Day 4 with Vania Stoyanova, a writer by weekday, photographer by weekend, and the rest of the time she’s the events coordinator at local indie bookstore Brave + Kind. She’s the co-creator and host of the zany YATL LIVE young adult talk show through the GA Center for the Book which has made appearances at Atlanta Comic Con, DragonCon, Decatur Book Festival, and BookCon. Currently, she serves on the board of directors for Atlanta’s Broadleaf Writers Association coordinating YA programming and planning their inaugural YA Writers Conference. Vania is giving away a one-hour mentoring session to one lucky winner. See the details below.
You landed your agent shortly after participating in last year’s #kidlitGN event, Congratulations!. Can you take us through your query history before signing with Laura Bradford?
It was not my first time querying or my first time pitching a GN. I didn’t usually have success with pitch events but something was in the water and I got some interest then and at another pitch event. I started querying on May 5th and was done by July 1st. But don’t let that fool ya, because this was my 4th project overall that I queried. I wrote the book of my heart, worked hard with an illustrator (more on this in a minute) and in the end had four offers from agents.
How and why did you pair with an illustrator?
The advice I got with my previous graphic novel was to just submit the script and package. I had some art references in the pitch packet, and character art but it was bare. Then when I wrote this project, which was inspired by my own immigration from Bulgaria, I felt it was important to find a Bulgarian artist and so I did. I commissioned her, Anna Tsocheva, to first do some character art, then the rest when I found out how incredibly talented she is. I was incredibly lucky to find someone who just understood my world and characters so easily, it was the coolest, best, most exciting experience. It took us a few months, but in the end she gave life to my story and I’m so excited to see where it takes us.
Is writing a graphic novel script very different from writing a traditional manuscript?
YES! hahaha I wrote and queried two other prose projects. I have always been in love with graphic novels and comics. Prose and script are so different and they each offer so many ways to tell a story. But a script is a beast of its own. I love it, truly. It’s a challenge balancing dialogue with artist notes with HOW the panels should look. You can tell a story in layered ways. For example: what does the dialogue say vs what the art says. I am currently having a lot of fun on a new project that I think couldn’t be possible as prose in the way the story unfolds.
As a professional photographer, you are also a visual storyteller. In what ways do you think your background influences your script writing?
That’s a great question. I am so used to thinking visually as a photographer. I went to school for fine art and I learned early on the power of an image and how each image can tell so much, that there has to be an intent to the image I’m creating. I admittedly don’t always operate like that on a day to day basis, but I guess that visual storytelling was instilled in me.
Is there anything else you wish I had asked? Any upcoming projects, publications, or other news you’d like to share?
NO news, hahah. Publishing is hard and slow, but all I can offer others as far as advice goes is just to keep at it. Don’t rush it, and have fun with your script or pages.
Vania is giving away a one hour online mentoring session. To enter, comment below with your name. If you share this post to social media, reply to your original comment with the link to where you shared it for additional entries. The contest will close by end of day on Oct. 5 and the winner will be selected and announced shortly after. THIS CONTEST IS DONE AND THE WINNER IS CARMEN WOOD. CONGRATS!