Me and the Baron (Veronique Chevalier) at Wondercon 2014
Portrait of model Elizabeth Worth, as Artifice from The Dark Victorian series.
The shoot: Elizabeth Worth (model) with Nadya Rutman (make up and hair artist)
Cavalyn Galano, my amazing dress designer, posing with Jim Dastard from the Dark Victorian series
Dressing Elizabeth Worth in the Artifice dress (with Cavalyn Galano).
(Yes, Cavalyn sewed all those button holes).
Nearly done: boots On. (Elizabeth Worth, model, Nadya Rutman in foreground, Cavalyn in back, Carl Rutman observing).
So THIS happened whilst I was at Wondercon 2014. :)
Rewind: Back in October 2013, I was laid up with a broken foot and in grumbly despair, because I felt my Dark Victorian books were stagnating (this is what happens when all you can do is lie around and think). I'd tired of my own illustrated covers and wanted something more. A fellow writer recommended a particular digital book cover artist, and that artist happened to recommend using images beyond stock imagery---meaning having a photographer's team shoot my character for the new book covers. Photos of models in Victorian dress were not easy to come by and especially not ones particular to my heroine's ethereal look. Saying 'yes' to this idea (because it was a hefty, expensive 'yes'), began to open doors in my mind. A dream that existed only on paper then had the chance of becoming a kind of corporeal reality.
From October on, things slowly happened. Teresa Yeh, the photographer, suggested dress makers, of whom I picked one who I thought had theatrical flair and a great sense of design, Cavalyn Galano. I drew the outfit I wanted Artifice to wear and through much back-and-forth we picked fabric, buttons, discussed design elements, and construction elements. Teresa went on to cast models for me, and I eventually picked Elizabeth Worth for her imaginative portfolio and because her colouring and features would best suit being an artificial ghost. :) Much time was allowed for everyone to get holidays and trips out of the way, plus the dress made with expert attention and a schedule hammered out when everyone could meet and begin shooting. It happened that they did just that, right on the same weekend I was to be at Wondercon.
So there I was, selling books, talking shop with fellow creators, and meeting readers---new ones and returning ones :)---with my focus wandering because my mind was on the shoot. Honestly, I was glad the shoot was happening on the East coast and I was on the West. I know how it is when the financier/boss is present at Important things. People might get self-conscious, or they act differently, or they start to second-guess. I had already given Teresa my suggestions on how each cover pose may be shot and also some visual references. My part was done! I wanted everyone relaxed, ready to be creative, and free to Make things Happen. After ten grueling hours of work (with lunch provided by me), they came through Magnificently. :)
The resulting photographs are Amazing. I'd show them, but you have to see them as the final product, the covers. I'm in debt to everyone involved for their dedication, artistry, and hard work. Shall I be cliche? They brought Beauty to life. There, I said it! And yes, now my heroine, Artifice, is ALIVE and ready to bring Story to my books. The first cover is shaping up as I speak. Tactile, present, Aware; there she is, right there, my Victorian super-heroine.
On the last day of Wondercon, Teresa emailed the 'behind-the-scenes' photos to me, which I gleefully showed to my fellow exhibitors and to attendees. I had a realisation that I then shared with my booth-mate, Kim Dwinell (children's illustrator and fellow 2D animation artist). "Remember," I said. "What it was like to be on feature film production? The sound of storyboards being pushed across the floor, the Energy in the air from everyone making drawings, discussing drawings, the sounds of things Happening."
Kim understood what I meant. It must be like that for people who did theatre, or opera, or the circus, even. When we're no longer those people, we miss that Something that can't be duplicated in our solo careers.
"This shoot," I said. "I finally feel it again. And this time it's mine. I don't need [those films] anymore."
And I'm Glad.