If you were a fifteen your old girl and your single mother brought home a creepy boyfriend, wouldn't you just want to scream out loud? However, if you're Tasha, star of the upcoming Minx graphic novel Confessions of a Blabbermouth, you make it the scream heard round the world, by simply venting your frustrations on the world wide web. Back in April we spoke with scribe Mike Carey about his Minx projects and today we turn our attention to his 15 year old daughter Louise, who co-wrote Blabbermouth with her father and is ready to make an impact on the comic book industry. While the young scribe has been interviewed with her father previously, CBR News is proud to present Louise Carey's first solo interview.
Confessions Of A Blabbermouth deals with a young girl named Tasha, whose mother finds a new, self-assured novelist boyfriend intent on being the father figure Tasha never had - whether she likes it or not. Retaliating with scathing words about his actions on her blog, entitled Blabbermouth, Tasha's mother takes the family on vacation to Las Vegas, where this new man may be even worse than Tasha imagined. The graphic novel was brainstormed by both Careys and Louise explained how she was able to score such a high profile debut.
Well, my dad and I co-writing a comic was [Minx editor Shelly Bond's] idea at first, Louise Carey told CBR News. My dad sent her some sample chapters of a novel I'm currently writing called 'Bethany's Words,' and she liked them, so she suggested that we team up to produce something for the new Minx range. The general assumption was that, as a typical teenager, I could bring some valuable insights into a project aimed at teenage girls (but as I explained to everyone, that was out of the question, as I am so far from typical I might as well be from another planet). We had plenty of ideas for possible storylines (including one about a friendship between a teenage girl now and a girl living in the 1800s, conducted by means of a time traveling lunch-box), but they were all rejected. I don't remember which one of us came up with Blabbermouth first, but it was very much a joint effort after that. I can remember the initial discussion sessions we had about how the book would progress, pacing around the room in our excitement, and bouncing ideas off each other like tennis balls, faster and faster as we got more and more caught up in how the story would unfold. It was an amazing experience to work with someone on a book, because there were times when it felt like we were completely in sync with one another, and we both knew exactly where we wanted the story to go (of course, there were other times when we fought over the computer keyboard in our efforts to get our own ideas down, but I'm gonna gloss over those mostly...)
As Carey mentioned, it was her writing samples that impressed noted editor Shelly Bond. When asked to describe her style, Carey admitted, It's pretty much non-existent at the moment: a few stray chapters of novels that I haven't found the time to finish yet, some poems and songs, a couple of essays, and Blabbermouth is all it amounts to at the moment. I get inspired by all sorts of random things; sometimes someone I meet, an emotion or a dream spark off ideas that gradually develop into a poem or a storyline. The main problem I have is that I get inspired, but then have a better idea before I've finished the last one. This makes it difficult for me to finish what I've started, and it's one of the reasons that I'm so glad to have been given the opportunity to write 'Blabbermouth': it was a good lesson for me about commitment and sticking with a story until its conclusion. I've always been interested in horror, but I haven't written anything in that genre yet. I like to write funny poems and stories sometimes, but at the moment I'm more interested in serious issues, emotional writing and fantasy. The novel I'm writing at the moment is about a girl who has cerebral palsy, and I just finished writing a short story about childhood fantasies and beliefs, based on me and my friends in primary school. Basically, I write about whatever I'm inspired to write about, and I don't feel drawn to any particular genre at the moment.
Working with one's father on anything is full of complicated emotional situations, but for the Careys, they found a way to make sure there were lots of laughs. Oh, there are plenty of funny stories, but I'm not sure he'd let me tell you all of them, laughed Louise. At first, dad was a bit overbearing, and he liked to read over and edit all of my work. This almost led to some nasty arguments, but it was kind of natural that he'd want to edit me, as my writing style was quite bumpy initially, and I didn't know how to do the art directions. It improved a lot after the first few pages, however, and soon it was me editing him in places (I found three typos on one page, what a disgrace!) Overall, it's been really great working with my dad. We both felt the same way about the comic and where it was going, and we've had fun writing together.
Dad bought a cordless mouse and keyboard just before we started the project, and this was very useful for when we disagreed. Once, I stole the keyboard and took it over to my computer, where I proceeded to write in what I thought should happen next. Sometimes we had arguments conducted via keyboard as well: I would snatch it off of him and write something derisory underneath the latest bit of script, and then he would reply. These could go on for pages and pages, and they quickly descended into farce. We saved a couple of the funniest ones, but I'm afraid we're not giving out copies. I wouldn't say that writing 'Blabbermouth' has been a bonding experience, as my dad and I have always been very close, but writing was something I'd never done with him before, and now that I've experienced it I would love to do it again in the future.
