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READERSVOICE.Com aims to collect a few interesting reading tips. Arcadia Page creates manga-style comics like Fly, Mascara and Wings. Her stories often feature shy and awkward characters who rise above their weaknesses. For example, Wings features Michelle, a high-school girl who suffers from depression which keeps her from writing a novel called Wings. Michelle discovers she has wings of her own. Arcadia Page creates dramatic stories, with comedy and a bit of romance. There are heaps of good reading suggestions in this interview.

READERSVOICE.COM: I liked the way the story of Mascara isn’t too over the top. Do you like writing about everyday settings but just add a slightly over the top element, like the double life of the mascara expert?

ARCADIA PAGE: Yes, that’s typically the kinds of stories I like to create. I like everyday life situations because they’re easy to relate to. At the same time, it’s nice to have a moment to get away from the normal. Creating graphic novels is a form of escapism for me. I try to add something totally unrealistic, but make it as close as I can to a reality that could exist. It’s a fine line to walk.

RV: How many pages will Wings be when it’s finished and was Michelle inspired by your own experiences, or people you’ve known or heard about?

AP: Wings will be 54 pages when it’s done. It’s a short story. My next graphic novel will be another long running one like Mascara– which means hundreds of pages and a few years before it’s finished, but I think I’m about ready to take on another project of that scale.

As for Wings, the main character Michelle is inspired by a mixture of journal entries that I wrote as a teenager, a failed story idea, and reading personal stories of those who suffer from depression and bipolar disorder.

As teen I suffered from mood swings which I wrote about in my journal. Some of the entries were pretty strange. I remember times when I would feel excited about everything, and my mom would say, “Calm down or you’re going to be sad tomorrow.” I would just brush it off because I was so happy, but she was right. It wouldn’t be long before I would be crying at pretty much anything and wondering why I should be alive.

Throughout my life I’ve been friends with many people who live with mental illness. The first school friend I made when I entered the 6th grade was a girl who just came out of the hospital after a suicide attempt.

So I thought that I really wanted to write about someone like that, because many people don’t understand someone like that. So I did a lot of research and reading of personal stories about depression, but the stories I understood the best belonged to those who were bipolar.

From there Michelle was created. She goes from being depressed to more of a normal mood (turns out some people who are bipolar have periods of being totally okay–not depressed or manic) and then she goes from there to hyperactive and over the top.

Michelle has a secondary dialogue about a story she’s writing about a girl with mechanical wings. That comes from a script for a science fiction graphic novel I was writing, but didn’t have the confidence to draw. I thought that would be an interesting way to create a picture of her moods.

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– copyright Simon Sandall