Greetings all! I’m happy to say I’m catching up on my interviews for the Book Cover of the Month bracket. Today, I’m sharing my interview with Amalia Chitulescu, the cover artist who designed the December BCOTM winning cover, Betrayer’s Bane.
Hello Amalia! I just want to thank you for taking the time to do this interview. I’m a huge fan of the BCOTM brackets, and yours will always be special because it was the first. Let’s get started.
When did you get into art?
How long have you been creating covers?
For almost seven years. The first cover that I realized was in 2010. By 2014, I had a break, working for a personal portfolio.
What got you started in creating covers?
Honestly, at first I started with each photo-manipulations. When I was at the beginning of my career, I never thought I would become a cover artist in the future, I was just doing what I loved. After the first client contacted me, in 2010, I started to be a lot more interested in working in this field.
Do you have someone who inspired your own work? If so, Why? Why?
Yes. I have always loved Sandara’s artworks.
What makes you choose to work with an author or not?
I’m excited to work with anyone as long as there is a mutulal respect.
What do you look for in a great client?
There are some clients with whom I worked who showed me more than respect. They are wonderful clients who have kept their word, but in the meantime, they are also very good writers. I can also see that through the way they are lovingly describing every scene, every detail, so that the cover can be perfect. In general, I want to consider that all my clients are great.
What are some of your pet peeves about clients?
One of my biggest pet peeves is lack of respect. I had to deal at the beginning with some disrespectful clients, but this certainly was adjusted over time. It is true that some customers want to pay the lowest possible price for what they get, but overall, I did not have this problem.
What would an author need to do to work with you? Do you have a link to your standard rates, or do you negotiate fees by author?
I always give them a list of requirements, with everything I need to know, in order to realize the cover they dream for. I have always tried to make every author 100% happy with the final product. We must also understand each other about the deadline. I do have a price list, the price starts from a standard one, and can increase depending on the level of detail involved, the level of hand-painted elements, the author’s requests, ect.
How did you come to be chosen to create the cover for Betrayer’s Bane?
Michael and I have worked together before. I am honored to be his cover artist.
Artistically, what were your goals for the cover?
My biggest goal for this cover was to manage to express, though an illustration, the painful feeling of the protagonist.
How was Michael to work with?
He’s always amazing. He’s a nice person. We are on the same wavelength. We understand each other very well.
Betrayer’s Bane was an awesome image. Is it your favorite? If so, why?
It is, yes. The image radiates a very strong emotion. I do not know why, but I find it easier to work in a more darker theme in the illustrations.
What can we expect to see from you next?
Hopefully many other illustrations, which I hope to enjoy and inspire you. Soon, I’ll open the website, and wills tart working on a new portfolio.
Is there anything you’d like to say to readers?
Never give up, and stay true to your dreams.
Thank you again for taking this time with us, Amalia! Best of luck in the Book Cover of the Year bracket.
I’m honestly having a blast with this whole idea. Just having the chance to look at work and see what others think is amazing. I hope you’re all having fun voting and seeing what the artists think.
J.R. Handley was kind enough to interview me over at his blog. I wanted to share that with you here on my page. I can’t thank him enough for taking the time to talk to me about my time in the military.
Hello Space Cadets! First, I wanted to thank everyone who helped make this writing dream a reality. Seriously, it’s a blast to think so many people (like anyone NOT related to me) are reading what I write. It has been a thrill to be able to show my sons that you don’t have to let your injuries and disabilities set you back. I realize that my injuries pale in comparison to others but for kids who don’t understand that level of granularity, the point is simplified for them. So again, my humble thanks.
Another update, I recently submitted a short story to the Roswell Anthology that was and will be the foundation to the Odera Chronicles. I’ll have more information about that as the time comes but there is more in the works for me after I finish The Sleeping Legion Series.
Today is the day that I can officially say that I published a book. When We GoMissing, my debut novel,is live and available for purchase in print and e-book form on Amazon. (The e-book version is also in Kindle Unlimited, so if you are a member, you can grab it for free!) When We Go Missing is a psychological thriller that explores women who vanish and what society does with those disappearances. If you are traveling in the next few weeks or simply want a fast-paced read, you should check it out.
Thank you all for following along on this journey. I have very much appreciated your support as I have written, edited, and rewritten (and rewritten, and rewritten, and rewritten) this novel.
