I’ve had a few weeks of coming over all writerly, and some of the latest news is that my short steampunk-ish story “Kindling” (which I wrote about here and here), originally published in Light Touch Paper, Stand Clear from Peggy Bright Books, has been selected to appear in the Year’s Best Australian Fantasy and Horror 2012, to be published by Ticonderoga Publications in June 2013. So I’m celebrating it with this little steampunk fairytale picture.

Steampunk Fairytale

In quite a cool little twist, I also illustrated the original publication of Faith Mudge’s “Oracle’s Tower”, and although the art won’t be in this book, I will exercise the illustrator’s prerogative to bask in a little reflected glory.

It is part of the following amazing line-up (with beautiful cover art by Yaroslav Gerzhedovich):

years-best-fantasy-and-horror

  • Joanne Anderton, “Tied To The Waste”, Tales Of Talisman
  • R.J. Astruc, “The Cook of Pearl House, A Malay Sailor by the Name of Maurice”, Dark Edifice 2
  • Lee Battersby, “Comfort Ghost”, Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine 56
  • Alan Baxter, “Tiny Lives”, Daily Science Fiction
  • Jenny Blackford, “A Moveable Feast”, Bloodstones
  • Eddy Burger, “The Witch’s Wardrobe”, Dark Edifice 3
  • Isobelle Carmody, “The Stone Witch”, Under My Hat
  • Jay Caselberg, “Beautiful”, The Washington Pastime
  • Stephen Dedman, “The Fall”, Exotic Gothic 4, Postscripts
  • Felicity Dowker, “To Wish On A Clockwork Heart”, Bread And Circuses
  • Terry Dowling, “Nightside Eye”, Cemetary Dance
  • Tom Dullemond, “Population Management”, Danse Macabre
  • Thoraiya Dyer, “Sleeping Beauty”, Epilogue
  • Will Elliot, “Hungry Man”, The One That Got Away
  • Jason Fischer, “Pigroot Flat”, Midnight Echo 8
  • Dirk Flinthart, “The Bull In Winter”, Bloodstones
  • Lisa L. Hannett, “Sweet Subtleties”, Clarkesworld
  • Lisa L. Hannett & Angela Slatter, “Bella Beaufort Goes To War”, Midnight And Moonshine
  • Narrelle M. Harris, “Stalemate”, Showtime
  • Kathleen Jennings, “Kindling”, Light Touch Paper, Stand Clear
  • Gary Kemble, “Saturday Night at the Milkbar”, Midnight Echo 7
  • Margo Lanagan, “Crow And Caper, Caper And Crow”, Under My Hat
  • Martin Livings, “You Ain’t Heard Nothing Yet”, Living With The Dead
  • Penelope Love, “A Small Bad Thing”, Bloodstones
  • Andrew J. McKiernan, “Torch Song”, From Stage Door Shadows
  • Karen Maric, “Anvil Of The Sun”, Aurealis
  • Faith Mudge, “Oracle’s Tower”, To Spin A Darker Stair
  • Nicole Murphy, “The Black Star Killer”, Damnation And Dames
  • Jason Nahrung, “The Last Boat To Eden”, Surviving The End
  • Tansy Rayner Roberts, “What Books Survive”, Epilogue
  • Angela Slatter, “Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean”, This Is Horror Webzine
  • Anna Tambour, “The Dog Who Wished He’d Never Heard Of Lovecraft”, Lovecraft Zine
  • Kyla Ward, “The Loquacious Cadaver”, The Lion And The Aardvark: Aesop’s Modern Fables
  • Kaaron Warren, “River Of Memory”, Zombies Vs. Robots
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Here is the cover for Angela Slatter and Lisa Hannett’s ornate, interlocked Midnight and Moonshine, which is being published very soon by Ticonderoga Publications, with a foreword by Kim Wilkins.

It started with sketches and discussions over coffee with Angela, and then by email with Lisa, searching for an image that would catch the linked stories. In the end we focussed on the mythological elements, with flowing lines, a white raven and Mymnir being beautiful and mysterious.

First sketches

I took the opportunity to play around with coloured inks, as Angela and Lisa wanted a more painterly style – in the end, we went with the softer style I used on Small Beer Press’ cover for Sofia Samatar’s A Stranger in Olondria, but that had not been finished at this stage.

At Continuum in Melbourne, we sat down in the hotel restaurant and worked out the general layout. It was fun working this way – I rarely get to work up a sketch over coffee with the interested parties, but it is much more fluid and less fraught process than the usual back-and-forth by email. At the top left is Lisa demonstrating arm poses.

Preparations

Russell, the publisher, had sent me templates for the paperback and hardcovers. These have different dimensions. I layered the templates to get a single template which would let me allow for all croppings in the one drawing. I then did a layout sketch (above, lower left) to make sure there was room for the title, blurb, bar code and so forth, and sourced more cape and arm reference (courtesy of Aimee, and my hand).

From there: pencils, inks, colour flats and a long colouring/texturing/shading session in front of BBC crime shows, nominally keeping my father company.

Round 1

And… in the end the line work was too bold and “YA”. But the cover for A Stranger in Olondria was in the wild by now, so I had some more experience (and everyone had more reference) for what we were trying to do. In the end, after tears and weeping, the only way to soften the lines was to redraw the whole thing in pencil. Which was much more soothing than aiming for precise inkwork. I griped a lot. They turned out to be wise and correct, but I reserve the right to guilt-trip Certain Authors into buying me coffee.

Round 2

At this point, the lines were approved but the colours were still too bold. This is one reason why, with short turnarounds, I colour digitally! I knocked back the colour and transparency and brought up the paper textures in the sky. This is the point at which I began to grudgingly forgive Angela and Lisa, because this second version did look much, much better. They said kind and soothing words and presented the cover to Russell, who had been suffering in (not quite) silence. He had one request – to adjust the lady’s shoulder – which turned out to be more possible than I expected (to summarise: everyone involved was wonderful and reasonable and I apologise for my histrionics, subject to the coffee comment above).

And voila, the full wrap-around cover (which appears larger here).

Midnight and Moonshine cover

Some time after this, Russell sent over the title pages for the limited edition hardcover and I spent a pleasant morning signing them with Angela over cupcakes. By the end – by even 20 pages – my signature looked like “K twitch-muscle-spasm”.

The launches are at Avid Reader in Brisbane on 30 November 2012, and at the SA Writers Centre in Adelaide on 14 December 2012, and you can pre-order the trade paperback or the limited edition hardcover at the links on the Ticonderoga page.