Joan & Suzanne: Emily, what made you want to acquire the Goddess Girls series? Was it a gut feeling or something about the market or something else?
Emily: I’ll admit it – I’m a nerd. I took 7 (extremely useful) years of Latin! The idea of a fun, modernized setting -- but still mythically correct -- series about the Greek pantheon really appealed to me. And, my imprint, Aladdin, focuses on kid-friendly, commercial fiction for young readers so Goddess Girls was the perfect fit in a both a business and personal sense. It doesn’t hurt that the Percy Jackson movie released in the same season as the Goddess Girls, and interest in classical mythology is on the rise… We’ll just call that a hunch since I signed the series over a year ago.
J&S: What do you give a cover artist to help her or him illustrate a book? A synopsis of the book; the manuscript; a description of a scene you’d like to see depicted?
Emily: Glen Hanson, our amazing cover artist, was given an early draft of the manuscript to work from. Turns out that Glen is a HUGE myth fan as well (kismet, anyone?) and we didn’t need to direct him at all. He is also super talented and creative, so he came up with the elements you see on the coves – you’ll notice that Athena even has owl earrings! And, there was a long conversation about what were the correct columns to use on the MOA to be historically accurate. I find the best artists bring a lot of themselves and their ideas to a project, therefore enriching it for the better.
J&S: Karin, we think Glen is the perfect cover artist for Goddess Girls. You designed the look of the series and picked Glen as the illustrator. How did you find and choose him?
Karin: I stumbled upon his website one day and I was really impressed with the witty, sassy personality that came through the perfectly-executed characters. I bookmarked his site and came back to it when I received the first Goddess Girls manuscript. He seemed a perfect fit to create an appealing, slick, age-appropriate cover, and Emily and I were excited to see what he could do. Once I called him to discuss the project, I was pleased to find out that he was a huge mythology buff, as well as a genius with color. And he is truly a breath of fresh air to work with.
J&S: Glen, we were truly delighted with the cover illustrations for Goddess Girls. Your style fits the series to a “T”. You added so many fun details that are true to the actual myths, so we wonder if you have a personal interest in mythology or if you are just really good at researching these things?
Glen: Thank you. I’m so complimented that you both feel I did your book justice with my illustrations. Creating the covers was a complete joy because I’ve been obsessed with Greek Mythology since my early teens.
J&S: Can you briefly describe how you work from inspiration to sketch to final art? For instance, do you sketch on a digital pad or on paper?
Glen: I start by doing a rough pencil sketch on paper working out the basic design. I then refine the elements locking in the details, scan it in and send it to the art director and authors. Once they have approved the pencil rough, I trace it off onto good paper in pencil and hand ink the linework. That is scanned in and the image is colored in layers in photoshop.
J&S: Interesting! Thanks, Glen. Karin, is there anything else you can share with us about the process of designing this book?
Karin: Well, I have to say I really enjoyed reading through the manuscripts. I find the stories fun, light and full of appealing characters. The concept of the series is fresh and I have high hopes that girls everywhere with relate to the Goddess Girls (and appreciate their hunky crushes). I especially enjoy working on series’ for tween girls, and I was geared up to find some cute art/graphics, girl-centric fonts, and work with Glen’s gorgeous palette for this series. I think all the elements work very nicely together to marry the adorable cover image with the fun modern-meets-myth story.
J&S: How about you Emily? Anything else you’d like to tell us about your involvement in this series?
Emily: It was a new challenge for me to work with two authors (I’m sure Joan and Suzanne will talk more about this process at some point). While one author wrote one book, taking turns in the series, we needed to make sure their individual writing styles were consistent across the series, and that all the books related to each other. When editing, I kept an eye to make sure things were consistent in style, plot, and characterization/storytelling. Luckily, both Joan and Suzanne have a casual, conversational, and fun tone that shines through all four books. It helped that, while 1000s of miles apart, they worked closely together, reviewing and editing amongst themselves before it got to me – the open lines of communication between the 3 of us helped make this series shine in the end.
J&S: We appreciated how you kept us all on the same page :-). Glen, we have two more questions for you. First, we wondered what your studio is like.
Glen: My studio is set up with a large drafting table, lamp, drawing utensils, scanner, and a large computer monitor hooked up to my trusty laptop!
J&S: Anything else you’d like to share about your experience working on this series?
Glen: The Goddess Girls covers kind of dropped out of “Mount Olympus” for me because I have always loved Greek Mythology and have numerous books on the subject. Since I also work in animation quite a bit, my dream would be to be involved in a cartoon version of the series. I’m sending my prayers to Athena on that one!
J&S: From your lips to Zeus’s ears. I can absolutely see your illustrations in a tween graphic novel format, Glen. Our hopes go to Mount Olympus along with yours. Thank you again for your fabulous covers!