Thursday, October 12, 2017

My Story With Illustrations

For more information about Susan Calder's books, or to purchase visit her Books We Love Author Page.

A year ago Loft 112 accepted my short story "When a Warm Wind Blows Off the Mountains" for its Calgary neighbourhood series. About 20 people gathered in the Loft apartment in Calgary's East Village for a lunch of sandwiches and roasted red pepper soup. I read an excerpt from the story set on our city's Glenmore Reservoir pathway, talked about my inspirations for "Warm Wind" and answered questions. Attendees all received a handmade chapbook of the tale. It was a fun event and I was glad my story had found this warm home.

A few weeks later, the Loft 112 organizers hatched a plan to publish an anthology of the Calgary neighbourhood stories. Now "Warm Wind" was officially published. I assumed this was it for the story, but the Loft had other ideas.

They sent me and the other writers an email asking for permission to have our stories turned into works of art by artists from Alberta Printmakers.

"Sure," I said, intrigued.

In January Loft 112 learned they'd received a grant to produce 12 art books, to be displayed and shared with the public. Our first step was to meet at the Loft to meet the artists. They matched me with Sylvia Arthur, who loves drawing pictures to songs and poems. Sylvia and I chatted that night. Later, I checked her website and was thrilled to find that her work resonated with my tastes.

Sylvia & me at Loft 112
I gladly left my story in Sylvia's hands. Actually, when she read the story, Sylvia noticed a recurring image of hands. She used this in a number of her illustrations.

Our hands reveal so much -- I hadn't realized I'd used them so often in my story

Sylvia visited the story setting, the Glenmore Reservoir trail, and followed the route my two characters walked. She invited me to the Alberta Printmakers workshop to view her creation process. 

How the story's words look when added to one of the above pictures

The book-as-art is finished. I haven't yet seen the physical product but The Loft tells me it's great. In January, the public will be invited to various events showcasing the art/books. Sylvia and I will be there on January 13th to talk about our experience.

Now I understand how authors of children's books feel when a talented artist collaborates with their work and brings their story to life. It's terrific.



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