Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Visual Aids, Steampunk Round-up, and Nerdscapes

I'm a visual kind of person. It's probably why I love comics and graphic novels so much. I've been known to doodle and collage as part of my story/worldbuilding process. The combination of storytelling and artwork is so appealing to people of all ages and it is unfortunately still one of the most under-rated forms of literary and artistic expression around. So it pleases me to no end when popular novels get the illustrated treatment and further blur the lines between words and images.

Laurell K. Hamilton, Diana Gabaldon, Stephen King and Richelle Mead among others have dipped into the comic medium. Kim Harrison's all new Hollows story Blood Work is scheduled to release in July. But I'm really excited about the manga adaptation of Gail Carriger's Alexia Tarabotti novels by Yen Press, and I keep thinking about how amazing it would be for any author to be able to actually see a visual representation of their fictional world. Not just a single image, as on a book cover, but an entire story with characters and locations and action. It would be brilliant. The insert is the Japanese cover of the first book in the series, Soulless, but a few sketches from the graphic novel have been revealed on Miss Carriger's blog.

Which brings me to my very first Steampunk Round-up, in which I talk about the things I'm swooning over in the tea room. Carriger announced the development of a new YA project called The Finishing School Series on her site about a month ago. The tentative title of the first installment is Etiquette & Espionage and it takes place in the same wonderfully fun world as the Parasol Protectorate books. With the forth Alexia novel releasing in July and the manga series coming out around the same time, Carriger is on a roll and I'm looking forward to a parasol-filled summer.

Other steampunk titles I'm all about that are new or releasing soon:

Phoenix Rising by Philippa Ballantine and Tee Morris (who will be visiting the Salon next month)
The Girl in the Steel Corset by Kady Cross
The Steampunk Bible by Jeff Vandermeer and S.J. Chambers
Corsets & Clockwork by Trisha Telep and Contributors - and the title does make me smile for all of you who remember the short-lived Clockwork Corsets (there's an ebook with practically the exact name as well)

And to leave the Round-up on a very happy note:

It's totally awesome and can be purchased here.

Finally, I'm sure you're all wondering what a nerdscape is and how you can make one yourself. Well, it's a new artform that incorporates toys, books, and snack food - three of my favorite things. I learned the secret art of creating nerdscapes from author Kevin Hearne whose spanking new UF book, Hounded, releases on May 3rd. Kevin is giving away copies of his book, the first in a series about a modern day super-druid, to a few lucky winners with the talent to pull off one of these masterpieces. Here's my entry: 

Go to Kevin's website to enter the contest. All who do and leave me a post here with the link will get a leg up in next month's Hounded giveaway (details will be revealed in next week's post).

I'm not an artist, I just play one online. I've come up with the short list for who I'd want to pencil the graphic novel of my story world and have narrowed it down to David Mack, Chynna Clugston, or Paul Pope - yes, they're all very different from each other, but I could make it work with any of them if my completely wishful fantasies ever came true.

Who would you choose to illustrate your world? Have any drawings you'd like to share of your characters or realms?


Karl said...

I am sure that it would be quite a treat for an Author to have their work turned in to a graphic medium. There is always a slight disconnect between the authors minds eye and the reader (usually based upon personal experiences).
Nice Nerdscape, maybe Ill get mine together sometime soon and beat that deadline.

Stacie Carver said...

I love the idea of a nerdscape. I will have to complete one in the next couple of days. Sounds like fun!

Tee Morris said...

We are looking forward to appearing the salon.

BTW, we picked up a copy of The Steampunk Bible while down in the Outer Banks of North Carolina. It is QUITE a beautiful book, and the amount of art and information in it is invaluable. My dad who knows nothing about steampunk found it very enlightening and entertaining. We find it a valuable resource.

Ella Gray said...

Thanks, Karl! You might be able to reach my level of nerdiness, but you won't know until you try, LOL.

Yes, not only would it be a treat to get illustrated, but to get paid for it too - that's totally shiny.

Ella Gray said...

Go for it, Stacie!

Ella Gray said...

Hi Tee! What a coincidence - my family is from Beaufort, NC so I've spent plenty of time on the Outer Banks and I do miss it. That's also why I love pirates :-)

Marilyn Muñiz said...

I don't have someone in mind to illustrate. But if my novel is turned into a movie, Yoko Kanno is my 1st choice as a composer.

EW Gibson said...


You have expanded my mind. Nerdscape! LOL!

Melanie said...

Ella--you make me feel old! However, I also don't know if I would really want to see any of my novels visualized. Or maybe it's that I don't want someone else to design the characters. I have been struggling to be a writer mostly because I have also been struggling with wanting to be a graphic artist. Once I decided that I prefer constant creativity of writing over the need to be repetitive in comic book drawing, the writing took off. But I still want to be the one to birth them. After the Boot Camp, I might have time, finally, to introduce the cast!

Gail Carriger said...

"... and I keep thinking about how amazing it would be for any author to be able to actually see a visual representation of their fictional world."

Yes, it really is remarkable. Unexpectedly, I got more excited upon seeing the action sequences and the expressions on the character's faces than by the characters themselves or their outfits or the setting. It's also oddly surreal seeing someone else's interpretation of my words. It's like a test of my descriptive powers (or lack there-of). I saw the scene in my head, did I articulate that, or something else? It isn't until someone tries to draw what I wrote that I get an answer to that question. I greatly enjoy fan art for the same reason.
~ Gail Carriger

Ella Gray said...

I love it, Marilyn! Having a soundtrack is just as good as any visual representation. Music often helps me find the right tone for certain scenes :-)

Ella Gray said...

Nerdscapes are the artistic wave of the future, Elizabeth. And they are wicked fun to make.

Ella Gray said...

You surely have more talent than I do, Melanie, LOL. If you do get the chance to create your own I would certainly love to see it.

Ella Gray said...

Hi Gail - I can only imagine how surreal it would be to have someone reinterpret not just your words, but your entire style as well. I'm eager to see how closely it matches my own vision of Alexia's world. Manga seems such a good match for it, being playful and expressive. Thanks for stopping by and for the wonderful insights.

rj.garside said...

I love the visual aids! And thanks for the list of upcoming or newly released Steampunk books. I love Gail Carringer's Alexia Tarabotti novels (which you recommended to me a few months back).
Great post!


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