You may wonder, sometimes, how an independent author creates their works. Do they do it all on their own? And if not, where do they find the help to help them bring their stories to life?

If you’ve been following me for a while, you probably know some of the answers already. But in short, there are indeed authors who do it all (typically because of lack of funds), others who contract various aspects of the book creation process to experts, and a few who outsource everything, except—of course–the writing (though there are those who will even outsource the writing to ghost writers, but that’s another topic entirely). 

As for me, I limited myself to building my own website (because it is something I have always loved to do), as well as to creating my own eBooks after learning the tools and technique, which came easily to me as I love all things IT (even if I am a biologist by education and a project manager by profession). For the rest, I decided from the start to try and identify a team of experts I could surround myself with, because I did need to keep some time to focus on the writing and because I could not do these other things with the quality they deserved. And, I wanted to use artists at the start of their careers–trust them, as they would need to trust me. But, having decided that, I made certain I was selecting the best of them. I did that by running contests, by studying the portfolios of my shortlists, and finally by chatting with the finalists to see if things would click.

So it was that I discovered Michele (Meekeleh) Parisi in 2017, a then 23-year-old Italian graphic artist who had just graduated from the Digital Arts Academy in Florence. You can see Michele’s remarkable skill in all the illustrations he has created for Conquerors of K’Tara.

But what allowed Michele to give me what I wanted and needed is that he always listened to my ideas and asked for clarifications when he needed them, and then got to work, sending me early sketches which I’d comment on, to arrive eventually at the final product. When he believed that my ideas would not do justice to a scene I wished to illustrate, he told me so and suggested something better. As young as he was, he was already a true professional. I do not know whether he will continue as an independent illustrator or go to work for an agency, but I hope to be able to continue using him as my illustrator.

So it was, too, that I discovered Adam R. Watson, the voice-actor extraordinaire who recorded Forebodings, and then even recorded Lusk’s Song (a.k.a. Insanity), putting it to voice and instruments. Why did I love working with Adam? Because of his personality and incredible versatility, for he created individual voices for all the main male protagonists and female protagonists of Forebodings, including one for the Serpent; a total of some 36 different voices! And if you’ve listened to the song, you cannot help but feel it grip you when he gets to “With this arm I hold the emblem, and we’ll sing for you requiem,” at min 3:49.

The last partner I needed was someone to translate my books into French because I could not take the time to do it myself lest the continuation of the novel come to a screeching halt. This was, perhaps, the most difficult decision because I needed someone who not only had the technical skill, but one who could also render my words and the tone of the story into French. And, because French is my native tongue (though I have lost some vocabulary after living in the US for 15 years), I needed someone who would not get upset when I told them that I did not like their word choice or phraseology.

Claire Bourély was all that, and more. She was patient and always found a way to show me the correctness of her choices, or to accept the changes I requested when she felt they were acceptable or better (which happened when she had not fully understood a particular scene). I knew I made the right choice when I saw the success the novel is having in France, where it is continuously being read through Amazon Kindle, and where it went from the 3200th position to the 27th position All categories / 1st position in the Fantasy category, between October and November on the French equivalent of Goodreads.

I count myself quite fortunate to have been able to find such excellent people to help me bring the story of K’Tara to life, and I hope to be able to bring them all to Pennsylvania for the launch of Book 3 of Conquerors of K’Tara in a couple of years, or perhaps to attend a sci-fi convention in 2021 (hush! I haven’t told them yet).

But for now, if you enjoy Adam’s voice, you can hear excerpts of his other narrations on SoundCloud, or be amazed by Michele’s artwork here. As for Claire, you will be able to read her translation of Eruption (if you read French) when it comes out some time this coming fall.