Interview with Anna Kopp and Gabrielle Kari, Creators of The Marble Queen

By: Michele Kirichanskaya
Mar 20, 2024

Anna Kopp is a children’s author who lives in Ohio with her husband, two boys, and two cats. Anna loves creating fantastical stories for children of all ages, from Minecraft picture books to young adult novels. When she’s not writing she’s playing video games or reading the latest books about lost princesses.

Gabrielle Kari is a northern California-based comic artist and illustrator with her weenie dog Pumpkin. She loves creating sapphic stories depicting morally questionable women.

I had the opportunity to interview Anna and Gabrielle, which you can read below.

First of all, welcome to Geeks OUT! Could you tell us a little about yourself?

AK: Thank you, I’m so excited to be on here! My name is Anna Kopp and I’m the author of THE MARBLE QUEEN. I was born in Russia and immigrated to the US when I was 11. After serving as an IT specialist in the US Army, I settled in Ohio where I now write books. Aside from being an author, I’m the local Pokémon GO Community Ambassador and currently heavily involved in the world of 3D printing and design.

GK: Hello, thank you for having me! My name is Gabrielle and I’m the artist for The Marble Queen. I’m a lesbian artist living in California and I graduated from college in 2018. Since then have been honing my craft to create stories I want to see in the world.

What can you tell us about your latest book, The Marble Queen? What was the inspiration for this project?

AK: THE MARBLE QUEEN is what an author would call ‘the book of my heart’. It’s about a princess who accidentally accepts a marriage offer not from the prince of a mysterious country, but his sister, and must navigate both a dangerous alliance and a confused heart. When I was a queer teen, the only sapphic media I had available to me was anime and manga. Revolutionary Girl Utena carved a place in my heart and inspired me to create a queer fantasy story with princesses, ballgowns, swords, and magic that I could only dream of. Now that dream has come true and I can share it with the world!

GK: Anna and I are both huge fans of Revolutionary Girl Utena. The anime series was huge part of my college years and made me want continue to pursue art as a career

As a writer, what drew you to the art of storytelling, specifically graphic novels/comics?

AK: I’ve written stories for as long as I can remember, but learning a new language was a big roadblock for me in terms of prose and finding the right words to describe the images in my head. When my agent, Claire Draper, proposed that I turn the traditional novel manuscript of THE MARBLE QUEEN into a graphic novel script, it was like the puzzle pieces slid into place. It was the perfect format for the way I think and create, I just didn’t realize it until then.

As an artist, what drew you to the art of storytelling, specifically graphic novels/comics?

GK: My dad used to talk about reading superhero comics growing up. It made me want to read all the thing he was interested in and from that it graduated into graphic novels and manga. I loved the way the stories melded word and illustration together and read anything I could get my hands on.

Anna Kopp

In addition to being a Sapphic romance, The Marble Queen also features some evocative representation when it comes to anxiety. How did you go about trying to represent that in your story?

AK: Anxiety was something I struggled with as a teen, but I didn’t know what it was, so I just thought there was something wrong with me. As I got older and had to navigate an array of physical and mental symptoms that impacted my life in various ways, I wanted to weave my experiences into my main character, and I hope at least someone out there feels a little less alone reading it.

GK: I wanted to depict Amelia’s anxiety as a creeping entity, a monster that follows her constantly whether she acknowledges its presence or not. Despite its oppressive force I wanted her to learn to coexist with her inner demons and overpower them.

How would you describe your creative process?

AK: I always start with a twist and build the story around it. I don’t even write anything down until I know the flow start to finish. Then I outline the chapters with names like ‘This is where x happens’ to make sure the main parts of the narrative arc are on track. Things move around during the writing process but organization is important to me so I don’t get overwhelmed.

GK: I have a lot of trouble illustrating chronologically. Most of the chapters in The Marble Queen were done out of order. I would work on pages I knew could be reasonably finished faster than pages that I could end up spending days on because a line wasn’t working out that day.

Growing up, were there any stories in which you felt touched by/ or reflected in? Are there any like that now?

