This post falls under the category of authorial chit-chat. Which means it’s story-related, but doesn’t really fit in the glossary. We’ll call it … anecdotal. Or in plain-speak, a quaint story about an author, an artist, and an old German cuckoo clock.
For starters, I should introduce Hannah Christenson, my cover illustrator extraordinaire. She and I have been working together on odds and ends commissions for a few of years. Character sketches. Painted portraits. Concept art. Things took a turn for the long-term when she agreed to paint my book covers. She creates all kinds of art for the Byways series … including the all-important series header.
In the beginning, I did a lot of research, scoping out kids books, especially those in a series. How did the cover designers set their books apart? What made them fun? Did the illustrations hint at the shape and tone the story would take?
For the Byways books, I wanted something that would be right at home in the land of Liberty. Old world charm. Fanciful creatures. Myth and magic. And the first thing that came to mind was a piece of my childhood.
A German cuckoo clock hangs at the foot of the stairs in the old farmhouse where I grew up. (It still does. I took this snapshot when visiting my folks earlier this summer.) Deer and oak leaves, pheasant and hare. I clearly remember this clock’s steady tick-tock and mechanical call of the little bird who would cuckoo the hour. ♥
So I sent Hannah pictures of clocks and asked her to send critters from the Byways series racing around the header. Griffin and dragon, eagle and unicorn—just a few of the magical creatures who play a part in the adventures ahead. We went through batches of thumbnails and several rough sketches. Hannah agreed to hand letter the series title. And I couldn’t be happier with the final results.
Last Time: Trunks
Byways, Book #1: On Your Marks
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Taking sibling rivalry to brand new lengths…
Series Summary: Ian Johns is the founder of the postal system in the land of Liberty. Twice widowed, he has three sons, all half-brothers, and the boys don’t get along. In order to help them bond, Ian plans a tour of the country in the hopes that travel will bring them closer together. But somehow, the plan is twisted around, and the trip becomes a race.
Age Range: These books are geared for young readers who are ready for their very first chapter books (K-2).