Interview with Kasey Pierce of Source Point Press
Interview with Kasey Pierce of Source Point Press
I recently had the pleasure to talk to Kasey about her passion for Stoicism and how it helped her both personally and in her career as a comic book writer and editor.
Q: Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your work?
Absolutely! First I would like to thank you for this interview. This is truly an honor. I’m a writer from the Metro Detroit area and my prose horror novella, Pieces of Madness (Rocket ink Studios), gave me residency on the comic convention circuit in 2015. This book of short horror stories (about the insane, cultist, and paranormal) picked up a bit of a subterranean following.
Shortly after, I joined the ranks of Source Point Press and created the Norah comic series (illustrated by Sean Seal). I’m so grateful to say this hand-painted sci-fi noir was met with great reception, became film-optioned, and made me one of flagship creators of the company. Pieces of Madness saw a deluxe rerelease in 2018 and my Viking witch one-shot series, Seeress, was released in 2019 (illustrated by Jay Jacot). This year, we introduced the next four-issue arch to the Norah series, illustrated by Kelly O’Hara.
Up until this book, I was only familiar with the term “stoic” with a lowercase “s”; an adjective to describe someone as strong and silent. As I listened, I realized what was being said was reinforcing an overall perspective I’ve exercised in my own life.
However, a large part of my brand was built on inspiring fellow comic creators. I’ve presented my panel on direct selling in indie comics, Good Luck with That, at many shows in the US, Canada, and overseas. This talk gives insight into not only how to sell your work, but how to summarize and pitch it to both the con-goer and potential publisher. Part memoir, it also sheds light on many misconceptions new creators have coming into the industry.
Currently, I run editing company, Red Pen Media; offering editing, copywriting, and creative advising.
Q: How did you first become interested in Stoicism?
From your book, How to Think Like a Roman Emperor. That’s the honest to God truth.
I’m an Audible fanatic and if you go through my library, you’ll see that I’m also a fan of books that promote personal empowerment. I had just finished Eckhart Tolle’s A New Earth and How to Think… was suggested by the app.
Q: How has Stoicism benefitted you in your personal life?
Up until this book, I was only familiar with the term “stoic” with a lowercase “s”; an adjective to describe someone as strong and silent. As I listened, I realized what was being said was reinforcing an overall perspective I’ve exercised in my own life. Only I always referred to it as “being a mercenary”. My describing myself that way might surprise some of my followers. They know me as being an upbeat, warm, and loving person. Well, that’s because I am. “Being a mercenary” to me never meant being cold. It was a perspective that dismantled things and events and kept me from unnecessarily exalting them. In other words, I saw things in black and white.
Keeping myself from spending time in hurt and grief gave me more time to spend on things that would propel my success. I would tell myself “I just don’t have time for this”, because really, I didn’t. For example, social media has provided a podium for users to consistently self-aggrandize, whine, or vaguely speak ill of another person. I would always remind myself that by acknowledging and getting wrapped up in these meaningless posts, I was giving power to the one who posted it; power over me, my time, and my emotions. I-DON’T-HAVE-TIME-FOR-THAT. Period.
Years ago, I practiced dismantling the pleasure of junk food to lose 115 lbs. I looked at nutrition facts just to read the list of chemicals that I couldn’t believe were fit for human consumption. Now, as I maintain my weight through intermittent fasting, whenever I feel a slight hunger pang and the temptation to break my fast early, I remind myself that hunger goes away — that it’s a temporary feeling. In terms of relationships, I’ve left men for the sake of the bigger picture. I’d remind myself that I was doing what was necessary and in our best interests in the long run. That heartbreak was also temporary.
This book helped me look at death for what it is: natural and inevitable. It’s normal to mourn but it’s the value-judgments we place on death that makes it more terrible than it needs to be.
Although this book gave a name to my existing perspective, I know I found this book at the perfect time in my life. Not only did it give me a name for my outlook, but it changed my perspective on death. My mother has had Alzheimer’s for some time now. However, considering she’s the survivor of two rounds of brain cancer and a stroke, her being alive today is a miracle I gladly embrace. Recently, I’ve been trying to mentally prepare myself for the inevitable.
This book helped me look at death for what it is: natural and inevitable. It’s normal to mourn but it’s the value-judgments we place on death that makes it more terrible than it needs to be. I would rather focus on the wonderful time I had with my mother instead of getting swept up in my loss. I know that grief will cripple me if I let it, keeping me from doing what’s necessary for my loved ones that are still living. I find the cognitive rehearsal of the event to be like grabbing a snake at the head instead of its middle. It gives me much more control and in turn, makes me all the more calm and rational.
Q: How has learning about Stoicism influenced your career?
Looking back on my early writing career, the mentors I picked up also had similar viewpoints. Source Point Press’ editor-n-chief, Travis McIntire, made no bones about pointing out if arguments I was making came from a rational place, or a precious creator’s ego. Thanks to him, and fellow creators like David Hayes, I learned to spot the difference.
Since I started in comics, the most tiresome question I get asked pertains to what it feels like to be a woman in the industry and if I suffer backlash from misogyny. I get ahead of this question by answering it in my panel with “always question the intent”. This is to say that where I’m expected to get angry about a prejudice a con-goer might have, I instead see it as an opportunity. I consider that some men may just be misguided without realizing it.
In the grand scheme, mankind wants to think and do the right thing. That’s why sometimes I pitch the book without saying I’m the writer. Once I get them genuinely engrossed in a pitch, one that mentions biowarfare and the works of Heinlein, it’s fun to watch their surprise when I ask if I can sign it for them because I’m the writer. Their response becomes a rewarding feeling because in that moment, I became an educator. Hopefully I also started the ball rolling in changing their perspective on women and what we’re expected to create (without relentlessly mentioning that I’m a female).
Q: What’s your favorite Stoic quote and why?
“It can only ruin your life if it ruins your character. Otherwise it cannot harm you — inside or out.” — Marcus Aurelius
I always say “nine times out of ten, worst case scenario is never anything we can’t bounce back from”. I think Marcus’ words here really enforce that. This quote also reveals the difference between what really matters and what doesn’t. It forces us to take a good look at what we may be giving power over us without realizing it. Truly an empowering quote if there ever was one.
Q: What are you working on at the moment?
A paranormal space opera about Alzheimer’s called The Other People Who Live Here (comic series).
You can find Kasey on Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook, and find her work online in comics stores. Her consultancy business Red Pen Media is also on Facebook.