Before I ever started writing novels, I was an art collector. I meandered around galleries from New York to Santa Fe, taking in the pictorial arts and, on occasion, procuring small pieces. Once or twice I even commissioned works as gifts. I especially enjoyed the last. Something about watching a piece unfurl gave me a small but rewarding sense of participation, even if I served as a mere spectator. In my view, voyeurism is participation.
About five years ago I stopped collecting art. I placed all my belongings in storage and, I have, basically lived out of suitcases since. For a while, I came to view my interactions with art as something in the past, plus maybe a line item on my codicils. Little did I realize, until recently, that my relationship with art would come barreling back into view.
After the drafting and editing (and editing… and editing) is done with a fantasy novel, a great many other tasks bubble up to the cauldron’s surface. One needs a world map, a sumptuous website, symbols for factions or flags, advertisements, character sketches, and on. You also need a soundtrack for the audiobook and actors or actresses. It’s a lot. One plausibly could become an expert in each of these skillsets and become a one-person show, but that wasn’t really in the cards for me. Instead, imminent need became the mother of rebirth, and so, my long-dormant network of artists came surging back to life anew.
In the last week, I’ve liaised with half a dozen artists. We volley various ideas and images back and forth, narrowing in on just the right looks and sounds. It’s like the contact high I once enjoyed from commission pieces, but its bidirectional now, and all the better for it. Painters, illustrators, composers, web designers, graphic artists, journalists, and editors take my words and transmute them into other senses and, as I edit Books 2 and 3, I find myself tweaking little elements in response to their visions as well. It’s crowd-sourced creativity for the win. I hesitate to call anything a community. In my experience, communities too easily become mobs. Still, for me, these little interactions are more rewarding than the usual professional sort, and I find myself thanking something invisible for their presence in my world.
I hope that readers will enjoy the products of these amazing people: Conor Welter, Amanda Banker, Michael Carey, Marc Crane, Derek Glas, Iram Allam, Anthony Harvison, Robin Fuller, and more. Without them, I’m doubtful this project would have ever seen completion. Google them. Check out their works. Go visit their shows if they’re in your town. And, if ever you find yourself in need of a collaborator, each of them has my warmest and most enthusiastic endorsements. For them, I am thankful.