This morning I was given the opportunity to talk with New York Times best-selling novelist PC Cast, the co-author of the massive hit young adult series “House of Night.” That story is being turned into a comic by Dark Horse Comics, and it features a vaunted line-up of creators to bring Cast’s vision to life.
The first issue, which arrives today ($1 in shops and $1.99 digitally!), is written by screenwriter Kent Dalian with art from the talented duo of JoÃ«lle Jones and Karl Kerschl. Here’s the solicit for that issue below:
Until recently, Zoey Redbird was an average high-school student worrying about grades, boys, and breakouts. But priorities have a way of changing when you are marked as a vampyre, enroll in the vampyre academy House of Night, and have to figure out a whole new social hierarchy, affinities for elemental magic, and physiological changes that make you crave blood.
Click through the jump to find my chat with her, as we talk about how she decided to bring her series to the world of comics, her thoughts on her artistic collaborators, what makes Zoey Redbird click, and even an exciting tease on what’s next for the series after the final novel comes out, and a big thanks to PC for the time to chat!
Because I’m a giant comic book fan! As in…oh my god, I grew up reading comic books. I grew up with a bunch of boys, and our neighbor had this play room that was literally filled with stacks and stacks of comics from the 70’s. I always read everything. All kinds of books — everything.
I’ve always read everything, all kinds of books. So when I saw stacks of comics I thought “ooo…books with pictures. Oh boy.” (laughs)
I started reading them, Swamp Thing, Superman, Fantastic Four, and Thor…all these guys when I was a kid. I maintained that as an adult. When Spawn first came out I remember seeing that and thinking “holy shit, look at that art.” And like The Dark Knight (Returns) and all that kind of stuff…as they became more and more beautiful, I was more and more hooked. I’ve always read them.
And with my success, it afforded me the ability to call Scott Allie who’s Joss Whedon’s editor! So you know what…I feel like I’m a friend of Joss Whedon. In my head I’ve made that up. (laughs)
Hey, you have one degree of separation at this point.
Barely! Because Scott will tell me “sure, you can be his friend.” (laughs)
So I was able to talk to Scott and just say “hey, I’m PC Cast…you know, the House of Night thing. Want to do some comics?” And he was like “Yeah!!!!” (laughs)
For you as a writer who is a long time fan of comics, what is it that you can imagine that you can do different with comics than what you’ve already accomplished with your books?
I think that the comics can tell stories woven within stories because they are so visual. My adapter is Kent Dalian, he’s a fabulous screenwriter, and he’s doing an amazing job. He and I work very closely together. I think we share a brain sometimes. His might be more alcohol sloshed than mine, but I’m not too sure (laughs).
He has a great way of visualizing because he’s a screenwriter the stuff that I see in my head that I put down on my computer as a novelist. So there’s an additional layer to the world that my old-time fans get to see and new fans get to say “wow, check that out. How cool is that?” It’s been an awesome experience.
You have a really talented duo of artists working on the first issue, with JoÃ«lle Jones and Karl Kerschl sharing art duties. How was it seeing your story brought to life with their art, and what notes did you provide them as they developed the look of your world?
|Page Four from “House of Night” #1|
JoÃ«lle has read my novels. I chose JoÃ«lle from a giant list — it wasn’t giant, it seemed giant to me — that Dark Horse sent me and asked “who is your favorite?” And JoÃ«lle…I was immediately drawn to her work. She knows the world and she sent sketches and then I made comments…Kent and I made comments on the sketches.
She was freakishly right on. There were so many characters that didn’t even need comments. Damian didn’t need comments. Stevie Ray didn’t need comments. Shaunie and Erin didn’t need comments.
Zoey was really the only one, and some of the goddesses, Nyx is in different forms in each of the books. We had some tweaking that went in there, and then physical tweaking of the actual school. But JoÃ«lle was awesome from the very, very beginning. She’s almost intuitive about how she can bring things to life.
And I love her work anyways. I have her work framed on my wall that has nothing to do with House of Night. She’s fabulous.
She’s doing all of the modern day House of Night for all five of the comics, and then the historical stories within the stories are each done by a different artist that Kent and I also got to choose. Their styles are very different. They are different from each other and they are different from JoÃ«lle’s.
It makes each comic a piece of art. I love it so much. It’s a fabulous experience.
I have to say, Karl Kerschl is one of my favorite artists and seeing his work in the Freya section was fantastic. It was incredible work. It works really well at naturally spinning out of Joelle’s work. It’s a beautiful looking book.
They all are. They are gorgeous. I loved his portrayal of Nyx…how he made her look.
I have to admit, I’m a new reader and the first issue takes place seemingly well into the story of House of Night. Why did you decide to jump into the middle of the action rather than starting at day one?
Scott and I made that decision. Scott wanted new stories and I did too. I didn’t want to just say “here’s Marked, turn it into a graphic novel.” That drives me crazy when I have a favorite author and I see that they have a graphic novel about the world and I pick it up and I’m like “yeah! I get new stories!” and it’s just a retelling of the same old stories.
I like it to begin with because I get the visuals but then I don’t want to buy another one. What we’ve done is we’ve woven stories between books and it’s like developing new layers of what’s going on. It was a decision that Scott and I made to start it early in the canon, but not so early that my readers, my fans, would be bored, and not so late that you guys who haven’t read me would be completely lost.
I think you accomplished that with the first issue. For me, it’s exciting because it even feels like you’re exploring new areas. This allows you to push your story in new directions, doesn’t it?
It does. Scott, Kent and I have brainstormed ideas for the future too that will be beyond the last book of House of Night. When book twelve is completed — TOP SECRET! — we have something already planned that we’re going to tease about later that is going to be very awesome and even more adult and darker and sexier and slicker. It’s going to be a lot of fun.
Zoey Redbird is a character that seems to be an outsider and someone who has the spotlight on her all at the same time. What is it that you feel that younger readers can learn from the adventures of Zoey in your series?
I think that Zoey personifies a lot of things that normal teenagers go through. I think if you remember back, you felt like an outsider even if you weren’t. For instance, I was a cheerleader, which would stereotypically be “popular girl” and all that crap, but that wasn’t me. I still felt like “oh god, I’m good at this and not good at that and is that boy going to talk to me and holy shit — I just want to be normal.”Continued below
And I think all teenagers can identify with that. And Zoey really is the personification of what happens to you when you’re going through adolescence.
Going forward, what can readers both new and old expect from the House of Night comic series?
They can expect an expansion of the world. They can expect more insight into characters they already know. And after the 12th book of House of Night — not 12th novel — they can expect a huge surprise. Serious awesomeness! (laughs)