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:

The past several weeks have been eventful for the Vintage Jane Austen project that I’m a part of. Later I have a special announcement about my own book, but the spotlight today is on Second Impressions: A Collection of Fiction Inspired by Jane Austen.

Jane Austen’s stories have inspired writers for generations…in this collection they inspire fiction across the genres!
From the English Regency to the American 1950s, in Houston or a space freighter, fairytale land or a retirement center…Austen’s timeless characters come to life again.

Featuring:
Chocolate Surprise – Gently Pursued, Finally Persuaded – The Secret of
Pemberley Estate – Emma’s Irritation – Mother’s Day – The Mansfield – Elaina – Peace in the Orchard – Maid in Houston.

I was privileged to help Hannah Scheele, editor and cover designer, behind the scenes on this book by copyediting the stories and formatting the paperback edition. Let me tell you, this is a fun and interesting collection of short stories! I am fascinated by how the authors were able to take all sorts of directions with Jane Austen’s beloved novels. Read my review on Goodreads for more of my thoughts. Check out the book on Amazon.com here.




Read the next post for a special feature about the talented authors of this anthology!

I am privileged today to be participating in E. Kaiser Writes’ blog tour, which celebrates the release of all five of her novels in paperback, with illustrations by the author herself!


 
Jeweler’s Apprentice:
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…? 
Paperback

Traitor’s Knife:
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.  
 
Winter’s Child: A barren king and queen pray for a child, and when in their loneliness, they make one out of snow, their prayers are answered in a special, and unusual way.
Sometimes, when we get what we wish for, we don’t know what to do with it.
Combining elements from the Snow Maiden, Schneekind, and Snegurochka tales with those of the Snow Queen; Winter’s Child introduces a new series: THAW. 

Kindle eBook
Paperback

Winter Queen: A slightly pampered girl allows her avoidance behavior to isolate her from the world… it’s only when she takes the final step that she realizes the wall she’s built in the name of safety is also the one that will hold her prisoner forever… unless she discovers how to destroy it.
The only one who can break a neurosis… is the one who has it.
Kindle eBook
Paperback

Prince of Demargen: The whole world knows his guilt, and is absolutely correct about it, but how far can a man go to regain respect so swiftly lost?
Or is an honorable death the best a fallen star can hope for?
The only person who can help him… is the one he most deeply wronged.
Kindle eBook
Paperback

About the author:

E. Kaiser Writes credits her nearly nomadic childhood for the vast reach of her fictional worlds; she has lived (and gotten to known the locals) in the Rocky Mountains, the Smoky Mountains, the plains, the deep forest, the searing Texas summer and frozen Minnesota north.

She wears many hats: writer and editor of ad copy, web copy, office correspondence, and fiction; a cowgirl, animal trainer, seamstress, jeweler, artist and… authoress! Find her on her website, blog, Facebook, Amazon, Goodreads, and Pinterest.


~*~

E. Kaiser Writes is one of my favorite contemporary authors. I also had the honor of helping her with editing and beta reading. Here are links to my reviews for her books:
Jeweler’s Apprentice
Winter’s Child
Prince of Demargen

On Facebook? Don’t miss out on the Facebook release party tomorrow, April 23, 1:00-4:45pm!

This is a newsy post about two upcoming events in the reading world. First off is the release of E. Kaiser Writes’ five novels into paperback! She is one of my favorite contemporary authors, but so far I’ve only experienced her words on my computer screen. I’m really anticipating getting my hands (literally!) on her physical books. Two of the books, Jeweler’s Apprentice and Traitor’s Knife, have just gotten fresh covers as well. The official release date is April 22, so look for more information on my blog that day. 


If you have a blog and would like to help out an indie Christian author, HERE is a google.docs form where you can sign up for her blog tour taking place April 22-24. Last minute notification, I know, but it should be an easy post to put together!

And, if you’re on Facebook, check out the Facebook release party on Saturday, April 23, from 1:00-4:45pm. There’ll be lots of giveaways and other fun stuff!

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The second upcoming event begins April 24: Elizabeth Goudge reading week! If you’ve never read this fantastic twentieth-century English author, the week of April 24-30 would be a great time to learn about her or try one of her many novels. Discover more about this author and her books on the Emerald City Book Review. I plan to post a review of one of her books that week, Green Dolphin Country.