Because I enjoyed posting the last interview so much I have another one for you guys. But this one is extra special - it's a double interview! I recently got talking to Simon Cope and Zila Ward - an artist/writer duo that have recently released their new illustrated Sci-Fi book The Kreeeps. It's essentially a kinda "creature feature" book with a number of highly imaginative creatures (from what I've seen). I decided to let them come on my blog to talk a little about it.
So please welcome to my blog - Artist Simon Cope and Writer Zila Ward!
Thank you for taking the time to appear on my blog. Can you tell my readers a little about yourselves?
Hi, thanks for having us! We’re Simon Cope and Zila Ward, and we have just collaborated on our first book together. We live on the Isle of Wight which is a great place for people who love the outdoors and a slightly more relaxed pace of life.
What first inspired you to get into writing?
S. Cope: Strictly a question for Zila, but I thought I would mention that it was through an acquaintance of mine (a horror fiction writer) who invited me to do some cover illustrations for some of his horror anthologies, that got me thinking about the idea of self-publishing. He recommended Createspace , and we went from there. If I may name-drop, his name is Kevin G Bufton and he has a small independent label called Cruentus Libri – check out some of his titles!
Z. Ward: I enjoyed writing stories from an early age and I have a fairly active imagination. I often had my nose stuck in a book growing up as well, which I’m sure inspired my writing too.
So who are your favourite authors? Simon you can answer this one if you want as well.
S. Cope: I have tended to stick to horror and sci-fi writers in the past – the likes of King, Koontz, Lovecraft on horror, and Asimov, Clarke, Pohl respectively but recently I have returned to some of the classics and finally read Dickens’ David Copperfield.
Z. Ward: I enjoy reading things with a bit of mystery or a supernatural twist and particularly enjoy short stories. I read a variety of fiction and fact, often on recommendation from friends, but old favourites include J R Tolkien, Graham Greene, Joanne Harris and Terry Pratchet.
Anyone who mentions either Lovecraft, Tolkien or Pratchet gets a thumbs up from me! So do you both have any other hobbies other than writing or is that your whole world?
We like to make the most of living by the coast, and can often be found boating, kayaking, surfing and swimming in the sea. We have hiked the coastal path around the island several times (a 70 mile round trip over a few days), and hope to try some longer walks in the future, such as the South Downs way and perhaps Offa’s Dyke. It’s such a great way to appreciate the British countryside.
Do you have a particular favourite genre to write in?
Z. Ward: Fantasy is my preference, I’m an escapist by nature I think.
Join the club! Without giving away too many spoilers, can you tell the nice people us a little bit about your new/upcoming book?
Certainly, it’s a collection of illustrations of some bizarre and unusual creatures known as The Kreeeps. Each one has a little information about them to accompany their portrait - all carefully researched and verified from the information sources we were able to find. We’d like to stress that no Kreeeps were hurt or distressed in any way in the making of this book (although some of them moaned a lot about having to pose for so long).
We used Createspace to self-publish the book, and it has been a very useful platform, despite seeming a bit daunting at first. It is currently available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle and we are looking to get the book into a few other bookstores as time goes on, so who knows.
I wish you all possible luck with that. I think you should try any local bookstores you can - something like this I'm sure would be very popular I'm sure! So I have to ask, where did you get the inspirations for this?
S. Cope: One of my favourite books of all time is Brian Froud and Ari Berk’s ‘Goblins of the Labyrinth’. It’s so full of wild imagination from both writer and illustrator, with a great sense of quirky humour but also carefully conceived characters and background that one could almost believe it to be true (and who says goblins aren’t real?!). I guess our book was a humble nod to this tome. We do plan to create a Series 2 (and beyond) and continue to grow and expand our own little universe.
Do you have any favourite characters in the story?
S. Cope: I like George, the Ship’s Weevil. Even though I designed the creatures first, it was Zila who created the character in each of them, and that is what has been the greatest success, I feel.
Z. Ward: It was easy to find inspiration based on Simon’s lovely, characterful illustrations. Ralph is my favourite with his carefully groomed coat and toothily amicable smile.
If your book was turned into a film/TV series - and I think this would work in that context hands down - who would you get to play the characters? Do you have a favourite director you would choose for this?
S. Cope: I have mulled over the idea of mentioning actors who could do voice-overs for the characters if a CG series ever came out, but on reflection I think that they would communicate in grunts and squeaks, or in a ‘universal language’ of their own. Is this a bit of a cop-out answer?
Not at all. Which, in your opinion is more important – story or characters?
Z. Ward: Hmm, tricky, I guess they’re both of equal importance to me.
And what do you look for in a good story?
Z. Ward: I love a good twist and something that keeps me guessing a bit. Some stories stay with you and keep you mulling over them or remembering them at odd moments.
What’s the best advice you can give to authors?
Z. Ward: I’m not sure I’m qualified to give any advice but I suppose it’d be to keep writing and creating and not to let the mundane stuff take over.
Any advice is good advice as far as I'm concerned. :) Ok, now for the REAL questions of the interview – and these are real life or death here! The fate of the world rests on this question and could cause a time collapse that will wipe out all life in the Universe. So think carefully before you answer.
What DOES the Fox say?
“Hurry up and cross the road, Chicken!”
Why did the chicken cross the road?
I guess it heard what the Fox said.
And it probably wanted to avoid being it's next dinner! And finally - how much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck would chuck wood?
Not sure, but probably a similar amount to how much bear Bear Grylls grills if Bear Grylls grills bears!
Probably a lot! XD
Thanks to both of you for stopping over! And to all of you guys, please be sure to check out this interesting sounding book. You can get yourself a copy at:
And as always, authors (and artists) if you want to get in touch with me to promote your work, please contact me on any of the below links. Thanks for reading!