My graphic novel in progress My Mind Is Free was longlisted for the LDC Prize 2021.
My Mind Is Free is a graphic novel adaptation of my play of the same name, but with the opportunity to flesh out the characters and really explore their journeys and how they got into the situation they find themselves in. Its development began on my Arts Council England funded DYCP award. I am currently about half way through the first draft.
My Mind Is Free tells the story of four people who are thrown together (literally) in the back of a van, which is transporting them who knows where, for a dark and terrible reason. This is the first time I have drawn anything in almost 30 years, and it has been a real learning process – developing an understanding of how telling a story in pictures and words varies from telling a story in words alone.
I was creative from a young age. I always loved writing and art at school, but was persuaded art wasn’t a viable career path, then a job as editor of a magazine happened, and a number of other reasons conspired so that I ended up going headfirst into writing and not thinking at all about art apart from some tiny bits of doodling over the years. Journalism, editing, making small and large scale community literary projects (as Wordsmithery) and writing fiction and plays followed.
The pandemic and the enforced pause to face-to-face literary events gave me a chance to reflect on whether I needed to develop some different skills, or maybe reawaken the ones that might be dormant, and find a different way to communicate with people – that wasn’t so focused on face-to-face interactions. Could I make my play into a graphic novel? How might the language of telling stories vary between the two media?
It was so exciting to get the Arts Council funding to be able to spend a year immersed in graphic novels; researching, reading, talking about, learning how to put the story together with images, finding a style – which I am still exploring – but it is a format that I have fallen totally in love with and I have developed plans for several other books too.
I was delighted that the first 12 pages of the book I have been working on for the last year was longlisted for the LDC Prize – just got to finish the rest now!
You can find some other illustrated short stories – ‘Cat Dreams’, about my relationship with cats, and ‘Aground’, an illustrated team-up with Barry Fentiman Hall’s short story – in my new Etsy Shop SamHIllustrations.