Posts Tagged 'Missouri Vaun'

Smothered and Covered

 

By Missouri Vaun

death-by-cocktail-straw

The first installment in the Adventures of Nash Wiley comes out this month, titled “Death by Cocktail Straw.” There are those (who will remain nameless) who can vouch for the fact that this first story is loosely based on actual events. For the sake of comedy I have of course embellished, but not the part about the trip to the E.R. after the incident. Or the residual fear of misdirected cocktail straws.

 

I had this idea for a series of short stories staring a central character that focused on her dating adventures (uh… misadventures). The concept was that each story would build on the previous story so that if all four are read in sequence there’s a longer narrative arc.smothered-and-covered

 

Humor is tricky. As my editor, Cindy says, humor in fiction is an odd mix of character, dialogue, action, and strong setup. It all has to be in the right amount at the right time.

 

That’s so true. The setup is everything. And subtle, detailed threads that repeat themselves and refer back to previous actions can make the setup even stronger.

 

I’ve had some practice being funny as my alter ego writing Jane’s World. Jane has endured a lot of silliness over the years just so I could rehearse.

 

Comedy is all about ending up where you don’t expect to end up. Like a train jumping a track. Usually, when I’m trying to set up a gag I imagine the obvious consequences taking a particular action would create and then I try to avoid that obvious path at all costs. It’s the unexpected consequences that end up being the funniest. Case in point, from Jane’s World, a fledging lesbian is nearly smothered by her busty date during a make out session. CPR is required. The newbie lesbian ends up developing a breast phobia as a result of this traumatic, yet sexy encounter.

 

A lesbian with a boob phobia… now that’s funny. (Or maybe sad, a lot of humor originates in sadness, but that’s for another blog.)

 

one-more-reason-to-leave-orlandoThis short story series is set in Orlando, where my misspent twenties took place. I pitched this concept more than a year ago, long before the shooting at Pulse. After the shooting I considered changing the location because all of these stories have an element of humor, but in the end I decided to leave them as they were. I decided to celebrate Orlando and the vibrant LGBT community that resides there. Maybe this is the best time to celebrate Orlando, with humor and love.

 

#LoveIsLouder

 

 

email: Missouri.Vaun@icloud.com

website: http://www.MissouriVaun.com

twitter: @MissouriVaun   privacy-glass

Jane’s World: Drawing with Words

By Paige Braddock

Janes World template.eps

 

It’s been amazing to be in this world of authors and readers as Missouri Vaun (http://www.MissouriVaun.com). After years of creating comics, using my great-grandmother’s name allowed me to write in a different voice. I was able to tell more serious stories, but I realized after the first few novels came out that I missed my comedic roots.

 

I had basically stopped creating new Jane’s World (http://www.pb9.com) comics so that I’d have time to work on the Missouri Vaun novels. But that meant walking away from a character that had basically been a constant companion every night since 1995. After working all day I’d come home and stay up until the wee hours of the morning crafting Jane’s universe. Jane, Dorothy, Chelle and Ethan have been there for me through up times and down times. Through lonely nights, new jobs, cross-country moves, and break-ups Jane has been there.

 

JW-1st-comic

 

My friend, Terry Moore, who created “Strangers in Paradise,” (http://www.strangersinparadise.com/) said to me once, “good characters are a gift.” He’s right. And after working on the Missouri Vaun novels I realized I missed these characters. It was really fun to delve back into their psyches and their deeper motivations, but comedy is in my nature. So the Jane’s World novel has affirming friendships, unrequited crushes, sharks, rogue waves, luxury yachts, trailer park hijinks, surly cats and a sweet romance.

 

Jane started back in 1991, originally pitched as a single panel comic for the Women News section of The Chicago Tribune. The editor passed on the comic at the time, but there was something about Jane. I kinda liked her.

 

By 1995, I was working for The Atlanta Constitution. I’d leave work around 9:00 p.m. Most of my friends who had day jobs were in for the night, so I’d entertain myself by eating a giant bowl of Frosted Flakes, watching episodes of Silk Stalkings and drawing Jane comics with a sharpie marker. As you can see, this was a highly sophisticated development process. Some might refer to this sort of process as “organic” or “intuitive.” But you will know the truth. Jane’s World was the result of too much refined sugar, bad TV and sleep depravation.

