An Interview With Jonathan Ying
You've heard a lot from both me(Mike) and Victoria these last few weeks. We wanted to introduce you to our wordsmith and very important member of our team, Jonathan Ying. He is a graduate of Sarah Lawrence College and has done many comic and children's book projects. He is currently on a roadtrip across the United States and writing about his experience.
Hey there, so you wrote the words in “Curiosities”, tell us a little bit about yourself.
Well, I graduated from Sarah Lawrence college and I spend most of my time writing, drawing and designing games. I love dogs, I enjoy long walks on the beach and- Wait, is this a date?
How did you get started in writing?
Like most people I started writing in kindergarten. Short stories like “The truck is red.”
It sort of went downhill from there.
Who are some of the writers that have influenced you?
Pretty much anything I read is an influence in some way. In fact, a lot of my “influences” come from writers who are terrible. The sort of “Well, I’ll definitely never do THAT.” sort of writing. You can learn a lot from other people’s mistakes. I could go off on this or that novel and tell you how it taught me to not be terrible, but that’d be kind of rude don’t you think?
The question is usually actually just about which writers I like which is a pretty long list. My favorite author is Patrick Rothfuss, who wrote The Kingkiller Chronicle, but I am also a tremendous fan of Neil Gaiman, Terry Pratchett, Jerry Holkins, Joss Whedon, Susanna Clarke, Roald Dahl, Robert Louis Stephenson, the list goes on.
I notice you have a very strong voice in your writing, tell us a little about that.
This probably comes out of the previous question. Most authors I like have strong/unique voices in their work, and I guess that’s just the sort of thing that really appeals to me. In high school I made a focused attempt to learn how to “Write like talking” because it always seemed more compelling than the more academic styles of writing.
How did you get involved in this project?
Vicky and Mike invited me out to dinner and we were discussing the stuff we were working on. They mentioned Curiosities and how they wanted to make an illustrated book but they didn’t have a story, just this collection of ideas about Cabinets of Curiosities and two kids. As I listened I sort of just automatically tried to put everything together into some sort of narrative in my head. I like to see pieces fitting together and as they were explaining things I just kept making suggestions: “What if they...” and “Oh! You know what would be cool?” before long Mike and Vicky just asked if I’d like to be a part of the book and I could hardly say no.
Do you have a favorite story you wrote for “Curiosities?”
It’s a toss-up between The Dream Merchant and the Unicycle Daredevil.
What are you hoping people get from reading your stories in Curiosities?
The thing I seek to do in all writing is to surprise people. I feel like surprise is an integral ingredient in all emotional engagement. Funny things are funnier when they’re surprising, Scary things are scarier, awesome things are awesomer. Mostly I just want the writing to serve the art in such a way as to make things just a little more fun/clever/interesting. If I can get a person to close this book with a smile and a sigh, I’ll be tremendously happy.
So, you’re on a roadtrip across the country right now, how do you think this is influencing you as a writer? Any ideas for the new prequel book come up?
I’m definitely seeing sights I’d never have thought to look at before. The country is a big place, before the trip I’d basically just been to Los Angeles and New York. Travelling is pretty eye-opening. Plus I get to see all of the neat little tourist traps along the way. I saw a mummified cowboy and I’ve been visiting Antique Shops all over the place. It definitely helps keep my ideas percolating. Insofar as the prequel book is concerned, stay tuned. I’M excited for it at any rate.
Any last words to our Kickstarter Backers?
Thank you so much for your support. I have been consistently floored by everyone’s goodwill. We’ll be sure to put the best book we possibly can into your hands. You folks are incredible.