Constantly Improving: An Interview with Annye Driscoll, aka Maker Fishmeal

Cosplayer and author Annye Driscoll and I met last year at the Dayton Metro Library Author Symposium. It was a wonderful event for readers and authors alike, and once we’d spoken, I invited them to be a part of this series because the concept of cosplay and writing a glue guide to help with it fascinated me! Yes, Annye is the proud author of The Ultimate Glue Guide: Everything You Need to Know About Adhesives for Cosplay, Crafts & More, which released in February. Readers are calling the book a “must have” and “so useful,” and I agree. Though cosplay is not my thing, I can certainly appreciate the value of the proper adhesive.

Welcome, Annye!

Christina: Congratulations on the publication of The Ultimate Glue Guide. When we met last year, you told me a little bit about why you wrote this book. Can you share that information with our readers?

Annye: Thank you so much! This is pretty corny, but I actually believe—and have been saying for years!—that glue choice affects crafters, and cosplayers specifically, a whole lot. Because cosplayers get to wear our artwork (not to mention subject it to weird photoshoot locations, crowded convention floors, etc.), we really need to be able to trust our glues and other connection methods. I’ve learned this lesson the hard way time and time again, and finally I decided to write it all down! Of course, writing the book involved learning a whole lot too—a fact for which I’m immensely grateful.

Christina: I’m personally amazed at the number of adhesives out there, and the selection often overwhelms me, but I can appreciate how important the proper adhesive would be, especially for cosplay. What other items do you depend on when making costumes?

Annye: Unfortunately I think the sheer amount of stuff involved in cosplay is often overwhelming; it’s truly like a million creative hobbies in one! But some of my favorites are my beloved sewing machine (which I bought with prize money from a cosplay competition), my rotary cutter, and (above all) my stupendous workshop, which my dad and I just finished renovating in late 2023.

Christina: How long did it take you to go from idea to published book? Did you enjoy the writing process? What did you learn from the whole experience?

Annye: There were about 15 months between signing the contract and release date. It has felt like years!

I loved the writing process, but I especially loved the research process. There were a lot of practical and specific things I knew about adhesives, but writing this book forced me to learn very detailed processes (like how to check the fit of a protective mask) and very generic use cases.

Something I didn’t know about nonfiction publishing going in is that you almost always pitch your book with just the table of contents complete. This was nice since I didn’t write three books to ultimately get them rejected, but it did really put the pressure on once it was time to sit down and write. Imposter syndrome definitely swelled during the initial writing steps, but I suspect that made for a more inclusive and approachable book.

Christina: Authors always have a publication journey to tell. Can you share a little bit about yours?

Annye: I create tutorials for social media, and when I posted a glue guide on Instagram and Facebook in 2021 it went mini-viral. A book about adhesives wasn’t one of my first pitches for a book—those ultimately all got rejected—but I happened to mention the success of the post to my editor, and she latched onto it and convinced me it’d make a great little guide! My path to published author has been an atypical one, I think, but I’m so grateful to be making these wonderful connections in the author community.

Christina: Creating cosplay costumes and writing a book—both creative but very different. Do these two pursuits scratch the same itch?

Annye: Nooooo, absolutely not. They both share “the research phase” and “the photography phase,” but the big part in the middle—the writing slash building—speak to completely different parts of my brain and heart! This is great for me; I love them both and hope to pursue both of them for the rest of my life. But it does mean that switching between the two can take a bit of energy. 

Christina: How long have you been a cosplayer? Who was the first character you cosplayed? Do you cosplay original characters of your own design or only those from other sources?

Annye: I cosplayed for the first time in 2015 as my D&D character at the time, a tiefling warlock. I was instantly hooked! Since then I’ve done mostly existing characters, but I’ve created some mashups of my own design (I did a Slytherin Mandalorian, for example). I’d love to go back to cosplaying an OC, especially a D&D character! Maybe I’ll do that for my tenth cosplay anniversary in 2025!

Christina: You specialize in video game armor and giant props. What about those draws you to them?

Annye: Their ridiculousness! I love going to a con with a six-foot prop or shoulders that double my width. It makes one feel so powerful and silly at the same time! 

I also started my cosplay journey with foamsmithing—creating props and armor from yoga mat foam—which lends itself well to big armor builds. I spent a lot of 2020 practicing sewing, and now I’m finally feeling like I can make sewn garments as well as I can make stupid giant hammers!

Christina: Honestly, I’m in awe of your talent. How many hours do you think you’ve spent on your craft? How long did it take to get to this level of talent? Do you recognize how talented you are, or do you still have imposter syndrome?

Annye: That is such an incredibly kind thing to say—thank you. 

Luckily for me, if you’re a competitive cosplayer you’re given a skill level and you have to repeat it a lot! I’m a master level cosplayer (the highest level) because of my achievements, and I’ve had a lot of practice saying that… and it has gotten easier since I was promoted in 2019. I’m grateful that I have one word I can use and not trip over imposter anxiety every time skill comes up. 

On the inside—I’m not so sure. Being a master is tough because it does pretty explicitly expect mastery, and of course I haven’t nearly mastered all the skills! But one of the things I love about cosplay is the constant improvement and pursuit of new crafts; I can be a “master” at some parts of cosplay while still a baby at many others.

Christina: Your cosplay name is Maker Fishmeal. How did you choose that? Did any other names make the shortlist?

Annye: I wanted “Maker” in my name just in case I pivoted or decided to include a different kind of artistic pursuit—I suppose, now, that’s writing! Fishmeal was my very first World of Warcraft character and has remained my gamer name since 2008, when I looked around my dorm room for a cute name and landed on the first ingredient in my fish’s flake food. 

The only other thing that really made the shortlist was “Annye” or “Maker Annye,” but I knew I’d get very tired of spelling it and getting it misspelled. I still really love my real name, though, and I’m glad it’s going to be on my book!

Annye can be found in multiple places!
Instagram: @makerfishmeal
Facebook: @makerfishmeal

Thanks to Annye for agreeing to this interview! If you know of an author or artist who’d like to be featured in an interview (or you would like to be featured), feel free to leave a comment or email me via my contact page.

*All images except for the book cover are courtesy of Annye Driscoll.

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