|First illustration for Book 1|
Worth a thousand words
First and foremost are the illustrations. The Black Star illustrations were a hodge podge of different styles. By the time I got to Spirit Shear, I'd settled on a style for the series that really works for me as an illustrator and, most importantly, adds to the story. So, Book 1 is getting all new illustrations! Here's the first of them!
Kill your kittens
When I studied I was taught that when you write there is story architecture and story scaffolding. Scaffolding are the bits of information you need to construct the story. But, once it's done you should take them away. Often times in the scaffolding are little darlings or 'kittens' - bits of information or passages of prose that you just love!
Get rid of them.
There are definitely a few kittens in Black Star (possibly a whole litter). Also, admittedly, the tone and pace are a bit uneven. I hadn't quite found my voice as a story teller and wasn't sure what would work for my target audience. I now know who I am as a writer and who I'm writing for!
The Emersus Project series has become so much more than just Gemmy's story. It's a story of his friends and family and an entire world. There are so many extras about the world and small details that could enrich the original story, but they don't belong in the book. But, that's what glossaries are for - a kitten corral! I mean, have you ever read the Silmarillion? Of course you haven't! It's all scaffolding. But, for the die hards it's an amazing world building encyclopedia. So, the new edition is going to have an enhanced glossary and some new short stories.
Draw draw draw
And just for fun here are (just) two pages of the character sketches I've done. I obviously already know what the characters look like, but it's helpful to remember where they were at the start of their journeys. And, as I edit, it helps get me back into their mindset back before everything blew up (literally and figuratively). I'm really enjoying getting to see Mhetli again with his long lanky hair, all sneers and grease!
It took me a while to get a proper style for Gemmy's wild and curly hair. The style I use for the illustrations is what I think of as detailed 'short hand'. Like with any caricature or cartoon, I try to find the most obvious feature and use simple, referential lines to give the impression of it. So, things like curls are simple swirls of the pen without drawing each individual curl. But, you still want to convey depth and texture. Sem's pony tail was another trial and error motif. I didn't want to make it so detailed that you see every hair and fly away. But, you needed an impression that it was a feat of mastery to get all her short hair pulled back.
Hope you enjoy!
Buy 'Black Star' or 'Spirit Shear' on Amazon in the UK and US
Check out Themo on Twitter and Facebook