Shooting The Breeze With ‘Ash & Thorn’ Co-Creator And Writer Mariah McCourt

by Olly MacNamee

Another new week and another week in isolation. But, that doesn’t mean we can’t reach out and continue to catch up with comic book creators we may have otherwise been able to meet at a comic con or two, now does it? And today it’s the turn of New York Times‘ best selling author, Mariah McCourt and co-creator of AHOY Comics new series, Ash & Thorn, to shoot the breeze. 
Olly MacNamee: Now, for many creators a life of isolation is nothing new, but these are, I think we can all agree, unprecedented times. As such, have you noticed any changes yet to your regular daily routines, for better or for worse?
Mariah McCourt: Well, I spend a lot more time staring into space and contemplating the really important questions like: Is today Monday or Thursday? If werewolves were real, would they like to be pet in their wolfyier state? What did I just step in? 
OM: Like so many others, have you pledged to take up any new hobbies or interests during this downtime? I imagine after one week that resolution—like New Year’s Eve resolutions—may have ebbed for some? So, do you ebb or flow? And that’s not euphemism!
MM: Mostly things I’ve wanted to do for awhile, like learn how to embroider and finish up some writing projects that have languished for too long. Anything to stay creative and hold off howling into the void like a banshee pterodactyl…mom.

OM: This could very well go on for a few months, listening to the experts rather than the politicians. We’re all going to soon be clambering the walls, if we’re not distracted. What comic book gems will you have the time to go back, dig out and re-read and suggest to our readers to go order from their local comic book store to help support their business?
MM: I’ll definitely be re-reading Lucifer, catching up on Pretty Deadly, Saga, and some other series I’m behind on. I also read a lot of stuff on Webtoons, Lore Olympus (of course), Miss Abbott and the Doctor, Midnight Poppyland, and I’m checking out new series all the time. And I’ve dived back into historical romance novels with a vengeance. We need more comics in that genre. 
OM: Any newer titles out there you’ve discovered or been recommended and enjoyed reading?
MM: At the moment I’ve been mostly reading prose, especially re-reading Terry Pratchett and discovering the incredibly fun and escapist alien romance stories of Ruby Dixon.
OM: And, what will be playing on your turntable over the coming weeks? What albums could you not live without?
MM: I always have multiple Covenant albums on rotation, most often Modern Ruin right now. I also need dance-y pop music for the kiddo and to remember not to take myself too seriously. The Trolls soundtrack is getting heavy play around me. By me.
OM: Any box sets you’ll be going back to rewatching? Or any new films and TV you may now have the time to invest in?
MM: Rewatching Farscape, bingeing Lucifer, obsessively re-watching Knives Out. The list goes on and on. That and a LOT of Animal Crossing New Horizons.

OM: I must admit, getting back to comics, it’s been really pleasing to read, see and hear the comic book communities coming together at a time like this. What have been some of the positive stories coming out of the comic book industry that have caught your eye over the past week or so?
MM: People are really rallying around creators and retailers in a lot of different ways; we’re all aware of how hard this is hitting people and doing our best to help where we can. Comics can be a complicated community but we do support each other in tough times. Right now I’m working on a project with some other creators to help out other comics folks so that’s been a useful outlet and way to focus on something positive.
OM: It would have been the start of another busy comic con season on both sides of the pond, but alas no more. Will you miss these chances to socialise and meet up with fellow colleagues and friends?
MM: Yes and no. I like aspects of conventions like panels and seeing folks but I don’t miss the stress and intense amount of forced socializing that always feels kinda fake to me. I don’t go to a lot of cons during the year so for me it’s less of a loss. But for so many others it’s a major problem because a huge part of their yearly income comes from conventions.

OM: What hopes do you harbour for the comic book industry once these stormy clouds have passed?
MM: I hope we can figure out more diverse ways to distribute comics and make sure we’re helping creators, retailers, and publishers in ways that are actually beneficial to everyone. I think the industry has been under a lot of strain even before this and we have to rally. I’d really like us to collectively realize how important younger audiences and diverse stories are, to stay vital and relevant as a medium. The book market is way ahead of us on that.
OM: Finally, and to leave a smile on our readers’ faces, have you heard any good/bad jokes recently?
MM: Not so much jokes but things my kiddo says crack me up. Today she observed that “my butt likes to poop!” 
Ash & Thorn #1 was due to come out next week, on April 29th from AHOY Comics, but for obvious reasons that won’t be happening, But, it doesn’t stop of you from trying to contact your local comic book store to place an order for this issue and/or add to to your pull list. 
You can also catch up on all our previous Shooting the Breeze interviews here.

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