Written by Neil Greenaway
At DINK 2017 I had the chance to sit down and talk with Kitty Curran and Larissa Zageris of Taylor Swift: Girl Detective about their take on publishing indie books. This interview originally ran on Bleeding Cool on 4/15/2017, and you can read their version of it here.
Kitty Curran and Larissa Zageris are the creative minds behind the successful Taylor Swift: Girl Detective Kickstarter that last year led to their first published novel, The Secrets Of The Starbucks Lovers. I met these ladies at the first Denver Independent Comic and Art Expo in 2016, before their crowdfunding had even begun. The past year has been busy for them with their first novel being released and a second officially on the way. On April 9th they were back in Denver for DINK 2017 and ready to discuss Betty Boop, Upworthy and appearing on Who Wants To Be A Millionaire.
Neil Greenaway: It is great to see you ladies back at DINK for a second year! Last year’s show was your first time tabling at a convention. What drew you to DINK?
Kitty Curran: We had been looking for cons to table at, really. We knew that we were launching the Kickstarter, and I had been a part of several anthologies and other projects. It seemed like the next logical step, to start promoting ourselves and our work, would be to star tabling. And DINK was the first show to accept us. It was our first ever show.
NG: Have you gone to any other shows since then?
Larissa Zageris: We have. We’ve done the Chicago ‘Zine Fest, and we did a comedy show in Chicago with this group called The Nerdologues. They did a night of monologues surrounded by the theme of Intrigue! So we set up and sold there. And we will be at Thought Bubble in the fall. DINK 2017 is still only our third official show!
NG: The last time we had spoken you ladies did not have the actual physical Taylor Swift book in your hands. You still needed to raise the funds. Now that you have the book out in the world, are you seeing a positive response from the public?
LZ: Yeah, a hugely positive response. Even after the Kickstarter had finished and been successfully funded, we kept getting press as if it was still going. We had pieces run in Time and Hello Giggles, Brit.co, a bunch of outlets ran a little story on it. Then, we got picked up by a couple of local Chicago shops. From there we would get interested emails every week or so asking about it. Here, at the show seeing people pick it up and laugh and buy it is great. We are on our second print, we completely sold out of the kickstarter print run and had to order more. I think that people are showing a positive response because it’s something that is fun and clever. And I think it’s straightforward. We are kind of dorky and kind of old-school, but I think that a lot of people are coming back to that. People like things that are straightforward and earnest.
NG: Something a lot of people asked after your last interview was “Is Taylor going to be ok with this?” Have you heard anything on that front? Do you think she knows?
LZ: We haven’t heard anything. Has anyone heard anything on the Taylor front lately? Except that maybe she’ll be releasing a new album? (laughs) No, we have not heard anything, and the book was excerpted in a giant coffee table book from Simon & Schuster. We take up a good chunk of that book. We were nervous about that. It’s a very transformative work, so we didn’t really think that we were stepping on any toes. But we thought that if we were ever going to hear about it, that would be the time, and we didn’t.
NG: One thing that I noticed in reading the book was that in the back, you have an add page for the rest of the series. Have you given any thought to actually writing out any more of these mysteries? As an aside, the Ed Sheeran Adventures look amazing.
LZ: All of his song titles could be song titles could essentially be the names of mysteries. The Shape Of You: An Ed Sheeran Mystery. (laughs) We have so many ideas for more books and actually we just came up with another one this weekend. So we now have three or four really solid ideas. One involves an Alex Turner crossover with the Noir-ctic Monkeys. We have so many ideas, but so little time.
NG: So there are other novels set in this same universe?
KC: I would say to be continued, in a “we don’t have time because we are working on so many other projects” kind of way. We’ll see how it goes, really.
LZ: Yeah, I am hoping to turn that into a definite yes next year, but we just don’t know because we keep losing time.
NG: Your book was referenced in one of the questions on Who Wants To Be A Millionaire back in December. Having only just recently joined the cultural zeitgeist, how does it feel to have work mentioned on a game show?
KC: It felt completely surreal. I have watched the video several times at this point, and it still does not feel like it actually happened, but its great! It was amazing!
LZ: There was also a Minnesota morning talk show that did a video panel on it. CBS or MSNBC or something like that. And we both work and we freelance as well. The year that has passed has been crazy. I wrote the script for a Betty Boop comic. But we also have real jobs. I work in food service, Kitty works in customer service. And so it is a huge confidence boost that helps to keep us going. To have these positive energy in little pockets, like people writing reviews. And then you can work your job and do your best, and keep going.
NG: Larissa, you mentioned writing a Betty Boop comic and I know that ran in Woman’s Day. How did that come about?
LZ: It came about because a friend had recommended me, or at least included my name on a list for their editor. The editor reached out to me wanting to do something that was fun and included Betty Boop. They were trying to breathe new life into the brand. She is a timeless character that they wanted to bring back out in a fun way. The art on that story (by Hilary Barta & Jason Millet) was killer! So it had to be relevant to today, and we had all this health research. We worked out a fun, trippy little story and they really liked it.
NG: And then for Kitty, you did some illustrating for Upworthy. How did you hook up with them?
KC: I had worked for them in the past as a contractor, I was making stuff for their Instagram page and other social media. They just sort of kept me in mind and when they need a comic illustrator, they reach out. So I’ve done one about how hope is a four letter word, I illustrated the story of a man crossing the border illegally. He wasn’t taking photos, so I provided the pictures. I get some of the tougher subjects, like a new treatment that is being pioneered in Seattle for overdoses. They ask me to make it visually pleasing when they have a harder topic like that.
NG: While we are speaking of some of your other projects, what are you currently working on?
KC: We are currently working on a Choose-Your-Own-Path historical-romance-parody novel. That will be coming from Quirk Books, who did Pride & Prejudice & Zombies amongst other things. That will be coming out next spring. So that is the main thing that we are working on right now. I will also be contributing to Speculative Relationships 3, which is a Sci-Fi/Romance comics anthology run by Tyrell Cannon. We’ve got just a few things in the pipeline, basically, that are taking up all the time.
LZ: I also have an upcoming radio show that I am trying to produce that will be like Stardust meets Downton Abbey.
NG: Would that be a Chicago local radio show, or would that be something people could find online?
LZ: It would be something that people could find online, but with Chicago actors. We were trying to do it with a live performance aspect, kind of like Welcome To Nightvale. Where it’s live, and they do Foley sound, but then it is also produced as a podcast or a radio show. That feels kind of far off right now because we have to finish all of these other things first.
NG: Getting back to your Choose-Your-Own-Path historical romance, is that something that you plan to crowdfund, or is that something you would do through Quirk?
LZ: Quirk Books has actually commissioned us to write it. So it is a book deal that we signed for them. They will be putting it out, and it should release in spring 2018. It is official, it was announced on PublishersWeekly.com. It’s awesome!
NG: Where can people look online to find more from you ladies?