Proof copies are on the way!

Behind the scenes, Vasilisa the Wise & Other Tales of Brave Young Women, is shaping up beautifully.

The book design is complete and we’re now nibbling our nails in anticipation of the first proofs. Here’s a sneak peek:

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And here’s another:

In exciting news, a proof will be going to the Frankfurt Book Fair in October – we’ll be sure to keep you updated if anything comes of that.

You can pre-order your copy of Vasilisa the Wise and Other Tales of Brave Young Women here.

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The Illustration Process

When you look at Lorena’s illustrations, do you see paint? Ink? Paper cut outs? Her work is certainly inspired by the incredible pen and ink illustrations of Arthur Rackham and the watercolour and cut-out works of Jan Pienkowski, but she uses an altogether different method. In an extract from a conference paper she recently gave at the Australian Fairy Tale Society conference, Lorena describes her method in her own words:

I work entirely with photography, which does surprise a lot of people. These works aren’t paintings or drawings. Instead I photograph many separate elements and montage them together in Photoshop.

We’ll go right back to the beginning of my process. My work always starts with what the landscape gives me. I collect small treasures – leaves, stones, animal bones – and photograph them, then file them into digital folders ready to draw from.

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As you can see below, the bridge of bones is made from an entire fox skeleton, with a couple other skulls thrown in for good measure.  A year or so ago, we had some friends staying, and they returned from a walk in the bush near our house with a bundle wrapped up in a silk scarf. “We have a present for you!” Unwrapping it with a flourish, they revealed a pile of white bones – a fox skeleton! Once I reassembled it, I was thrilled to discover it was completely intact, minus a few tiny toes.

I photographed them one by one on a light box, and assembled them carefully in photoshop. In the end, this image was created from 72 separate photographs, and was the basis for one of the illustrations for The Rainbow Prince in Vasilisa The Wise and Other Tales of Brave Young Women:

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I start by photographing the pieces I need, either on-location (usually squatting somewhere damp!) or at home on the light box. The light box gives me the silhouette that I need, which I then refine later in Photoshop. If I’m photographing a large subject, like a person, I set up the studio lights, lighting the wall behind the subject, but not the subject themselves.

Next, I upload the photographs to the computer and make any necessary adjustments. These are saved into in my *ahem* extremely well organised filing system, ready for use.

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I usually start a new image with the silhouette components. I either use them as themselves – trees, people etc – or I build creatures out of lots of seperate photographs. The fox bridge for example, or creatures I wouldn’t have a chance of photographing myself. Here are a few animals that I’ve created out of sticks, leaves, bones… stuff from the forest floor. When making a composite creature, I try to be conscious of their surroundings in the story and illustration, and use objects that you would find there. In that way, they are built up from their own ‘landscape’.

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Once I’ve built up the silhouettes, I layer in the background – itself often made from several photographs merged together. And there, after a process that can take anywhere from several hours to many days of collecting, photographing, editing, montaging and layering, we have a completed image.

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You can see Lorena talk further about Vasilisa the Wise and Other Tales of Brave Young Women at the Athenaeum Library in Melbourne, this Thursday evening (July 20th) as part of the Australian Fairy Tale Society’s Fairy Tale Evening. Alongside singers, storytellers & writers, she will discuss the upcoming book and her creative process.

And don’t forget to pre-order your copy of Vasilisa the Wise. The first 1000 pre-orders come with a free gift, so don’t miss out!

10 gift ideas for folklore & fairy tale lovers

Inspired by Vasilisa the Wise and Other Tales of Brave Young Women, we’ve trawled the Internet to seek out a range of gifts for the folklore and fairy tale lover in your life. From the stunning to the quirky, we’re sure there’s at least one thing here that will thrill its recipient.

1. Baba Yaga pendant:

This pendant featuring an ammonite fossil is definitely eye-catching … and looking at it onscreen, there’s a definite sense that she’s watching. There’s wisdom in that gaze. It’s available here.