AK: Sadly, I can’t say there were many stories I could see myself in growing up. Where would I find a queer Russian girl who would rather rescue the princess in the fairy tales? The only one that I really connected to was The Little Mermaid (the version she actually died in) and I didn’t understand why until much later in life. Luckily, now that queer books are all around us, I am finally catching up on all my childhood reflections, and it’s wonderful!

GK: When I was younger I read a lot of straight media and while I did love the stories I realized over time I was mostly obsessing over the female lead and her female friends. Most of the lesbian media I found was during the height of my anime obsession in high school. Today there’s a much broader selection of lgbt media and it makes me happy to know more is being made every day.

As a writer, who or what would you say are some of your greatest creative influences and/or sources of inspiration in general? 

AK: Aside from other books and my own experiences, it’s definitely rock music. I have a soundtrack for every book I write, and when I listen to it, I can see the story play out along with it in my head. For THE MARBLE QUEEN, Bring Me To Life by Evanescence is its’ theme song. I even made an OMV for it with the graphic novel panels I might share one day.

As a artist, who or what would you say are some of your greatest creative influences and/or sources of inspiration in general? 

GK: I love Mary Blair’s concept art for Disney’s Alice and Wonderland, I love the bright colors and expressive silhouettes. I have the Magic Color Flair: The World of Mary Blair in my book collection and its an immediate grab for any artistic slump.

What are some of your favorite elements of writing? What do you consider some of the most frustrating and/or difficult? 

AK: I love brainstorming because it’s like watching a movie where I control the characters. The most difficult part is making big decisions like who dies. I still argue with myself about certain character deaths and whether I should have done something different, but I know it’s out of my hands now.  

Gabrielle Kari

What are some of your favorite elements of drawing? What do you consider some of the most frustrating and/or difficult? 

GK: I love drawing hair, long tendrils, and swirls. Organic shapes are comfortable draw, but I hope one day I can master drawing backgrounds.

Aside from your work, what are some things you would want others to know about you?

AK: I love being creative outside of writing too. I make bookmarks, bookshelf signs (like THE BIG GAY SHELF for my own bookshelf), and other fun designs for 3D printing. If you want to check them out, you can find me on Makerworld under Kopp3D and on Etsy under BookshelfShowcase.

GK: I puppy fold my favorite parts in books so I can reread them later. One book I liked so much I ended up puppy folding a quarter of the pages…

What’s a question you haven’t been asked yet but that you wish you were asked (as well as the answer to that question)?

AK: What’s your favorite Pokémon? It’s Snorlax (he likes to eat and sleep, say no more).

GK: What’s your favorite minion in the hit MMO series Final Fantasy XIV?

It’s the Spriggan! I look forward to every easter event for their Spriggan themed quests.

What advice might you have to give for aspiring graphic novelists?

AK: Art is hard. It takes time. It takes so much effort. Whether you’re just the author or also the illustrator, try your best to not get hung up on the details. Capture the feel of your story without having to draw so much that it takes up a ton of time and doesn’t have significant impact. Give those wrists a break.

GK: Don’t give up. Keep working on the story you love, your personal passion and dedication to your story will be acknowledged and celebrated as long as you keep going. No one can tell a story like YOU can.

Are there any other projects you are working on and at liberty to speak about?

AK: I am (hopefully) going out on submission with a new project soon! It’s a graphic novel about a rock band that must perform as tribute to the god that protects their home or be sacrificed. And yes, it’s very queer!

GK: I’m working on an adaptation of one of my favorite classic novellas. I hope I can bring a story that impacted me deeply to more readers.

Finally, what LGBTQ+ books(including comics)/authors would you recommend to the readers of Geeks OUT? 

AK: I recently finished SO LET THEM BURN by Kamilah Cole and it was fantastic! If you like dragons in your YA, this is definitely one to pick up. For a darker, adult read, I always recommend THE BOOK EATERS by Sunyi Dean, because how can you not love the idea of eating books giving you their knowledge? For graphic novels, I just discovered ATANA AND THE FIREBIRD by Vivian Zhou and it is so sweet!

GK: Fun Home is a wonderful biographic novel by Alison Bechdel that you should read at least once in your life. Also recently I’ve started to read Kingfisher by Rowan MacColl on Tapas. I love the characters and I can’t wait to see where the story goes!

The Latest from Our Blog