Monday, August 8, 2011




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GMTA: After running into you on Author Exchange on Facebook and seeing your current book "The Legend of Gwerinatha: Branwen's Garden" I could not help but contact you. Your art is amazing and to know you are an author as well just made me even more excited to get to know you, you are such a talented man. How did it all start for you?

Art has always been something I've been passionate about. I received high marks in every drawing class from first grade to college so I figured I may as well go in that direction. I just love creating things. It doesn't matter to me whether it is drawing, writing, playing music or even just messing around with any number of computer programs. I have to have some kind of outlet for my creativity to flow. I began studying fine arts but after a year and a half I switched to commercial art in hopes of finding employment after school. Before I even finished my schooling I got my first job which I enjoyed for eleven years. I was fortunate to be at a place that kept up with the latest technology and it was there that I learned all the ins and outs of computer graphics. The rest is networking I guess. I've always had some kind of day job that involves computer graphic design and always kept in touch with people that could give me leads on freelance work that let me be a lot more creative.

GMTA: You seem to have such a vivid imagination, tell us more about your project with "The Legend of Gwerinatha" and how it was born.

I've always been interested in fantasy, science fiction and pretty much any speculative fiction so I always have that going in the back of my mind. It was my frustration with the ever increasing split in the American culture and the seemingly never ending battle between the two parties in power that inspired me to write this story. That and listening to an audio book of Edgar Rice Burroughs’s 'The Princess of Mars'. That's an odd combination I know but I had thought about a story for awhile that would show a feuding government and try to give young adults some inspiration and hope in spite of all the bickering. I had also heard a podcast specifically for authors mention a statistic that went something like 90% of Americans think they can write a novel and only 3% actually try. I knew I was definitely in that 90% category and with all the projects that I have left unfinished over the years I assumed that I would be in that 3% also. I also knew that if I ever wrote a fantasy story that wolves would have to be a part of it somehow. I have always disliked the stories that portray wolves as the bad guys. Anything I can do to spread good nature toward such a maligned creature I will do. And of course everyone knows you have to write what you know and even though this was fantasy I wanted a real character to pull the reader in. I wanted a relatable young protagonist. So I basically went to my own past as a fifteen year old and then of course exaggerated enough to make it interesting. But after I heard 'Princess of Mars' the ideas that I had for a story seemed to have found a starting point. It was just a matter of putting them all together. Eventually all the ideas started to swirl together and I found myself creating an outline and the next thing I know I'm hammering out a story of a man who relates a tale of his journey to another world when he was younger. The idea of telling the tale was to put more light on a missing friend but instead a more important story is told.

GMTA: When did you get involved with Blackwyrm Publishing can you tell us more about that journey?

Blackwyrm started out as a gaming company which they still are. The president, Dave Mattingly, has a long history in the RPG industry. He knew me as an illustrator. In fact, when he used to edit online magazines he would hire me for illustrations as well as give me tips on other folks in the business that needed some artwork. For some reason he gave me a lot of the historical characters like Calamity Jane and Toulouse-Lautrec to draw. So when I had first finished Branwen's Garden I was looking for people to take a look at it to tell me what they thought about it. Since Dave was an editor I thought he might be able to give me a professional opinion as to whether it was good enough to be considered for publishing. Little did I know that Blackwyrm had just decided to branch out into fiction as well. Their initial plan was to release a novel a month for the calendar year of 2009. The next thing I knew Dave had me on the schedule for that summer.

GMTA: Just out of interest, what programs do you use for your art creation?

I like to scan my drawings in Photoshop. I used to ink all my black and white drawings but lately I've been using Adobe Illustrator's Live Trace to give me a nice vector version of my pencil drawings. Then you can go back and edit the drawing in Photoshop to clean it up. I find that you can get an interesting wood cut look with it. As for color drawings I still like Photoshop. The advantage to that is having all the different layers in case you need to make wholesale changes. Layers are also useful if you want to make an animation with different elements moving apart from each other.

GMTA: How old were you when you first started drawing and being interested in art and writing?

