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2007-01-24 12:00 PM
DEAD GRAY illustration!
Annie Chernow subscribes to Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, so she got the March/April double issue before it hit my local Barnes and Noble (which still doesn't have it). She sent me a scan of the first spread. Click the thumbnail to see it:
I must have looked at that illustration five dozen times last night. The acceptance email--that was cool. The check--those are always cool. But the illustration?
For months, I've been restraining myself from emailing Janet Hutchings (EQMM's editor) and asking whether the story would have an illustration. I'm a professional. I say things like "Glad you liked it," and "Thrilled to be chosen." I don't say things like, "Will there be a picture? Will there? Will there? Huh? Will there?"
But is this the COOLEST DAMN THING, or what? I mean--those are the people in my story! That's how this artist, Laurie Harden, cast the scene. What I do with words--take my feeling for a character's energy and physicality and translate it into a few verbal brush strokes--she does with line and shading.
For example, the brunette waitress. I just went through the manuscript and looked for all the places where I describe her. (Put aside that dialogue also tells you something about a character's energy, because I don't want to reproduce her dialogue in this blog entry.) I call her "efficiency in denim," say she's slender and brunette, and show her being a little cheeky with a customer. The main thing the point-of-view character perceives is this:
There's energy in this one. She intends grander things in other places. This town won't get her. She's young.Did the artist render her precisely as I saw her in my mind?
No. Not possible. I don't see her entirely.
But jeez, can you see just that energy in this drawing of her, or what? The artist brings to the story the same things an actor brings to a screenplay--and the right artist, with the right direction, takes it someplace new, and yet not just new, but right.
Reading is collaboration between writer and reader--easy to see. But how often does a writer get to see the result of that collaboration? And not only see it, but see it rendered with such skill and talent?
My first illustration. I've had dustjackets before--which are also about as exciting as it gets--but they're been conceptual, not illustrative.
When I asked Janet to pass my thanks along to the artist, and requested permission to reproduce that spread here, she suggested that I remind you that each issue is featured at their website:
Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine
The March/April issue (which the story is in) isn't featured there yet, but it will be shortly.
See where it says "and many more?"
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