An Interview With Kristen O. Bobst

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Thank you so much for sharing your book with me and agreeing to do a Q&A for my readers. Give us a quick summary of your awesome graphic novel series!

Style Engineers Worldwide follows the adventures of a group of teenaged wearable technology engineers who seek to improve the world through tech and innovation. Their club, the SEWing Circle, is led by sixteen-year-old genius Tilly Tailor. She's the daughter of a famous fashion designer father and computer scientist mother.

What was your process as you discovered the story for Style Engineers Worldwide and worked to get it published?

This one's a bit twisty-turny. I originally pitched the concept, then called "Doctor Tailor," as a procedural TV show for The Next MacGyver competition. I was a finalist and landed on the radar of transmedia company Global Tinker. Their creative producer Olivia Levenson and CEO/executive producer Sep Riahi worked with me to develop the concept as a YA property.

How long did it take you to get this book published, from its initial conception to the release date?

I put the idea down on paper in April of 2015. The logline for the original concept was: "Former fashion designer Tilly Tailor became a wearable technology engineer after clothing saved her life. Working as a consultant for the FBI, she helps solve crimes and foil wrongdoers by examining, creating, and hacking articles of clothing. She gives 'dressed to kill' a new meaning." So, it came quite a way from 2015 to when the paperbacks were released in March of 2018.  I suppose --long story short-- it was about three years from concept to release.

What was the biggest hurdle you had to overcome in completing your first book?

I'd never written a graphic novel before. So, my process for this was to write the story in prose then adapt. I also read as many graphic novels as I could get my hands on and studied books on the craft of writing graphic novels.  

What other books and authors inspire you?

I love Douglas Adams' Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy for its humor and philosophy. I adore the graphic novel series Saga by Brian K. Vaughn and Fiona Staples. I am a big Harry Potter fan (Hufflepuff is my house in case anyone was wondering.). I also am constantly impressed by cartoonist Liz Climo. She's able to convey so much with her animal characters in such simple, hilarious ways.

In Style Engineers Worldwide, Tilly and her friends create new technology with fashion and global crises in mind. Have you always been involved in STEM field?

Peripherally, I suppose. My degrees are in the liberal and fine arts fields. However, I've always been extremely into gadgets and emerging technology.

What drew you to publish your novel as a graphic novel as opposed to a traditional novel?

This was a decision on behalf of Global Tinker. I was very much open to it, but it was new territory to me. Now I'm hooked on writing for the medium.  

Your illustrator, Sonia Liao, is so talented! How did you find you her and what was the process of working with her like?

I can't take any credit for this one! Global Tinker found Sonia, and I am so glad they did, because I've adored her art for the series since I saw the first illustration of Tilly and the Circle. She was great to work with. There was a back and forth to it, facilitated by Olivia.

What is the first book that made you cry?

As far as I can remember, it was Where the Red Fern Grows. To this day, I cannot handle anything where the dog dies.

What is your writing Kryptonite?

Procrastination. I never miss deadlines (never say never!) but, I excel at finding everything else other than writing to do from procrasti-cleaning to procrasti-baking and procrasti-exercising.  

What advice do you have for aspiring writers looking to publish their first novel?

Read as much of the genre you're writing as you can. Try as hard as possible not to get discouraged by rejection (which in this business is a fact of life). Keep writing no matter what. Also new media is changing the game, so it's something to keep an eye on outside of traditional publishing.  

What is your favorite book to recommend to others?

This one changes all the time. Most recently it's been Jomny Sun's everyone’s a aliebn when ur a aliebn too. It's so spot on about creativity and loneliness.

What is the lesson you hope young women and other readers take from your SEW series?

That you don't have to fit in a box or be labelled. Tilly is into high fashion, makeup, boys, as well as programming, algorithms, and saving the world. You can have varying interests and shouldn't feel the slightest bit bothered by that.

Where do you see Tilly and her team going in the future? What’s her next adventure?

I have to keep this under wraps, but there's a cliffhanger in volume one that will surely go to interesting places, and volume two mentions a female vigilante character who I'd like to meet again. The wonderful thing with the scope of the books is that the characters are able to globetrot and take on issues near and far.

Kristen O. Bobst is the author of YA STEM graphic novel series Style Engineers Worldwide. She's an LA-based writer and a graduate of the University of Southern California's MFA Writing for Screen and Television program. Kristen reports on space exploration for a variety of websites and works on educational apps for kids.