An Interview With The Creative Team Behind ‘Nightmare In Savannah’

by Rachel Bellwoar

With a new home and biased teachers to get used to, the one thing that seems to be working out for Lex is friends. She makes some fairly quckly after moving to Savannah, but, then again, it seems they might have more in common with Lex than she realizes. There’s a reason Nightmare in Savannah opens with a page from a Fairy Hunter’s Diary and Lex is about to find out why in writer, Lela Gwenn, and artist, Rowan MacColl, new graphic novel. To mark the release of the book’s trailer, Gwenn, MacColl, and letterer, Micah Myers, were able to answer some questions about changelings and their story over email.

Rachel Bellwoar: When did you first get the idea for Nightmare in Savannah, and did you know each other before collaborating on this project?

Rowan MacColl: I was brought on by our editor, Chris Sanchez. He actually reached out to me on Twitter and asked if I would work on Nightmare in Savannah! I didn’t know any of the team coming into this, but I’m super happy I was able to work with such amazing creators.

Lela Gwenn: Chris Sanchez — the absolutely fabulous editor on this project — approached me about doing a femme focused horror story and I was ALL IN. He also put together this amazing team!

RB: What can you tell us about the main character, Lex, and was there a character you enjoyed writing/drawing/lettering for the most?

LG: Our girl has gone through so much! But she’s strong and vulnerable and handles everything that life throws at her. My favorite part to write was all the queerness!

Micah Myers: One of my favorite characters in the book is the grandfather. I don’t think I can go into why too much without spoiling the book

RM: Alexa was tricky to design, I really wanted all of the characters to feel unique but grounded. I wanted someone to go “oh, I know someone like that” when looking at them. Alexis, in particular, I tried to dress practically; She is a function over form kind of person. In fact, you may notice that even with the constant wardrobe changes, Alexa only wears one pair of boots!  She’s quiet, smart, and tough — the voice of reason in the group. I wanted her design to reflect that.

I had a lot of fun drawing Fae and Reya! They are such fun characters. I also enjoy drawing rebellious behavior or chaotic scenes. Chloe is up there too, she’s very expressive.

RB: A lot of changeling stories tend to focus on the parents or the loved ones of the children who were taken. What made you want to tell a story from a changeling perspective?

LG: Changeling stories focus on the parents because, generally, the changeling is painted as a monster. I think, especially in the teen years, most people feel like monsters at some point (I DID!), and I really wanted to explore that.

RB: In general, there aren’t a lot of adult role models in Nightmare in Savannah. Lex’s English teacher is especially heinous, with his favoritism of certain students. Was that an intentional choice on your part?

LG: Never let a good parent get in the way of a story!

Honestly, there are layers on layers of stuff here- queer teen being raised by a grandparent who has a firm idea about the evilness of what queer teen is before she is even born — sound familiar to anyone?

But honestly, if there was even one good, caring adult in the story it may have ended with a “Your changing body: So you are a changeling” pamphlet and hugs.

RB: In deciding what the changeling would look like, were there any descriptions you referenced or features you knew you wanted to incorporate in your character designs?

RM: There was a lot of emphasis on the the eyes and teeth. This is the biggest difference when they first awaken as changelings. Whenever they use magic, I try to focus on the eyes. Lela was big on them not having common fairy traits, such as wings or pointed ears.

RB: How did you approach the color scheme for this graphic novel?

RM: I spent a good week trying different color schemes and styles, trying to find one that suits the atmosphere of the story while also being sustainable with a longer story like this. We eventually decided on this color palette: a combination of duller reds, yellows, and purples with the bright pink used to represent the dark power of the fae. At certain points in the story, the pink becomes a constant color in the palette, especially on a certain character.

MM: When I started lettering the book, it wasn’t fully colored. It was black and white with some highlights of red. I used red to “highlight” the lettering. I helped make some parts stand out while also helping the lettering look blended in with the art.

RB: Like vampires with compulsion, changelings have the ability to beguile their victims. In Nightmare in Savannah, this is usually tipped off by Micah Myers’ letters. Was that always the case and what was it like timing those reveals?

LG: I outline stories to DEATH. I even make graphs to show me emotional points. It’s pathological. I figured out when you needed to know a thing, but tried to time it so it wasn’t broadcasting what would happen next too clearly.

RM: I used the color pink to represent the changeling’s power. I tried to have it whenever the girls are compelling someone (either as part of a scene or during the nightmare sequences), the pink will be prominent.

RB: Speaking of timing, was it difficult knowing when to provide readers with the next bit of information on fay with a page from the fairy hunter’s guide? How did you decide on this method for explication?

LG: Chris (Sanchez) and I really hammered out the “rules” of being a fairy early on and I knew I needed to be able to tell the reader those rules — without an info dump all at once. I hope the fairy hunter pages give the reader the sense that this is a fight that has been going on for generations.

RB: A lot of folklore has been written about changeling, but what appealed to you about setting this story in modern times?

LG: I just love the idea of fairies living in the modern world. Our world needs more magic and horror.


RB: Thanks again for agreeing to this interview, Rowan, Lela, and Micah! 

Nightmare in Savannah goes on sale 10th November from Maverick, the new, YA graphic novel imprint from Mad Cave Studios.

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