Nick Abadzis speaks to An Lanntair about his inspirations and coming to Faclan 2016

  • Published on: 25th October 2016
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As Faclan, The Hebridean Book Festival approaches we ask some of the author’s appearing this year about their influences and

Nick Abadzis has been creating books, magazines, comics and stories for adults and children for nearly thirty years. As cartoonist and writer, he’s been honored with various international storytelling awards including an Eisner in 2008 for his graphic novel Laika. He will be appearing at Faclan 2016 on the 5th of November –

Tell us a little about your upcoming event as part of Faclan 2016 and the ideas behind it?
Laika was the first space traveller – the first earthling to leave our sphere and touch the silent vastness beyond the atmosphere. She is a dog caught at a pivotal moment in human history – the beginning of the modern world, the technological age we live in now. My (two) events will look at the making of my book, which celebrates her life and the lonely journey that she undertook, on behalf of us all.
Tell us a little about your work process – where do you write? What inspires you?
I write anywhere – in my studio, in cafes, on trains and planes, in waiting rooms, on park benches. But I also draw as I write, as I find it impossible to separate the two processes. They’re two halves of the same thing, in my mind. I build stories from fragments of dialogue and half-sketched ideas, which slowly cohere to form a story.

Who is your favourite writer?
Tove Jansson – also a writer and artist who couldn’t quite separate writing and drawing, who also did work for children and adults. Herge too. But if you want a writer only, it’s probably Kurt Vonnegut.

How did you start writing?
Before I could write, I could draw, which I really started doing in earnest around the age of five. I gravitated towards comic strips, and I recall filling in speech balloons with squiggly lines to represent “talking,” so you could say I began to write before I even learned how to properly do it. The impetus to tell stories with words and pictures was there very, very early.

• How important is it to be appearing at the Hebridean Book Festival out with the large hubs of cities like Glasgow, Edinburgh or London?
Visiting any book festival, any festival that celebrates life and art, is important, wherever it is. But it’s lovely to be invited somewhere that you’ve never been, away from the gravitational cultural pull of the big cities, to visit the people who live there and know that your stories may have been read in these places. Such is the nature of a good book and good communication – stories travel to places before their authors do. It’s an honour to be invited, to celebrate storytelling and see how that’s done locally.
What are you most looking forward to about visiting Lewis?
I hear it’s very beautiful and I’m really looking forward to meeting people who live there. I’ve always wanted to visit the Western Isles, so I’m greatly appreciative of the opportunity. I like travelling to supposedly far-flung, northern places, because I was born in such climes myself, in Uppsala, Sweden, so there’s a big part of me that enjoys the sense of “returning,” and yet exploring somewhere new.