 

Fast forward to 2001. Jane’s World, became the first gay-themed work to receive online distribution by a national media syndicate in the U.S. And then, eleven comic book collections later here we are: Jane’s World, the novel.

 

After writing a few manuscripts for Bold Strokes Books as Missouri Vaun, I sheepishly asked Sandy Lowe if she thought Radclyffe would ever be interested in publishing a Jane’s World novel. Rad said yes!

 

Then the panic set in. Could Jane truly break out of her comic book world and be a novel?

 

JW-2nd-comic

 

The process for creating a comic is very different and I had a really hard time switching gears. After a few false starts trying to get the narrative moving in the right direction, my wife, Evelyn suggested I visualize drawing the story first. Genius. Once I started visualizing the story, the whole narrative came together with a bonus of 14 illustrations published in the novel.

 

And listen, don’t worry if you’ve never read the comics, because you won’t be lost. I wrote the book as a standalone story. I hope readers enjoy it and that it makes people laugh. Most of all, I hope readers fall in love with Jane just like I have.

 

JW-3rd-comic

 

Links etc:

 

Website: http://www.JanesWorld.us

Twitter: @PaigeBraddock

The Time Before Now

BY MISSOURI VAUN

This novel is a prequel to my lesbian romance, All Things Rise, and it begins with a journey.

The setting is a hundred years or so in the future, after oil has peaked and transportation is mostly on foot or by horseback. For Vivian Wildfire Yates, the passage she chooses is a footpath from East Texas to North Georgia. During this trek, two women cross Vivian’s path who individually impact her life in different ways. Along the way she is also confronted with numerous obstacles both natural and man-made.

The Time Before NowAs with most of my stories so far, I began my writing process for The Time Before Now with a drawing of one of its characters. In this case, I did lots of sketching of Vivian before I settled on a drawing that I felt captured the rugged individualism I envisioned for her. The drawing also conveys a subtle vulnerability. I think you see that when you look in her eyes. The final image of Vivian is featured on the cover. She is not as wise to the world as she thinks but thankfully learns this early in her journey.

Vivian is the sort of character many of us might aspire to be. She’s a person of integrity and is self-sufficient, confident, fearless even, in the face of adversity. And the sort of woman that others depend on.

This book is also the story of Ida George. Her aspirations and focus are different from Vivian’s. Ida is drawn to hearth and home the way Vivian is drawn to independence and freedom. Vivian and Ida couldn’t be more different and yet are drawn together during this epic journey.

Ida George

Ida George

If you have read All Things Rise, then you may remember that Ida is Cole’s biological aunt. In The Time Before Now, Cole is six and we get to see some of the forces in her life that shaped her into the person she

becomes.

 

One of the first things I had to do when I plotted this story was to make sure someone could actually make Vivian’s epic walk.

Vivian uses a map, drawn by her grandfather. The coastline has changed considerably along the Gulf of Mexico due to climate change. Most of southern Louisiana is under water. Some of the notations on the map are in Cherokee

Vivian uses a map, drawn by her grandfather. The coastline has changed considerably along the Gulf of Mexico due to climate change. Most of southern Louisiana is under water. Some of the notations on the map are in Cherokee

The Appalachian Trail, which runs up the eastern U.S., is two thousand miles from Georgia to Maine. As a teen and as an adult I hiked different sections of the Appalachian Trail so I knew that trekking seven hundred miles was doable, and relied on my experiences for some of the details of this story.

I also spent a good amount of time sitting and imagining my childhood in Mississippi. What the air smelled like. What sounds you hear in the woods when the sandy forest floor is covered with pine needles. And then there are the swamps. I have sense memories of the large stands of long-leaf pines and the scent of the dark tannic water in the swamps and creeks. Hopefully I captured this sense of place for those of you who haven’t traveled in the Deep South.

This book will likely get categorized as science fiction because it’s set in the context of an imagined future. But it doesn’t really feel like science fiction to me. It feels like one possible trajectory for a society without machines and industry. If anything, I would describe it as a lesbian romance set in a mostly happy post-apocalyptic world. Mostly. Because where would the adventure of the journey be without a bit of danger?

