Working in a community of such innovative creatives and artists is truly a gift. Today, with Kanye-level enthusiasm, I'm here to give a shout-out to our managing editor Nada Alic who, with artist Andrea Nakhla, has just published Future You, their second collection of short fiction. I sat down with Nada to bask in her post-published glow and to learn more about this collaborative labor of love and laughter. If you've ever been a human being or known a human being, Future You will touch you deeply (and lightly because it's actually very funny). Check out more here!
1. How long have you and Andrea been working together creatively? When/How did you come up with the idea for Future You?
We've been working together creatively since 2014 but a part of me believes we were probably connecting way before that, like telepathically from the womb or when we were just little ghost babies, that's when I'd like to believe it all really started. That's the more romantic origin story of us as artists and as friends, so I'm going to go with that.
2. Tell me a bit more about your collaborative process. Which comes first, the stories or the illustrations?
The stories come first - I'll send her a draft and she'll get to work on visually interpreting it which is always an exciting process to be apart of. I've always had lifelong aspirations to be someone's muse, so having an artist create work based on my stories feels like the closest I'll ever get to that.
3. Collaborating with friends is intensely rewarding, but also tricky. What do you find is the most difficult part of working with your best friend on something so personal and creative?
It can be tricky! There have been conversations between us that sound a lot like, "err, maybe? but what if? actually never mind, oh wait - were you gonna say something? no go ahead! you first" etc. We care what the other person thinks so much that we never want to offend each other, but usually we can get our point across and meet in the middle for most things. Except that ONE THING, you know what I'm talking about Andrea!!! Just kidding. The rewards of collaborating completely outweighs any awkwardness that might arise in the creative process.
4. How does it feel to see visual representations of the stories you create?
I get so emotional about it. I imagine it's what it'd feel like when your child shows you a portrait they drew for you, except I don't have to lie when I tell her it's amazing, because I always mean it.
5. Where do you find yourself drawing the most inspiration from?
Failed romance, books, dreams, looking at people on the street. Failed romance? I said that. I really enjoy writing characters that possess a strong suspension of disbelief in order to be a person in the world. There's something really endearing to me about our ability to construct and live inside our own realities in order to reinforce our own beliefs/delusions. So much of that is what romance is, it's telling yourself that the world is bending in the direction of your own desires, and giving you little hints and nudges to tell you that you yes! love is real and yes! you are a special little snowflake, etc. I think I will spend a lot of my life exploring the concept of that, because to me, it's such a microcosm of what life is: it's us weaving these intricate cocoons, telling ourselves and others stories about how everything will work out just fine and no one is actually going to die.
6. What is the most rewarding aspect of publishing your own zine?
Keeping my neuroses intact by maintaining complete control over everything that I do! Haha. I like making things on my own terms, and I'm not really interested in what an editor or publisher has to say about my work (at least for now). All I want to do is write stories and share them with my friends or whoever happens to find them, I'm not trying to Be A Writer right now. I realize that also sounds like a total cop out and I should probably just own Being a Writer, maybe after the next book? I'm also probably saying that because I have a day job that I love so much, so the hustle of being a writer isn't as strong in me, but in a way it feels more pure because I write just because I want to, not for any other reason.
7. What tips do you have for writers or illustrators who are interested in self-publishing?
Do it! Find a good printer, make a website and an Instagram, research indie bookstores and sites and reach out to them, plan a party and invite people to it. Give copies to editors and publishers and repeat! Honestly, I have no idea what I'm doing most of the time, does someone have any advice for me?
8. What three people would make you ~literally die~ if they read Future You:
Okay, I literally die whenever I think of anyone reading it, but:
Miranda July (I am not worthy)
The twins from the Shining (Would they each get a copy? Would they share one?)
Myself, as a Child??? Spooky!
9. What is the soundtrack for each story?
Stephanie, you are killin' it with the questions. Okay here goes:
In the Zone: Kanye West - Real Friends
Francis Forever: Bonnie Raitt - I Can't Make You Love Me
Hollywood Park Casino: Robyn - Do You Know (What It Takes)
The Unbearable Hotness of Being: The sound of a Tibetan Singing Bowl ??
The Baby: Donnie and Joe Emerson - Baby