Monday, November 18, 2013

Process Post: The making of the Infinity Coil medallion's for Marty Chan's novel The Ehrich Weisz Chronicles Demon Gate

This summer I had the opportunity to step outside of the box and create my first novel cover art. Not only was it my first project for a more mature audience(think older MG) but it was also Steampunk! I had been experimenting with some Steampunk ideas behind the scenes and I happened to mention this to my editor, Christie Harkin, while I was in her office going over the proofs for the final art for Skink on the Brink. As luck would have it, Christie just happened to be working on edits with Marty Chan for his new novel The Ehrich Weisz Chronicles Demon Gate. The main character, Ehrich Weisz has this mysterious Infinity Coil medallion hidden beneath his shirt, given to him by his brother Dash...well, I don't want to give anything away, but lets just say its REEEEEEEALLY important. Anyway, we thought that the Infinity Coil would look awesome created in 3D. So after lots of discussion with Marty, I got to work on some sketches.

 At first we thought I'd just be creating the front of the medallion, with the Infinity coil, for the front cover. But after reading Marty's marvelous description, I just had to create both sides of it because both sides were so distinctive.
Here is the description from the book:

 "Two gear wheels soldered together to form a figure-eight. Inside the twin loops, smaller gears connected to each other, getting smaller and smaller as if they could extend to infinity. An image of a lion with the head of a goat on its shoulders and a snake for a tail was engraved on the medallion’s back cover. What the Chimera meant, where Dash had gotten this strange medallion from, and why he had been wearing it around his neck, Ehrich had no idea."

Tight sketches for Infinity Coil medallions

From here I began the final art. Because this was going to be a mixed media project, using actual watch components, I decided to use metallic polymer clay so that I could bake and harden the medallions before  gluing on the watch components. And yes, those watch gear Infinity Coils are exact mirror images of each other!  I then went a step further by rubbing a glaze of acrylic paint on top to give the medallions a rich, old-world patina. 

Here are a series of pics of my process for the front side of the Infinity Coil medallion:

And here is the final art for the front cover:

Here it is on the designed cover. So Steampunk-y goooooood!

The back of the medallion features a chimera- a beast with the body of a lion, the head of a goat on it's shoulders and a tail of a snake. How fun was that to create? 

Here are a series of process pics of the back of the medallion:

And here is the final art:

And on the back cover:

This project was an exciting challenge, and I enjoyed working with Marty Chan very much. He has the official book launch for The Ehrich Weisz Chronicles Demon Gate on November 26th at 7pm, at Aubreys Books in Edmonton. He'll have the final art medallions at the launch and he'll even be sporting his funky Steampunk bowler and full Steampunk attire. Seriously, you know you want an excuse to get dressed up in your finest Steampunk outfit! I wish I lived closer.

I asked Marty for a few words to include in this process post. Here is what he had to say:

The Ehrich Weisz Chronicles: Demon Gate

The Ehrich Weisz Chronicles is one of my childhood dreams realized. When I was a kid, I was fascinated with stage magic. I remember buying books on card tricks so I could learn how to cut a deck of cards with one hand or magically find someone’s card. I wanted to learn the magicians’ secrets so I could one day join their society. I could never quite pull off all the tricks in the books, but I never forgot about the magicians I admired, especially Harry Houdini.

A few years ago, I stumbled across The Bowery Boys, a podcast about New York History. One of their podcasts featured Harry Houdini, which reignited my interest in magic. I started researching Houdini’s background and discovered some interesting information. His real name was Ehrich Weisz. He debunked con artists posing as spiritualists. He ran away from home when he was twelve. I thought about the year he had spent away from home, and I thought it would be cool if he didn’t run away but fell through a portal that transported him to an alternate dimension. That was the spark for the novel.


- My first crack at the novel was the “zero draft” I wrote during the 2011 National Novel Writing Month. That’s when people around the world try to write 50,000 words of a novel in November.

- To research the novel, I spent 4 days in the New York-Historical Society archives to get a sense of what New York was like in 1890.

- The original title for the first novel was Devil’s Island.

Working with Christie Harkin on the novel was one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve ever had as a writer. She had a way of telling me what was wrong with the manuscript without dousing my creative spark. We have a running gag about Star Wars because a plot point in the novel reminded her of Han Solo being frozen in carbonite.

Thanks Marty!

The book is in stores now. I am in the midst of reading it myself. It's fantastic!  

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