I’m so pleased to welcome author Laurent Linn today to the blog as part of Celebrating Debutantes 2016. Laurent upcoming debut novel Draw The Line is a unique YA novel that not only offers arts/illustrations showcasing Laurent’s talent as an art director at Simon & Schuster but also a powerful story of self-discovery.
I had so much fun asking Laurent few questions during the interview which I hope will push you to add this beautiful book to your TBR pile.
Following my interview with Laurent are few sample interior arts from Draw The Line, Laurent bio along with places where to find him online. Then there’s also the book description and where to pre-order copies of Draw The Line before it hit shelves this May 10th, 2016.
Also, be sure and check the bottom of the post as well for all the details on a special giveaway!
Interview with Laurent Linn
You’ve contributed a lot of art and design for picture books, chapter books, and even YA books. What made you decide to finally create your own book instead of just providing art for others? How’s the transition for you?
In my artistic career, I’ve created puppets (I was a puppet designer and builder in Jim Henson’s Muppet Workshop for many years, which was SO fun), illustrated books as you mention, and am also currently an art director and book designer for all types of books. But a few years ago, I realized I had stories of my own to tell and characters of my own to give life to. The power of literature is so important and I decided I really wanted to hopefully inspire teens — and others — to try and make the world a better place if at all possible. I know that books do that for me, so I’m hoping Draw the Line may possibly effect some readers in positive ways.
Because I am fully involved in the children’s book world, the transition has been very natural. However, being on the author side of things does take some getting used to! It is very different when it’s your “baby” people are reading and talking about. It’s a bit surreal.
Draw the Line is a unique novel with all its artistic illustrations. Can you tell us about your writing process? Do you have to actually draw first the scenes or just picture them in your mind then write?
Yes, I’m doing something very unusual with my YA novel: it has many pages of illustration. In fact, there are 90 pages of art (!) so it’s quite unique. The art is “drawn” by the main character, Adrian, so we get to see a big part of who he is by what he creates. We’ll see his sketches as well as comics of his secret webcomic superhero creation, Graphite. For the process, I wrote the novel first, keeping the art in mind as I revised the many drafts. I had a clear idea in my head of what the art would be like, and I did do sketches as I wrote and designed the comic characters and world over time. But the art came last since there is much more text than art, and the text tells the main story. I can’t wait to hear what readers think of such an illustrated YA.
How different was the original version of Draw the Line from the final version? What changed?
Extremely different! When I first started writing the book, the story was much simpler and, honestly, not very interesting. I created a main character that was more of a “problem” than a “real” teen. But after a few false starts, and revisions, the main character clicked into place, as did his friends, and the story took off running. I have an incredible writing critique group and there’s no way I could have shaped the book so well without them. This book has been through many many revisions and it just got deeper and fuller each time.
Could you tell us a bit about Graphite? What is his origin? Who is he based on?
Adrian, the main character in Draw the Line, is a talented artist who is obsessed with Renaissance art, superheroes (and all things sic-fi/fantasy), and he’s non-violent. He also happens to be gay. Except for his two best friends, no one understands Adrian — in fact, he tries to stay hidden at school to not be noticed. To express his passions, he creates a gay Renaissance art inspired superhero named Graphite. Adrian creates comics of Graphite’s adventures and posts them on an anonymous website. No one at school knows it’s his . . . for now.
Graphite represents the side of Adrian that wants to be free and able to simply be who he is, without prejudice or fear. He creates him only for himself. But, when the time comes for Adrian to decide how to make a difference in the world, and perhaps not be so hidden, Graphite inspires him in the real world to take action.
As a writer, do you feel like you are writing yourself or pieces of yourself in Draw the Line? Why?
None of the characters are based on me exactly, and Adrian is quite different from who I was at 16 years old. But it’s interesting you use the word “pieces”. Definitely, there are pieces of me in all the characters. There have to be. Otherwise the emotions wouldn’t be true and the needs and hopes and fears wouldn’t be honest. There may be a few plot elements that are loosely based on experiences in my life, but I’ve changed them all to be Adrian’s experiences in very specific ways. Every aspect of the book must help or challenge him in ways that he will grow.
