In my last post, I dropped the bombshell that Gary Chaloner, the artist and book designer for my Doc Wilde novels, has stepped down. That’s a pretty big disturbance in the Force, but not as catastrophic as it might initially seem (though, to be honest, I don’t think I breathed for two or three days after getting the news myself).
As many of you know, Gary’s association with the Wildes goes back years. He started working on art for the first book before I’d even finished writing it, much less gotten an agent and sold the book. Then Putnam bought the book but paid me little notice when I lobbied to have Gary work on it, publishing with a reasonably nice cover by another artist and having no interior illustration at all.
When I left behind a multi-book contract with them to go indie, naturally I brought Gary back on board, and the resulting second edition of Doc Wilde and The Frogs of Doom is a hell of a lot closer to the book I’d wanted to publish in the first place. I am incredibly proud of this book, and I’m enjoying hearing from you folks as you read it and get to enjoy not just my characters and story but Gary’s amazing work depicting them.
Unfortunately, as you probably also know, it took us a long time to get the book done. It was literally a year late. Part of that was simple naivete on my part as someone putting together a book like this for the first time, but a big part of it was also that Gary wound up having major conflicts in his schedule involving projects that were more immediately essential to his cash flow. It took a long time, but he stuck to the project and ultimately produced that first book…but at that point he realized that the delays of the past would likely continue on the next book, and the best thing he could do would be to put down his pencils for this project. I freaked at first, but soon saw the wisdom of his decision; had we pressed on, I might spend the next year or more stuck making excuses again.
As it happened, I was planning a side project to work on at the same time as we worked on Book 2, an anthology of Doc Wilde stories by other writers, and a wonderful artist named Tess Fowler was already on board to do the art for that book. I’ve wanted to work with Tess for a long time. Back when I decided to take the Wildes indie, had Gary not been willing or able to resume work on the books, Tess was going to be the next artist I talked to. She was always in my mind for possible future projects like the anthology, or a spinoff series I plan to do one day. She’s imaginative and artful and given to intricate, fantastic detail. And, like Gary, she’s not only a gifted artist, she has an instinctive understanding of visual storytelling. You can see some of her work in the slideshow below.
Tess had already slotted the work for the anthology into her schedule, and when I let her know the situation with Gary on the main books she very enthusiastically agreed to take over on those instead. This means the anthology isn’t going to happen for a while, but it also means that the second book will likely be out a lot faster than the first. Tess not only has the time to give the book, she’s a really fast worker. Our goal is to have Doc Wilde and The Mad Skull in readers’ hands by Christmas. Then it’s on to Doc Wilde and The Dance of the Werewolf…
Welcome to the family, Tess. I can’t wait to see what you do with the Wildes.