I was
thrilled to have the talented E. Kaiser Writes illustrate my book The
Road to Bremen
. As I was writing
this story and beginning to imagine it illustrated, I could think of
only one artist to ask because of her illustrating experience and her
special expertise in depicting animals. I was so glad that she agreed
to work with me, and I couldn’t be happier with her contribution to
my book. It wouldn’t be the same without her!




Check out her website!



Welcome, Elizabeth! Let’s begin at
the beginning. When did you start drawing, and who was the first
illustrator to capture your attention and imagination?
 

Being homeschooled, I learned how to
draw by first learning how to doodle, and I learned that at about
four years old, sitting around the kitchen table with my older
siblings when we were supposed to be doing our schoolwork. I got
myself into it: I begged Mom to give me schoolwork so I could join
the “big kids”…but soon was as bored as they, and discovered
they held doodling competitions when Mom was out of the room. I
joined in, and it just went from there!

As kids, Mom and Dad used to read aloud
to us in the evenings, and one winter they read the Little House
books. I remember marveling at the illustrations by Garth Williams,
and that’s definitely one of my early “boy, I could never be as
good as that!” moments!
 

My family was
largely artistic, and encouraged that all the time, so growing up I
always had an eye toward refining what skills I possessed. But I
really didn’t “get serious” about my art until I was in my
twenties, and I never anticipated ending up as an actual illustrator.
That was an unexpected twist in my story, and one that I really do
love! 

That’s so neat! I know at least
one person who has seen your illustrations for my book compared you
to Garth Williams. What are a few other books you have illustrated?
 


I’ve been blessed to work with quite
a few wonderful folks who really have supplied great fodder for my
artistic imagination…especially fantasy/fairytale type tales. Love
the opportunity those give to meld actual historic details into art
that is unrestrained by any limitation, so that’s a wonderful
playground to explore. I like to make my illustrations as chock-full
of meaningful details as possible, and borrowing from history is such
a fun way to do that. 

Another
fun project I’ve been lucky enough to be a part of is illustrating
for Bible stories, and those are particularly up my alley because
there is such a wealth of actual data that can be accessed, from
which to draw on any point in Biblical times…and yet there’s a
great lack of really nailed-down details, so there’s really a wide
array of possible angles to take any of the elements, so it’s fun
to do the research and then interpret all of that as artistically as
possible. And hopefully hit upon an apt representation of the rich
flavor of ancient life.
 

I love that you put so
much enthusiastic research into each project. Can you tell us a few
of the details that you dug up while researching the German animals,
flowers, and landscapes and used in The Road to Bremen?
 

Yes! That is the fun part! I believe
illustrations can add so much to the reader’s experience of the
story, and it’s a place where so much can be learned. So my goal is
to put as much authentic detail in as possible.
 

So Kelsey and I talked about the
location (which is a real place in Germany!) and the era for the
clothes and buildings the story takes place amongst. Having a real
location with pictorial access was a big help; we found local breeds
of farm animals, and were able to feature area-accurate flowers in
nearly all of the pieces. 

The
kind of donkeys Germany seems to have were just the usual ones, but
they were still easy to make adorably quirky. We got really lucky
with the dog, because there’s an old fashioned breed called the
Deutsche Bracke, so I was able to model directly off of that! Then
for R
üdiger
the rooster, we used a Bergische Kr
äher…which
translated means “Farm Crower,” noted for its lengthy crowing
ability!
Which was perfect for Rüdiger,
since he prides himself on his voice.
 

So it was a lot of fun to delve into
details like that…we incorporated a famous statue in the town of
Bremen, and used real German landscapes whenever possible. I always
like to learn something from any illustration project, and I hope
that viewers will also pick up new things from them, too! 

In
all, it’s usually great fun to work with an author on their vision
for the story, and you were so prepared, Kelsey, with lots of
inspiration already pinned, that it was a delightful process!!




Aw, I’m glad to hear
that! It was a delightful process for me, too, and you were so easy
to work with. I love your work. What is your favorite type of thing
to draw?
 

I love animals because they’re so
expressive and so often they get neglected by other artists, so it
makes me happy to contribute to the “gap” that surrounds them in
art. And there are a wealth of
expressions that can be brought across with them, so they’re always
fun.

