R. BENJAMIN WESLEY
- GUEST AUTHOR & ILLUSTRATOR -
Today, I interview a very creative man.
Welcome, Bob ...
- TELL US A LITTLE ABOUT YOURSELF AND YOUR BOOK PUBLISHING JOURNEY.I retired from cardiology two years ago to write and illustrate science fiction/fantasy graphic novels. I started my first graphic novel, Portal of the Ancients: Book One of the Ancients Saga on my iPad mini. I sketched approximately one hundred pages with text bubbles, and quickly ran out of memory. I graduated to a Wacom MobileStudio Pro 16 digital tablet using Clip Studio Paint EX to create the novel which I published on February 28, 2020, through our independent graphic novel production studio, Hearts Quest Studio, LLC.
- WERE YOU A GOOD READER AS A KID?I read J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy, and C.S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia series. These books started me on my journey to where I am today. My career in medicine bolstered my passion for storytelling.
- WHEN AND HOW DID YOU BECOME A PUBLISHER?I talked to a few publishers while creating my graphic novel. They really had difficulty grasping my vision. I decided that the best way to stay true to my vision was to form my own independent graphic novel production studio, Hearts Quest Studio, LLC. Fortunately, my wife was very supportive. With her MBA background and years of experience in sales, marketing, training, and product development, she has been a tremendous asset and wonderful business partner. I asked her to be CEO of Hearts Quest Studio, and she happily agreed.
- WHY A PUBLISHER?To me, becoming an independent publisher was a means to an end to see my passion project to fulfillment. I write and illustrate using bursts of creative energy. I am at my best when I work at my own pace. Fortunately, my wife has decades of experience keeping me on track.
- WHAT DO YOU ENJOY MOST ABOUT BEING A PUBLISHER?Again, publishing is all about getting the creation out to people who can enjoy it. At this point, we are exclusively publishing our own content. We are open minded about future projects. However, I have planned on writing, illustrating, and publishing nine more graphic novels in the Ancients Saga, which should keep me busy for a while.
- WHAT IS THE HARDEST THING ABOUT YOUR JOB?In my medical career, I had a fixed schedule of office visits, hospital rounds, procedures, patient/family/provider follow-ups, and documentation. With Hearts Quest Studio, my schedule is more flexible. This is conceptually a wonderful thing considering the structure of the last thirty years of my life. I sometimes wonder if I am managing my time in the best way currently. My wife has been instrumental in supporting me, helping me with my schedule, and giving me feedback on the direction of my creativity.
- WHAT WERE YOU IN A PAST LIFE, BEFORE YOU BECAME A PUBLISHER?As I mentioned, I had a medical career spanning three decades, including medical research, medical teaching, and medical clinical practice in the academic and private settings.
- HOW MANY BOOKS HAVE YOU PUBLISHED?Portal of the Ancients is my first published novel. I wrote a foreword in my father’s book, Indirect Aiming for Bowhunting many years ago. I published an article in the journal Arteriosclerosis Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology, which appears on my website at www.heartsqueststudio.com/articles, as well as articles in various clinical journals during my academic years in medicine. In addition, I have three blogs on my website, as well as ten LinkedIn articles describing my career transition from cardiologist to graphic novelist.
- WHAT ARE YOU READING AT THE MOMENT?I am reading a science fiction novel published by one of my fellow novelists on LinkedIn, Hunting in the Gull Wing Ship, The Beast Shifters of Veld Volume Four by M. Garnet. I am really enjoying it. I recommend it to you and your readers.
- WHAT INSPIRES YOU AS A PUBLISHER?My inspiration is getting my vision out to the public for people to share and enjoy. My art drives my stories. My writing supports my art to provide the depth of storytelling that I strive to achieve.
- DO YOU PREFER TO PUBLISH A PARTICULAR GENRE’? WHY?I enjoy the science fiction/fantasy genre for reading, writing, illustrating, and publishing. This genre allows me to explore my creativity to its fullest. The science fiction genre allows me to use my science and medical background to explore new areas which traditional authors or publishers might shy away from. The fantasy genre allows my right brain to run away with abandon toward the vision of my inner child.
- DO YOU HAVE ANY TIPS FOR NEW WRITERS?Obviously, I still have much to learn in this profession myself. With humility, I recommend that new writers stay true to their vision. I recommend that they make their work about the message that they are trying to convey. In my opinion, the message is more important than any material success that the career may bring.