It's hard to imagine the daughter of a comic book fan like Mike Carey not being a life long fan, but Louise Carey readily admits her newness to the medium. I used to read nothing but books and even when my dad started writing comics I wasn't particularly interested, as 'Lucifer' was much too old for me. However, as I got older, I used to find lettering drafts of 'Lucifer' lying around. It was very careless of dad really, as he knows what a voracious reader I am. He walked in on me one afternoon engrossed in issue #50, Lilith, and by that point it was too late: I was hooked. I read all the 'Lucifer' books, and then other comics that came in the DC comp box. Last year, dad gave me 'V for Vendetta,' which I finished in three days (three days during which I was dead to the world). Recently, I have been very into manga, and am reading the ' Fruits Basket' series by Natsuki Takaya. I will read pretty much anything, though.
That unfamiliarity with comic books did lead to a few difficulties when writing, but wouldn't you know it - much like her father, the young Carey doesn't just write books and comics. It was quite easy writing the comic script itself, as I have had lots of practice when scripting role plays in drama lessons at school, she admitted. However, I did find the art directions very hard to do at first. I wasn't sure what tone to strike, as I was basically addressing the artist, whom I had never met. Dad always uses first names and stuff, but I'm very shy (I know it's hard to believe, but it's true), so I ended up sounding very formal and stiff. I was also really worried about sounding too authorative and bossy, so my art directions always ended up as something like: 'Could we possibly have a close up here, if it's not too difficult please?' Luckily, my dad gave me some tips on how to write the directions properly, so they didn't end up sounding all obsequious.
At age 15, Carey is one of the youngest writers in the industry, if not the youngest. Whereas many writers - of any age - would be intimidated by the prospect of entering such a competitive industry, Louise Carey is one writer without fear. I've always wanted to be a writer, so I find it more exciting than intimidating to have got into comics so young, she explained. I hope that everyone already knows what feats of achievement teenagers are capable of- after all, there are many young authors around (though not so many young comics writers). I think that people might expect a teenager to only write for their own age range, but I am quite interested in writing adult novels and comics too. I don't feel that there are any prejudices against teenage writers; however, if I do meet any misconceptions, I'll challenge them!
She's also quick to challenge the suggestion that Blabbermouth might be based on her life - unlike Tasha, she very much likes the man in her life, namely her dad. It's hard to think of any parallels between my life and the world portrayed in 'Blabbermouth,' but I'm sure they must be there, even if only on a subconscious level, said Carey. There are a couple of kids who behave a little like Big Sylvie (the school bully in 'Blabbermouth') in my school, but they're not nearly so bad. Still, I might have been getting back at them just a little bit, because they really make me mad! Tasha isn't modeled on me (I'm too much of a goody-two-shoes to make interesting reading), but she has my in-built sarcasm and cynicism, and her room is certainly as messy as mine! She also has a passion for writing, so in that way we are very similar. However, we differ in one key way: Tasha's school is mixed-sex, which means that she has boyfriends on tap. I envy her that.
As Louise Carey is the target audience for the Minx titles, it seemed natural to ask her about the line and why so many girls don't read comics. I think it probably has a lot to do with misconceptions about comics in general, she replied. Since I started 'Blabbermouth,' I've discussed comics with many people, and their image of what a comic is like is often very stereotyped. I've spoken to some people who believe that comics are only for little kids, because they've only ever come across the Beano and the Dandy, and some who see them as the domain of dirty old men, with lots of sex and nudity. When we were discussing books in class, and I told my teacher that I was reading a graphic novel, she looked mildly shocked, and said: 'aren't they full of sex and violence?' I guess that since comics are not very mainstream in England, people have a narrow-minded view of their appeal. The idea of comics for teenage girls is taking a while to sink in, as there are many people that see comics as a niche market. As people's preconceptions about comics are refuted, I think they will become more mainstream, and then girls my age will start to take notice.
Confessions Of A Blabbermouth is, if all works out well, just the start of a comic book writing career for Louise Carey. As I said, I like writing in many genres, and am keen to try out new things. At the moment, my dad and I have pitched an idea for another Minx book called 'Confessions of a Bottle-Rocket,' and I would absolutely love to have that approved and be able to get back to writing with my dad again. Now I've finished Blabbermouth, I feel kind of like there's something missing from my life. I hope that I can write more comics soon, before I go into withdrawal!
NOTE: This interview was conducted by Arune Singh in March, 2007, prior to Arune taking a position with Marvel Comics in April, 2007.
Now discuss this story in CBR's DC Comics forum.