The
other thing I get excited about is architecture, and trying to
estimate accurately for whatever sort of period the setting is. I’m
more fluid and free-flowing in my art than strictly structured, so
architecture is a challenge for me, but it’s a fun challenge that I
love to research out and then compose building details for
illustrations, which I think can add so much to the feel of a piece. 

That’s really cool! And
what media do you work in?
 

I do a lot of pencil: black and white
and shading…that’s mostly interior art, and so that makes up the
bulk of any project, for the most part. I’ve done line art, with
pen, for coloring books, etc. and that is also fun and brings its own
challenges.

For
color, I’m a real mixed-media fan, and may start with watercolor
style washes and then move on to acrylics for some intense pops of
color, and then add the precision of colored pencil into the
smorgasbord… I really just feel my way forward and try to “herd
the process in the right direction.” I’m very unscientific,
during the actual art stages… I get very detailed and demanding of
my research, and become frustrated if I can’t find the exact thing
I’m looking for, but once we leave the planning stage and move to
the creative ones, I’m completely nonlinear. 

You’ve illustrated your own books
as well. Which is harder, doing it for yourself or for others?
 

Oh, for myself, by far!!! I’m my own
worst critic and am constantly belittling my work, so it’s quite a
struggle to know when to listen to the “inner editor,” so to
speak, and when to toss it outside, shut the door and lock it fast!  

I’ve been tremendously blessed to
work with folks who are vastly more encouraging about my results than
I myself am: so that’s a huge, huge gift that I’m always very
grateful to receive. And in trade I’m able to give shape to their
dreams, which they aren’t capable of at this stage, and that’s a
wonderful synergy there!

And the completed projects are
always so fun to see…  

Yes, indeed! Tell us about the
coloring book you recently released. I’m really excited to get my
hands on a copy of it.



Amazon.com
Folks had been telling me for years
that I should make my art into a coloring book, so I started with a
horse-based theme that got interrupted by a real-life move of the
ranch operation from one state to another. That swallowed about two
years, during which I could only peck at various creative projects,
but late 2018 felt like there was a little bit of release of pressure
from the aftermath of that upheaval, and we buckled down in earnest
to pushing that past the tipping point and into reality.

So “Horses of the Elements” Adult
(or Advanced, as I like to frame it) Coloring Book was finally born,
and we’re hoping to bring out a few more in not too long. Hopefully
much less time between start to finish on upcoming ones!

But horses are really such “darlings
of the art world”; when you think about it, they’ve been
portrayed in nearly every culture whose art has impacted our current
impression of art history…back to the caves at Lascaux, there are
horses on the walls. They embody so many aspects of our emotion, so I
wanted to take that train of thought and really give it wings, so to
speak, and allow them to sort of translate the feeling of various
elements that aren’t simple to sum up, but complex and vivid
entities in our awareness.

So like Thunder and Lightning, Forest
Fire, Sea, Volcano… We made winged horses for Air, and Typhoon, and
Snow; we did unicorns for each season, just really setting the stage
for colorists to let their imaginations take flight, and it’s all
based on the universally appealing, and endlessly
changeable
facets of horsedom in all its forms. From foals to drafts, ponies to
hotbloods, we explored the spectrum of equines and their dynamic
temperaments!
 

Our images run from wildly dynamic
forces of nature to the placid, calm side; from showcasing the
variety of equine breed types to quiet moments of peaceful
friendship.

The one
constant is they are all beautiful, and should be fun for anyone to
bring to life with color. 

I had a sneak peek at
most of the pictures for this coloring book, and I got to color one
with watercolor pencils and coaching from a horse expert. Here’s a
photo:

Etzel
the donkey just couldn’t face walking to the mill this morning. His
knees and back ached as if the heavy sacks of grain or flour he often
carried were already on his back. His master, Herr Hofmann, stood at
the doorway to Etzel’s stall, clucking his tongue like an angry
woodpecker.



Ach! Are
you coming or not, you insolent, lazy beast?”


Etzel gazed at him.
He wouldn’t set foot from his stall, not for all the hay in the
field. Well, maybe for that he would.
But he certainly wouldn’t go out if Herr Hofmann expected him to
make a trip to the mill.


