Beatrice is Dead–No More Effing Edits!!

I’m pretty sure Robert Burrows hated me for a few minutes…okay, maybe days. As we crawled toward the end of fix-its on the graphic novel he and I are co-creating, I kept coming back with revisions to Beatrice is Dead. I just want this book to be as good as I can possibly make it–and I didn’t want a stinging-hot, rage-filled episode brought on by the sight of a typo or an obvious misstep in the published work.

But I can finally say that the content editing phase is over. If I see a problem after publication, it’s one I wouldn’t have caught with many more reads.

It’s terrifying to let go. I’ve never said of any major writing project, “This is done.” Never. But that’s what needs to happen and the palpitating fear that makes me want to hide under my blankets is accompanied by giddy joy.

Art by Robert Burrows

Beatrice is Dead Art by Robert Burrows

New Flash Fiction from Beatrice is Dead

Kidnapping. Corpse disposal. There’s little Katerina wouldn’t endure for Madame Dankles. In the third story from the world of forthcoming graphic novel, Beatrice is Dead, learn just how far Katerina fell to preserve the only love she’s ever known. And how that love takes her from a frozen hell, into the City of Ash.

[Update: We’ve removed the Final Hours stories from public view in anticipation of publication!]

Art by Robert Burrows

New BID Graphic Novel Art

Robert Burrows has been producing a lot of artwork for Beatrice is Dead, from illustrations for the monthly flash fiction (you can read the first story here), to merch art, and of course art for the actual graphic novel in progress.

I’ve been blown away by the stuff he’s sent me. I am in Happy-Land-of-Unicorns-and-Rainbows.

Most recently, our bookmarks arrived in the mail. Robert, Meaghan (artist and friend), and my boyfriend came over to watch hockey on Sunday. I showed up late, after celebrating Mother’s Day with my mom, to find bookmarks placed all over the apartment and in my books.

Here they are!

Look out for the second entry on Producing a Graphic Novel later this week.

Flash Fiction & Art from Beatrice is Dead

Just popping in to announce the first flash fiction piece from the world of Beatrice is Dead, written by me, art by Robert Burrows. An excerpt of “The Final Hours: Monica” follows. You can find the full story and a larger version of the image at the Facebook page for the upcoming dark fantasy graphic novel.

But out on the dimly lit city street in front of Adrian’s apartment complex, police sirens screaming in the distance, trash clogging the gutters, a visual of the serial killer processes like a Polaroid in Monica’s imagination. They should find the car and get home. Screw the other girls–if they don’t have money for a taxi, it’s their own damned fault.

“This place is seriously creepy,” Fiona says. The girls huddle closer as they walk down the street. They should have brought jackets and a change of shoes, Monica thinks as their heels clack against the pavement. They’re out of place on these dirty streets in colorful party dresses. She tries to take lighter steps, but her legs are so heavy she’s having a hard time balancing.

The streets are empty except for a few drifters rubbing the cold night off their hands over garbage fires. They stare at the two girls as they pass on the opposite sidewalk. Monica doesn’t make eye contact.

Fiona’s grip tightens around her arm. “Oh god…I think we’re being followed,” she says, her voice so soft and tremulous Monica almost doesn’t understand. And then she hears them. Footsteps not far behind. Dogging their path.

Producing a Graphic Novel: Starting Out

I never…NEVER…thought I’d write a graphic novel. I knew they existed, and I’d read a few, but I didn’t know a thing about the process. It wasn’t until recently that I got a glimpse into the world of graphic novel production when I befriended Robert Burrows and Meaghan O’Keefe, who were both working on art for separate graphic novels. It turned out my assumptions were completely wrong–you don’t need a ton of money to get started; finding an artist doesn’t have to be a burdensome process; a graphic novel script doesn’t have a rigid and complicated structure; and you don’t necessarily need a publisher.

It struck me that there may be others out there interested in producing a graphic novel, who don’t know what that entails, so I decided to publish a series on Producing a Graphic Novel here on my blog. This is my first attempt so I’m sure there will be as many hiccups as successes to this process and, hopefully, there will be something to learn from both.

Before We Begin

Think of this as a case study, rather than a handbook. Take what you will from this series, but please don’t assume I’m saying this is the only way to go about producing a graphic novel or that what does/doesn’t work for me will/won’t work for you. Also, “Beatrice is Dead” is a creator-owned graphic novel, so you probably won’t find anything having to do with seeking a publisher here.

Starting Out

Really, it started with Rob and Meg and the insight I got from them about graphic novel production. Their work on Something Animal and Identity Thief, respectively, got me thinking about the possibility of writing a graphic novel script. This is where having talented and creative friends really comes in handy.

I started a conversation with Rob, who had just finished his work on Something Animal. I told him I was seriously considering the idea of writing a graphic novel. He was extremely encouraging and sent me some reference scripts by the likes of Neil Gaiman, Warren Ellis and Alan Moore. What surprised me most was the casual nature of the writing. The writers varied in their level of description and formatting, but they were all pretty conversational. No worrying about grammar and rules? Sign me up!

As the conversation progressed, I thought about an abandoned story I wrote years ago. I’d abandoned it because, at that time, I had no discipline and was on the all-too-familiar finish half a novel and then move on to the next idea kick. Also, I felt the story would work better in a more visual medium. I immediately thought film, but I had no interest in screenwriting so I shoved the MS in a dark corner and forgot about it. But here was this new idea. A visual medium unfolding with such promise before me.

I told Rob a little about the story and he showed some interest. He asked me to send him some scenes. Even with friends there’s a chance of rejection. If an artist isn’t interested in drawing the stuff you write, chances are they won’t accept the project. I braced myself for rejection but Rob liked the scenes I sent and suddenly we were collaborating on a graphic novel.

I have never written so quickly in my life. A few things helped me get that script out the door in good time:

  • having most of the story fleshed out in the old MS
  • the casual style of writing a script
  • agreeing to keep the novel short (the story is being released in short volumes if the first volume is reasonably successful)

I put that last one in all caps because, really, that one component was 75% of the kindling fueling the fire under my butt. Heaven forbid my collaborator get the idea that I’m a lazy procrastinator (which I certainly can be). I didn’t have time to be precious about every single word. Even though I still freak out about it once in a while, I’m happy it worked out that way.

At the moment, Rob is working on the art, and I’ve just begun to consider the marketing aspect. I predict social media (hey, did I mention the graphic novel has a FB page now!!??) and reaching out to indie bookstores and local comic shops will play a big part in marketing. I have another idea on the burner as well…

But that’s a post for another time!

P.S. I just got my panel tickets for the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books being held April 21-22. I’ll be blogging about the event the following Monday!

FB Page for Graphic Novel Beatrice is Dead

The graphic novel, “Beatrice is Dead,” written by me, art by Robert Burrows, now has a Facebook page! This is a creator-owned work and a debut graphic novel for me, so we could use all the support we can get. Feel free to “Like,” if you’re so inclined.


Some info about the graphic novel:

“Beatrice is Dead” is writer S. Zainab Williams’ debut graphic novel, illustrated by Robert Burrows whose previous work includes the graphic novel “Something Animal.”

The City of Ash is the first story in a set of short horror/dark fantasy volumes about Beat, an eighteen year-old girl coming of age in the afterlife. After taking her own life, Beat is assigned to a demon-infested world where dangerous civilizations have developed. There, she must come to grips with her past and protect her soul before she is doomed to eternity as a wraith or something much more sinister.

This is where you’ll find sneak peaks and artwork from the graphic novel, blog posts from the writer and artist, news, and information on the release date!