Artist Spotlight!

Without an amazing team of talented artists in my corner, I would never get anything done. From illustrations to audiobook production, my team rocks. One of my favorite audiobook producers is Amada Soha, who lent her voice to my fictional memoir about a family made band, 100 Grand! She has also narrated The Hate Project and The Text Message, which should be available in the next one to two months! I adore the way Amanda brings life to my characters with an easy, laid-back style that just… fits.

Without further ado… here is my short and sweet interview with Amanda!

What is your all-time favorite book?

My favourite book is definitely “Where the Crawdads Sing” by Delia Owens. It was a book I just could not put down, and I think I went through it in a couple days! I would definitely recommend it!

What is your favorite genre to read? To record?

My favourite genre to read is literary fiction or novels based on real life. My favourite genre to record is probably children’s books because it is super fun getting to create different character voices! Beyond children’s books, I love to record books that I feel personally connected to whether through the storyline or main characters. 

How did you get into recording audiobooks?

Funny enough, I saw a Tik Tok video about it! I used to record voices for cartoons until I was 18 years old, so when I saw that video, I thought “It’s time to dust off the old mic – I can totally do this!”

What do you love most about recording?

What I love most about recording is definitely how close you get to the stories and characters. Bringing emotion to the written word makes me feel a very strong connection to the stories and characters  I’m bringing to life.

What are your favorite activities outside of reading and recording?

I am a very active person, so when I am not reading and recording, I am probably doing something active like working out, walking, or (weather permitting) hiking!

There you have it! If you want to hear Amanda bring life to my characters in 100 Grand, you can find it at Amazon and Audible!

An Interview with the Artist!

Many of you have fallen in love with Meaghan Ward’s rendition of my characters Eiagan and Porvarth, so I thought it would be great to hear from her and get to know her a little better. Without further ado, here’s the interview with my favorite artist!

Tell us a little about yourself, your hobbies, work, school, etc.

I am a freelance, self-taught illustrator and the author of several published short stories — one of which made Editor’s Choice in the Stories That Sing anthology with Havok Magazine. I’m also currently working on a YA fantasy novel about a knight who doesn’t want to go on a quest to save a girl who does not want to be rescued.

Even when I’m not ‘working’, I’m painting my own characters or dreaming up other worlds. Some other hobbies include reading (there are always at least two books by my bed), hiking in the mountains (but never in winter), haunting my local library (because it’s three-stories of awesomeness), and singing songs from my favorite Disney cartoons at the top of my lungs (when I think no one is listening).

(Image courtesy of Meaghan Ward)

When did you fall in love with the arts? How did it happen?

I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t drawing or making something, but around the age of 11 there was a definite switch where drawing went from being something I enjoy doing, to a compelling hobby and genuine passion. 

After attending 3rd grade, I was pulled out of school to be homeschooled due some health issues my mom was facing. She’d been diagnosed with a little known environmental illness called Multi-Chemical Sensitivity. Suddenly, she was reacting to every little thing — new carpet, chemical cleaners, car fumes, fabric softener, and laundry detergent. It got so bad at one point, we were forced to abandon our home. By the time I’d turned 11, I started showing signs of this illness too. Suddenly, simple things like finishing homework became nearly impossible. I became isolated and lost contact with all friends.

It was at this point, I started telling myself stories — wonderful, far-off tales about other worlds and characters who endured horrible things but persevered — with endings that could be far less bleak than my own was looking. I wanted to be anywhere but in this world in my own skin, so when I wasn’t writing, I started drawing. I soon found that I could make the world and the characters from my stories come alive with pencil, paper, color, and daydreams.

(Image courtesy of Meaghan Ward)

What drives you or gives you inspiration?

I find inspiration from just about everything. A starry sky, a summer night filled with fireflies, a burning sunset (but never sunrises because early mornings and I do not mix), a mountain dusted with snow, sunlight in deep forest, stories that make me FEEL, a song I can’t help but listen to on repeat, the sound of a genuine laugh.

Perhaps it’s because of what I went through growing up, but I think this world is kind of amazing.

What are some of your favorite projects?

I’ve worked on a lot of different types of projects, but I love working with authors on small commission projects best. Nothing satisfies me more than knowing I’ve helped make someone’s story a reality, and that I’ve given them something they can look at and be inspired from in the future.

As for a favorite past project, that would have to be illustrating The Dragon Ate My Nightlight, a children’s book about a little girl who feared the dark. At the time, I was very much a fledgling illustrator, but because of the author’s patience and willingness to take a chance on me, it’s become one of the most rewarding projects of my artist career so far.

(Image courtesy of Meaghan Ward)

What do you most want to say or project with your work?

A picture is worth a thousand words… or so the saying goes. There is nothing I want more than to be able to create a picture that captures emotion and tells a story all it’s own that can entertain a viewer’s imagination in a glance.

What mediums do you prefer and why?

My favorite medium by far is digital painting. I love the freedom of being able to take my art with me anywhere I go. All I need is my ipad! The setup isn’t complicated and there’s no mess. Also, there is a degree of realism and magic that I find I can capture easier in the digital medium rather than the traditional mediums.

(Image courtesy of Meaghan Ward)

How has your style changed over time?

My art has changed many times over the years. My first few pictures were cringeworthy, featuring back views of characters with wind-blow hair to cover faces. I soon became dissatisfied with not drawing the faces of my characters, but was frustrated that I couldn’t capture them like I imagined, so I started to imitate anime. Anime quickly morphed into my own style of cartoon with squared eyes and simple facial features. That drive to create something more realistic persisted though, and I continued to pursue improvement. It wasn’t until the last few years that I finally started seeing a recurring style that I was content with.  Since then, I have continued to perfect my artwork by creating something that could be perceived as realistic while also keeping the painterly look I’ve always loved.

(Above: One of the first pictures I can find from when I started drawing my stories)

(Above: My stylized cartoons)

Since this blog is mostly followed by readers, what are your favorite books and/or characters and why?

This is a ridiculously hard question to answer. (As any reader will know!)  But after some deep deliberation (in which I took some time to stare dreamily at my bookshelf), I think I’ve finally narrowed it down to a few of my favorites. 

First up is The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater. Yes, I love horses. No, I didn’t pick this book just because of that. Maggie Stiefvater not only created a gritty world that captured every one of my senses, but also featured characters with so many visceral dreams, desires, and flaws that they felt alive. So basically in my opinion, this book is a masterpiece and if you haven’t read it, you should go read it. Right now.

Next, would be The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale.  There’s something you should probably know about me.  I’m a sucker for fairytales, and this story was one of the best fairytale retellings I have ever read. It is simple and sweet while also possessing a lyrical writing style that only adds more magic to the story.

I also adore the Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer. I’d picked up a sampler of Cinder when it first came out, but I’d always avoided the sci-fi genre (I always found them too technical and hard to follow), so it wasn’t until years later when I found the book on sale, that I decided to give it another try. Once I started reading it, I couldn’t stop. I loved every twist to the familiar fairytales, and by the time I reached the end of the series, I felt like a part of the Rampion crew.

Last on my short (but also probably too long for this interview) list, is The Ascendance Series by Jennifer Nielsen. This series was a culmination of my love of fantasy and adventure with my deep enjoyment of unrelenting sarcasm. To be honest, this series isn’t perfect, but it’s as obstinate as the main character, and so stubbornly memorable that I cannot help but love it.

Want to follow Meaghan as an artist or writer? Here’s how you can!

Instagram: @meaghan.draws (art account) or @meaghaneward (bookstagram and author account)

Twitter: @meaghaneward

Youtube: @MeaghanDraws