I've been drawing since I can remember. My older brothers gave me their old comics which sparked an interest in cartooning. I can remember copying the comic strips and comic book art when I was very young. I took advantage of extra classes as far back as elementary school. Writing came later. I'm not sure when I first noticed an interest in it specifically although I did enjoy creative writing in high school and college.

GMTA: Tell us a little about yourself, your life, family and anything else you'd like to share.

My immediate family is just my wife, Amy and myself at the moment. We are the kind of people that look at having pets as something akin to having children (yes, those people) and we've lost 2 within a year of each other awhile back so although we'll almost assuredly get another in the future it's just us right now. I do have a very large extended family however. Both of my parents came from large families so I have literally scores of cousins as well as lots of aunts and uncles, 3 siblings and a half dozen nieces and nephews. Amy and I like to watch old television shows together. I guess we're getting to that point where we are waxing nostalgic for childhood. Amy has many culinary interests and has found sculpting and jewelry making great outlets for her creativity. Being from Louisville, KY I am totally into college basketball all year round. I'm actually a basketball junkie. It is one of the few subjects I could actually write about in non-fiction. I'm also a huge Beatle fanatic. Although my wife is more into Buddy Holly and the Crickets these days, the Beatles were the topic that was the ice breaker for us. My musical tastes are pretty varied though. I'm just as comfortable listening to the Partridge Family as Pink Floyd. I do find however while listening to any music is great while drawing or doing any kind of artwork I can only listen to instrumental music while writing. I guess the words just get in the way.

GMTA: Do you already have plans for other books? If so what genres are you most interested in tapping into?

Yes. I'm working next on the third book of the Gwerinatha trilogy. This will wrap up the story of Robert Moore and Seren Baylies. A comedy in the genre of fantasy is also something I'm working on. I don't have plans on leaving the fantasy genre at the moment. I may like to go further into it than I have since Gwerinatha isn't too far out there (as compared to places like Narnia, Oz or Wonderland).

GMTA: A lot of your artwork seems to depict wolves, is there a special reason for this?

Well I have always liked wolves and dogs (my appreciation of cats came much later in life). There's just been a special connection I've had that I really can't put my finger on. I met the creators of the Elfquest series of graphic novels at a book signing. Their series focused on a particular group of elves called Wolfriders because of their close relationship with wolves. I asked them why they chose wolves for their stories and their answer was simply that wolves are cool. I certainly agree with that and of course as I learned more about them I only became more interested and amazed at what noble creatures they are. They have very strong family ties and are a very important part of the cycle of life in nature. The fact that they have been almost exterminated from the United States and people have finally learned enough to aid their comeback adds to their appeal.

GMTA: What is next in the world of Brad Parnell? What ideas do you have in the works?

The aforementioned humorous book. At book readings I usually read from one of the more humorous chapters of Branwen's Garden and I seem to get a positive response. I've even been asked if the book is supposed to be a comedy which I quickly point out is definitely not the case. The series as a whole is quite serious and gets more so in the second and third books. But I put in some humor to lighten it up where I can. However I can see the need for a book that is funny from start to finish. And I certainly would love nothing more to be able to do that. If I can write a book that would be one tenth as funny as one of the Hitchhiker's Guide books I would be quite honored. I have a concept already in mind and have even gotten most of the characters fleshed out. So far there is only a bit of a plot but I am approaching this one quite differently than the fantasy books. Whenever I get an amusing idea I'll put it down in my notes and then my hope is to thread all these funny ideas with even more funny ideas until it looks like it is finished.

GMTA: Do you have any advice you'd like to share with other aspiring novelists or artists?

It just all depends on why you are aspiring to be a novelist or artist. If you are looking for it to be a full-time career I'd say work on it as much as you can especially when you are not in the mood and don't really enjoy it. If you can do that and handle negative critiques from industry professionals and still want to do it then you are on the right track. Otherwise I'd say don't quit the day job and just let the creativity flow where it will. You never know what will come from it. I always wanted to be an artist and had no idea I would ever try to write one book let alone complete a trilogy.

GMTA: Thank you again for this interview Brad, I am so glad to have you as a part of the Great Minds Community.

Thank you for the opportunity. And thanks for all your work promoting all the authors out there!





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