An Interview With Ian Benke
Learn by copying (not plagiarizing) your author models and influences. Expand your influences by copying artists that aren’t really into your niche / style / art. Don’t blindly blend what you learned doing the 2 steps above, but pick every element that suits your style and immediate needs the most. Add a personal touch that will make your style unique. Repeat.
Science Fiction and Fantasy are hugely popular genres. What does it take for a writer today, to write compelling and successful Science Fiction and Fantasy stories? Authority Magazine started a new series called “How To Write Compelling Science Fiction and Fantasy Stories”. In this series we are talking to anyone who is a Science Fiction or Fantasy author, or an authority or expert on how to write compelling Science Fiction and Fantasy .
As a part of this series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Denise LQ.
Denise LQ is a Manga editor and CEO of Dragonbreak Media, a Manga and Music editing company in Europe. She’s currently editing Eternal Air (Eien no Kuuki), a seinen comedy manga about an angel seeking a treasure on Earth along a frustrated low-class worker.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive into the main focus of our interview, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share a story about what first drew you to writing over other forms of storytelling?
I always loved sharing stories, and my literature teacher often praised my storytelling skills. I never took pleasure writing my own stories myself though. Being able to help my artists through their writing and drawing process in order to convey some feedbacks to them is way more fun and rewarding to me. I’m kinda uneasy under the spotlight!
You are a successful editor. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success? Can you please share a story or example for each?
It won’t please people to read it but honesty first: I seek excellence!
Maybe I sound cocky, maybe I’m unwillingly crushing some hidden dream, but one can’t survive by being “OK” or “alright”. When you have some legendary licenses draining the whole market, even a niche market isn’t enough to win. You have to be, at least, the big fish in this very small pond.
Seek excellence, use the Pareto law and follow this (crude) advice : a gold coin in a cow dump will always be better than a sack of rocks.
Can you tell us a bit about the interesting or exciting projects you are working on or wish to create? What are your goals for these projects?
Eternal Air is a project I’m proud to review!
The author, Jenny P (she’s kinda discreet so don’t bother looking for her social network pages), is both my dearest friend and a very talentful artist. We share this very quest for excellence and she’s the main reason I began my job as an editor.
This is the story of two people: a low-class worker unhappy in life, his only passion being the Ginger Beer soda, and secretly wishing for a miracle to happen (which is a relatable thought, isn’t it?) and an angel looking for a treasure she doesn’t know about. Maybe their fates are bond, who know?
It’s also an ecologic tale, advocating the respect toward the planet and its nature. You don’t see how the story above could convey an ecologic message? Read it to discover how! 😉
Wonderful. Let’s now shift to the main focus of our interview. Let’s begin with a basic definition so that all of us are on the same page. How do you define sci-fi or fantasy? How is it different from speculative fiction?
Well… It’s kinda complicated to explain but I’ll do my best:
- Fantasy is a genre that “expand” our view of reality, in our very world for the Low Fantasy, or into its own world for High Fantasy;
- Sci-Fi is a genre that pushes a technology further, with good results (space opera, cyberpunk, steampunk), or failed results (post-apocalyptical, mainly).
It can go along the speculative fiction but it’s not mandatory; the majority of these genres allows a great amount of imagination that speculative fiction tend to restrain.
It seems that despite countless changes in media and communication technologies, novels and written fiction always survive, and as the rate of change increases with technology, written sci-fi becomes more popular. Why do you think that is?
Human beings is programmed to enjoy stories and learn from them. Every successful story goes further than its predecessor and adds (or remove) elements so they’re unique and appealing to people.
These stories are close enough to comfort people but unique enough to not fall into the ‘Oh sh*i here we go again” trap. Balancing these two is the key to success!
In your opinion, what are the benefits to reading sci-fi, and how do they compare to watching sci-fi on film and television?
I’ll draw an example from my own life: I often buy books that were already adapted into movies, anime, or even novelizations of shows and films, to read it before sleep (screen light makes the sleeping process difficult), in the park or during transports. Reading is soothing and calming, it doesn’t force you to keep up with its rhythm. The rhythm is yours only!
And, I’ll expand to manga: they’re often better than their anime adaptations, especially those released between the 80’s and the late 2000’s.
What authors and artists, dead or alive, inspired you to write?
Kazuki Takahashi (Yu-Gi-Oh!), Ken Akamatsu (Love Hina), Michael Kirkbride (Elder Scrolls), Douglas Adams (H2G2) and Robert E. Howard (Conan the Barbarian) had a huge impact on my way to apprehend the writing process.
Also, I read a lot of prepublication magazines (Weekly Shounen Jump, Nakayoshi, Bessatsu Margaret, among other titles) to constantly be up to date and keep up with the market leaders!
If you could ask your favourite Science Fiction and Fantasy author a question, what would it be?
I don’t like to have anything favorite. It’s rather a matter of mood to me.
We’d like to learn more about your writing. How would you describe yourself as an editor? Can you please share a specific passage that you think exemplifies your style?
I’m not really an author. It’s true that I’m helping my artists to write their scripts but the stories are theirs, and I just “correct” stuff to refine their work.
We just take a lotta references in every genre and niches to take what could apply well into our storytelling process and realization.
Based on your own experience and success, what are the “Five Things You Need To Write Compelling Science Fiction and Fantasy Stories?” If you can, please share a story or example for each.
- Learn by copying (not plagiarizing) your author models and influences.
- Expand your influences by copying artists that aren’t really into your niche / style / art
- Don’t blindly blend what you learned doing the 2 steps above, but pick every element that suits your style and immediate needs the most
- Add a personal touch that will make your style unique
We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Entertainment, Business, VC funding, and Sports read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US, with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we both tag them 🙂
I don’t know, but I’m open to suggestions!
How can our readers further follow your work online?
https://dragonbreakmedia.com/ (we’re working on an international website), @dragonbreak for our Facebook page and @dragonbreakmedia for Pinterest (they can be translated into your readers’ native language so everything’s fine!).
And, if some of you guys are mangakas interested to be published, I’ll do the project submission easy to send me your best One Shots!
Thank you for these excellent insights, and we greatly appreciate the time you spent. We wish you continued success.
Denise LQ Of Dragonbreak Media On How To Write Compelling Science Fiction and Fantasy Stories was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.