For those who know her best, Nita Pineda is known as a creative mind capable of great things. Her unique stories and lively artistic style combine not only for reader-entertainment, but for bringing people together. Through her, friendships have been forged over a shared love of storytelling, gaming, and creating art, and through her, some of those friendships turned into life-long relationships. Outside the pages of Androsia, readers don’t see this side of Mrs. Pineda; but for those who are close to her, this is the side they get to see and adore. While friends are inspired by her infectious laugh, loyalty, and talents, readers of her manga see only fragments of the soul that breathes life into a story that has a little something of everything to which people can relate and connect. While it’s impossible to get to know the many facets the Androsia creator possesses, she did take the time to open up about her creative process and background in our interview.
KC: How long have you been drawing and why did you start?
NP: I can’t honestly recall when I really began drawing, because I feel like I’ve been doing it my whole life. As far back as I can remember, I’ve always had some form of medium at my disposal and tried to draw. For me, there’s so much in my head that I want to see become a reality, so drawing was the only way to make that possible, I’m a very visual person.
KC: When did you decide you wanted to become a storyteller? What inspired you and why?
NP: When I was young, I wrote fanfiction before I knew that was a thing. I started to write more and more, and when I learned of fanfiction and started reading and writing, I learned that it was so much fun and that I had a lot of creative ideas. The first one I made was called Future Tellings and that was inspired by a variety of anime, but mostly Tenchi Muyo and Sailor Moon.
KC: Before Androsia, have you created other stories or manga? What were those like?
NP: I did two actually: The first was Future Tellings, which was extremely convoluted and confusing. I asked a group of friends to create their own characters to add to the story. Before I knew it, it was so big that I lost track of everything. The second manga I did I actually drew out. It was called Koi Mizu. The premise of the story was supposed to be about a girl named Mirai Yumeno going through her years of high school and misadventures of love. Aside from that, I did some small one-shots that were random here and there.
KC: What was the best piece of advice you received when it came to enhancing your craft?
NP: The best piece of advice I was given was “Don’t be afraid to ask for help.” I was always too shy or believed I was bothering people too much that I didn’t ask, but once I got over that, I learned it was a great thing to keep in mind.
KC: What was the harshest piece of criticism you received and how did you overcome it? Did it serve as a source of inspiration to prove your naysayers wrong? Why?
NP: Eesh, hehe! I think the harshest piece of criticism I received was “I don’t like the way you write or your characters, I just can’t get into it and it seems boring to me.” For a while, it stunted me in my writing and really made me want to quit and give up. One of my biggest fears is that I will fail to “move” my readers emotionally and that they won’t care about any of the characters. It took me a while, but I had to realize that I cannot let one negative criticism ruin me. Instead, I took a long hard look at my story, had others give me feedback, and even asked for some advice. I started to pay more attention to what I was writing and how I was writing it so that I could really fix the issue.
KC: What’s the creative process like for you? How do you decide on story angles and direction?
NP: My thoughts are often everywhere. If I get an idea, I have to be quick to write it down. On many occasions, I throw ideas back and forth with my husband, and he gives me amazing input. He has such a creative mind and paints pictures in my head for certain details. Often, we will actually role play a scene out, to see how it goes, and when it’s good, I save the copy and start drafting it into a script.
KC: Are there any storylines you won’t touch? Why?
NP: Androsia is huge! The whole storyline derives way back, and there’s more even after this prologue. I’ll try to touch up on as much as I can, I don’t think there are any that are say “not to be touched,” but I do my best to incorporate everyone, piece by piece.
KC: You recently had a contest for readers to create a character for your story? What made you decide to do that, and are there anymore planned?
NP: The contest was a way to get my readers to feel a bit more “involved.” I love it when I can give someone the chance to be creative and to have a chance to see their creation come to life. I wanted to test how something like that would go and it went pretty well. I think I will definitely try for something else like this in the future if the readers would be interested.
KC: What are things you enjoy in your free time?
NP: Role playing (and I don’t mean the dress up kind)! I love sitting at home and writing stories back and forth with my husband. Aside from that, other geeky things like watch anime, read manga, playing video games like Tekken, SIMs… I’m pretty much a hermit unless I’m shopping.
KC: Besides Androsia, are there any future projects in the works?
NP: I’d like to create a manga based on some of the stories I’ve written with my husband, namely one that was derived from a dream I had. The dream was so epic that I had to write it down, my husband and I worked on expanding the story and I kept thinking to myself “This HAS to be a manga!” I’ve done some character sketches here and there, so yeah, I would really like to publish some of my other stories.
KC: What surprises you most about your characters?
NP: Surprised? Oh! Hideo! At first when I created him, he was just kind of supposed to be a joke character. But, the more I started to write for him, the more I fell for the guy! He has his serious moments, and when they shine through, I stop and gasp and smirk like a proud and happy mama.
KC: Is there anything about your characters that frustrates or disappoints you?
NP: YES! Where do I begin when it comes to this topic? I think first and foremost, trying to create Rhilen to be dimensional, to put forth the layers of his character while still making him look good, has been so frustrating! There’s also times when it’s hard for me to come up with a good reason for his actions, and then it comes up kind of flawed, and causes me to bash my head a few times. They are good characters, they just come up a bit flat sometimes.
KC: How do you overcome obstacles that arise while creating your story?