If any of you end up reading When We Go Missing, feel free to write an honest review on Amazon, Goodreads
My friend J.R. has just released his first book. I can say from experience that this is the most odd combination of excitement and terror anyone can feel. I’ve already purchased my copy, and I look forward to reading it. Please, read his announcement and see if there isn’t room on your TBR for this book.
Hello Space Cadets, how are you today?I’m doing outstanding, biting my nails as we launch my debut novel The Legion Awakes.I’m anxiously waiting, hoping everyone loves it, because I’ve poured my soul into it.Paying back my mom for what we spent in the pre-publication stage wouldn’t hurt either!It’s officially out in the world, so mosey on over to the Amazon link and take a look!
Until next time, stay frosty and don’t forget to keep your powder dry!
–> As usual, all images came from the Google’s “labeled for reuse” section or are owned by JR Handley.
If Quintessential Editor could use a few of those greens he consumes so readily to help apply better terms, that would be amazing, but when discussing the contrast between the traditional hero and the flawed hero, I felt inspired (thanks Rough and Ready Fiction!) to offer a few case studies and offer my thoughts and opinions.
There are a lot of sources that describe a lot of hero archetypes. The reason I didn’t narrow down to one source is more because I don’t feel there’s a TON of consistency out there, so I’ll use the terms that make the most sense to me and you can decide on what terms you like best. I’m more interested in discussing my thoughts than I am determining the best terms in this regard.
The Traditional Hero: He’s the nice guy’s nice guy. He’s the white knight. The man of principle. He’s the example to follow. If you had a daughter, he’s the man you’d want to date her.
Case Study: Odd Thomas. I won’t lie. Odd Thomas was a very influential part of my writing The Journals of Bob Drifter. He’s such a great character. He’s honest, doesn’t cuss a lot. Heck, he even uses “sir” or “ma’am” when addressing people. He’s forced to act by circumstances, and sometimes he must do things he doesn’t want to do, but he’s a good guy, and no one can deny that. Bob is a traditional hero. He’s honest. He’s soft spoken. He’s even a little shy around women.
I’m more drawn to these heroes because a part of me honestly believes that fiction should strive to show humanity what it CAN be. This doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate flawed heroes, enjoy books about flawed heroes, or write stories about them. When stretching to find new levels of skill, one must try new things, but my favorite books all have more traditional heroes.
The Flawed Hero: He’s the rebel. He’s the hero who’s a drunkard or killer. He’s the man who’s seen stuff in life and is just trying to get by. He’s the man you’d shoot if he showed up to ask your daughter out.
Case Study: Durzo Blint from The Night Angel Trilogy. I love him. He’s a great character, but he’s a jerk. He’s a whore-mongering, drinking killer. His motives are selfish, and his moral code is just about as messed up as it can be.
These characters (to a degree) feel more real to readers. They’re more relatable. So I don’t know how often I’ll try to psychoanalyze humanity as a whole, but I’m going to step out on that limb in this case. Most people, myself included, feel flawed. Everyone has “hot buttons” because those issues spark in people that which they most dislike in themselves. Where a traditional hero provides an example to follow, flawed heroes show readers it’s okay to not be “perfect” because you can still, and always, do something worthy of the term hero.
Let’s look at this in practice (an point out my hypocrisy at the same time): Superman vs Wolverine.
Yep…I’m going the comic book route. Superman fights for truth, justice, and the American way. Wolverine is a killer. Now, based on my above comments, you’d think I like Superman, right? Wrong. I hate Superman. But in this we find the complexity of art. I don’t hate superman because he helps old ladies cross the street or reminds people that “flying is still statistically the safest way to travel.” I hate Superman because he’s TOO perfect. He’s (arguably) the most powerful character in comics. I don’t mind a person who has all these morals. What I mind about Superman is the fact that I just don’t ever feel he’s in danger. He’s not one for whom I worry because I don’t think he’ll ever be taken down. I don’t read the comics too much, but I hear he’s been “flawed” in some regard. I like Wolverine because (immortal thought he may be), I’ve seen him lose fights. I’ve seen him fail. And failure is a key part of gaining sympathy.
It’s the setbacks characters face that create the tension readers feel when they try anything. These setbacks don’t have to mean failure, but they are important.
