This is the Summer where everything changes. BFFs Dylan and Leighton were supposed to be friends forever, but when a tragic incident lands the duo in a camp for troubled teens, can their friendship survive the summer?
We had the chance to sit with Jennie Wood, award-winning author of our upcoming original graphic novel Paper Planes, about the story behind Paper Planes, their inspirations, and more!
Check out our full interview below!
Q: Thanks so much for taking the time to answer our questions, Jennie! Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I’m a writer, musician and content creator, currently living in Boston with my partner Natalie and our three-year old supermutt named Moxie. All three of us are from the south. I’m from a small town in North Carolina, the same town that invented Cheerwine, which is why Cheerwine makes its way into most of my stories. In an earlier life, I attended a theater conservatory and fronted an indie rock band, but the best job I ever had was working security for the Canadian musician Peaches.
Q: What is your biggest inspiration when it comes to writing comics?
My biggest inspiration for writing comics is the same as it is for other forms of writing. There’s usually a question that I want to explore. I don’t necessarily want to answer the question, but explore it. Then the next step is to figure out the best format to explore that question (comic, short story, novel, graphic novel, or song, etc.)
Q: In Paper Planes, we follow along with former best friends Dylan and Leighton as they navigate the changes in their friendship at a summer camp for troubled teens. What was the inspiration behind Paper Planes?
I really wanted to capture that transition from middle school to high school where oftentimes close friends are pulled in different directions because of external and internal pressures or the two former BFFs simply develop different interests. A close friendship growing apart at any age can be very painful so I thought a lot of people could relate to it. So much has been written about romantic break ups, but far less has been written about close friend break ups, and I really wanted to focus on that.
Q: What got you into writing comics?
Writing comics came out of necessity. About a decade ago I was working on early drafts of Flutter, first in the form of prose, a short story. Flutter is about a girl who shapeshifts into a boy to be with her dream girl because her dream girl is straight. Writing the story in prose, in the form of a short story didn’t feel right. It felt flat. So I tried it as a screenplay, but I kept thinking about all the bad special effects for shapeshifting (again, this was ten+ years ago.) Around this time I had rediscovered comics through graphic novels. I had fallen in love with Brian K. Vaughan’s Y: The Last Man. I loved how epic the story was, and yet at the same time the characters felt relatable, grounded. My thought process wasn’t ‘hmmm, let’s try Flutter as a comic.’ It was: ‘I have to do Flutter as a comic, as a graphic novel series!’ And so I did.
Q: Which character in Paper Planes do you personally connect with the most?
Great question! The character I connect with the most is Dylan. We’re both non-binary. Also, like Dylan, I come from a working class family. Writing about Dylan’s discomfort on the girls’ tennis team resonated a lot with me. Dylan doesn’t feel like they belong on the team because 1) they’re not a girl and 2) they’re not from a wealthy family like everyone else on the team. I loved tennis as a kid, but never felt comfortable on the girls’ team for both of those reasons, too.
Q: What do you hope for people to take away from reading Paper Planes?
I hope readers find some solace and validation in their journey to discovering and embracing who they are, even when that journey comes with some loss and growing pains.
Q: Can you tell us a little bit about your writing process?
There’s a lot of trust that goes into my process! I always begin with character development, writing in-depth biographies of the main characters and the most important supporting ones. As I spend time developing the characters – their fears, desires, dreams, failures, and their relationships to each other – a plot always starts to develop. The plot comes out of the characters, usually out of their conflict with each other. Then I do an outline or a list of scenes that I put on index cards (one scene per index card), which makes it easy to move the scenes around until I find a structure that works. Once I have a solid order / structure then and only then do I begin to script. It’s a long process, but it hasn’t failed me yet.
Q: Who/what are your biggest influences as a creator?
That’s such a great AND difficult question. I’m definitely inspired by a wide mix of things. If I had to name my all-time biggest influences I would say all the Glass family stories by J.D. Salinger including and especially Franny and Zooey, Orlando by Virginia Woolf, the love letters of Violet Trefusis to Vita Sackville-West, and the music of Hole, Amy Winehouse and Bob Mould. I’m inspired by all things Taylor Swift, her music and her fans. The TV shows I’m most influenced by are Lost, My So Called Life, Breaking Bad, and, most recently, The Bear, which I can’t stop watching. It deals with trauma so well. The movies that have the biggest influence on me are Heathers, Running on Empty, Booksmart, and most films directed by Billy Wilder. Finally, in comics, any and all work by Bryan K. Vaughn. I know, I know – that’s quite a list – but you asked!
Q: We have to ask… What’s the secret to making a perfect paper plane?
As Dylan explains to Leighton in Paper Planes, the wings are the most important part – and the part that most people gloss over. You have to bend the tips of the wings up. That’s what makes a paper plane fly farther and with more accuracy. Dylan shows Leighton how to do this in the book, which is perfectly illustrated by Dozer.
Q: What are your favorite stories/artists/genres?
My favorite genre is dark comedy. I think comedy is the hardest thing to write, especially dark comedy. Luis Rodriguez Noa – pen name NOA – is a Cuban contemporary artist that I love. He creates a lot of comic characters within his work and gives us a glimpse of daily life in Central Havana.
Q: Any upcoming projects we should know about?
I have a story in the upcoming anthology, John Carpenter’s Tales for a HalloweeNight, Vol. 9, which will be released next month (September), just in time for Halloween. This is the third story I’ve written for the HalloweeNights anthologies, and all three have been collaborations with artist Richard Clark. Each story is inspired by a favorite song. This latest one was inspired and named after the King Princess song ‘Let Us Die.’ Beyond that I have two full length projects in the works. More on those soon.
Q: Anything else you’d like to share?
A huge thank you to everyone taking the time out of their day to read this. Thanks for wanting to know more about Paper Planes!
ABOUT JENNIE WOOD
Jennie Wood – Author (They/Them)
Jennie Wood is a non-binary author, musician and creator of the Flutter graphic novel series. Flutter was named one of The Advocate’s best LGBTQ graphic novels of the year, a Barnes & Noble book of the month, a Virginia Library Association Diversity Honor Book and published as a collection by Dark Horse. Their work can be seen in several anthologies, including The New York Times best-selling FUBAR, the Eisner award-winning Love is Love, Planet Comics, and John Carpenter’s Tales for a HalloweeNight.
We’ve got a glimpse into the pages of our upcoming original graphic novel, Paper Planes! Check out the official trailer below!
Paper Planes is now available for pre-order from the official Maverick website, and will be available at your favorite book shop, comic book store, or digital reader on August 22nd, 2023! Be sure to mark your calendars!
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