Today I’m pleased to welcome Patric Nyström and Per Demervall, the author and illustrator of the Siri the Viking series of comic books/graphic novels for children! The books feature some wonderful viking adventures, with some real life facts and with Siri being a great lead character, and some very funny and silly things happening throughout. The series already has two books out and a third will be released later this year. You can find out more about the latest installment in the series below, but first I have been lucky enough to get the chance to interview both the author, Patric Nyström, and illustrator, Per Demervall. I hope you will enjoy both of these interviews. 🙂
Interview with author Patric Nyström
1. Can you tell us a little about Siri the Viking and what inspired it?
Siri is an 11-year-old girl who lives with her family somewhere in Sweden. Because her father is a Viking and a chief, she is used to getting what she wants, and she is smart, curious and driven.
I have three daughters and at least in Sweden there are not many comic books about girls who are like Siri. That’s why I wanted to write about such a girl, and I wanted to give a good example, especially to my youngest daughter who is seven years old.
2. Siri the Viking stories are filled with lots of real historical facts. Do you do any research before you start writing?
I do a lot of research before I start writing, and I believe that the facts make the stories more authentic and interesting. And I also believe that if you mix in humor, the reader will learn new things without being aware of it.
I have at least two shelves with books about Vikings and the Viking Age at my office.
3. The series is all about the Vikings and Viking era, do you have a particular interest in Vikings and are there any other periods of history that interest you?
I love history and always have. Especially the Viking Age, which seems to interest many people, even outside the Nordic countries. Twenty years ago, I wrote a comic that was based on the Swedish author Frans G Bengtsson’s book “Red Orm” or “The Long Ships” which is another title the book is known as.
I have written three other historical books for children for a Swedish publisher, which include a book about Alexander Fleming who discovered penicillin.
4. How does the process of creating the comic book/graphic novel work? Do you firstly write the story and then Per comes up with illustrations or do you work closely together to create the book?
I write a script that looks like a movie script, where I describe what should happen in each box, which characters should be included and their lines.
Then Per sketches all the pages from my script, which he sometimes changes if he has a better visual idea. We talk all the time about how we can make every picture and line better and more fun.
Then we send everything to our editor who sometimes comes up with suggestions for changes.
After that, Per draws the pages and colors them while I refine the lines.
5. How long does it take you to write a book?
It depends. I usually never sit down and write until I have the story ready in my head. I plan everything and write down each scene on index cards. I write the first version of the script in longhand before I sit down and type the text into the computer.
I write in longhand because I believe there is a better contact between the brain and the hand than between the brain and the keyboard. With a computer you can type page after page with an idea and then change your mind and press delete. I think you nurture your ideas better if you write in longhand.
6. What advice, if any, would you give to any aspiring authors out there?
Read and write every day. Read books in the same genre you want to write, read good books to learn how to write, and read bad books to learn how not to write.
7. Have you always enjoyed writing since a young age?
I was 14 when I started writing and 23 when I was published for the first time. The feeling of writing for characters that I have loved since I was little was amazing. I wrote the script for the Moomin magazine between 1991 and 2006 and I loved every minute of it.
8. What do you like to do when you are not writing?
I spend time with my wife and my four children, watch movies and I hang out with my friends. I’m a board member of the Swedish Writers’ Union and it requires some work. I live on a country house so there is also a lot to do in the garden as well. I spend lot of my time walking in the nature. That’s where I get my best ideas.
9. What is the best thing about being an author?
Because I write stories to entertain myself, I appreciate the opportunity to make others like them too.
I also like teaching children new things, especially about our history.
10. If you could live in any book which would it be and why?
It would be The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. It would be exciting to meet creatures from all corners of the galaxy. Then it would also be nice to know the answer to life, the universe and everything.
Interview with illustrator Per Demervall
1. You’ve illustrated Siri the Viking and many other books but do you also enjoy writing books?
Absolutely. I have written scripts for several of my comics, but also made adaptations of famous books, among these you can find H.G. Wells’ novels.
2. Do you do any research before you begin illustrating?
I always put a lot of work into research, especially when it comes to historical adventures like Siri The Viking. But you have to allow yourself to use your imagination, to avoid getting caught up in something you are looking for and not finding.
