Barbra Dillon, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief: Congratulations on the release of your graphic novel, Star Runner: Fallen Star! For those who may be unfamiliar, how would you describe the book’s premise, and what inspired you to tell this story?
James Watson: As I describe in the preface of the book, the first version of this story was created when I was seventeen years old. I used to spend long summers in the woods of Southern Maine, where my room looked out over a field into the dark forest and the bright stars of the night sky. That view, combined with the science fiction novels and comics I read, fueled my imagination.
Like every teenager, I was dealing with issues of identity, trying to figure out who I was and who I wanted to become. I had this big future ahead of me, but no clear path on how I’d get there, other than a hope for the future, and faith in my family and friends. This became the theme of the first version of Star Runner, a 64-page comic which I edited and drew myself.
Ultimately, it’s a story I hope anyone can relate to. Aurora is a normal teen who learns that she’s different from everyone else. She must face incredible obstacles to discover the truth of her origins, then uses her gifts to defend her friends and ultimately embrace her destiny. She’s impulsive and imperfect, like any teenager, so these decisions are sometimes wrong. Her abilities make her dangerous, so she must face the serious consequences of her mistakes.
BD: What can you tell us about your shared creative process in bringing this story to life, and what (or who) have been some of your creative influences?
JW: There is definitely a cinematic inspiration to this story. I drew upon the films I loved when I was a kid, from Escape to Witch Mountain to Close Encounters of the Third Kind, both films about ordinary people caught up in extraordinary circumstances.
I loved the episodic science fiction novels of Ray Bradbury, CS Lewis’ Out of the Silent Planet, Arthur C Clarke, and the graphic novels of Valérian and Laureline by writer Pierre Christin and artist Jean-Claude Mézières. I loved the fantastical worlds these books took me to, and the rich, dense worlds created by these amazing creators.
Ten years after creating the original comic, I adapted Star Runner into a feature film script. Recently, with the help of an amazing writer (Charlotte Stauffer), that screenplay was updated, and her work really gives Aurora a voice. You’ll see her work reflected in the graphic novel.
BD: At Fanbase Press, our #StoriesMatter initiative endeavors to highlight the impact that stories can have on audiences of various mediums. How do you feel that Aurora's story will connect with and impact readers, and why do you feel that this story was important for you to bring to life?
JW: I’ve always felt that one of the hardest things we have to figure out in life is who we really are, where we come from, and why we’re here. Aurora’s story is a version of this quest on a grander scale, but it's really the quest for all of our lives. To determine our true nature, remain true to what’s at our core, and forge our destiny.
To chart her path in Star Runner: Fallen Star, Aurora must first know where comes from: her parents, their world, their powers and abilities. Knowing that, she can confront her obstacles, her adversaries, and ultimately her own fears and insecurities. Ultimately, she can’t do it alone, and that’s probably the most important lesson she learns in this story.
BD: Are there any upcoming projects on which you are currently working that you would like to share with our readers?
JW: I’m pleased to announce that a sequel, Star Runner: Dark Star, is already in production. This new 96-page graphic novel is being released in three digital episodes, available for download from our website and on ComiXology, followed by the print version this December, on Amazon and retail channels.
The sequel takes Aurora to the next step in her journey. Having learned the truth behind her origins, she tries for a normal life in high school, but knowing her past is not as clear as charting her future. What do you do when you know your destiny lies in the stars? How does that change you?
Star Runner: Fallen Star has also been optioned for production as a feature film, something I hope we’ll be able to talk more about later in the year. We have some great partners in Georgia-based New South Independent and Third Shift Media. They are planning some exciting things I can’t wait for everyone to see.
BD: Lastly, what is the best way for our readers to find more information about Star Runner: Fallen Star?
JW: I hope everyone will visit our website (www.StarRunnerComics.com) and check out the latest press releases and previews. We try to keep a fairly active social media presence, but we’d love to have more fans and followers on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Please come by and say, “Hi!” Here are those links: