously focus on drawing until several years ago when I developed a love for computers, and for Adobe Photoshop. I now draw daily using a UGEE 2150 pen tablet, which is a big, beautiful monitor that I draw on with a special pen. I now consider these things my co-conspirators in producing my illustrated novels.

What influenced the way you tell a story?

I think my greatest influences came in the form of books. I grew up writing short stories, and then novels, but did not truly find my focus until I happened across the “Ology” series of books published by Candlewick Press. I had always considered illustrating my stories, but had no idea how I wanted to do that until I first set eyes on “Pirateology” and “Dragonology,” and so on. These books contained complete illustrations and fun things like secret messages and treasure maps, all of which helped tell the story. I was fascinated (and hooked)! I believe the current name for what I do is “mixed media” art because I mix my own drawings and digital paintings with a variety of textures and photographs of actual objects as a way to make my stories seem more real.

How do you approach the art of writing?

I write daily, usually starting around 3 a.m. and ending several hours later. I have a small office in my home that’s crammed with books, dog beds, a couple of computers, and colorful sticky notes everywhere. If I were to offer any tips for the practice of writing, I would have to say the most important thing is to be consistent. Write daily if you can for as long as you can.

What do you read for pleasure?

My two favorite genres are YA fantasy and cozy mysteries. I know they seem like an odd combination, but I’m drawn to the imagination of the fantasies, and the secrets of the mysteries. I try to employ both in my own work, creating clever puzzles and codes as clues for my main character to decipher. I also read a wide variety of authors within these genres to keep my own voice fresh and not sounding too much like anyone else. I believe the idea that most things have been written about, and so the only originality left in storytelling is the author’s voice.

Your work in progress—The Cautioner’s Tale—is a fantastic leap away from traditional writing, so much so that you recently asked for help in defining the genre. I think you have invented something new and I loved the art work as well as the political satire. Tell my readers how you came to work on this current piece.

I still haven’t determined the best name for what I do, but until something comes along, I describe my current books-in-progress (the Mary Morgan’s Journal trilogy) as fully-illustrated novels so that they will hopefully not be confused with graphic novels. The main difference is that I don’t employ the panels used in the layout of graphic novels. Instead, each page is essentially a mixed-media “photograph” of things that help the story along. The main story is shown written on scraps of paper which serve as Mary’s journal.

As for genre, I suppose my books are action/adventure, political satire, mystery, and mostly for adults despite being “picture books.” I pay close attention to what’s happening in the world, and I use this information to help form stories that may be familiar to many, and hopefully entertaining as well.

Any upcoming events?

My current focus is on finishing the third book in the trilogy, Mary Morgan’s Journal. I finished the first book in January, have just wrapped up the second, and have loads of notes and sketches for the third. I hope to begin publishing the series in November, so if you or your readers have any marketing tips, I’d love to hear them!

Final words of wisdom?

Keep at it! Whether it’s the writer’s life you want, or a fighter pilot’s, it’s not likely to be handed to you. Be bold, be determined, and go get it.

Thank you!

You can find out more about RMWilburn, follow, comment and support at the links below.



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