If you'll take a look on the left there you'll see the cover art for my first book. You might notice the pretty girl in the photo with the white hair and that awesome expression on her face.
And you might wonder if I found that stock photo somewhere.
But I didn't.
Being affiliated with comic con gives me access to anime fans and if you know anything about anime you know that they cosplay.
From Urban Dictionary:
Literally "Costume Play." Dressing up and pretending to be a fictional character (usually a sci-fi, comic book, or anime character).
There are anime cosplay conventions around the world.
Yeah. I know a lot of girls who do this. One of them happens to be Samantha Wiebe, my sister in law's sister's daughter. So almost kind of related to me through marriage.
I asked Sam if she'd be willing to dress up as Kaliel and shoot a scene from FoS. I then asked the comic con's photography coordinator Ted Sali if he'd be interested in shooting it. He was totally on board.
On June 26th, 2010, me, Sam, Ted and Ted's wife Kim went out to King's Park in Winnipeg and we found a good secluded forest which was pretty and alive and bright. It was also muggy and hot and there were lots of mosquitoes.
I didn't know anything about directing, but when we met at the Tim Horton's, Ted had a storyboard, and Sam knew what she was doing and I was excited. I had given her a 2 page synopsis of the book, and the 5 pages of the Great Oak Scene.
That's all it took for this seasoned cosplayer to nail Kaliel, and I mean she NAILED the character.
(in a backhanded way, having someone identify and understand my main character so quick, is a sign that I did my job right as a writer. It was also an intensely good feeling.)
So I geeked out and stayed out of the way while Ted lined up shots and they talked about techniques and I got lost in the tech speak.
In fact, Ted read the scene too so he knew what he was doing too and then he scouted the area so we would know where to shoot the scene.
The only thing we didn't find was a giant oak tree .. . but then those aren't easy to come by.
The day went fast, we were done by like 1pm, having started at 9am. We shot the scenes plus a few still shots that could be used for promotional stuff later on.
I didn't know when the book would sell or if it would ever get published, I just thought this would be cool to do.
And it was cool, Sam went home and used her film school skills to create something amazing. We added music, and captions, which were lines from the actual scene and that was it.
So that picture of Sam comes from this shoot, it comes from the Journey to the Great Oak, from the cosplayer extraordinaire who has pretty much taken the role of Kaliel forever.
We've discussed what if this became a movie, and if there were ever auditions, you can bet Sam would be there, auditioning for the part. And you can bet that she'd be my favorite because she began cosplaying Kaliel long before the book was published.
I actually got a message from Ted the other day asking if that was the official cover and when I said yes, he said, "OMG. MUST. NOT. EXPLODE. ON. BRIDE." He's a wedding photographer and so awesome at what he does. He was pretty much tickled pink when I told him that was the picture. Sam was the same way, excited that she could be part of it and on the cover.
So you see? It's not just that I've written a book that I think is good, other people that I know in the community think it's good, and they support me 100%, and they help me with the skills they have.
In September we're shooting the official trailer for Flame of Surrender, and the thing is, Sam asked me if we could do that, she really wanted to reprise the Kaliel role, step into her shoes and be the Amethyst Flame all over again.
And so I wrote a script, we found someone non awkward to play Krishani, and I have another cosplay friend who popped up and offered to make all the costumes for us so we have original costuming being made and don't need to do what I did to find the costume for Kaliel and head to the Le Chateau outlet and happen upon this pretty white sundress. (That was a lucky find mind you) Jello (her nickname) came with me to pick up the fabric and everything we'd need and she ordered the wigs we'd need and she's coordinating the whole costuming fiasco.
Add to that a guy my husband used to work with who does CGI, composing, and other audio dubbing stuff. He's on board to help us with voice overs, music, CGI and special effects.
The only thing that didn't get done locally was the actual design. For that I went to Parajunkee, who's an expert in YA books, not to mention her designs are amazing. She took the picture and put the final touches to it to make it look like a real cover. I swear, I could stare at it for days. (It's so pretty!)
And so soon enough I'll have some professionally done book trailers for the book, and I have my army of cosplayers both Sam and Jello have said that if I go on tour, they're coming with me and cosplaying. So you might get to meet a couple of the characters from the book when you're buying your copy . . .
And this adds to my reasoning for no longer caring much about literary agents and big time editors and the big six. I have a lot of genuine friends who have gotten involved with this project and are turning it from just a book into so much more.
And I'm so grateful to them for being so into it that I'm just . . . I don't know, I don't have words to describe how it makes me feel. These people make my characters real, Sam brought Kaliel to life. I don't know what the cover would have looked like without her.
And this is why I'm the luckiest author in the world.
If you want to watch "A Journey to the Great Oak" click on Trailers, it's the first video. Ignore the credits.