Interview w/ Madeleine Holly-Rosing
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Last week I caught up with superstar comic book writer and creator Madeleine Holly-Rosing. We talked about an entire universe she’s created in her graphic novel series, Boston Metaphysical Society. Which incorporates all the things you come to love about Steampunk and the Supernatural.
Thank you for taking the time to chat with me this week. Please tell the readers a bit about yourself and the work you do.
Madeleine Holly-Rosing: I’m the writer/creator of the steampunk supernatural prose and graphic novel series, Boston Metaphysical Society (“BMS”). We started with a six issue mini-series about an ex-Pinkerton detective, a spirit photographer, and a genius scientist who battle supernatural forces in late 1800s Boston. (Emily Hu was that artist) Source Point Press picked it up and re-published the original series in 2019/2020.
We have also produced three graphic novel sequels so far: The Scourge of the Mechanical Men, The Spirit of Rebellion, and Ghosts and Demons. (Art by Gwynn Tavares.) A fourth is in the works.
There is also a prequel novel, A Storm of Secrets, and an anthology of short stories and novellas called, Boston Metaphysical Society: Prelude. I still write the occasional standalone short story. Here Abide Monsters was originally published in the anthology, Some Time Later, but is available as an audio book or prose on Amazon. The Underground is part of the Next Stop on the #13 anthology. I have another coming out soon called, Spies and Airships.
Tell me a bit about the inspiration behind Boston Metaphysical Society.
Madeleine Holly-Rosing: It was originally a TV Pilot that I wrote in the MFA Program for Screenwriting at UCLA. The story itself came from my love of history, science fiction, and The X-Files. However, the research for the world came from a script I wrote for the Sloan Fellowship called Stargazer. I’m happy to say it won. It was a biography inspired by the life of Mina Fleming who was an astronomer at the Harvard Observatory in the late 1800s.
Where did writing start for you and what is your origin story?
Madeleine Holly-Rosing: As soon as I learned to write, I was writing stories. I loved them, but it was a slow and circuitous journey to get to where I am now. I worked a number of jobs, earned three degrees, competed as an epee fencer nationally and internationally, but kept writing in between it all.
Boston Metaphysical Society is clearly influenced by Steampunk and the Supernatural but where do both of those genres sit for you? What are your go to’s?
Madeleine Holly-Rosing: I enjoy them both, but I started with classic fantasy and scifi. I’m a big fan of Lois McMaster Bujold and John Scalzi, but in the last few years I’ve been thrilled to find such interesting fantasy authors like Tomi Adeyemi, R.F. Kuang, and Rebecca Roanhorse.
What are your biggest obstacles when it comes to your work? How do you overcome them?
Madeleine Holly-Rosing: Time management. It’s the killer of all things. It’s so easy to procrastinate with all that’s going in the world right now, and I’m amazed I get anything done. I can only write for three to four hours a day without my brain locking up, so I try to spend an hour earlier in the day to take care of administrative/marketing stuff, then work in the afternoon. As long as I stick to that schedule, everything seems to work out.
How did you go about finding the right artist to work on this project?
Madeleine Holly-Rosing: Part luck, part who you know, and also knowing what you want. Before I found Emily, I scoured deviantart.com, art schools, and more. I almost had a young lady on board, but she got a better job offer. Almost a year later, I ended up finding Emily through a friend in one of my first sequential art classes. I paid Emily to do two audition pages from the script and she nailed them. After we were done with the original mini-series, Emily moved on, and I put the word out that I was looking for a new artist.
By this time, I had been doing conventions for five years and meeting a lot of people. It was at Clockwork Alchemy in San Jose when a friend suggested Gwynn. I took a look at her work and liked it, but by then she had contacted me! I paid her for a character sketch and she did such an awesome job I knew she’d be perfect. We’ve worked together on the last three sequels and she’s on board for the fourth.
Many of us creators work on projects outside of our 9-5 jobs. Do you have any advice for balancing careers with passion projects/side hustles?
Madeleine Holly-Rosing: Time management. It always comes down to that. Obviously, you have to pay the bills and spend time with your family, but it’s important that you allot time for yourself. Even if it’s to write only 250 words or write a few script pages. Remember life is a marathon—pace yourself.
Do you have any upcoming events/projects/releases you would like to discuss?
Madeleine Holly-Rosing: I sure do. The first is the next graphic novel, The Book of Demons. I just sent the script off to Gwynn and I’ll be running a Kickstarter in early Spring 2021 to print the 41 page story in a 48 page perfect bound book.
The second is the new novel series called, Boston Metaphysical Society: The House Wars (Book One). It’s a prequel to the original graphic novel series and is my version of the American Civil War set in the BMS universe. So we’ve got airships. It’s with my copy editor now, but I’m not sure when that will be released yet.
The third is an eight episode audio drama called, The Ghost Ship. It is set during the time of the original graphic novel and features, Samuel, Granville, and Caitlin. I’m working with the writer and sound engineer from Sage and Savant to make that happen. Each episode will be about 30 minutes long. The release date has fluctuated quite a bit because of the pandemic and other deadlines. At this point I’ve tentatively scheduled a Kickstarter for that in the Fall of 2021, but that could change.