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Nick Goode and Luke Barnes talk World Building
Earlier this week I spoke with Nick Goode and Luke Barnes about their Snow Universe (their indie comic book world). Specifically, we talked about a recent release of theirs.
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.
Nick Goode: Hi there, I’m Nick (I’m the one in the middle of our photo) and I’m one of the writers on Odyssey as well as the co creator of the Snow Universe in which Odyssey sits. The Snow Universe was launched in 2012 with the series Snow: The Dawn written by myself and illustrated by Harry Hughes (Co-creator of the Snow Universe – he’s the one on the right in our photo). The universe expanded in 2016 with a graphic novel titled The Eventide: Snow Chronicles and the two issue series; Whistleblower. I also dabble in prose and have a very short story collection that’s set in the Snow Universe titled Voices From Our Future. My recent work includes a novella titled Pneumatic.
Luke Barnes: Hello, I’m Luke. (I’m the one on the left in our photo) Co-writer on Odyssey. I manage a comic shop, run a Comic Night evening in Stavanger, Norway as well a yearly comic convention.
Tell me a bit about the inspiration behind Odyssey.
Nick Goode: The inspiration for Odyssey has been around for a few years. Essentially the way the Snow Universe works is that the global warming crisis begins much earlier than anticipated and London seals itself off with flood barrier walls. So, we have a beginning point with the short story collection Voices From Our Future which explores the moment London raises its flood barrier walls.
A middle point which is our original series Snow: The Dawn which is a superhero story set against a politically and environmentally ruined London, alongside this runs our graphic novel The Eventide: Snow Chronicles which fleshes out some of the characters and events that happen. We worked with other creators to build the universe up at this
point and this is when Odyssey began to take shape.
We realised we have a massive sandbox to play in but no end point and so Harry and I began to throw ideas around and one of the ideas that stuck was a piece of research I landed on; one of the things that happens with climate change is that as the oceans swallow up more land and with it people, viruses can infect water supplies. Being big horror fans Harry and I felt that with London in our story being surrounded by flood barrier walls there’s a narrative there — what if that water was contaminated and people became infected?
Where did writing start for you and what is your origin story?
Nick Goode: Writing for me has always been a desire, I was really lucky to grow up in a family that loved pop culture – whether that’s films, books or tv. Once I got to an age where I realised that the stories I had fallen in love with were written by people in a room somewhere, I knew I had to pursue it. For me it started by writing little scenes or scenarios just playful little things that didn’t really go anywhere.
It wasn’t until Harry and I started to discuss what would be Snow: The Dawn in 2012 that I started to take it seriously. From 2016-2017 I did my Masters in Creative Writing, I met insanely talented writers and absolutely fell in love with the process of writing. I’m genuinely fascinated by the different processes that writers deploy to craft a piece. I could talk about writing for days, I just love it through and through.
Luke Barnes: I have read comics since I was young, and I’ve never not had a comic in my bag or on my desk ready to read. I have always written ideas and thoughts down about comics that I would hope to write one day. I never really came across anyone that was as interested as me in comics until University, so I never had any connections that made me think I could get something out there.
Fortunately, I was asked to write Virtuous as part of The Eventide: Snow Chronicles graphic novel from Nick and Harry and finally had a chance to have a real go at it.
Odyssey is clearly influenced by Pathogens and Post-Apocalyptic fiction but where does the overall genre sit for you? What are your go to’s?
Nick Goode: I think we were influenced by several things; in terms of the infected we looked to films like 28 Days Later, something where it’s not quite zombies but rather a rage and aggression. For me a lot of the tension in the story came from titles such as 30 Days of Night, The Thing and Resident Evil. I’ve always been a survival horror fan
and I think this sits within that genre very squarely.
Luke Barnes: Yeah, 30 Days of Night is a huge influence along with 28 Days Later.
What are your biggest obstacles when it comes to your work? How do you overcome them?
Nick Goode: I think for this story specifically the biggest obstacle was not knowing if the story would jar having two writers, we set ourselves a four page rule, where both of us would write four pages each and let the story flow that way. So, I think specifically with this book we set up an obstacle course that we had to overcome to figure out how the four pages rule would work.
This was especially heightened given mine and Luke’s work schedules are different and so often I would write pages way ahead of Luke and he could see where I was taking my side but I didn’t know where his was going. But once we got into a rhythm of it we were in sync for a lot of it and it just made that intersection and creativity more natural I felt.
Luke Barnes: Exactly that. Trying to keep it flowing throughout can be tough when it is four pages each. In a way I had an advantage over Nick as he had pages ready for me, so I had a page to carry on from and work towards on some occasions. Eventually, we hit a stride and it worked out very well.
How did you go about finding the right artist to work on this project?
Nick Goode: So, Harry Hughes is the artist, he’s on Instagram @bigbazferd. I’ve known him since I was about thirteen (We’re now 28/29, time flies!). We’ve worked on a fair few projects together, I mentioned previously that he co-created the Snow Universe with me. He’s a really great dude and we’re very in sync when it comes to what we
want from a project.
I find as well, with Harry that, he’s very much a collaborator and so I know when I pitch a project to him that his feedback is coming from a place of, let’s expand on everything that’s here and make it better and better, a lot of the creative process is us shooting ideas back and forth.
Luke Barnes: Harry was given to me. I could not ask for a better person to do artwork for something I’ve written.
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?
Nick Goode: For me the best advice has always been to make sure you’re writing everyday, and that’s not to say write a story every day or whatever I think it’s important to noodle around with a paragraph in the morning or on a lunch break or late in the evening.
I think taking time to put some words down and outside of your head helps creativity and keeps me personally excited. It’s very easy to slip into a working routine as we all know and finding time for creativity becomes harder the older we get but I think if the day is broken up with jotting down some dialogue, a scene, a description or an emotion then I think that creativity builds and builds.
Luke Barnes: I have a 4-year-old and a newborn baby haha. Past Luke had routines and a schedule that worked well to fit everything in. Now I need to plan as best I can and hope I can fit it all in. In seriousness it all comes from keeping active with your projects whether it is writing a bit here and there, or generally taking the time to run
ideas past people you work with. Keep the creativity going.
Do you have any upcoming events/projects/releases you would like to discuss?
Nick Goode: Well, we’ve got chapter two from Odyssey due next year which will complete the story and I’m working on my novella which is titled Pneumatic which is a forty chapter story released in seasons of ten chapters each. It can be found at followmefindme.wordpress.com — it’s a story about New York City and magic.
Luke Barnes: On top of chapter two of Odyssey coming out in 2021, Nick and I host a weekly Podcast called the Consistently OK Podcast. Covering all things pop culture related. I am writing my own superhero comic on and off, but It is in its early stages.
Thank you for taking the time to do this! Where can readers find you and your work?
Nick Goode: Head to our publisher @BlackSpotComic on Twitter and @BlackSpotComics on Instagram for updates regarding the Snow Universe. To read some of our comics including Odyssey — Chapter One head to their Tapas page — https://tapas.io/BlackSpotComics . To find me on social media it’s @goodie182 on Instagram. Thanks so much!
Luke Barnes: Find me on Twitter @LukeBarnesy and our podcast @ConsistentlyPod. Thanks!