The manga project* began in the spring of 2010, when I was a presenter at the MASC Young Authors’ and Illustrators’ Conference in Ottawa. I was giving workshops, still rather jetlagged from my tour in Macedonia and the stress of missing getting ashcloud-trapped in Vienna by the skin of my teeth. Connie was a student wrangler (not the official MASC title, but accurate) assigned to me one day to help wrangle the students, i.e., to make sure they didn’t get lost finding the bathroom. As my workshops tend to involve a lot of writing, rather than jumping around shouting, I thought Connie might be a bit bored.
“Do you want to do the writing project too?” I asked.
“I’m more of an artist than a writer,” she said.
“Maybe you could illustrate the bit of the book I just read, then,” I said.
So she did.
“So,” I said, “um, would you like to illustrate a book?”
After I picked her up off the floor …
Well, the upshot of it was, Connie was going to do a few illustrations for the next Torrie book, Torrie and the Golden Tigers. But then I started thinking ….
A Torrie manga would be cool.
“Connie,” I said (actually I emailed, as by then I was back in New Brunswick), “do you like manga …?”
After her sister picked her up off the floor ….
Initially, I was thinking of doing a Torrie manga, telling the story that’s referred to at the end of Torrie and the Dragonslayers, something about Cossypha and the witches up on the northeastern moors of Erythroth. The publisher suggested that as I’d never written a manga before, it would be better to start with a story that I’d already written. “The Storyteller” was the one I instantly thought of. It’s a prequel of sorts to an as-yet-unpublished adult novel, and Moth and Mikki, my favourite characters (okay, Torrie and Rookfeather are my favourites too), are in it. I longed to see them drawn in manga style; it would be worth doing the project just for that.
And thus it began.
*Or “manga-style graphic novel”, if you’re one of those who believe that pizza can only be made in Italy (purloining a metaphor from Svetlana Chmakova).