Did you encounter any challenges while writing Draw the Line? How did you deal with it?
I’d say the main challenge is common with most writers: time! Since I have a full-time job, which I love, and am also involved in lots of children’s book organizations, and I have family/friends and other things in life, finding the time to write and explore and fail and succeed is always hard. But the trick is that you don’t “find” time, you must plan it. Most evenings and weekend are sacred for me, and everyone in my life knows and gets that (thank goodness!) Most all my friends are artists in some capacity, so they’re creating as well. We help energize each other even though we’re in our own little spaces. Also, I don’t watch TV like most people. That’s writing time!
Where do you see your writing will go after Draw the Line? Do you think you’ll stick with this type of format or branch out into something else?
I’ve already got my next book idea in the works! It’s funny how our brains work — as soon as I was done with the last draft of Draw the Line, my brain started thinking of more ideas and I soon found myself writing notes about it every day. I can’t say more than it will be an entirely new story with new characters. And it, too, will be contemporary realistic YA fiction. Also, I definitely want it to have illustrations. Stay tuned!
Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
Yes. In Draw the Line, I wanted to explore the idea of how someone uses their real-life superpower to make a difference. It’s one thing to fantasize about what our imagined superpowers might be. But in real life, everyone has unique talents and skills that really are powerful — you just have to conquer your fears of using it. For Adrian, his superpower is his art, so he must find a way to use art to fight brutality and prejudice. For his friend Audrey, her superpower is being an incredible friend no matter what (even if she doesn’t see that at first,) etc.
So I’d love for a reader to come away from reading Draw the Line thinking about their own superpowers, their own unique qualities that only they have. There’s no reason you can’t make the world a better place simply by being YOU.
Thank you so much Laurent for stopping by today and for taking the time to answer all my questions above. Looking forward for Draw The Line to hit shelves this coming May 2016.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Laurent Linn, author and illustrator of Draw the Line, began his career as a puppet designer/builder in Jim Henson’s Muppet Workshop, creating characters for various productions, including the Muppet Christmas Carol and Muppet Treasure Island films. With Henson for over a decade, he won an Emmy Award (four-time Emmy nominee) for his work on Sesame Street, eventually becoming the Creative Director for the Sesame Street Muppets. In addition to writing and illustrating books for teens, Laurent is currently an art director and designer of books for kids and teens. Laurent is also on the Board of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, and is Artistic Advisor for the annual Original Art exhibit at the prestigious Society of Illustrators in New York. You can follow him on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook as well as at LaurentLinn.com.
ABOUT THE BOOK
Adrian Piper is used to blending into the background at his Texas high school. He may be a talented artist, a sci-fi geek, and gay, but those traits only bring him the worst kind of attention.
In fact, the only place he feels free to express himself is at his drawing table, crafting a secret world through his own Renaissance art-inspired superhero, Graphite.
But in real life, when a shocking hate crime flips his world upside-down, Adrian must decide what kind of person he wants to be. Maybe it’s time to not be so invisible after all—no matter how dangerous the risk.
In Draw the Line, Laurent Linn’s debut novel, he writes a charged story—illustrated with his own extraordinary drawings—about discovering your own superpowers, deciding how to use them, and where to draw the line.
SAMPLE INTERIOR ART FROM DRAW THE LINE
What’s up for Grab?
- Signed Advanced Reader Copy of Draw The Line as well as a bookmark (custom made from Simon & Schuster)
- Open to US/Canada residents only
- There will be one (1) winner
- Winner will be chosen and announced by rafflecopter
- Winner will be contacted thru email & should response within 48 hours
- Ends April 12, 2016
- Prizes will be sent by the author
To enter fill out the rafflecopter form
Treat yourself to a complete #CelebratingDebutantes2016 experience. Click the image below for the full list of schedule and links to each feature post!