I love researching my novels. It’s a mix of history, geography, and of course fascinating people! I’m fortunate to be able to interview people from all over the world. While researching Flowers from Afghanistan, I was privileged to get to know the creative director of a major gourmet food company. He caught the vision for what I wanted to accomplish in Flowers and stayed the course with me until the novel published. There are people you meet in your life who go above and beyond, and Mr. Rabbitt is one of them. Many thanks!
Now, you may be thinking, what’s it like to be a creative director and how did he find that path…
Q.How did you get into the business?
A. I wanted to draw comic books in High School. I was inspired by cartoons in the Sunday paper. In college, I had a comic book published which was featured at SanDiego Comic Con 2000. I was able to attend Comic-Con and sign copies.
I liked the way the art looked, and it was a great experience, but I found it to be a demanding profession. You had to be very good and very fast. A career counselor in college recommended design classes. The counselor said,
“I know you like to create comics, but do you like to eat?”
I enjoyed manipulating imagery and ended up doing a lot of freelance web design, which led to professional work from my instructors.
Q. What aspect of your job is the most frustrating?
A. I don’t find actual designing to be frustrating; it’s challenging. The parts of the process outside of design are frustrating; for example, packaging. Sometimes the finished design has surprises in production that can’t be anticipated. Currently, the packaging is produced at an off-site printer. In an ideal world what I provided would be sent to press, and I could check the color when the bags came off the press. That doesn’t happen frequently. In the end, we are talking about something subjective.
Q. What aspect of your job brings you the most joy?
A. Designing. You could get in a rut and use techniques that you are good at as a crutch. In the company I work for now, I get to design in many different types of media, especially in my current capacity. It’s a stretch and improves your brain.
Q. What is your favorite motto or quote?
A. I have two. The first is from my Uncle. He was a Night Stalker Black Hawk pilot on the first Night Stalker team. The motto he taught me was NSDQ, Night Stalkers Don’t Quit.
The second motto is from the Boy Scouts. My brother and I are both Eagle Scouts, and the Boy Scout Motto is Be Prepared.
If you are prepared, you are not surprised. Have a plan B because bad decisions are made when you are surprised.
That carries over into the design.
Q. Who is your favorite character in a book or movie?
A. Don Draper in Madmen. His character arc is interesting because he is so flawed. As the series progresses, he violates his own code.
Q. If you could be doing anything, anywhere right now, what and where would it be?
A. Maddie is my dog who is a black German Shepherd mix. She is a rescue who was poorly treated before we got her. I would love to take her to a national park and let her off leash to play.
Q. If you had a superpower, what would it be?
A. I have thought about this before because I am into comics. Telekinesis would be the most useful!
Q. If you had five minutes to grab five possessions, what would you grab?
A. Oh man, that’s fantastic. Three things come to mind: I have a challenge coin given to me by my Uncle. They held a court of honor when I made Eagle Scout. My Uncle gave a long speech and presented me with a coin made for me with NSDQ.
The second thing would be the copy of the book Ender’s Game that I had as a kid.
The third thing would be a gift given to me when I reached a certain level of training in Martial Arts. My instructor presented me with a Japanese short sword.
Q. What do you wish someone would ask you?
A. It’s not a question, but I like it when I can tell someone, “I didn’t know that.” It blows people away.
People like to feel they are contributing to your life.
Q. Thank you for taking time out of your schedule to appear on my blog. I enjoyed our interview, and your answers were thought-provoking. Didn’t you also have a play produced?
A. Yes, the latter three years in college were huge. I had two comic book stories produced, and a play I wrote was selected for production.
Q. What advice would you give aspiring writers?
A. That was kind of the thing, I could have gone three different ways. Design was the best compromise between having an interesting job and being able to monetize it.
Thank you, Mr. Rabbitt.