Pirates, Fangirls, and Sailor Moon: Interview With Sam Maggs, author of Tell No Tales: Pirates of the Southern Seas

by J.D. Harlock
originally published by Interstellar Flight Press

The Toronto Star calls Sam Maggs the “ambassador of the Canadian fan culture scene”, but that title betrays the versatile talent behind some of the biggest franchises around. She first came to prominence following the publication of her acclaimed book The Fangirl’s Guide to the Galaxy, and since then, she’s dabbled in everything from writing comics to co-founding her own video game studio. Her first original graphic novel (co-created with Kendra Wells), Tell No Tales: Pirates of the Southern Seas, is out now and available for purchase. It follows a fictionalized Anne Bonny and her adventures on the high seas as a new enemy has her and her trusty crew on the run. 

1- What inspired you to write this? What comics/films/books/TV shows did you have in mind?

I previously wrote a non-fiction book about women in history called Girl Squads, and I dedicated one chapter to the real-life story of Anne Bonny and Mary Read. And when I finished writing it, I was so taken by her story that I knew it was perfect for a comic. I was inspired by comics like Zodiac Starforce and anime like Sailor Moon—and, of course, Pirates of the Caribbean!

2- Why was Anne Bonny chosen as the main character (as opposed to a fictional creation)? What drew you to her?

I’ve written so much historical non-fiction in my time as an author that I’m really drawn to grounding fictional stories in real and relatable history. My hope is that people will read Tell No Tales and then want to go and do research about who these actual people were (or were inspired by). Broadening historical horizons through fiction!

3- How’d the collaboration with Kendra Wells come about?

One day not long after finishing writing on Girl Squadsincluding all my research and work on Anne Bonny’s storyI saw my old friend Kendra Wells completely coincidentally tweet about how much they love Anne Bonny and why hasn’t anyone made a book about her yet? It was like fate. I immediately hopped into their DMs and the rest, as they say, is history!

4- You used to write nonfiction before you moved into comics. What lured you into comics writing?

When I started writing for comics I was actually already working full-time as a video game writer, and I found that writing fiction was a lot more fun for me and the direction I wanted to take my career. Plus, I was a huge comics fan; I’d been reading religiously since college and it’s really my favorite storytelling medium. I was contacted by a wonderful comic book editor, Sarah Gaydos—now EIC at Oni, but at the time an editor at IDW—and she basically walked me through the whole process of pitching and writing a comic for the first time (Star Trek), and I’m so grateful. No one in these industries would make it anywhere without someone being willing to hold out a hand and teach them and help them grow.

5- After writing for IDW and Oni Press for the past five years, why’ve you now chosen to work on an original idea?

I absolutely love writing IP (eg. for other peoples’ existing characters), and the majority of the work I do—be it in games, comics, or novels—is in IP. That being said, I was ready for a change! It felt both exciting and nerve-wracking to come up with brand-new characters, just Kendra and me on our own without decades of history behind them. It ended up being so rewarding. Tell No Tales is the project I am most proud of, of anything I’ve worked on.

6- Any more plans for the spectacular sirens of the southern seas?

Keep your fingers crossed! If you want to see more, leave us a review or let Abrams know!

7- Any other original graphic novels you’re working on at the moment?

I’ve got a couple burgeoning ideas in the works… I’ll keep you updated!

Sam Maggs is a bestselling author of books, comics, TV, and video games. She’s written for games like SPIDER-MAN PS4; is the author of young adult and middle-grade books like THE UNSTOPPABLE WASP: BUILT ON HOPE and CON QUEST!; and a comics writer for titles like TELL NO TALES, CAPTAIN MARVEL, and MY LITTLE PONY. She is also an on-air host for networks like Nerdist. A Canadian in Los Angeles, she misses Coffee Crisp and bagged milk.

Follow her on Twitter or check out her website.

J.D. Harlock is an Arab writer/editor based in the Lebanon. He is the Poetry Editor at Orion’s Belt, the Poetry Co-Editor at Solarpunk Magazine, the Outreach Manager at Utopia SF Magazine, and the Social Media Manager at The Dread Machine. You can find him on Twitter @JD_Harlock.

Published by Solarpunk Magazine

Creating a new and better world through speculative literature.

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