From the get go, Anni Moon’s world was meant to be populated with an ethnically diverse cast of characters. Anni herself is representative of the American “melting pot” and her friends and relatives carry that idea further. Aside from the humans that make up the world of Anni Moon there are, of course, the Elementals whose society is easily as diverse as that of their human counterparts. There is a map of the Elemental’s Zephyr, which is a floating island, and I also felt that each of the forty-three chapters needed unique illustrations (yes there are a lot, but my chapters are brief!). Thankfully, my husband, Hisham, was up for the challenge to do all the artwork.
I have lived with these characters and their world for so long that they had been fully realized in my mind but, like recalling a dream, it can be difficult transferring these thoughts into concrete artwork. Anni was probably the most difficult to get right and she went through a number of iterations before we settled on her final form. It was easy enough to make a sketch of Anni that reflected her spunky attitude but we also wanted to make other aspects of her personality readily visible, like her eagerness for adventure and toughness. It was also a challenge to pick a scene from the book that could project a combination of fantasy, mystery, danger and excitement. We love the films and imagery of Hayao Miyazaki (especially his film “Spirited Away”) and went back and forth between a cover styled after his work and another that portrayed a scene during one of the book’s final chapters.
Hisham adds, “Even though my style is a little cartoony I like the artwork to help make the world more believable, so I try to pay close attention to the lighting, texture and sense of volume in the image. It was a real pleasure to work on every element of this book; I immersed myself in it and wanted to bring it to life for Melanie. I hope my enthusiasm matches the readers’ expectations as well and, based on feedback so far, most people seem to think we got it right. The first sketches of Lexi were as close to final as you can get in a sketch, and some of the other roughs that we did couldn’t fit in the book, but may end up somewhere for readers to see at some point. Stay tuned for those and, of course, more books!”
Aside from the cover, the map, which is located before the table of contents, is the first image you see in the book and helps lay out the world of the Elementals on the Zephyr. I’ve always felt that, in the fantasy genre, a map helps make the world more real, it allows your mind to wander in a place that you’ll get to know very well as you read the story, so your perception of it changes over time and you become more connected to the book.
Ultimately, I’ve always felt that imagery has a profound impact on the reader. I know it had a huge impact on me as a child, and perhaps was the impetus for adding as many illustrations as we did. I just count myself so very lucky to have Hisham’s incredible talent to give the readers more insight into Anni’s journey.
About the Author:
In kindergarten my life’s goal was to become a teacher who wore only pink and ate French fries all day long. Now that I’ve matured, my goal in life is to become a Miss Marple-Sherlockian-Jedi Knight–I’m totally serious, it’s a real thing.
I love stories, and I’ve had the privilege of working in Hollywood for over a decade in many different capacities, working with celebrities, directors (I’m married to one, plus he’s my illustrator), and a few executives (the head-honcho types that I can’t talk about because I signed confidentiality waivers). I’m not sure any of these people would have hired me if they knew I had a closet full of mint condition Star Wars toys…
However, the life of a freelancer is not for the faint of heart. I’ve kept myself busy with my extracurricular activities, from skydiving to scuba diving, a black belt in Tae Kwon Do, a degree in Fine Art, an M.A. in Psychology (with a focus in Neuroscience), and a few other things that I like to keep top secret. …Some people think I’m a spy, but I’ll never tell!
About Anni Moon and the Elemental Artifact:
Anni doesn’t know about Elementals, Funk, Zephyrs, excited talking Bat-Rat creatures, and, least of all, Dragons. All that changes when her best friend, Lexi, is kidnapped and forces beyond Anni’s control trap her on a hidden, floating island in the Elemental world. In a race against time, Anni sets out to save her friend. Along the way she finds allies among the Elementals, but she is also presented with a choice, one that might help save Lexi. If Anni agrees to an ancient, open-ended contract, will her sacrifice cost her more than she’s bargained for? Or will it land her in the middle of an age-old war between the humans, the Elementals, and the dreaded Fectus?
See the full tour schedule here.