An Interview with Adrianne Ambrose

An interview with the amazingly talented Adrianne Ambrose, author of the lead story in the 3rd issue of the Fraggle Rock comic book, drawn by the equally talented and amazing Joanna Estep.

Portrait by Monica Gallagher

First off, tell me how you came up with the idea for your Fraggle Rock story.

I am not 100% sure at this point, but I think I was reading about the architect Gustave Eiffel and things took off from there. I started thinking about the Doozers and the limitations of building within Fraggle Rock, architecturally speaking.

Were there any specific challenges presented by this story?

To be honest, it was all pretty challenging. I had to rewrite the pitch a couple times before it was even presented to the Henson Co. as a potential lead story. I was also having trouble with the Gorgs. They weren’t gorgy enough in a lot of places. Fortunately, Tim Beedle, our mighty Fraggle Rock editor, was there to guide me / prod me in the right direction.

I’m sure you’ve been asked this a lot, but which Fraggle would you most enjoy hanging out with?

It’s hard to find a decent travel partner, so I’m going to have to say Uncle Traveling Matt. He’s adventurous, he’s willing to try new things, and he’s sensitive to the Silly Creature culture. I think we’d get along.

Tell me about one of your favorite novels.

Wow, it’s tough to choose just one. I’m a sucker for Steinbeck. He can be so funny and yet so poignant in the same paragraph, its’ amazing. Every few years I end up reading Of Mice and Men and I fall for it every time. I get caught up in the farm hands’ dream of owning their own farm and living off the fat of the land. I know the ending, I know it’s coming, but I always finish the story feeling gutted.

Or, books that are just plain silly, like the Confessions of Georgia Nicolson series or anything by Terry Pratchet.

Also, a huge fan of adventure tales: The Scarlet Pimpernel, Horatio Hornblower, The Flashman Papers – These all curl my toes.

Okay, yeah, I knew I couldn’t mention just one. ;O)

What about one of your favorite movies.

Here’s my formula for my favorite movie.

1) Adventurous man in some type of little outfit.

2) Feisty woman who is actually a well rounded character and not just some sexy cardboard cutout of a woman.

3) Adventure in exotic locale. – Egypt, the Old West, Space…

4) Sassy dialogue.

Raiders of the Lost Ark did the formula excessively well. Then, Temple of Doom came out and it was like a bucket of cold water in the face. Let’s get rid of the smart, self reliant woman who is willing to take on the bad guys with a frying pan and stick in a screaming, helpless harpy with a bad perm. So disappointing! But, the next time you find yourself watching Temple of Doom (a really boring Saturday night perhaps) try re-envisioning the female lead as Marlene Deitrich. Same lines, same everything, but just substitute the husky voice and sultry eyed German. I’m convinced it would make the film actually work. Buy, then again, adding Marlene Deitrich would fix a lot of films. It’s called the Deitrich effect. (or that’s at least what I’m calling it.)

What sort of comics did you read when you were a kid?

Sadly, I did not have access to comics as a kid. We were raised very frugally and comics were not in the budget. My mom did go into a comic book store for the first time the other day and bought her first comic. Fraggle Rock #2 with my Traveling Matt story, naturally. ;O) She’s already put in an order for #3! I’ll make a comics fan of her yet.

What’s your favorite genre to read and/or write?

When I write, I like to be funny. (or at least try) It doesn’t matter the genre. Even if I’m writing something very serious, I frequently put in some gallows humor just to spice things up.

Tell me about the moment when you knew you wanted to be a writer?

I’ve always wanted to be a writer. Even before I could write, I would dictate stories to my mom and she would type them out. But, I didn’t think writing was a practical career choice, so I studied business in college. Sooo not the right major for me. But, I continued writing throughout my life and now I’ve made the transition where I write for a living. Sometimes it’s video game dialog or franchise work, but I still get to write.

What made you decide to pursue writing, especially comics writing, as a career?

Writing is something I could never stop myself from doing. I’m always thinking up something silly or making up some wild story that I tell my husband, usually eliciting a squinty-eyed look of suspicion.

I like writing comics because it’s as if you’re writing and directing your own movie. You get to say what happens in each scene, you get to do the casting. It’s fun! Plus, I think there’s more room for creativity than your average movie that gets made.

Tell me a little about your forthcoming Belle Bridge Books project, “What I Learned From Being a Cheerleader”.

Cover art by Ted Naifeh

What I Learned From Being a Cheerleader is the diary of Elaine Rewitzer, a comic book loving geek who lands a spot on the cheerleading squad. Suddenly, she finds herself torn between her best friends and the chance to be popular. It’s a humorous story with comic book text interwoven within the plot. It is intended for girls age 8 – 12, but also for grownup girls who remember the dark waters of middle school. Despite its cheerleader themed title, What I Learned is about a middle grade girl learning to stand up for herself and her friends.

What served as the inspiration for this project?

Oddly enough, I started writing What I Learned From Being a Cheerleader because I was living in an apartment with two other women and we had some unbelievably noisy guys move into the apartment above us. I’m talking dragging furniture across the room, dropping hand weights instead of setting them down, having conversations by yelling over music, stomping across the floor like they’re trying to put out a fire loud. We did everything we could think of to get them to be more considerate, but nothing worked. I started writing the book as a way to vent some of my hostility and frustration. Then, the character of Elaine popped out of my head and suddenly the story had a life of its own. The printed book has very little to do with how the story started, but there are some noisy upstairs neighbors as a subplot in there.

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