- DO YOU HAVE A FAVOURITE PLACE TO WORK?I typically work on email and social media on a laptop computer in our kitchen in the morning. In the afternoon, I go upstairs to my office to write, draw, and color art for my novels, and create animated videos.
- WHAT IS YOUR GREATEST JOY IN PUBLISHING A MANUSCRIPT?My sense of accomplishment is its own reward. The path to publication is a long one, filled with moments of joy and frustration.
- WHO IS YOUR FAVOURITE ALL TIME AUTHOR. WHY?J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis are my favorite authors. Both employ symbolism and fantastic imagery in their work.
- WHAT’S THE GREATEST COMPLIMENT YOU EVER RECEIVED FROM A CLIENT?I have some very nice comments on my website. I enjoy when my readers appreciate my art and storytelling.
- WHAT WAS THE WORST COMMENT FROM A CLIENT?Some people have difficulty tuning into my energy and essence. Most often this is expressed in an appropriate fashion.
- DO SOME OF YOUR CLIENTS FRUSTRATE YOU?Our graphic novels are designed for young adults or adults who are young at heart. To produce my stories, I travel back to my boyhood in my mind. Some people just cannot take that journey with me.
- WRITERS ARE SOMETIMES INFLUENCED BY THINGS THAT HAPPEN IN THEIR OWN LIVES. ARE YOU AS A PUBLISHER?I grew up in a rural area with limited social opportunities, which prompted me to develop my imagination, and travel to new worlds in my mind. During my medical career, I focused on my patients to improve their healthcare. Now I am focused on my own journey, and the stories I have to tell.
- OTHER THAN PUBLISHING, WHAT ELSE DO YOU LOVE?I really enjoy spending time with my wife and daughter. I am delighted that they have both been a part of my new career. I enjoy storytelling in many forms, including books, motion pictures, and computer games.
- DO YOU ALSO WRITE?Writing is the most challenging part of my new career. I wrote in medical charts for three decades. Writing for graphic novels is a new challenge.
- ARE SOME MANUSCRIPTS DIFFICULT TO REVIEW? WHY?I am a very visual person. If I have difficulty visualizing what I am reading, I have difficulty comprehending it.
- DESCRIBE YOUR PERFECT DAY.I spend time with my wife and daughter, interact through email and social media, and create text, art, and animation in my office.
- WHAT ARE YOUR PLANS FOR THE FUTURE?I have nine more graphic novels to write, illustrate, and publish. I have enjoyed creating animated videos recently. I have just animated and uploaded my fourth video to www.heartsqueststudio.com/videos.
- DO YOU HAVE MUCH TO DO WITH OTHER PUBLISHERS?I have reached out to other publishers as part of my own publication process. I interact with independent publishers on a weekly basis through telephone calls and emails. I interact with publishers at conventions as well.
- HOW DO YOU SEE PUBLISHING IN GENERAL? POSITIVE?Publishing is at its best when it delivers the message of the author in its most original form. Publishing is at its worst when it focuses only on financial success.
- WHAT’S YOUR VIEW ON E-BOOKS VERSUS TRADITIONAL BOOKS.I actually published four editions of Portal of the Ancients. Our graphic novel edition is printed locally with a gloss finish. Our comic book edition is printed online with a matte finish at a lower retail price. Our My Must Reads ebook is published in multiple formats for use with a variety of ebook readers, in a high resolution fixed layout. We also offer a lower priced epub version online which has lower memory requirements and can be used with free ebook readers such as Freda and Calibre. The most important aspect to me is that my stories are told effectively in all editions. Further details are available at www.heartsqueststudio.com/books.
- IS THERE ANY ONE THING THAT ‘SMACKS YOU IN THE FACE’ AFTER READING A MANUSCRIPT, OR IS IT A COLLECTION OF THINGS?I always try to visualize and relate to what I am reading. If I have difficulty in this regard, I find that the storytelling is less effective for me. For this reason, I enjoy graphic novels. Traditional novels are more challenging to read and write without accompanying art to support the story. People who primarily read prose frequently say that graphic novels require the reader to adopt the images of the illustrator, which sometimes limits the imagination of that reader. I try to balance my reading with prose and graphic novels to remain as well rounded as possible.Clancy's comment: Thank you, Bob. I appreciate your passion. Good luck.I'm ...