Hi Darien – thank you so much for having me here at Pants Off :)!
A few months ago, the editor at Storm Moon Press emailed me asking me what I would think of having my latest story, The Ronin and the Fox, illustrated. Needless to say, I was enthusiastic! See, I have a special relationship with art and illustrations. While writing has always been ‘my thing’, ever since I was a little kid, I’ve always been dabbling in lots of creative activities. So, when the time came to pick which high school I wanted to attend (high schools are, in Italy, divided by main subject), I chose the fine art one. For five years I studied history of art, drawing, painting, sculpture, architecture and restoration, specializing in drawing and painting. I was fairly good at it, and even decided to carry on afterwards with a Fine Art degree. However... I soon realized that I wasn’t good enough: while I could copy very well, for example with a live model in front of me, I couldn’t invent. While my friends spent their time doodling, I spent mine jotting down plots and bits of stories. It took one year to realize that, while I loved drawing – just like I loved performing in theatre, or sewing – none of those were my thing, and I decided to finally start focusing on writing.
However, while I haven’t drawn seriously in years, I haven’t stopped loving art. I spend way too much time hanging around museums, my computer is constantly exploding with tons of images from all over the internet, and my sources of inspiration--as well as the way in which I elaborate my stories--are predominantly visual. Sometimes, I even suspect that many of my ideas, exactly in virtue of the highly visual component, would be better suited for a comic rather than a written piece (which is why many of them remain languishing in my notebook!). But, while I have a very detailed vision of what they should look like, I absolutely don’t have the skill to actually draw them. Which is why I was so ecstatic and jumped at the chance of seeing The Ronin and the Fox illustrated – it’s something that I have been dancing around for years.
As a writer, I am, however, quite a control freak! So, as I virtually bounced around like a ball of excitement and thrilling anticipation, I was also a little worried that I would make the artist’s life hell, bossing her around and nitpicking every little detail – especially since I had experience of drawing, and I had such precise, exacts images in my head of characters and scenes. Would I make her want to stab me in the eye with her pencil? Would I make her wish she’d taken to apiculture instead of drawing? You will find the answer to these poignant and dramatic questions in my next post – tomorrow, at Babes in Boyland ;)! For now, enjoy an excerpt of The Ronin and the Fox as well as a character sketch by illustrator Alice Girlanda!
|Katsura the Fox|
As he approached, the figure shifted and blurred, stretching and growing, making Hajime's eyes ache until he had to look away. When he glanced back, Hajime could see a human where the fox had been, bending to pry the trap open with frantic hands.
"Not so fast," Hajime growled, his hand shooting out to grasp the man's arm. Before the fox spirit could react, Hajime tied a red ribbon like the one he was wearing around the man's wrist, knotting it maybe too tight. The man cried out as the fabric touched his skin, trying to tear his arm out of Hajime's hold. When the fox spirit turned around to face him, Hajime gasped.
The man had wild red hair and two furry fox ears flattened over his head like those of an angry cat. His face was contorted in agony and anger, covered in scratches and with a large bruise marring his cheekbone, but there was no mistaking his delicate features or the unusual, rust-brown eyes that fixed on Hajime with fury, and which had been full of pleasure the last time he'd seen them.
"You," he gasped, his grip on the stranger's arm faltering.
The fox snatched his wrist out of Hajime's hold and snarled, his head held high. "Surprise," he said, sharp teeth gleaming in the moonlight.