One of the wonderful things about a novel is that the reader gets to use their imagination. The writer tells the tale, yes, but it’s the reader who brings the words to life inside their mind. They’re the ones who envisage these new worlds, they’re the ones who apply voices and intonations to the speech, and most importantly, they’re the ones who picture exactly what the characters look like. To a certain extent, the reader has control of how these aspects of a story come across.
So, why then, go to the trouble of getting illustrations done for my main characters? Why not simply leave them to my readers imaginations? Well, I’ve always been one for seeing the story transcend the page and take on a life outside of the books. Previously, I’ve spoken about my experience to create the UNF insignias for Earth Duty and Space Duty, and the rearing pegasus symbol. I’m also a visual person who is attracted to images and graphics, so I wanted to build up my collection of unique graphics tailored specifically to my Aurora series. The aim, for use as extra promotional tools, and to help bring the Aurora serial to life outside the novels.
I’m lucky in that I have awesome book covers that catch people’s eye, so that should be enough right? Well, no. The Aurora series is a very character driven saga, and because of that, I wanted to put faces to my main characters, so I could use these images to promote the series *alongside* the book covers. You see, the thing with promoting books is that a writer must constantly look for ways to attract new readers. Using different graphics is one way. In fact, based on recent articles I’ve read, graphics are a sure fire way to grab people’s attention. The aim, therefore, of having illustrations drawn of my main characters, is to highlight the ‘character-driven’ aspect of the Aurora novels, and hence draw in new readers who perhaps are looking for bit more focus on character in their sci-fi reading, but didn’t think that the Aurora serial would deliver that based on the covers alone.
So, how did I go about this process? First, I trawled heaps of artistic sites like ArtStation and Deviant Art, where I found so many AMAZING artists. It was very hard to choose who to contact, but in the end I decided to support a local artist and approached Perth illustrator, Damian Audino (check out his awesome work here). I asked if Damian would be interested in working on this project, and thankfully he was.
Next up I gave him a brief on how I pictured Harris and Carrie looking. Now when I first started writing the series, Captain Saul Harris was inspired in part by Will Smith (I started writing Aurora: Darwin shortly after watching I Am Legend), however as time has gone by, Harris soon became Idris Elba in my mind. For Corporal Carrie Welles I chose a few different illustrations for inspirations, including one of Lara Croft. But, of course, Damian couldn’t replicate these drawings, nor could he use Idris Elba’s likeness, because, you know, we could be sued.
Alas, with some pictures to use as a base, and some basic character information such as age, nationality, height, build, etc, Damian went to work. Now the thing to consider here is that Damian had a hard job because he hadn’t read the books. So he was basically trying to capture the illustrations blind (well, except for my brief). We went back and forth quite a few times (sorry Damian!), but it was a necessity because I’d released 5 books in the serial by that point, so I couldn’t just put any image out there. They had to basically capture ‘general’ look of these characters, so as not to have the readers up in arms. Although, of course, they may still be, because at the end of the day, every single reader will have a different image in their mind as to just how Harris and Carrie will look.
Still, the final product, I think, comes pretty close. Using the series of images as a base, we then made significant changes to make the illustrations unique, and most importantly, ‘ours’.
So without further ado, here are the (base) illustrations of Captain Saul Harris and Corporal Carrie Welles – the two main characters of the Aurora novels! Now that Carrie and Harris have faces to their names, you can expect to see them around the place from time to time, as over the coming weeks I will launch some more cool graphics to promote the books, involving these images. Enjoy!
Until next time!