Barbra Dillon, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief: Congratulations on the upcoming release of your debut YA graphic novel! For those who may be unfamiliar, how would you describe the book’s premise, and what inspired you to tell this story?
Olivia Stephens: Thank you so much!
Artie and the Wolf Moon follows Artemis “Artie” Irvin, an eighth grader living with her single mother in rural Oregon. One night, she accidentally discovers that her mother is a werewolf and that she comes from a whole lineage of werewolves. When Artie’s own abilities begin to surface afterwards, her mother decides to reconnect with old family friends who can help Artie hone her abilities and learn about her werewolf heritage. Artie gains new friends, a new crush, and new insight into the story of her human father who died before she was born. But she also learns that there are things in the woods far scarier than wolves-- and they’re waiting in the shadows.
BD: Following your illustrative work in publications like The New York Times, The Guardian, and FIYAH Magazine of Black Speculative Fiction, what can you share with us about balancing both the writing and illustrative duties of Artie and the Wolf Moon, and what have been some of your creative influences?
OS: Even though I’ve illustrated for outlets in the past, the majority of my work is in comics. I handle writing graphic novels like a screenplay. I try to keep my writing process fairly clinical and dedicated to figuring out the plot beats, so that I’m not overwhelmed. Once the full story is out of my head and on paper, I’m able to lend more of my energy to figuring out the visual solutions for sequences in my sketches.
I’m heavily influenced by the shonen manga I read when I was younger, like Bleach and Fullmetal Alchemist. I also take a lot of inspiration from music, and I tend to listen to different genres depending on the mood of an overall project. I listened to a lot of Iron & Wine and Kendrick Lamar when I was working on Artie and the Wolf Moon.
BD: At Fanbase Press, our #StoriesMatter initiative endeavors to highlight the impact that stories can have on audiences of various mediums. How do you feel that Artie’s story will connect with and impact readers, and why do you feel that this story was important for you to bring to life?
OS: I hope that Artie’s story will remind readers that your family is not confined to the one you were born into, and that you will spend the rest of your life finding new family members who shape you into the strongest version of yourself. It was important for me to tell this story because like many of us, I have spent long stretches of time feeling isolated and alone. But being able to find your people who truly love you and understand you is the greatest gift you can receive. Never stop searching for your pack.
BD: Are there any upcoming projects on which you are currently working that you would like to share with our readers?
OS: I’ve been working on a few things which I can’t talk about in detail yet! But I’m tinkering with a few projects behind the scenes over on my Patreon.
BD: Lastly, what is the best way for our readers to find more information about Artie and the Wolf Moon and your other work?
OS: You can visit www.artiecomic.com to check out all the different places you can order the book. The page also has a special Spotify playlist for the book based on Artie, which is a mix of her own music taste and songs I listened to while writing her character. And my general portfolio/website can be found at www.olivia-stephens.com!