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Monday, March 19, 2012

Author Interview: John Connell

photo provided by Sea Lion Books
1. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I live in Massachusetts outside of Boston with my wife Kim and our children Bailey and Max. Our dogs Chewy and Jed hang out in my studio with me while I’m working. I’m 42 yrs old and have been fortunate enough to be a professional artist for over 20 yrs . 

2. Can you tell us about your graphic novel Carnal: Pride of the Lions? 
Carnal is a big world that will be displayed in latter books, I wanted the first book Pride of the lions to be a close up focused look at a pride struggling for survival and they discover something that will threaten all of Africa.

3. What was your favorite part of the writing process of Carnal: Pride of the Lions?
That has to be when I’m doing something else like driving to the gym or hanging with the family not thinking about the book at all and a solution to a scene or idea pops into my head for Carnal, I can’t write it down or sketch it fast enough. This being my first book the writing process is new made a lot of mistakes the first time around that I learned a lot from that I wont make on book 2.

4. Where did the idea of Carnal: Pride of the Lions come from?
The idea for Carnal came to me in a nightmare about 10 years ago. It was about a giant humanistic rhino fighting of a pack of humanistic Hyenas . It was such a cool image in my head I was just going to do a painting of the nightmare image. As time passed I turned it into a story of how maybe the Rhino and other animals became humanistic. It seemed like a cool solid unique story that I was passionate about turning into a book but I’m a terrible writer. I let the idea sit for a few years. I would do pieces of art for it hear and there and write down outlines of how the book would be written. But 2 yrs ago I made a promise to myself that this wouldn’t be a half finished project. That I would see it all the way through and be able to see it at stores and on bookshelves. Jason Bergenstock is part of Carnal and helps me write and put my thoughts into words. 

5. Who was the hardest character to write?
Well she hasn’t really made an appearance yet in book 1 but that would be Kuma. She is evil squared. I want to portray her differently than your typical bad guy. It is presenting a real challenge.

courtesy of deviantART
6. What is the most interesting comment you have received so far concerning Carnal: Pride of the Lions?
I’m thrilled to get any positive feedback on Carnal, It’s pretty damn exciting to read good reviews, but this one line from a review stuck with me. It stuck with me because I worked really hard to make the daily life and struggle seem real to the reader and some one noticed “The details that went into the minutia of the day-to-day within the culture are superb. The characters are fleshed – out and the reader buys right into them. Within two pages into the book I was sucked in and became a huge fan.” That was from the

7. What has been the best advice you have ever been given?
It is a saying my head Jiu Jitsu instructor keeps saying when were training is “keep trying to improve your position” When your in a bad position in Jiu Jitsu you keep incrumently trying to improve your position. I apply that to my work ethics also. Learn from my mistakes and keep trying to improve and persevere.

8. If you could ask yourself any interview question, what would you ask, and how would you answer it?
I would ask what would you differently on your next book and what did you learn from your first?

I’m hyper critical about my work. I’m never happy or satisfied. I learned a lot about the process of writing and even how I should go about doing the art and page layouts.

9. When you aren’t writing, what do you like to do?
Drink coffee eat a sandwich put a Netflix on , have my dogs chilling behind me . I like a bunch of stuff going on. I’m in front of my computer close to twelve hours a day. I get stir crazy.

10. What is coming up next for you?
Book 2 then book 3 and so on. There are some other really exciting upcoming possibilities for Carnal but I don’t want to jinx them by mentioning it now. I’ve got my fingers crossed that it will all happen for Carnal.

John Connell is a graduate of the Art Institute of Boston. He is a freelance artist working in many mediums, from oil paintings to digital art. His clients include numerous Fortune 500 companies. He lives with his family in Massachusetts.


photo courtesy of Sea Lion Books
The first graphic novel in the Carnal series, Pride of the Lions takes place on the continent of New Africa and focuses on three main species of humanistic animals.

After the Great War decades earlier between the hyenas and the lions, the victorious and once united lion prides now lay scattered across the land, torn by civil unrest over territory disputes and food shortages. The hyena clans that survived the war were forced deep into the Earth and now live in a massive underground city under the control of a terrible witch. The buffalo race is indifferent to most other species and have walled themselves off from the rest of the kingdoms. Humans have lost their hold on the African territories long ago and live as a simple, nomadic species.

The first book opens with Long Eyes, an old sapphire-eyed lion who is determined to save the lion kingdom and rescue his warrior son, Oron, who has gone missing. Long Eyes believes Oron is the key to uniting the prides. A young lioness tracker named Omi is sent out with the protection of two lion brothers to locate the missing warrior, but what they find is something that may unravel the very foundation of life for all species.