NP: I stress then stress some more. Haha! But in all honesty, I write down the obstacle and try to go at it from different angles. Usually, there are more issues with every angle I try to come up with. Then, I have to go and ask a few people. I have a friend who is also a writer and she knows what she’s doing. Every now and then, I’ll ask her for some advice on what I should do, what angles would be appealing and so forth. Just today, I had an issue with the ending of my story. I knew how I wanted the events to happen, but there was a lot that needed hashing out. Finally, after talking it over and coming up with other angles, I’ve finally got something I am proud of.
KC: Do you have any formal training for your craft or are you self-taught? Why did you choose the path you took?
NP: I [am] completely self-taught. I’ve never taken any real professional training other than the two years I took of college; but even then, it wasn’t anything that I wasn’t already familiar with on my own. I didn’t have the funds for any formal training or to pay someone to teach me the “correct” method of doing things. Instead, I bought several manga books and How to Draw Manga books and studied those.
KC: Where do you get inspiration for your storylines and characters?
NP: Some inspiration is taken from shows and manga I like to read and watch. I can sit there and think, “I’d like it if it went differently, like this way…” and I might add something like that into my story. A lot of real world events, however, have helped inspire some of the story lines.
KC: What’s a typical planning session like for you when it comes to developing characters, storylines, and manga pages?
NP: A lot of writing goes into the planning of pages and characters and storylines. I’ve got notebooks full of ideas that are like puzzle pieces just waiting to be put together. I’ll sit down for a good hour or so and try to make sense from it until it becomes one cohesive piece.
KC: Your stories tend to be in the fantasy realm. Why is fantasy your chosen genre?
NP: I personally love the fantasy genre! I’ve been a fan of the Tolkien stories and many other fantasy writers out there. When you go the route of fantasy, the world and anything you create is at your disposal. I like creating a story that is somewhere you’ve never been to, but you could close your eyes and see it.
KC: What real-world experiences serve as inspiration for your story? Why?
NP: Racism, extremism, nationalism… A lot of these issues are rather large in our world today. As you can see, people are willing to go to war and die because they either believe they are superior than everyone else or they are afraid of what they do not know. Many of these issues are a driving force that’s behind my story, though I put a bit of a twist to it. It makes this world and the characters seem more believable this way.
KC: Are there any past works you would like to revive someday for an audience?
NP: I always wonder if I should revive Future Tellings, and then my mind gets overcomplicated with all the thoughts I had for it. If I were to ever bring that back, I’d have to scrap it and start it from the start, and by that time, it might be a whole different story.
KC: What does the future of Androsia entail?
NP: The story I am writing now is actually just a prologue to the actual story that I have been writing over the past few years.
When I was offered the opportunity to publish my manga here on Kcrush, I thought that instead of jumping into my current writing, I could write the story of how Rhilen got to be where he is. I plan on starting that one soon after I finish the prologue.
Also, there are other storylines of the Jinai that have not yet been told that I am thinking I can do short mini comics on and have those released as well. The Jinai and the rest of Androsia have a long and complicated past as well as the Guardians. I’ll be sure to work on some extra bits for side stories.
KC: Do you have any plans that will help enhance your personal experiences and worldviews that may help you with your story down the road? What’s upcoming and how do you think those experiences will help you?
NP: I’m actually in the process of signing up to the KCP program, which will send me off to Tokyo, Japan to learn Japanese for three months. The goal is to enroll by 2017 and start for the Spring of 2018. I’ve always wanted to learn Japanese, and since I am writing a manga and tend to find a lot of helpful advice in Japanese, I feel it would be essential for me to learn to speak and write in the language to better my view. Japan is the home of some of my most favorite manga that have been inspiring me for years. Now that I have this opportunity, I have to take it and I’ll be extremely excited for it. I’m hoping that by then, I’ll even be able to have my manga feel more authentic and maybe even translated for Japanese readers.
KC: What’s the biggest mistake you ever made as an artist or storyteller and how did you fix it? What advice do you have for others when it comes to overcoming mistakes?
NP: Haha! I’ve actually had a lot of typo errors due to either late nights trying to finish up or because a key got stuck while typing. One of the more funny mistakes I made [is when] I had Rhilen call Saphira “Sierra” by accident. I didn’t realize that until maybe a good 20 pages later. I had to resend that page with the correct name! Although, I did accidently spoil something much earlier on by accident not realizing it. I haven’t retracted it yet hoping no one’s really noticed, but I might just edit it and re-submit it. My advice is to always keep raw copies of your work and save frequently, that ways, you can always go back and change things when you need to, that’s essential.
KC: What advice do you have for inspiring writers and artists?
NP: My advice I’d give is to not to overthink things. That is one of my biggest flaws, and it stunts me from writing the story. Write the story you want to tell, go crazy with it, and try not to stress out about the little details. When things get too complicated, take a step back, take a break, and go back with a fresh new look. Ask others for their advice and take it as that: Advice, not something solid that you need to go by verbatim.
KC: Finally, what can readers expect for the future of Androsia?
NP: There’s a lot I plan to do with Androsia coming up soon! I’m working on making some merchandise and slowly working on possibly getting an animated trailer for Androsia! There’s talk about creating a game that will reveal some more of the story lines of other characters and delve a bit into back story. I have a lot of plans and will be posting and keeping everyone updated!