So you know how I said last month that I was finally getting a Wacom Cintiq to replace my external Intuos tablet? Well, I did it! It wasn't an entirely seamless process, complete with the gutting realization that the Cintiq wasn't compatible with my current laptop, but after some setbacks I got it set up in the past week and have started tinkering with it. And with June's blog structured for readers of my trilogy, what better way to break it in than by drawing a bunch of pictures of my protagonists!
While romance isn't the central part of the Creatures of Light trilogy, it's a strong current throughout all three books. Partnerships--both platonic and romantic--play a big role in driving the plot and upping the stakes. And the romances, be they past or present or on the rise, are not simple, sweet things. They're messy, and bittersweet, and at times very, very hard. Some fall apart over the course of the trilogy, some bloom. But they all have an impact, leaving characters different people from who they were before.
So this blog post features an illustrated snippet from each protagonist's first meaningful interaction with their significant other. Some are right there in the text, and some are only hinted at. Obviously, there are spoilers ahead! But I've arranged and labeled them by book, so if you've only read Woodwalker, you can stop without spoiling the rest; likewise for Ashes to Fire. If you haven't read any of them.... get out now while you still can!(Shameless link to book one in the series here!)
See them all after the jump!
Okay, ready? Last chance to bail!
*Woodwalker spoilers below! *
Mae and Valien
"And this name?" Mona asked. "Redhand?"
"And then I coached him through hitting all his targets left-handed for the first time and we made out." --Subtext
Colm and Ama
"Hi, Colm," I said. "How are you feeling?"
Obnoxiously happy! Boyish, un-tragic Colm and cheerful, brave Ama, perhaps realizing for the first time that he's more than just her best friend's brother.
Arlen and Sorcha
"What is THAT?" Mona asked later that evening, when we were laying out our wares.
It becomes pretty clear by the end of Woodwalker that both Mona and Arlen alike misunderstood his relationship with Sorcha. Though Mona claims they'd only courted for two weeks, I expect Arlen would have known Sorcha longer, probably from climbing along the shrouds and yardarms in the shipyard with the other Blackshell kids. It would only be shortly before the Alcoran invasion that Arlen would work up the courage to approach her on his own, still passing it off as just lounging in the rigging while she worked, which she wouldn't buy for an instant. (PS for all you tall ship buffs, because it's bothering me too--I know the shrouds are on the wrong side of the yardarm, but the staging didn't work otherwise.)
You can see other spoiler art for Woodwalker in my Spoiler Art gallery! Only book one is included there, so it won't spoil the other two.
*Ashes to Fire spoilers below!*
Mona and Rou
I woke with the same disorientation as before. My stomach churned with nausea, and my head was groggy and aching. I was lying on my left side again. Dappled light pressed against my eyelids. I smelled rot, and burnt hair, and honey.
Illustrating this scene made me aware of two things: first, how weirdly similar it is to Mae and Val's first meeting in the supply closet, sans the slapping (if it's an author tic, I need to get more creative with my subplots). And second, exactly how stressful it would have been for Mona to wake up in these circumstances given her romantic history. It's a wonder the credits didn't roll right then and there.
*Creatures of Light spoilers below!*
Gemma and Celeno
"What did your tutor say when you proposed your thesis?" I asked. "Go on, what did she say when you suggested a cosmic source, instead of an atmospheric one?"
Gemma and Celeno's origin story went through several iterations with the rewrites of Creatures of Light, but they all involved helping one another with their studies (in the first draft, they were children when they met, and they watched a butterfly emerge from a chrysalis). And while this scene focuses on Celeno's research, it was a reciprocal relationship, as they both recall half a chapter later:
"What's so funny?"
Poor Celeno. Poor Gemma. Things were good until the world got in the way.
"You're different than I expected...."
*winky face emoji*
June Art Roundup
Actually, beyond the illustrations above and some commissions, I didn't produce much beyond these two pieces for my fan art classes (the next one is July 12th!). A Weasley Twins redraw and a Moana live-drawing demonstration.
Emily B. Martin
Author and Illustrator