Sunday, November 10, 2013

NYCC 2013: Diva Goes "Twisted Dark" With Indie Writer Neil Gibson

Those who already know Red Dot Diva pretty well, are quite familiar with her warped and dark thoughts - all which belies her petite, usually benign and sometimes chirpy demeanor.

It is probably why she was not too surprised when she first met indie graphic novel writer and TPub's founder Neil Gibson at the recent New York Comic Con. In person, Neil was jovial, articulate and funny. Other than his devious charms, one might not know that he is the mastermind behind a series of sinister and scary stories.

Well, on second thought, Red Dot Diva thinks it actually makes it even more shuddersome and creepy.

Armed with an incisive and wry sense of humour, Neil sat down with Red Dot Diva for half an hour to reveal more about the machinations behind the chilling "Twisted Dark" series. And .... well.... you might be surprised by what was revealed that day.

Red Dot Diva: How did you get interested in graphic novels?
Neil: I read comics as a kid and they were of superheroes. I stopped reading them when I was about 16 because they were always the same. Superhero punches bad guy, bad guy comes back with more powers, superheroes still beats him again. So I grew out of comics. 

Then, when I was 23 and was backpacking in Vancouver, I entered a comic shop as a joke, to buy a present for someone. The people in the shop heard my accent and they assumed that I personally knew Neil Gaiman, Alan Moore and Garth Ennis. And not only did I not personally know these people, I didn't know who they were. The people in the shop all looked at me and asked, "But you've read 'Watchmen', right?" And I went, "Watch... wah.. what?" They said, "Stay here." 

They went to the back of the shop and got this book and said, "*BUY* this!" And I did. Because they said it with such passion. I remembered walking out of the shop feeling stupid. "Why did I spend $30 on something that I didn't even want?"

And I'm so glad I did because it changed my life. It made me realize that comics is just a medium. Like TV is, and music is. You don't grow out of a medium, but you do grow out of kids' shows. Your tastes changed. And people assume comics are just for kids and they are wrong - it is just a medium. I've now been a fan of good comics for 10 years. 

Then, I was doing a project in Qatar. And the project was easy so I was done by seven in the evening. I thought, 'What should I do with my free time?' Rather than watch TV, I thought I'd try writing. I've never done any writing before, and I was amazed people really liked my stuff. So last year, I decided to give this a shot, so I quit my job and made comics and my first book when to number one in the charts in the UK! 

Red Dot Diva: Congratulations! 
Neil: Thank you very much!

Red Dot Diva: What was the inspiration behind the "Twisted Dark" series? Any.. childhood traumas?
Neil: Nooo.... ! It's from doing interviews with Red Dot Diva. She's a diva; a very sick and twisted woman! 
Red Dot Diva: Muahahahaha! (lowers voice) I am actually. 
Neil: You are? You admit it! 
Red Dot Diva: Yep! 
Neil: People who knew me before I started writing, wondered why did this come from. Because I'm normally a very happy person. And my Dad is really concerned about me. For people who don't know me, and they read the books and they meet me... and they are totally surprised because they expect me to be a complete goth or this big tattooed person.

When I was new writer, I was terrified of being boring. I thought writing something chilling and intense, it would be easier to not be boring. And it's working, I guess.

Red Dot Diva: What are you thoughts on to why people are buying into your brand of twisted darkness? 
Neil: Everyone has a dark side. Imagine if you are driving and someone cuts you off, or if someone is rude to you for no reason. The very first thought in your mind is anger or revenge. You don't always do the first thing in your mind, but you think it. But sometimes, people do do it. 

You kind of relate to these people. And that's why you murders and mysteries and crime fascinate people. Because at some level, they would love to do that even if they are revolted by it. So I try to write stories that everyone can relate to. Because you have these thoughts but don't do them yourselves.
Red Dot Diva: Who are the authors that scare you? 
Neil: Red Dot Diva
Red Dot Diva: I'm not an author. (pause) But I'd leeeeeeerve to scare people.
Neil: You should have seen how she just moved these without touching. That was really scary!
Red Dot Diva: Muahahaha.
Neil: There are only small bits and parts that scare me. But there's a Japanese writer called Junji Ito who wrote a book called "Uzumaki". And it was very chilling, especially the artwork. I remember the first time when I read it, I was going 'oohh.. that was creepy!!'. Normally, books don't scare me but films will, because they are more intense and they have music as well. I hate horror films, I get terrified by them.
Red Dot Diva: Do you still go watch them? Because some people hate horror movies but they still go watch them.
Neil: I don't actually watch horror movies much because I don't like being scared! But I am interested in psychology - what people do and their motivations. Because everything that they do, there is a reason. No matter how twisted the logic is, they believe it is the right thing to do. And it is fascinating and amazing how people justify what they do.