So my problem with what I feel is the overabundance of flawed heroes isn’t people genuinely have flaws. It’s that some readers argue there aren’t nice guys out there. I served for 10 years in the Navy. Some of the kindest, most “Superman” type people I’ve ever met (Quintessential Editor among them) are Sailors. Corey will give you the shirt off his back while asking if you need a pair of pants. He’ll give everything he can for people in general. He’s capable of right and wrong like any human, but if I have a son one day, I’d be pretty proud if he grows up to be like Corey.
I have other friends. I have friends that my other friends ask why they’re still my friends. I obviously won’t name one. But if I were to judge people and withhold my friendship because they’ve done things I don’t like, I’d be pretty short on friends.
So what’s my point?
The most times I hear arguments regarding these two types of heroes, they’re arguing principles when what I think they’re really discussing is the unreal reaction to events. This was a major point of discussion with my editor about Sal in Caught. He goes through some seriously bad stuff, and just keeps plugging along heroically. At least, he did in the last draft of the book. In this draft, the issues he faces causes him to doubt himself.
I don’t actually care what type of hero anyone writes, but MOST readers want realism. They want character who reacts to situations. Let’s do another case study.
(SPOILER ALERT FOR DOCTOR WHO..YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED)
Doctor Who: In the episode entitled “The Doctor’s Daughter,” the doctor meets, grows to care for and loses a genetic clone of himself that seems like a “daughter.” The fanboy in me chuckles a bit because I actually remember the doctor’s initial reaction to Jenny (I believe the word “abomination” was used, but I could be wrong). Tennant is (from my informal, passive observation) commonly regarded as the “best” modern doctor. He still does the “good guy” thing in the end. He shows mercy. He’s still the better man, but the viewers see his temptation. They see his desire to do wrong, and he chooses to do right. THIS is what makes characters compelling. It’s seeing characters tested that make them sympathetic. But test a character too much, and the reader will become annoyed. The writers’ skill in having the doctor do “good” and “bad” is what makes him feel real in a lot of cases. Tennant’s doctor is the greatest example of this. He’ll be the better man when Jenny dies, but then kill a bunch of people if they don’t heed his warning.
I shifted Sal’s timeline not because he was “too good” a guy, but because he receives a lot of negative stimulation without any of those events affecting his personality. I still feel strongly it’s okay to have characters who “don’t break.” Those characters who never shift their morals because those morals define them are important. Ultimately, Sal’s the same “person” he was in every draft of Caught. But his responses to what he goes through shifted to account for those events.
I think some people like “flawed” heroes because it’s easier to believe a flawed man can do right on occasion than it is to believe a man can swear never to kill, no matter how many sidekicks, women, friends and associates die because you refuse to kill a man. (I’m looking at YOU Batman!)
So let’s talk about the caped crusader while we’re at it. Am I mad at Batman for never killing Joker (at least he didn’t when I last glanced at the DC universe. Again, I’m not a fan of that industry)? If you want REALISM, how does a mass murderer commit any crime and not inevitably be put to death by the legal system?
(NOTE) Look, I’m not here to start political debates. I won’t share my opinion on the death penalty any more than I’ll approve comments which do the same. This is a writing blog. The above comment was made because the death penalty exists regardless of the existence or absence of my approval.
What we should strive for as authors are AUTHENTIC characters. If you want a white hat, help old ladies cross the road, shining smile, never lies character, go for it. If you want a drinking, abusive, thieving character, go for it! But when SOMETHING happens to SOMEONE, that person reacts. I think readers have more problems with authenticity than moral values of characters.
What do you all think? Which do you all prefer? Feel free to throw your comments below. (For the record, Doctor Who is a FLAWED character. Come on people, even if you know the events of “The Day of the Doctor” he still knowingly killed an entire species.)
Hello Space Cadets, I’m trying not to float away as I write this! It’s finally here!! The big day, the day I get to tell you about the release date of my first novel, The Legion Awakes!! It will be the first in a series of military science fiction novels set in Tim C. Taylor’s Human Legion Universe. This debut novel will be released on December 19th, 2016 amid much celebrating in the Handley Household. Hey, if it goes well I might just buy back that family castle! 😉
To let you glimpse what you’d be buying, I thought about a quote from the book. I wanted to give you a feel for my bad assed main character, Senior Veteran Sergeant Lance Scipio’s training style. I hope you enjoy it.
“… Lance decided to take the beast by the horns and address the assistant squad…