Author interview: Alan Hesse

  1. What inspired you to write?

I believe that I can make positive impact on people, particularly children, through my books. I am inspired by my ability to create meaningful scenarios and worlds populated by fictional, visually amusing characters that deliver important, factual content about subjects I care deeply about. They say an image is worth 1000 words, and I know that humans make decisions based on their emotions. These are universal truths that inspire me to create graphic novels that are bursting with high quality imagery and carefully researched information, combining these elements with fast-paced, action-packed stories to really get into readers’ minds and hearts and make a difference. 

My overriding inspiration however is Nature, our planet and all the living beings on it. This inspiration currently drives me to spread awareness and technical literacy in climate change. By doing this through my graphic novels I hope to make important messages come across both clearly and in an entertaining fashion. I am still a conservation scientist but I find that I actually have more impact on people’s awareness through my graphic novels than through scientific writing. 

  1. Are you a reader? What are some of your favorites?

I am a reader and always have been! In my own writing genre I am a big fan of the European style ‘bande dessinée’ graphic novels such as Asterix, and Tintin. However I mostly read historical non -fiction and fiction, interspersed with some business books and, to really get away from it all, some science fiction / fantasy from time to time. I also love biographies about inspiring people, from contemporary rock stars to leaders and adventurers of the past. 

  1. What is your newest work, and what is going to happen in the future?

The Adventures of Captain Polo: Pole to Pole is the fourth book in my Adventures of Captain Polo series of fact-based fiction, educational graphic novels about climate change. This book has an open ending, like all of its predecessors, and my next project is to create the sequel, which I am tentatively calling ‘Antarctica’. That will be Book 5 in the series, and it will take Captain Polo, my main character (an anthropomorphic polar bear) and his friend Penguin to explore the Antarctic, visiting parts of South America en route. Asa with the other books in this series, I will use the story and characters to explore climate and environmental issues as well as solutions in those locations. 

4) Do you have advice or tips for Indie Authors?

Start by really getting clear about who you are writing for. What is your target audience? If you write children’s books as I do, you also need to figure out the target buyer. This is not as easy as it sounds for all of us! But having a clear idea of who you are targeting will clear the path and save a lot of wasted time and money when it comes to marketing your book. You also have to get rid of the false notion that landing a deal with a publisher will take care of all the promotion and marketing – that won’t happen! Given that an author nowadays also has to also be an entrepreneur to promote and market their books, the one golden rule is to keep on creating new books and learn how to promote and market them at the same time. In time, with enough books to your name, it will be easier to reach success, because each book cross promotes the others, and platforms like Amazon value volume, so the more books you write the better. 

5) What influenced you as a writer?

The legendary authors of Asterix & Obelix – René Goscinny and Albert Uderzo – along with Hergé, creator of Tintin. These styles, though dated and hardly known in the US, are very powerful influences of my own style. As a cartoonist I was also influenced by Carl Giles, a very popular post-war journalistic cartoonist in Britain. Giles’ cartoons are known for the amount of detail, often brimming with satire, in the background. I like to do the same, and any careful reader of my books will often see little details in the background, like an escaping rat for example! 

The environmental theme all my books have is influenced by my love for Nature, wildlife, and many exotic locations I have had the fortune to visit or live in. These led to my professional career, and they are also present throughout my books. 

Related to the environmental theme is culture; I have traveled widely and lived in many countries, and the influence of multiple cultures, languages and settings are part of my creative approach. Some people label such elements as stereotypes, which in a sense they are, but they are to be taken in context of my inspiration and life experience. When you do that, then you understand my books are actually all about celebrating and honoring diversity, in all of its forms.



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