~*~


These
are the opening lines to my newest book,
The
Road to Bremen
,
which released this month.
It’s
quite different than anything else I’ve published before. It’s a
fairy tale retelling, thus fitting under the label of fantasy. It’s
100,000 words shorter than my shortest novel, measuring in at just
under 20,000. And it’s written with children in mind, though I
attempted to write like my favorite children’s books authors, whose
stories don’t talk down to their readers and are therefore
appreciated by older audiences, too.




When
I started writing
The Road to Bremen,
I wasn’t sure I would publish it. As my author bio relates, “
Bogged
down during the crafting of a much longer book, Kelsey started
writing a retelling of one of her favorite fairy tales, ‘The Bremen
Town Musicians,’ to resuscitate her creativity. She rather liked
the result.” I wrote it for fun, and as I wrote, the idea that it
would be a nice book to have illustrated began to take shape. I even
knew who I’d ask. (Check back for her interview!) Well, that meant
publishing, right?




The
rest is history, and here we are at the present day.
The
Road to Bremen

is available as a paperback and an e-book.




The
Grimms’ fairy tale “The Bremen Town Musicians” is about four
elderly animals who have outlived their usefulness, according to
their owners. I set my retelling in mid-1600s Germany. Etzel the
donkey can’t haul grain like he used to and just wants to rest.
J
äger
the dog is almost deaf and can no longer hunt or guard his master’s
house. Katarina isn’t a good mouser anymore. Rüdiger, being
replaced by younger cocks, is destined for dinner. But instead of
accepting their fate and concluding that they are indeed useless,
these old farm animals set off on a new adventure to pursue a dream:
becoming musicians in the grand city of Bremen. But of course the
journey is far from easy and far from what they expect.





We have been very
honorable in pursuing this music-making and doing such a noble thing
with our lives. It is only to be expected that our lives are in
danger.”



Rüdiger
the rooster




My
favorite aspect of writing the story was the characters. Etzel is a
humble and visionary leader, yet proud of being a donkey. J
äger
is a droopy, lovable hound dog who follows along and tries not to
cause trouble. Katarina is a spunky spitfire of a cat who can’t
help but be annoyed by
Rüdiger
the rooster. R
üdiger
is an intelligent creature who values dignity and honor and quotes
Aesop. Together, they make a band of musicians . . . and more
important, a band of friends and heroes.





My illustrator, E. Kaiser Writes, did a phenomenal job of bringing the animals’ images
to life on the page. I’m excited to be interviewing her in a couple
of days! And I hope you’ll join these animals on their quest if
you’re in the mood for a heart-warming read.
See on Amazon
 


Jane Austen. There’s no one quite like her. She continues to inspire us all these years later. This Valentine’s Day, I and a few authors came together to bring a special sale and giveaway. 

Twelve
books are on sale for $2.99 or less from February 14 to 18.
Most of the books take the beloved
classics and retell them in a new setting.
Books like Tracking Ruby and
Water Princess, Fire Prince feature characters who adore and
quote Jane Austen’s stories. Each book is clean and perfect for
those who want a little touch of Jane Austen and romance for this
Valentine’s Day.





a Rafflecopter giveaway

Almost two years after my last book, I’m excited to announce that I have a new release! I’m launching into the territory of a different genre with this one: children’s fairy tale retelling. And what’s more, it’s illustrated. Illustrated! I always dreamed of authoring an illustrated book. The incredibly talented E. Kaiser Writes did the artwork for both the cover and the interior.

And now for the cover!

 

Their lives are saved by a dream. But only friendship can make that dream a reality.


Once upon a time…


Etzel
the donkey is getting old, but he works hard on his farm—until the day
Herr Hoffman decides he is no longer worth keeping. With no choice but
to escape, Etzel sets off on the road to Bremen to seek his fortune as a
musician. On the way, he rescues three other animals—a dog, a cat, and a
rooster—who are also old and destined for death.



Will these four new friends find their success and worth as musicians in Bremen? Or does the road hold something better?



Based on “The Bremen Town Musicians” from the Grimms’ Fairy Tales. Ideal for kids from 7 to 11 years old, but great for all those young at heart.
________________________________________________________________________________
The e-book releases February 22 and is available for pre-order now! It’s on sale for $1.99, but the price will go up to $2.99 soon after the official release. For those of you who prefer paperback, it’s available right now.