3. How does the process of creating the comic book/graphic novel work? Does Patric write the story first and then you choose how to illustrate it or do you work closely together to create the book?
Patric writes a script that looks like a film script, where he describes what should happen in each box, which characters should be included and their lines.
Then I sketch all the pages after the script that I sometimes change if I have a better visual idea. We talk all the time about how we can make every picture and line better and more fun.
Then we send everything to our editor who may come up with suggestions for changes.
After that, I draw the pages and colours them while Patric refines the lines.
4. Are there any particular characters, historic periods or types of stories that you especially enjoy drawing/illustrating?
I really like recreating times gone by. Several of my comics take place in the Swedish capital Stockholm. I have made comics that take place during the 18th century, 19th century and 1960s.
But also, a fantasy story that takes place in Stockholm in a parallel universe.
5. How long does it take you to illustrate one book?
When it comes to Siri The Viking, it takes about six months. But it can also take longer, depending on how much detail there is in the pictures.
6. Have you always enjoyed drawing and illustrating since a young age?
I have since I was a child loved to draw and tell stories, especially in comic book style. For me, it was only natural that I would become an illustrator and writer.
7. What advice, if any, would you give to any aspiring illustrators out there?
The advice I want to give to anyone who wants to become an illustrator/comic book artist is, of course, to draw as much as possible. If you have a favourite artist/illustrator, try to draw in the same way as them. You learn a lot that way. There are also a lot of clips on YouTube that provide guidance.
8. What do you like to do when you are not illustrating?
When I’m not working, I like reading books, watching movies, and being out in nature, preferably on a nice jog.
9. What is the best thing about being an illustrator?
Oh, there is a lot that I like best about being an illustrator. But it is above all to be able to feel the freedom to work at home and in your own time. But it is important to have the discipline to get up in the morning and work all day, and, also often on the weekends.
10. If you could live in any book which would it be and why?
The time traveller in H.G. Wells’ novel, “The Time Machine”. It would be interesting and exciting to explore the past and the future on the spot.
About the book
SIRI IS BACK for another adventure! This time, the brave Viking girl and her friend Zack are searching for a lost treasure. They are helped along by Ansgar the monk, who is looking for his stolen books. A series of clues point them toward a mysterious place called Mimir’s Well. But the villainous Ivar and his clumsy assistant Grim are hot on their trail, eager to get the treasure for themselves.
Once again Siri has to use all her cleverness as she faces baffling riddles and dangerous traps. If she makes it through, perhaps she may find the answer to the greatest riddle of all: what precious treasure lies hidden in the depths of Mimir’s Well?
About the Author & Illustrator
Patric Nyström (born 1968) debuted in 1991 and has since written for a
long line of comic book series, including the Swedish Moomin comics and
the comic adaptation of Frans G. Bengtsson’s epic The Long Ships (Red
Orm), the first part of which was published in 1999.
Siri the Viking, in which real historical events, places and people serve as
the backdrop for the title character’s adventures, is his first major solo
Per Demervall (born 1955) is one of Sweden´s most experienced comic
book artists, with a wide range of publications. He made his debut in 1979
with Ulltryfflarna (The Wool Truffles), a fantasy comic for children. His
breakthrough came in 1986 with the comic book adaption of August
Strindberg´s The Red Room.
In December 2018 he was awarded the Swedish Academy of Comic Art´s
prestigious Adamson statuette for “a versatile and long-standing comic
book career”. Demervall’s recent work on the series Siri the Viking has
been highly praised.
Thank you so much for your time today Patric and Per. 🙂 I love the fact that Siri sets a great example as a smart and clever girl in the lead role of the books, and I love the idea of travelling into The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and H G Wells’ Time Machine, imagine the adventure! 😮 😀 And so much wonderful advice for aspiring authors and illustrators. 🙂
I hope you have all enjoyed getting to know Patric and Per a little better and please do check out the Siri the Viking books. They all contain such entertaining stories but the fact they also contain real life peple, places and facts makes them all the more interesting and educational too! You can check out my reviews for the first book The Emperor’s Treasure and the second book Mimir’s Well by clicking on the links, I guarantee you’ll love the stories whatever your age! 🙂
Did you enjoy this interview? Do you like comic books/graphic novels? What about the Viking era? Let me know what you think in the comments below 🙂