Artie and the Wolf Moon: An Interview with Olivia Stephens

Earlier this month Artie and the Wolf Moon hit the shelves. In this original and empowering middle grade, Artie Irvin is thrilled to discover she comes from a line of werewolves. She asks her mom to share everything—including the story of Artie’s late father. Her mom reluctantly agrees. And to help Artie figure out her own wolflike abilities, her mom recruits some old family friends. As she learns the history of werewolves and her own parents’ past, she’ll find that wolves aren’t the scariest thing in the woods—vampires are.

Today debut graphic novelist, Olivia Stephens, joins us to share a little bit about her creative process and some exclusive early sketches.

What does your workday look like while making a graphic novel?

I wake up mid-morning or early afternoon and answer emails while I eat breakfast. I’ll get settled in my studio and work all day, taking breaks for lunch and dinner. Depending on what stage the book is in, I might be pencilling pages on my computer, inking pages traditionally with brush and ink, or scanning and coloring pages in Photoshop. Working as a cartoonist is pretty solitary, so I usually video call a friend while I work. Other times, I listen to music, podcasts or put cooking videos on for background noise.

When working on the same project for a long time, it’s not uncommon for your interest or motivation to wane. How do you keep motivated?

I take screenshots of all the compliments and positive feedback that people have given me over time about my work. If I’m in a really rough spot, it helps to open up that folder of positivity and remind myself that the project is worth finishing. I also have extensive playlists for all of my projects. I fill them with music that inspires me.

What is the most time consuming aspect of making a comic?

Personally, pencilling the book takes the longest. My sketches are pretty tight so that I don’t have to work as hard later in the process. The majority of my brainpower is spent in this phase, trying to translate my script into clear, resolved comic pages.

What role does music take in your creative process?

Music is my biggest inspiration when I’m coming up with a story. I start my playlist for a project as I’m throwing around ideas for characters and plot points, and I’ll add more and more songs while I try to figure out the tone of the story and its resolution. Most of my story breakthroughs (including those for Artie) are a result of taking a walk while listening to my music.

What are your most unexpected challenges when working on a book?

Organization! Keeping track of two hundred files at different stages of revision and completion takes up more of my day than I expected it to when I was still in art school. My solution involves lots and lots of spreadsheets.

Sketches and Photos

Here are some photos and early sketches from the desk of Olivia Stephens. Take a look to see the beginnings of Artie and the Wolf Moon!

Praise for Artie and the Wolf Moon

“A wonderful tale of friendship, family, and forgiveness.”—Booklist

“Readers looking for a story of discovery and healing wrapped in the paranormal will hit the jackpot. A stirring, eye-catching portrayal of growth.”—Kirkus Reviews

“Fans of graphic novels, realistic fiction, and the paranormal will all find something to enjoy in this book.”—School Library Journal

“A fast-paced, thrilling read!” —Books + Coffee = Happiness

“Fast-paced, nicely illustrated, and with some plot twists that will keep you guessing, this werewolf graphic novel feels both attractive and welcoming.” —GeekDad

“An empowering story about Queer Black girls and family…This complex and well structured supernatural graphic novel will draw you in with its themes surrounding grief, self worth, and the courage it takes to move on towards the future.” — The Geekiary

“A love letter to the power of family to help you grow, heal, and find yourself . . . As rich and immersive as a big family dinner.” —Melanie Gillman, Stage Dreams

“A heartfelt, magical family drama you can really sink your teeth into.” —Nilah Magruder, M.F.K.

Listen to Olivia Stephens Introduce Artie!

Connect with Olivia Stephens!

For more author and illustrator interviews on the Lerner blog click here!

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