What readers are saying:



Delightful and
fun, with a lovable cast of unforgettable animals! A marvelous
retelling of
The Bremen Town Musicians.'” – Rebekah Stargazer, Writer

Utterly charming! A tale full of heart.” – Deborah O’Carroll, Writer and Blogger

“Kelsey Bryant’s storytelling skills freshened and bolstered this inspiring tale.” – Grant P. Ferguson, Author of Cliftopolis SERIES 

 ____________________________________________________________
Stay tuned for more fun details and tidbits in the coming weeks. I’ll have tales to tell about my inspirations and how I wrote this book, as well as an interview with my wonderful illustrator. 

In honor of the release of her third book in the Five Gems series, author E. Kaiser Writes is doing a blog tour and giveaway with Silver Dagger Book Tours! She’s one of my favorite indie authors, so I encourage you to take a look at her books and have fun with the tour. You’ll find a link to the main post at the end, which will also take you to the giveaway and schedule.

Jeweler’s
Apprentice

Five
Gems Book 1

by
E. Kaiser Writes

Genre:
YA Fantasy Adventure





On
her first visit to the palace, sixteen-year-old Fia stumbles upon a
court intrigue. To keep the secret safe, the Chancellor sends her off
as apprentice to a famous, reclusive, mountain jeweler…
…And
straight into adventure.
Discovering gems with deep secrets and
new friends with the same, Fia learns a whole lot more than just
making jewelry: when to trust a stranger, and when not to, why not to
try stealing from gem thieves; what heroism is; what royalty ought to
be; and that the mountains themselves can sometimes be the greatest
danger of all.
Is the legend of the Sunlight Stone true?
Will
peace ever come to the war-torn neighboring kingdom?
And what is
the stable boy hiding…?





**Only
.99 cents!**






Traitor’s
Knife

Five
Gems Book 2






Secrets.
Sabotage. Murder. With Olayin House temporarily turned into a weapons
factory, Fia is confronted with the care of three refugee children,
an ill-timed visitor, a perplexingly brash messenger that she isn’t
quite sure what to think of, all while trying to keep her friend’s
secrets safe. But when dangerous accidents start to happen, the young
apprentice begins to tread a fine line of suspicion. Are saboteurs
out to nix the weapons works… and is the incognito crown prince in
mortal peril? Winter in the mountain house isn’t as cozy as her
apprenticeship was expected to be. 






**Only
.99 cents!**




King’s
Ward

Five
Gems Book 3






With
her wealth of loyalist secrets, Fia’s position at Olayin House is
compromised. Now a potential danger to two countries, she is made a
ward of the king and sent away yet again; this time into the
grassland kingdom of Erlandia, 
but
her journey amongst the horse folk takes unexpected turns.


Trapped
under siege, she faces two men from her past… one she fears might
murder her, and the other may die of plague unless she wins the
battle for his life.


And
with the Sunlight Stone traded for troops, how long will Erlandia’s
peace last?










About
the Author


E.
Kaiser Writes was born into a family of readers, and got started on
storytelling around the age of four when her older siblings prompted
her into recounting an absolutely ridiculous account of a parallel
childhood. It was good for the family’s general entertainment, and
she discovered the thrill of making people laugh.

At
the age of seven her mother read the Hobbit aloud, and a fascination
with beautiful fantasy was born. At nine she came to the decision
that she wanted to be a writer, and set to reading rabidly to learn
the art. At thirteen she attempted her first novel, and it was eaten
in a computer’s demise.

Afterward,
during her teenage years she tried very hard at various times to stop
writing all together.

Not
succeeding, she at last gave in to her addiction, and wrote
for
fun.”


Her
first novel, Jeweler’s Apprentice, is a light-fantasy adventure for
teens. The shy, bookish heroine is thrust out on the first step
toward the adventure that awaits, and growing up. More books in this
series are expected.

 











Giveaway



King’s Ward Prize Pack – 1 winner



Five Gems Prize Pack – 1 winner



sticker & magnet prize pack – 2 winners


Follow
the tour HERE

for
exclusive excerpts, guest posts and a giveaway!