Loch Awe in spring - Photo courtesy of Neil Donald Photography






Sunday, 21 February 2016

LIFE'S UNEXPECTED LITTLE PLEASURES By Linda Mitchelmore

Back in the late 1990s when I first started writing short stories and having them published, the illustration of my stories never crossed my mind. It was enough to see them in print. Back then artists were commissioned to illustrate most magazine stories and water colour seems to have been the preferred medium. Almost all my stories were illustrated and I found it flattering that an artist had read my story and painted something that illustrated it perfectly, as though he or she had got inside my head and 'seen' what I had seen when I was writing it. My Weekly were particularly good at matching artist to story. I had, back then, a wonderful working relationship with a sub-editor and was able to ask for a particular artist to work on my story. Privilege indeed! Woman's Weekly, too, are excellent at finding an illustration that gets right to the heart of a story, and I must confess I often write stories with a longer word count so that an illustration will - hopefully, but not always - be put with it, even though most illustrations these days come from an image bank.
But, Scandinavian magazines still tend to use artists and commission the illustrations. I've had many, many short stories published in Norway and Sweden, and two of my novels have been serialized in both countries. I don't know what anyone else thinks, but I find the illustrations rather old fashioned, even given my novels were historical. But it has still been a pleasure to discover an artist has read my novels and short stories in translation and produced a work of art to illustrate them.
When we write novels and have them published we expect there to be an especially commissioned book cover of some sort. These days a graphic artist will be used, and I have to say I've been very pleased with the book covers Choc Lit have commissioned for my novels and novellas. But I still have a special fondness for those first magazine stories and I have three illustrations framed and hung on the wall opposite my desk. I've recently sold three more short stories to mainstream magazines and there is a little frisson around my heart wondering what unexpected little pleasure of an illustration will be put with them.

12 comments:

  1. I think until you actually become a writer you don't think much about the illustrations that accompnay stories. But once you have something published, then you certainly do! I love the contrast of the 2 illustrations you include. I have to say I was quite disappointed with the covers of my People's Friend novellas and felt personally guilty when readers would say to me 'but the woman didn't even have the right hair colour' etc. Compare this to the covers created by Accent Press - they have been spot on and such a pleasure. I hope you have many more of these pleasures to come!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, how can they get it so wrong sometimes with hair colour? That's happened to a few writing pals of mine. Ggggrrrr moment! I'm still awed that the same amount of work - if not more sometimes - goes into a short story illustration as a book cover.

      Delete
  2. Illustrations and cover art are so important. I wasn't thrilled with the first two covers Robert Hale did but I positively hated the third one which they refused to even consider changing! Carina's covers compared to those are brilliant!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, Jennie, certainly much better now. Hope that will affect sales positively for you.

      Delete
  3. I like both the illustrations you have here, Linda, especially the top one, which I think is very appealing.
    It must be very satisfying when the artist is on the same wavelength as you.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I take the fact the artist is on the same wavelength as a compliment to my writing .... that they 'see' things as I did in my head.

      Delete
  4. Interesting post and discussion, Linda. I suppose art is like writing - what one person loves and raves about, another will detest. Congratulations on the sale of more short stories. :-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Rae, and I really am looking forward to their illustrations.

      Delete
  5. Lovely post, Linda - I'm a visual person so always love illustrations to go with stories, and book covers. I remember writing to Woman's Weekly a long time ago to comment on one particular illustrator's work as I adored his style and depth of colour. The letter was published and I do hope he saw it!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. How strange you should have done that. I did the same with WW about an illustration that went with one of my stories - quite a few years ago now - and the artist sent me the original watercolour! I am blesse3d.

      Delete
  6. A talented cover artist or illustrator really brings a story alive. Linda, I love both of the ones you've posted there. And yes - I, too, have framed copies of my magazine stories (and my my covers!) up for inspiration.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Jennifer. I know book cover illustrations are chosen in the hope they will sell books but magazine story illustrations don't really need to sell anything, do they? So .....as I said.... one of life's little pleasures, eh?

      Delete