Who is Stonie Williams?
SW: Oh, man. Where to start? I’m a father of 5, husband (of 1), and I love to tell stories. I write comics and short story prose, I play guitar, I love video games and TTRPGs. I’m a huge nerd. Just, the biggest. My Mom worked in a comic book shop when I was a kid, the guys that worked there I called my “Uncles”. My “Uncle” R. A. Jones wrote comic books for Malibu and DC and Marvel. My “Uncle” that owned the store, John Harper, put on a Star Trek/Sci-Fi convention every year that I was immersed in and eventually came to run the staff and volunteers for. I was just surrounded by geek culture. And now I’m raising five little geeks of my own.
Q and A!
CBP: How long have you been writing?
SW: I have been writing in some form or another off and on my entire life. But I only really got serious about it in the last few years. I don’t know why, but writing comic books just always seemed to be this mysterious club that was too lofty a perch for me to reach for. But it was the Top Cow talent hunt that got me thinking “maybe I can do this…” and I fell in love with the process of writing comic book scripts and the collaboration that comes with making comics.
CBP: What inspired you to write Vala?
SW: Nate [Lindley] messaged me on Discord and said “I’ve got this idea…” and his passion and drive to make this kernel of an idea a reality in and of itself was a huge inspiration. He had some basic ideas of what he wanted to include, and I kinda helped him connect dots and flesh it out. For me, I draw a lot of inspiration from Viking culture and, funny enough, Dungeons & Dragons. I could easily see this being a setting for D&D. It has that same kind of high-fantasy-meets-personal-destinies that D&D let’s you kind of live out.
CBP: ACP Studios is publishing this one chapter at a time, how much of the story was written before Chapter 1 was published?
SW: We’ve got a pretty good idea of where we want the story to go for a good long while. Travis Hill is helping us edit, and three of us are bouncing ideas off each other as we write. Nate wears so many hats with ACP, and Vala is kind of his baby that he’s had in his head for a while. The game he’s created is so unique and simple with tons of replayability and ways to have different outcomes. So there was a lot of juggling in the beginning. We had Chapter 2 fairly well finished by the time 1 was published, I believe. Now that we’ve gotten our feet wet, I think things will come along quicker and more smoothly. Not that it was rocky in the beginning, mind you! Just a lot of making sure all the pieces fit before we move forward.
CBP: As this is a collaboration between you and Nate Lindley, how do you all collaborate on the story and the art? Is the process similar to how Comic artists and writers collaborate with a script, or is the story fleshed out and then adjusted with ideas for the art?
SW: You know how two mating hawks will dance with each other in the air in these synchronized movements that culminate in this beautiful act of love making? It’s nothing like that at all.
Collaborating with Nate has been a lot of fun and very unique in that he had the bones already thought up when he asked me to help out. He’s very susceptive to my ideas, while I feel like I’m helping him make his idea a reality. If something doesn’t work for him he says so, and I explain why I made that decision just so he can see where my head was, and we go from there. Sometimes it’s “yeah, I like this other thing better” or it’s “okay, I see what you mean” and we can shift things around or combine ideas.
We’re both pretty flexible (maybe that’s where I was going with the hawk metaphor?) and we both want this to be the best it can be. With comics, as I’m sure you know, each person has their stage of things, and then it gets passed to the next person who does their thing, and even if there’s some back and forth, it’s just fine tuning things so that the two jobs look seamless. While Nate and I are keeping each other in the loop and asking questions constantly as we move through stages. He asks my opinion on art, and I check in with him while I’m writing. He’ll show me step by step what he’s doing, which I freaking love, I’m such a process junkie. And I’ll send him pieces of what I’m writing to make sure it’s still in English and readable. He makes me look good.
As far as the art goes, Nate has been able to pluck out the best pieces of these scenes to immortalize in picture form. So far it hasn’t been discussed as “okay, I think this should be the art”, it’s just kind of been obvious that some of these pieces of the story would make really cool visuals. Again, he makes me look good.
CBP: Can you give us a hint as to what we might expect from future chapters?
SW: In no certain order, you can expect more Orum, more creatures borrowed from mythology with out own twists on things, and without giving anything away, more Vala, more beasts, and lots of heart. And soon we will answer the question of what a Beast Heart is and how that’s connected to Vala’s greater story.
CBP: If we want to check out more of your work, what other of your works would you recommend?
SW: I’ve had several stories in Ashcan’s Flash Fiction come out now (author's note: you can find a list of these works below). You can check their Patreon tiers to read the past and future of what we’re doing there. Later this year, if the Comic Book Gods are kind, I will have my book from Mad Cave Studios release. I can’t say anything else about it, other than watch the news from Mad Cave Studios. I’m chomping at the bit to talk about it. It’s physically painful not to talk about it. I hope people dig it, it’s been a blast to work on and I just can’t wait.
CBP: Do you have any other projects in the works? If so, anything else you can share?
SW: I’m doing the color art for a story in an incredible anthology called “Cthulhu Invades Oz” with David Galiano writing and art by Craig Florence, whom I’m just so freaking honored and proud to be working with. And who knows what else might come along, I’ve got some hooks baited and we’ll just have to see what bites. I’m grateful to be doing anything more than twiddling my thumbs during this pandemic that’s seen so many comic book creators stopped, even temporarily.
CBP: Do you have a personal website etc. where people could check out other things you’ve created?
SW: You can find my other works through ACP on the ACP website (www.ashcancomicspub.com) if you’re on the $3 Patreon tier and you can find me on most social network platforms under BaldBeardedBard. Hopefully before too long you’ll be able to find me wherever comic books are sold.
CBP: Anything else you want us to know about you?
SW: The first comic book series I ever collected from the release of Issue 1 was Generation X. Eradicator was my favorite Superman during Reign of Supermen. I hate Ryle Rayner but I love Ron Marz. If I could have my pick of mainstream publishers to work with, I’d choose Top Cow without a moments hesitation.
As I'm getting a little bit more comfortable with how I'd like to interview some folks, I'm thinking of some randomly questions that may be work-adjacent etc. to them, but with hope fun to answer...so here are the final questions I asked Stonie.
CBP: Is it true that you boys from Oklahoma roll your joints all wrong? Or is Cross-Canadian Ragweed full of shit?
SW: I am the worst Stonie ever, because I’ve never smoked a joint, much less rolled one. So, I gotta go with Cody Canada on this, he would be the expert in this situation. And in my experience in any other area, boys from Oklahoma tend to do most things wrong. Or we take the most difficult way of doing things. It’s just the Okie way.
CBP. One of the things I mentioned in my review of Vala, is that this book screams for a soundtrack to listen to as we read it all. If you had to put together a 5 song playlist that aids in the storytelling process, what would go on it?
SW: I love to listen to music while I write, and in fact will sometimes make playlists of songs that inspire a character, or what that character might listen to. For Vala - The Beast Heart, my soundtrack looked a lot like this….
I'd like to thank Stonie Williams for taking the time to answer all of my questions. As noted several times, you should check out Stonie Williams and Nate Lindley's most recent offering Vala the Beast Heart from Ashcan Comics Pub (www.ashcancomicspub.com). You can also read some of his other short stories in Ashcan's various "Flash Fiction Anthologies. Here are the details on all of Stonie's titles:
You should also follow him on Twitter for additional updates on his works (and maybe trying to auction off his children during the quarantine).
Until next time!
The journey of a 30-something father of three who's trying to break into the world of reviewing comics after a loooooong hiatus...