I'm proud and honoured to present Author and Artist
|Dragons - Mother and child by Marion Sipe|
I think my drawing them has made me a lot more aware of their physiologies, because you can’t draw something unless you understand how it’s made and how it works.
Even when you’re putting something together in Photoshop, you have to know how the shoulder meets the arm, how the legs work, how they move. That really helps when it comes to describing something in words as well. Especially if you can see in your head how actions happen, the details of body language.
I think that’s probably one of the reasons that I love writing action scenes. Of course, these are also details that you can totally over do. If you describe too much, you get lost in the minutiae and lose the interest of the reader. It’s a bit of a double edged sword. I’m never sure whether or not I’m including enough description, because I can go on for pages and bore the reader, but then I sometimes cut it too short, forgetting that the reader isn’t seeing it the way I am.
|It Feels by Marion Sipe|
In the book I’m working on--Born of this Soil--I have sketches of the architecture, of statues in the squares, of the entire palace garden, of all the characters, of most of their homes, of ships in the harbor and just… yeah. Most of that never makes it into the story in and of itself, but I think it does bring a richness to the story, the details I do include show that there is more and makes it feel more like a fully realized place. At least, that’s the hope!
My focus is often very tightly on a character, on what they’re seeing and feeling. It can actually make it difficult to describe things because the character just would not notice or care. Although, I do have a lot of fun playing with different character’s perspectives on the same visual landscape.
|Cover Designer: Marion Sipe|
One of my favorite scenes in A Sign in Blood is when two of the main characters get a chance to both describe a ruined temple and the two of them come away with completely different impressions of the place.
I can understand why you’d be drawn to writing fantasy. I think a mystery would be enriched by your eye too. All the clues other writers would never think to add would be quite appealingly original coming from your brush.
However, I think I do include mystery type elements in my speculative fiction. For instance, in A Sign in Blood, the main character is trying to solve the murder of her father.
|Cover Designer: Lex Valentine|
Getting Ahead is about two detectives trying to deal with everything on top of trying to find a serial killer (who kills trolls).
And it’s a murder mystery that kicks off the plot of Born of this Soil. Hmmm. Actually, I write a lot of murder mysteries rolled up in speculative fiction concepts, now that I think about it. *G*
Whether it’s words or lines, both take energy. I don’t think we realize how much energy it takes to be creative, but the brain uses energy up, too. It’s not a free process. It doesn’t burn the kind of calories that exercise will, but it uses up its stores of glucose and other chemicals needed for thought. While that’s not a big deal for a lot of people, activities that require sustained use of the brain (hours spent writing, drawing, studying, etc.) can leave people feeling completely and utterly exhausted.
As writers well know! I think we just don’t feel that we’re “legitimately” tired, or that it’s justified. We’ve been told for a long, long time that creative pursuits like writing or art don’t count because they’re not physical. But they can be just as exhausting as physical work, just not in the same way. So, when your brain’s worn out, it’s worn out. And that’s when I have trouble doing anything.
Time must be a problem. You belong to the MuseItUp Art Dept and make book covers for the authors as well as your freelance work. Deadlines – do they stress you or spur you on?
Oh, time is my biggest enemy, but I’m kicking its ass. *nods* I’m also a business student, so spare time is not a concept I really understand.
Between school and art as work (I differentiate between for work and for fun) I actually don’t get nearly as much time to write as I would like. But what really gets cut out is time with my fiancé and my mom, and I hate that. So, when my brain decides to take a vacation (it happens, occasionally I’ll spend two weeks barely able to make a 'to do' list, let alone complete one) I do enjoy the fact that I get to spend more time with actual, non-fictional people. Of course, I also feel slightly… wrong when I’m not doing something.
Unless I’m really, really tired, I can’t even watch TV without working a puzzle or writing or drawing or something. That’s a really, really bad habit (so my loved ones tell me) and I’m working on being able to relax when that’s what it’s time to do.
Deadlines are stressful, because I usually have half a dozen things to finish at any one time, but I’m really not sure how much I’d get done without them, so… I have to go with both! I take some pride in the fact that I never miss a deadline, but I do occasionally have to reschedule them, so maybe that’s not the complete truth. *G*
Do you ever resent stealing time from your writing to work on your other love, art or vice versa?
The good thing is that, usually, once I start whatever it is I’m supposed to be working on, I’ll find myself enjoying it. I love both writing and art for themselves, so putting words together for school (which is the thing I usually least want to do) has its own joys. Right now I’m doing a video for class and every time I think about it, I’m thinking, “Ugh, and I have to do that,” but then I get started and I get sucked in.
So, yeah, I do resent not always being able to do the things I’m really passionate about (at the moment, because it changes all the time!), but I think everyone gets that. I mean how many people have been sitting at work or school and been daydreaming about doing something totally different. I think that’s just a human experience.
Being given so little information to go on for the covers, you have an amazing knack to symbolize the story, that’s something that must come naturally, you couldn’t learn that, could you? I mean, I had no idea what my cover for A Summer Squall would look like. But you created the only cover it could possibly have. Thank you for that.
Actually, I don’t think writers realize how much they tell me about the story in just the blurb.
|Cover Designer: Marion Sipe|
You, for instance, were the one who talked about the splash of red in the rough waters. As I was reading the excerpt and blurb, that image just struck me. It was symbolism that you incorporated, the stormy sea (and everything it stands for!) with the vivid red of a life jacket amongst the waves. The moment I read that, I knew there couldn’t be any other image to represent the story.
|Cover Designer Marion Sipe|
Another of my clients—Becca Mills—on her book Nolander describes her secondary world with the phrase “A world like an autumn forest, its realities as multiple and layered as fallen leaves.” So, how could I not incorporate that as a visual element?
Writers are creatures of words, they reveal their visions (even when they don’t mean to!) in the words they choose, in the phrases they make central to their paragraphs, in the frequency with which they return to related symbolism and metaphor. I find it hardest when a writer doesn’t seem to have a clear vision of their own story, of what the central themes and elements are, which happens more than you’d think. You guys describe a story to me, I just turn it into a visual.
Marion, thank you for letting us into your wonderfully creative world. I've picked up plenty of writing tips from your artist's eye, today. No wonder I thought you'd be good at writing mysteries as well as your beloved fantasies. You already are! :)