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2. V for Vasilisa:

We loved these custom-designed typeface prints – especially the V for Vasilisa. The original illustration was created using pencil crayons, graphite, water colour crayons and white watercolour. Prints are available here and there are plenty of other fairy tale-inspired letters to choose from.il_570xN.1091697821_91o8.jpg

3. Katie Crackernuts’ bluebird

In Kate’s retelling of ‘Kate Crackernuts’ aka ‘Katie Crackernuts’, Katie gives a fairy child hazelnuts in exchange for a bluebird so she can save the young lord who’s exhausted from dancing all night, every night. This gorgeous pendant is a lovely reminder of freedom. Buy it here.

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5. The Serpent Prince

A brave gardener’s daughter marries a giant serpent to save a prince. That’s a pretty big display of love and so is this solid, high grade silver vintage Indian snake chain belt. It’s not for everyone, but then again, neither is marrying a serpent! Available here.

5. Fairer-than-a-Fairy

A princess is kidnapped by an evil fairy and has only her dog, cat and a Rainbow prince to keep her company. But he only visits when the sky is cloudless. This crystal sun catcher is bound to bring colour and light into your days. Available here.

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6. The Singing, Springing Lark

In her blog post titled The most gorgeous fairy tale books in the world, Kate recommends The Lady & The Lion (a version of ‘The Singing, Springing Lark’, retold by Laurel Long and Jacqueline K Ogburn) for its ‘utterly exquisite’ illustrations. Buy here.

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6. The Stolen Child – shawl pin

In Kate’s retelling of ‘The Stolen Child’, a young woman knits an otherworldly shawl and offers it to the faery folk who have stolen her baby. This antiqued silver plated brass pin with a Victorian-style design of a maiden and harp is a real beauty and would suit a delicate shawl. Available here.

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7. The Toy Princess

For the puzzle-lover, why not check out this hand-cut, collectible wooden jigsaw puzzle. The image reminds us of Ursula in Kate’s retelling of The Toy Princess when she returns to the well-mannered but joyless kingdom of her birth. Buy the puzzle here.

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8. Stories are made for recycling

We truly believe that we need to keep telling and writing stories to keep them alive. This beautiful leather-bound book journal includes illustrations and select “Grimm’s Fairy Tales” stories. You can order this or something like it here.

9. Quirky and cute

This fairy tale themed umbrella will definitely make its owner stand out in a crowd. Best of all, it’s not just for fashion – it can get wet! You can buy this here.

 

10. Tea time

How cute is this fairy tale themed tea cosy? Its creator says:

Fairies like to move about
From their world to our own
And when they come to visit ours
I want them to have a home

You can buy this here. Serve with your favourite tea pot and tea cup – you could even try the Fairy Tale blend from Mountain Rose Herbs.

Are you inspired? Let us know your favourite.

But wait, there’s more …

Pre-orders of Vasilisa the Wise and Other Tales of Brave Young Women are now open and come with a free gift for the first 1000 orders.

 

Fairy tale forest

You wouldn’t think you’d find a place like this in Australia … but that’s exactly where this is. This photo was taken by Serenity Press editorial director Monique Mulligan at Golden Valley Tree Park in Balingup, in Western Australia’s South West.

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Fog and mist shrouded the garden, lifting slowly for a stunning interplay of light and droplet-filled air around lush sequoias and spreading oaks.

“It’s like something from a fairy tale … and I felt connected to Vasilisa and her brave friends as I traipsed up and down hills. I didn’t want to leave!”

“I imagined Baba Yaga’s iron mortar flying through the woods … and Katie Crackernuts holding onto the sick young lord as his horse was compelled through the forest to the faeries’ Great Hall. A wonderful moment of knowing that this project was meant to be…”

Pre-orders are now open and come with a free gift for the first 1000 orders.

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The production whirlwind

Originally when Serenity Press contracted Vasilisa the Wise and Other Tales of Brave Young Women, a 2018 launch was planned. But after hearing repeated questions like, ‘When do pre-orders open?’ the release date has been brought forward to December 2017. Pre-orders will open in July!

So, where are we up to in the production process?

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