Vivian’s grandfather

Vivian’s grandfather

There’s one other character that plays an important role in this novel: Vivian’s Cherokee grandfather. He raised Vivian, and his passing is the impetus for Vivian to begin traveling east. Her goal is to reach the mountains that were once the ancestral home of the Cherokees. She uses a map drawn by her grandfather to guide her. Even after death, he continues to be a spiritual force in Vivian’s life.

Writing this book and remembering my youth spent in forests in the Deep South with my father made me want to reconnect with my wilderness roots. Maybe it will inspire others to spend more time outside, and connect with their ancestors in the process. And let’s not forget: fall in love.

 

The Power of Love in All Things Rise

By Missouri Vaun

All Things Rise 300 DPIThe inspiration for All Things Rise came about a few years ago when talk of the one percent was everywhere. I was walking through a busy New York City neighborhood when the idea for this book hit me. I was struck by the urban bustle around me. The entire city felt like a monument to consumerism. And while I love my time in NYC, it is a huge contrast to where I live in rural California. Cows and organic farms surround me there.

I also imagined how much money someone needed to live well in Manhattan compared to where I grew up in the Deep South. As I walked down the congested sidewalk I tried to visualize what the world would look like if the one percent stayed on course and economic inequity kept expanding, where would we end up? What would that world look like?

For All Things Rise I imagined one possible trajectory: a future where the one percent (ultra rich) separate from the Earth and live high in the sky, insulated from those less wealthy who remain on the ground. Coastal cities lose to the seas and the populations of the Earth suffer famine and large population die-offs due to contaminated water and disease. Oil has also peaked. In the future I envisioned, the electrical grid and oil powered industry and machines are gone for those on the ground. Sounds like an uplifting tale, right? Well, it actually is, because none of this upheaval takes place in All Things Rise. (Although, thanks to a suggestion from one reader – you know who you are – I’m thinking this would be a fun book to write.) All Things Rise takes place 150 years after this new reality has settled. In a time when those who live above the Earth and those who live on the ground have no contact with each other and haven’t for some time.

I’m a little worried this book will get categorized as science fiction when there’s very little science in it. It’s really about relationships. For those of you who aren’t into science fiction or fantasy, I want to assure you that most of this book takes place on the ground, in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains of northern Georgia. For readers who do like a little sci-fi in their romance novels, I think you’ll be happy, too.

Audrey by Missouri Vaun

Audrey by Missouri Vaun

All Things Rise is about what happens when two people from these different worlds meet, and how everything changes for them. As is often the case in the real world, fundamental change happens in seemingly insignificant ways. Nations, states, and cities rarely deviate from their course collectively. Change comes through the individual, through one person loving another person enough to modify the course of their lives. Whether the issue is sexual identity, race or religion, only through authentic encounters do people really change their perceptions. Eventually, their actions layered upon the actions of others, alter the course of history. In All Things Rise two worlds previously separated begin to overlap, and a great love story unfolds.

Cole by Missouri Vaun

Cole by Missouri Vaun

I think the more personal thread in this story is based on my own experiences. As an adult who grew up in the rural Deep South, I often find myself interacting in business environments with people from mostly urban experiences. Unfortunately, I’ve confronted prejudices in these environments because of my accent or just my general Southern sensibility. Some of these experiences get thrust upon Cole in All Things Rise.

Well, I think I’ll wrap up and let you draw your own conclusions about the book. I hope Cole, Audrey and Ava resonate with readers. I enjoyed getting to know these characters. Now that the book is finished, I find that I miss them greatly.

Ava by Missouri Vaun

Ava by Missouri Vaun

Oh, and one last note, which I also included in the acknowledgements in this first novel. I’d like to send out a special thanks to the original Missouri Vaun, my great-grandmother. I want you to know I have your typewriter and I’m taking good care of it.

 

 

 

 

 

Read an excerpt: http://www.boldstrokesbooks.com/9781626393462.html

Connect with Missouri:

missourivaun.com

Twitter: @missourivaun

Facebook: facebook.com/missourivaun

 

 

Twofer

While at the Bold Strokes Books retreat last week I had the extreme pleasure of meeting new Bold Strokes Books author, Missouri Vaun who also happens to be the very funny and mighty prolific creator of Jane’s World.

All Things Rise 300 DPI Watch for Missouri’s first novel, All Things Rise, due out in May 2015 from Bold Strokes Books.

In the meantime, you can follow her blog here.


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