Brian C Hailes - Writing and Illustrating a Spy Thriller
Brian C. Hailes, creator of Draw It With Me, is also the award-winning writer/illustrator of the illustrated novel, Blink, two graphic novels, Dragon’s Gait and Devil’s Triangle, and the children's picture books Skeleton Play and Don’t Go Near the Crocodile Ponds. Hailes has received numerous awards for his art from across the country, including Winner of the L. Ron Hubbard Illustrators of the Future contest out of Hollywood. His artwork has also been featured in the 2017 and 2018 editions of Infected By Art. Hailes currently lives in Salt Lake City with his wife and four boys, where he continues to write, paint and draw regularly. As our Author of the Day, he tells us all about his book, Blink.
Please give us a short introduction to what Blink is about.
Blink follows the trail of Madison "Blink" Campbell as she aims to take down "The Establishment," an organization using technology, propaganda, and economics to subjugate the world under their control.
What inspired you to write about an ex black-ops soldier?
I'm sort of a closet conspiracy theorist, noticing the writing on the wall as it applies to finance, world government, politics and powerful, unregulated monopolies. I always thought it would be nice to have some kind of champion to root for who actually goes after the "man behind the curtain" to expose them for who and what they are. Who better to take on such an impossible mission than an ex black-ops soldier (with a billionaire philanthropist to watch her back)?
Tell us more about Blink. What makes her so special?
Born with the ability to see the positive and negative energy that makes up all living things, Blink can analyze her targets’ colors and quickly discern friend from foe. But in her fight to expose the most powerful, far-reaching organization in existence, Blink finds herself outnumbered and outmatched in a conflict that could force her, and those she loves, to pay the ultimate price.
Why did you decide to add illustrations to this book?
I'm probably more well known for my art than my writing, as I've illustrated books for Mattel/American Girl, Arcana Studios, and other notable companies, but the truth is, I just enjoy storytelling in general, be it written or visual, and I've been part of several writing groups with other published authors for almost 15 years now. With Blink, I've attempted to marry the best of both worlds.
Besides writing, what other secret skills do you have?
When I'm not writing, you can usually find me drawing, painting, eating, lifting, swimming, visiting friends/family, biking, traveling, serving in my church, reading, or purchasing the latest art book on Amazon.
Readers have mentioned your name in the same breath as Lee Child and Tim Dorsey.
Who are your favorite authors in the genre? I'm also a fan of Child's Jack Reacher character, as he's always looking out for the little guy, but when it comes to thrillers, like many, I'm drawn to the likes of Michael Crichton, Robert Ludlum, Clive Cussler and Greg Cox.
How long did it take you to finish the first chapter?
I initially wrote Blink as a graphic novel, and the script for 'act one' only took me about a week to write, but halfway through illustrating the comic cells, I realized to go deep enough into the characters and complex storyline, this would be better served as an illustrated novel (splash pages in comics are everyone's favorite anyway, right?). So, I buckled down, quadrupled my research, and got busy on the prose, which took about three times as long, yet nowhere in the ballpark of how long it takes to illustrate an OGN.
Did you write the books for yourself, or do you write them with a particular reader/audience in mind?
Both. Like most authors (I imagine), I write the sort of thing that I would like to read. I try to attack a project from an angle that hasn't been done, or if it has, I try to spin a new twist into it. Going after the financial oligarchy in an action story seemed pretty untouched at the time I began brainstorming.
Which one of your characters do you think you would get along with the most?
What about the least? Simon Cody, Blink's 'sidekick' tech nerd, seems pretty easy going. And I do spend a lot of time doing panels at Comic Con and other sci-fi/fantasy conventions, so I jive well with that personality type :) I would have a difficult time relating to or keeping conversation with Cecil Vaughn-Holden, acting director of the International Central Bank.
Which actor/actress would you like to see playing Blink and why?
There are a lot of strong women in Hollywood with solid acting performances that could pull off the American-English accented black-ops soldier from Lunaire. I think Lily James, Alicia Vikander, Nathalie Emmanuel, Blake Lively and Kate Beckinsale would all be great in the role of Madison Campbell.
What was your greatest challenge when writing this book?
Condensing the complexities of world finance—i.e. the World Monetary Fund (WMF) and the Fed, government agencies, the Bilderberg Group, and world politics into a cohesive, linear action thriller, while still making it seem real-world plausible.
Do you consider yourself a disciplined writer? Do you have a schedule that you stick to, or is it more in the moment?
I'm disciplined when it comes to meeting deadlines—which is why I HAVE to be part of a consistent writers group. I've got so much else going on, but if I know I'm meeting on Thursday, I figure out a way to crank out that next chapter by Thursday afternoon, despite any distractions. I'm not as prolific as Brandon Sanderson by any means, but I push for a chapter (or a children's book, or a short story) per week.
What are you working on right now?
Three books: Blink: True Colors (the sequel), Avila (illustrated sci-fi action novel), Defender of Llyans (illustrated fantasy novel). As you can tell, I find it difficult to lock myself into one genre (which makes marketing a little more difficult). Also, we've just about finished production on the audiobook version of Blink, which will be available soon!
Where can our readers discover more of your work or interact with you?
Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Brian-C-Hailes/e/B006FK8E0M/ HailesArt: https://www.hailesart.com/ Draw It With Me: https://www.drawitwithme.com/ Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/drawitwithmeofficial/