Benny’s Angel has moved into the illustration phase at Tate Publishing. My phone conversations with Jeff Elliott, the artist assigned to my book, reassured me that the Lord had gone before to prepare the way. I immediately felt a rapport between us and he was receptive to my thoughts on how the characters should appear.
Jeff asked me what style I visualized for the ten full-color illustrations included in my book and listened carefully as I described the way each character looked in my imagination. He even suggested a whimsical special feature that will set Benny’s Angel apart and appeal to children in my target age of three to eight. Then he suggested I pick two or three characters for which he would do a preliminary sketch in color. This would enable me to see whether his vision was in harmony with mine before he moved on with the rest of the illustrations.
I received the sketches by e-mail a couple of days later. One character was perfect, the second needed a minor adjustment, and the third required a little more reworking in order to look like the little creature in my imagination. I decided to e-mail him a rough sketch of my own to give him a better idea of what I was thinking. He made the changes and it was exactly as I had envisioned.
I will not see the finished illustrations, other than the one chosen for the cover, until the galley proof arrives for my approval. Because illustration is costly and time-consuming, it is necessary to limit the input of the author to the beginning of the process. Otherwise, it could be an endless ordeal for both the artist and author.
My illustrations should be complete by the end of the month. After that, the cover design will begin, bringing me another step closer to holding Benny’s Angel in my hands.
~ Laura Allen Nonemaker