Today I wanted to do something a little different for this blog tour. I’ve been creating hand lettering pieces for books for a while now. And I’ve been recently getting more questions about my creation process. That’s why I thought I’d combine my art process with this blog tour for Warmaidens!
In the refuge city-state of Manzazu, Kammani has built a thriving healing practice and a life she’s proud of with her siblings, the maidens, and her love, Dagan.
But when an assassin murders a healer he believes is Kammani and attempts to kill Arwia, the displaced queen of Alu, they realize they’re not safe in their safe little haven anymore. Uruku, the usurper to Alu’s throne, has found out they escaped the tomb and must kill them to protect his newly acquired power.
Burning for retribution, the ruler of Manzazu wants to unleash her fiercest weapons on Alu–her warmaidens. But when Kammani’s best friend, Iltani, is captured, Kammani must use her intuition and her heart to restore Arwia to the throne before the life she’s built–and a future with Dagan–burn up in the flames of war.
What are some of your favorite subtle elements on the cover of Warmaidens? Any details about the implications for the smoke?
Ooooh! I love this cover so much. The scorpions are indicative of the scorpion maidens, a group of powerful warriors from the city of Manzazu. They wear scorpion helmets because their goddess Linaza has a scorpion’s tail! Kammani heals them, but then has to confront them about their thirst for revenge after one of their own is harmed.
The bottle is a nod to Kammani’s healing power, but it’s broken because in Warmaidens, she has some very difficult decisions she needs to make regarding the power to heal and the power to kill.
The smoke? Where there’s smoke, there’s fire, right? 😉
Power and strength is a huge theme in Warmaidens, what we choose to do with our power and how we show strength. Can you talk about what strength and power mean to Kammani?
Such a good question! Kammani ends up in a very powerful position because what’s more powerful than holding someone’s life in your hands? Healers can use their skills for good or evil, and Kammani has to tread in the gray area of that dichotomy. For her, compassion is a strength and can be more powerful than any sword. But not everyone in her crew agrees.
What was the most challenging thing about writing this sequel?
Self-doubt. When you sell your first book, you’re full of bright-eyed optimism! But some of that begins to wane when you read your first horrible review (which I don’t recommend!) or get passed over for an award or something. It’s tough to keep writing even during the dark days when you think your work is irrelevant or you have nothing to say.
The good news, though? I found a lot of peace when I finished this story. One or two books do not make my entire writing career and at the end of the day, I’m incredibly proud of the story I’ve told. Kammani is someone I personally admire! She’s fierce, smart, brave, and compassionate, and I think that’s something that every single one of us should strive to be.
Part of the process is trying to find quotes that I like, but that will lend themselves to hand lettering. Some quotes I love, but are too long, and others don’t instantly inspire me. But there are ones that, rhythmically, just work – like this one! I imagine that if I were reading this aloud, where would I want to put the emphasis. What words stick out to me the most?
I’ve begun using these blocks to plan and space out my hand lettering. It’s helped guide me and, mostly, is a huge time saver. This way I can also always make sure that the text space is proportional. I’ve also underlined the words that stick out to me and the ones I want to make larger.
Here you can see that I’ve filled in the text. It’s not an exact process, just something to guide me and make me aware of the spacing I need for my letters. That way I just have to adjust them, instead of having to keep re-writing the word. I also wanted to keep the color scheme similar to the cover because I adore the purples and magentas!
And I wanted to just add something to make the quote a little more exciting. I have loved the covers for Gravemaidens and Warmaidens. What struck me were the scorpions. But I am pretty bad at free hand drawing and knew it would take me forever and never look the way I wanted it to. So instead, I picked up on the smoke element and used this smoke brush. I played around with about twenty different colors for the smoke, but ended up picking this one. The pink and magenta ones were difficult because of the contrast.
You might have noticed I also wanted to draw particular attention to the word, “quiet”. For me, this quote resonated with me and the ways that we view heroines as being strong. But there is strength and restraint and wisdom in being quiet as well. I know this was a little different than normal, I just wanted to show my love for the book in a different way!