Red Dot Diva: So what keeps you awake at night? 
Neil: Red Dot Diva
Red Dot Diva: Woohoo!  
Neil: I should stop making that joke now.
Red Dot Diva: Muahahaha!
Neil: I don't think many things keep me awake at night. If I watch a horror film, then I do get scared at night. I remembered watching "The Ring", the American version. I saw it during the day with friends, and I was still terrified. If I was in the countryside on my own, I wouldn't be able to sleep the entire night.
Red Dot Diva: Actually, the Asian versions of horror films are scarier.
Neil: Well, I am *definitely* not watching it! What's wrong with you, woman?!?
Red Dot Diva: Muahahaha.

Red Dot Diva: You were mentioning that people who are twisted have they own logic. So, which villain is the most fascinating to you?
Neil: That's an interesting question. I think one of the best is from the TV series "Sherlock" (the current BBC version). Moriarty. The way the actor who played that role was phenomenal. Moriarty is so bored with life, and he needs some challenge and wants to have fun, but he still wants to win. And when he doesn't quite win, it doesn't really matter because he found someone that he could relate to. I found that brilliant.

Red Dot Diva: What are the tools that you use to jot down and generate ideas for your writing?
Neil: Okay. I have this app called Evernotes in my phone. It's a great system. (opens up the app on his phone and shows it to Red Dot Diva.) So I have different folders for different subjects. If I find a good dialogue or interaction, I will put it in here. If I have a good fact or interesting quote, I will write it here. And if I have a specific storyline that I like, I'll stick in there. There are different sections for Horror or Scifi. And here are the places for the books I'm writing now like "Tabitha" and "Twisted Light". So that's the plan......

But it doesn't work! Because I have hundreds and hundreds of ideas, and normally when I sit down to write, I have an idea and I need to do that immediately. So these are all backup ideas which I'll get round to probably in 20 years' time.

Red Dot Diva: Do you have any secret talents? 
Neil: This book "Twisted Dark" that got to number one in the UK? I have never done writing before that. That was the first thing I wrote in my life. I used to be in a band at school and wrote all of the music. I used to compete in Latin American dance. I moved to Chicago to study martial arts intensively - 6 hours a day, 6 days a week for three months. And I like cook. I cook everyday.
Red Dot Diva: Wow. *super impressed*

Red Dot Diva: You seem to have many things on your list. So, what's the next immediate project that's ready to go for you? 
Neil: The next thing is "Tabitha" which is being released as a graphic novel series next month (November). It is about a mailman who is using his route to find out who is not collecting their mail. Then he knows that they are not home, so he goes rob them. That goes fine for the first couple of break-ins and then it goes horribly wrong. And that's when the story starts.

I have "Twisted Dark Vol. 4" coming up and Volumes 5 and 6 next year. I have a children's book coming out called "The World of Chub Chub", which I was so surprised at how many people were interested in it. I recently made it was a gift for my mother because I was a horrible kid. The book was about all the true stories of what I did when I was a kid. And people found it really funny because they related to this in their own families. I was naughty every day! I was a terrible child. I felt I owed it to my mother, so I made it for her.

And with that, Red Dot Diva managed to walk away from the interview, unscathed.

Two warped minds
So far, Red Dot Diva has survived two volumes of "Twisted Dark" and she is eager to relish the third as well as check out the newly released "Tabatha". The books are available on Amazon. "Twisted Dark Vol.1" reached #1 on the Amazon UK Kindle comic book best sellers list recently.

Look out for her book review soon!


Thanks to Neil for the wonderful and fun interview session, and helping Red Dot Diva to up her ante on Dark-Twistedness!

And special thanks to Elysabeth Fulda of SphinxGroup for introducing Red Dot Diva to TPub and Neil's works!


Check out and follow TPub

Neil Gibson is also on Twitter!

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