I asked Josh what question he gets asked the most about his trilogy. Here’s what he said:
So the first question I always get is did you draw that? Then I spend a few minutes talking about how amazing Florence Chan is. Florence is still to date one of the most professional people I’ve worked with and one of the most talented.
After I sing Florence’s praises, I am then asked the important question. So this is a poem? I then say yes, and then people ask why? It’s one of my favorite stories.
I was working on a poetry collection much like I did way back when I published my first work I Am… . I had gone through a trial in my life in Arizona. It made me realize that writing was what I wanted to do. I wanted a fresh start. So I decided to repeat how I began my writing career. Only this time I wanted a longer poem. Something with a little more meat to it than a one or two page piece. Somewhere in my brain I saw a kid watching along a tower, looking out in the horizon, wondering what was out there.
I wrote chapter one in which i called the Watcher. I read it, I liked it, but couldn’t quite put it down. I wanted to know what happened next. So I wrote chapter two, in which the Watcher kills his dragon master. I needed to see where it goes from there.
Chapter three told me a lot about the Watcher. It’s one of the best things I’ve ever written. That first not on your own in a world you don’t know or understand is a scary moment in all our lives. That night was his long night of the soul, where he wonders if he did the right thing. The remorse he felt made me go forward.
At that point, I realized that this was my poetry collection. I wrote the story, and thought illustrations would be great for the idea I had. I found at a comic shop work from someone I worked with way back in the day named Florence Chan. Florence had always been an amazing artist but man there was just something in her art that spoke to me. I wondered if she would have been interested in working with me and to my surprise and joy, she was. She drew some illustrations and I made the ebook and published it at smash words.
Justine was the first person to buy it. She read it, and asked me what I was going to do with it. I detailed this master plan to her in which she told me she was about to start up Mirror World Publishing, and offered to publish the book. Dang.
Accidentally written, accidentally published.
The book opened a lot of doors for me. Not only with Mirror World, but with the podcast, and everything else I’m doing. I’m always grateful for Mirror World for giving me the opportunity to succeed. Thanks to Justine, Robert, and Murandy for believing in me. And you know what? I’m still proud of this series and this story. Every book was a journey filled with surprise, wonder and terror, and the kind of story I’m proud to have told. It’s truly my Gilgamesh story. I’m glad I found this world, and am grateful for all the people I have met because of it.
As Josh said, The Watcher is a series of poems that tell an epic tale of a young slave boy who escapes his compound to find out what else is out there. Here’s an excerpt:
alive and aware as the light comes in
rising to the sound of the morning drum
it’s plantation time
all of us working extra hard
they said we’d have bigger shares this year
if we did good
we wanted to try
I look to my mom and dad still sleeping
their hands calloused
their skins toughened
catching that last extra minute of shut eye
before they come
the light darkens
their snouts silhouette the shadows
scaly reptilian eyes and angel wings gaze down on them
he (she/it?) knows
for just a second there was mercy
then justice reared its ugly dragon head
time to get to work
my job is on top the watchtower
I watch the skies for weather
we cannot work in rain and hail
if I see a cloud I clang the bell
easy peasy and important
two dragons guard me from below
wielding their sticks of flame they look up
making sure I do what I’m told
I would’ve anyway
I wanted that extra bit of honey
I wanted to feel the crunch of blackberries
I would be good until harvest time
The Watcher is ON SALE this month until 06/01/2019. You can get the ebook for FREE when you use the discount code: EPICPOEM in our online store. Click here to take advantage of this great offer!
About the Author:
Joshua Pantalleresco writes fiction, poetry and comics. He also loves to do interviews. He has written columns for comicbloc and allpulp and currently does so for comicmix. The Watcher is his second book of poetry. He resides in Calgary.
Florence Chan is an illustrator, designer and 3D modeller from Calgary, Alberta, now living in Toronto, Canada. She is the illustrator of Marilyn Marsh Noll’s ‘Jonathan and the Magical Broomstick’ and Joshua Pantalleresco’s ‘The Watcher’ and ‘Stormdancer’ and has contributed to Jason Mehmel’s comic anthology ‘Fight Comics’ as well as Damian Willcox’s ‘Dorkboy: 1995-2015 Two Dorkades and Counting’.
Her work can be found at www.florencechan.ca