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“Lone Tales”: In Conversation With Nick Goode

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Split into two halves of one whole; Lone Tales is a graphic novel consisting of two chapters. All part of the Snow universe that writer Nick Goode has been working on; ‘Odyssey’ is a tale of environmental ruin and family dynamics. The barriers are coming down and water covers the entirety of 2154 London. One family must work together to escape Earth on the last ship available. Goode heavily works on this particular chapter having written it alongside his friend Luke Barnes while the art is drawn by Harry Hughes. The other half, ‘Whistleblower’ sees Goode’s contribution through his lettering. The entirety of the Snow universe sees apocalyptic worlds colliding from several different artists and writers. We talked to Goode to discuss the making of the graphic novel, and all the juicy details about it you might not want to miss!

So, tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do.

I’m primarily a comic book writer. But I’ve also been dabbling in prose recently – probably more so than comics. I’ve been working in comic books for about ten years now. I co–created a comic book series called Snow the Dawn with an artist called Harry. It all snowballed into this bigger universe where other creators can come in and tell stories in a post-apocalyptic setting. We describe it as an open-source project. Where, essentially, we can give you the framework of a universe, and we’ve got a beginning and an end. People can just jump in and tell a story if they want. I’ve been working on that for about ten years now, and dabbling in prose recently. That’s been the fun one.

Basically, I just live and breathe writing. It’s kind of my life.

What would you say inspired ‘Odyssey’ in particular?

A variety of things. It started because we opened up this universe to other people. We realized that we had a beginning point. It’s the present tense of the universe, which takes place in 2079. But we never had an end. Harry and I kept dodging the question a little bit when people asked: where does the universe go from here, and what’s your endpoint? Eventually, I was researching stuff about climate change – because the Snow universe is a world in which global warming happens much, much earlier. It essentially happened in 2020 – is what my opening blurb says – and it fractures London, splits into these ten boroughs, blood barrier walls surround it. Then in 2079, we tell all the main stories. But ‘Odyssey’ came from needing to know where the universe goes. Basically, we were like, “Hey, what are the things we want to tell a story in?”

Harry and I both really like horror; we said it’d be cool if there was a way we could do a horror story. That’s kind of where everything goes. There’s this piece of research I landed on which was actually about climate change and how sea waters rise and cities and towns get engulfed in water and people die. It carries new disease and unknown bacteria. That became an interesting thought that stuck with me for a while. Then I thought I can do horror with that if way in the future – when ‘Odyssey’ is set in 2154 – the flood walls are broken and infected water seeps into the city. In doing so, people become infected hordes. When I pitched that to Harry, he said, “Yes, let’s do a zombie story.”

That’s where it came from; it came from needing to know where everything was going and then having that one piece of research that can completely set up your story. It’s sort of all there – you just have to figure out the characters, the emotion and the heart of it.

Why did you decide to work in the horror genre for this?

I think a couple of reasons. Both Harry and myself have always been massive fans of horror. So much of the Snow universe is crime and thrillers. There’s a bit of a superhero thing – it’s more grounded, I guess, in that it’s a lot about corruption. We’d always been looking for an avenue to tell a horror story. Just because we’re both massive fans of horror stories to the point that we can’t really outrun it. Whether it’s a virus or something else. Both Harry and I love 28 Days Later, which is a massive reference point for this book. But also The Thing by John Carpenter! I think both of those in terms of—it’s kind of like a virus; it’s something you can’t outrun and it’s gonna catch you at some point.

We were both looking for that chance to tell that story, and then ‘Odyssey’ just landed in our lap with that piece of research. It was a very fortuitous moment where it was just like: “Oh, we could do this. We could tell the kind of horror story we’ve been wanting to tell for a while. We can do it in the same universe!”

So, yeah – I think that’s kind of where it came from.

What are some of the themes you’re trying to build off of?

There’s a couple. The writing process for ‘Odyssey’ was quite an interesting one in that I co-wrote it with one of my best friends, Luke. When Harry and I conceived the story of ‘Odyssey’, we said, “Let’s pull in somebody to write this with me and try to tackle this end of the world thing from two angles.” Those two angles were always world building in the sense of setting up what the virus was and how it mutated. Basically, the panic of the world as it’s crumbling. The other half; we knew we wanted it to be a central, emotional story about this family trying to get off of Earth. When I pulled in Luke, we naturally found this divide. I focused on the world building and Luke focused on the family.

Because we split it into two chapters, the interesting thing was, Luke essentially wrote the story of the family through this first chapter. I followed the story of this kid and the mutation. Then when we get to the second chapter, there’s a natural split in the family again. I took one half of it and Luke took the other. I picked up with his characters and emotional threads. That was really interesting – just from a writing point. It was a bit like a writing exercise that turned out pretty well. I feel like the transition is fairly seamless between us.

We always knew we wanted to focus on this family. To make it a story about them working together to get off of Earth. I think it would’ve been really easy to write a story about individuals who just met up and bicker and that becomes their downfall. But we quite liked the idea that it was this really tight family unit who know how to work together. They know each other’s strengths, and they push themselves to get to this ship. It was a conscious decision to make it an emotional family story.

I can definitely see that when reading the chapter you sent me.

Thanks! It was really fun to write and figure out that natural divide.

Essentially, the way that we wrote as well was like, I’d write four pages–we had a shared Word Document and then I’d go away. Luke would write the next four, then I’d write the next four after that. We’d do it in that kind of style. Which is cool. Because you approach your laptop – like you open up your Word document – and then there’s just suddenly four new pages. Where did they come from? That was really, really cool just to write it in that style. Once we finished it and we were editing, it was a case of figuring out the pacing. We did break up that four and four format a little bit just to make the pacing a little quicker. Just, you know, in terms of how the family gets from A to B. I’m glad it came across as well.

What’s your favorite part of ‘Odyssey’? What resonates with you the most?

Honestly, it’s the chance to work with two of my best friends. Harry is my oldest friend and we’ve been through tons together. It’s always a joy to work with him. But then, pulling in Luke and just sort of making it this kind of creative force together. That was really cool.

But in terms of the story, I think the thing I like the most is the pace of it. I think Harry and I – when we conceived of doing ‘Odyssey’ and making it a story that’s like the last story told in our universe – we said we wanted it to be this fast-paced, kind of unrelenting run to try and get off Earth. You know, rather than spending a lot of time building out corners of this version of the world. It’s got to just keep running. Adding the timestamp came a little bit later in the process actually, and that really helped.

Soppy answer – I know! I like the people I got to work with, and the kind of creative answer is definitely the pace of it. I think trying to keep the pace of something quick while also developing character is an interesting process.

You kind of already answered this, but I’ll just see if you have anything else to say. How did you end up working with this team for Odyssey?

Harry has been the artist in the Snow universe for the majority of it. We conceived it together and that obviously was just the two of us figuring out what the endpoint of this universe is. Then Luke wrote a one shot in another graphic novel we did that sort of opened up the Snow universe. It was the first stab we had at inviting other people in and seeing what the world looked like. Luke was one of the writers we asked if he’d be interested in writing this other story. When I read the first draft of it, just as a script, I was like, “This is great!” He sort of captured the tone and themes and impetus of the story.

When it came to doing ‘Odyssey’, I just knew I wanted to share this story with him. I felt like he could do something really interesting. Because at the moment, the version of ‘Odyssey’ that we’re doing is part of this graphic novel Lone Tales. The other story in the book is called ‘Whistleblower’ set in 2079. Lone Tales is kind of contained; you’ve got one story that’s set in the present tense of the ‘Snow’ universe, and you’ve got one that’s the endpoint. It’s an interesting contrast to see that universe through different eyes. That’s like the coolest part of this kind of job: getting to see your writing through different people’s eyes.

Who or what are some of your comic book inspirations?

Jeff Lemire has always grabbed me with the way he tells stories. Who else is there–Scott Snyder, Charles Soule and Ed Brubaker. Those are the top four that I think like any book they do that I’ll usually pick up and read. Joelle Jones as well. She had a run on Catwoman a few years ago, which was just amazing. I could probably write an essay about how amazing comic book writers are and just writing in the medium and stuff. It’s a fascinating thing and everybody approaches it in a different way. I think that’s what those four writers do anyway; they all approach it from an interesting angle. That’s what grabs me.

What comes next for you after this Kickstarter?

Sleep, for sure. Next up, I’m moving away from the Snow universe. My hope is that if we get this book funded, we can put it out quickly since most of it is done. If this Kickstarter is funded, then Lone Tales will come out in July or August. I think probably late July. Then I’m moving on with a book called Sussex which is going to be crowdfunding with Foreign Press Comics towards the end of this year. That’s a WW2 spy story through the lens of mental health. It’s probably fair to say that it’s kind of my most personal book. In that, I’m not really somebody that likes talking about themselves. But I had this idea to frame mental health through the eyes of a spy and I couldn’t let it go. So yes, that’s next and that’ll be towards the end of this year I believe.

That’s a really fascinating idea.

Yeah, it’s really exciting and interesting. The research has been great because you get to search spies in WW2 – which is essentially the start of where they grew from. It led onto this wave of espionage! But the mental health side of it is obviously a personal thing. That was kind of something I don’t know how to approach in my writing, but then this just clicked into place, and I thought, okay, let’s write this and see what happens. So yeah, that’ll be towards the end of the year. The art is done by an artist called Alvaro Molina. I can’t wait to talk about it a bit more actually. It’s gonna be cool!

A big thanks to Nick! What do you expect from ‘Odyssey’ and Lone Tales? Interested in learning more about Nick and his upcoming book? Go checkout Lone Tales on Kickstarter! If you like what you see, feel free to support and have a talk with us on our Twitter or Instagram about what you’re most looking forward to about the read!

About the author

Layna Putterman

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