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IRDA Winning Author Raea Gragg: “My goal as a graphic novelist is to create bodies or work that are fun!”

MUP was the winner in the Graphic Novel category of the 2021 IndieReader Discovery Awards, where undiscovered talent meets people with the power to make a difference.

Following find an interview with author Raea Gragg.

What is the name of the book and when was it published? 

MUP, it was published on September 30, 2020

What’s the book’s first line? 

Good morning deer! Have you seen a dinosaur?

What’s the book about? Give us the “pitch”. 

MUP, follows the story of a little girl who gets trapped in the future with her teenage self, where both girls have to work together in order to save the world. This page turning adventure is all goofy fun, while simultaneously navigating the big question of who am I and who do I want to be? Especially, in a future that’s been hurt by an environmental disaster.

What inspired you to write the book? A particular person? An event? 

Mup, my sister was my inspiration. (She still uses her nickname) Growing up we were muddy wild children spending our days roaming the woods. So, homesick in my freshman dorm in college, I remembered our days in the wild places and how she (being 16 at the time) was a totally different person – and yet so similar to her adventure seeking 6-year-old self. That’s where the high concept for the graphic novel was born, “what if this little kid got trapped in the future with her teenage self? What if it took saving the whole world to realize who you really are?”

What’s the most distinctive thing about the main character? Who-real or fictional-would you say the character reminds you of? 

Mup is the goofiest kid, I absolutely love her. She is brave, confident and will stand up to a bully. However, Mup leans that she is going to grow up and change – and there is nothing she can do to stop it. What if she changes so much that she is no longer herself? She is no longer “Mup”. The most powerful thing about Mup is that she is just like you, she may have a frog friend and love dinosaurs, but she is still just trying to figure herself out.

What’s the main reason someone should really read this book? 

With over 1200 paintings and 278 pages of page-turning fun, MUP is the graphic novel I wish I could have read when I was a kid. This story is a blast for all comic lovers of all ages and reading levels. If you like some fun adventure this is the story for you.

If they made your book into a movie, who would you like to see play the main character(s)?

I envision MUP as an animated feature and if that were the case the lead voice actor for MUP I’d hope would be an astonishingly talented kid whose voice would embody the spirit of an adventurer!

When did you first decide to become an author?

The truth? I hated books. Reading is hard! Especially if you are trying to navigate reading compression learning disabilities. In high school I decided the only way I could overcome my despise for books was to make one myself, and as a result? I fell in love with the storytelling process. To this day I still struggle with reading and I am so excited to have illustrated the graphic novel MUP which I designed for anyone – no matter their reading level – to be able to read cover-to-cover. Because reading doesn’t have to be so hard if you make it fun!

Is this the first you’ve written?

When I was 15, I needed to learn how to type. So, I challenged myself to type for two weeks and wrote my first debut YA book, THE FOX TROT. It was startling for me to discover that I actually love writing stories in the process. I have a few children’s books and another YA novel ESCAPING ELESWHERE that I created in high school. However my college senior thesis, MUP is my debut graphic novel.

What do you do for work when you’re not writing?

I’m a full-time multidimensional artist. I run the gauntlet of creative work. I’m a screenwriter, animator, illustrator and author. I work full time on projects that could range anywhere from oil painted commissions to the second rewrite for a feature film. However, visual storytelling in the form of graphic novels is the most exciting medium I work in.

How much time do you generally spend on your writing?

Full-time, varying on projects and production schedules. In a lot of my work the script only constitutes 10% of the process, usually my time is spent on storyboards and illustrating.

What’s the best and the hardest part of being an indie?  

My age. In one aspect being a young creator has been excellent, creating content for teenagers while being a teenager was a very special introduction into the world of writing and learning from your audience. However, being an indie author and a full-time student was met with a lot of challenges. I hope that now as a college graduate with a wide portfolio of varying titles and a track record of work. I will be able to branch out into traditional publishing and my age will no longer hold me back from attaining that goal.

Would you go traditional if a publisher came calling?  If so, why?  

In a heartbeat, it’s been a goal of mine for nine years and something I have yet to experience as a creator. It would be a pleasure to work alongside editors and learn from other traditionally published authors. As for MUP I would welcome traditional representation since I’m currently creating the sequel.

Is there something in particular that motivates you (fame? fortune?)

Reading is hard, but it doesn’t have to be. My goal as a graphic novelist is to create bodies or work that are fun! The numbers and notability do not matter. For me the success comes when a parent or their child reaches out to share that they were able to read MUP from the beginning all the way to the end!

Which writer, living or dead, do you most admire?

Technically not a writer in the terms of writing novels on printed paper but my favorite writer is Pete Doctor. His famous animated works, Soul, Inside Out, Up among others are some of my favorite scripts to read and features to watch. He is simply a master at storytelling.

Which book do you wish you could have written?

Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell.