Blog Tour: Mending the Moon
Today is my stop on the blog tour for Mending the Moon! I'm very excited to have a guest post from author Emma Pearl, describing the illustration process and how magical it was seeing the story come to life.
Becoming a published author has always, from my very earliest memories, been a dream of mine. I used to write and illustrate my own stories and staple the pieces of paper together to make ‘books’ even before I started school. So, although it took me a few decades to land a real book contract, when it happened it was a huge deal.
The whole process from that point on has been so exciting, but one of the most wonderful things about publication has been the magical process of seeing my story brought to life by the amazing illustrations of Sara Ugolotti.
I was pleasantly surprised that I was able to have some input into the selection of an illustrator. After the contract was signed, Page Street Kids sent me a selection of portfolios to look through so they could get a sense of my vision for the style of illustration. We had a zoom meeting to discuss, and although there were some great artists in the mix, there were none that I felt absolutely matched the story in my heart. So the designer set about finding another selection of potentials based on our discussions.
The story demanded a flair for animals and an ability to create a magical, night-time atmosphere, but the two human characters are the focal point, so the artist also needed excellent ‘people’ skills. There were two illustrators who stood out in the second batch put forward, and ultimately the contract was signed with Sara.
Being paired with an illustrator is a bit like handing over your baby to someone else to look after. Will it be safe in their hands? Will it turn out as good as you hope? How will they interpret the setting, the characters, the mood of the story? And what happens if you don’t like it?
I was excited but also a little terrified to see what Sara would do with the story. I needn’t have worried! A couple of months later, I received the first character sketches – some pencil drawings and one colour image of Luna and Poppa. I was absolutely smitten.
Luna is so perfect. I never imagined her with red hair, but it works so well. And her outfit is wonderful, especially the yellow tights and scarf. She is absolutely gorgeous and I couldn’t stop staring at her. This brave, strong, kind little girl who had been living in my mind for about three years was suddenly real! It was an amazing feeling.
Another two months on and in came the pencil sketches for the entire book. Everything laid out with text and illustrations, title page, dedication, endpapers and all. Wow! If I thought the initial character sketches were amazing, this was a whole new level. My story was now really turning into a book and it had all the signs of being a pretty special one.
A month after that, in July, the first sample of final artwork arrived – and completely took my breath away. The double spread of the animals in the forest gathering moon shards is still one of my favourites. The colour palette is perfect, the animals are all adorable (I especially love the sleeping baby birds in the nest), and the moon shards glow with pure magic. Even the smallest details – the trees, flowers, toadstools and the stars in the sky are absolute perfection.
In August I received the colour sketch for the cover, with the final version arriving in September. More jaw-dropping wondrousness. In October the final artwork for the whole book arrived in my inbox. Oh. My. Goodness. The full jacket with sleeves looked spectacular and the entire book was just brimming with stunning images. Every single scene was a delight. Not only were the illustrations themselves incredible but the overall design of the book was superb. I felt – and still do – so incredibly lucky.
There was one more surprise in store. In December I discovered the case cover (the cover of the hardback underneath the jacket) was going to be fully illustrated with one of the most joyful scenes from the book. How completely enchanting!
Of course, seeing the files on screen is not the same as holding the actual book in your hands. I’ve already run out of superlatives so I’m going to struggle to describe the feeling. Suffice to say I was more than a little bit emotional when that day finally arrived.
It was a long process – the artwork and design took the best part of a year, and then I had to wait almost another whole year before publication! But it’s been the most incredible journey and I’m so thrilled with how the book has turned out. I owe a huge debt of gratitude to Kayla Tostevin for taking a chance on my fairly ropy first draft and helping to shape it into something wonderful, to Julia Tyler for her top-notch design, and of course to Sara Ugolotti for being an absolute magician and bringing my story to life in the most spectacular way. Even if the book sells zero copies, it’s a personal dream come true and it means the world to me.
Oh, and there’s a sequel coming out in September 2023! In Saving the Sun, Luna and Poppa are holidaying on a tropical island when the sun gets so hot he decides to take a dip in the ocean. Yes, I got to do the whole thing all over again. And I can tell you that, although the setting couldn’t be more different to the wintery mountain-top of Mending the Moon, the illustrations are every bit as incredible the second time around (maybe even a teeny weeny bit more so!)
Thank you so much to Emma for letting me take part in this tour! You can see my review of Mending the Moon over on Instagram.