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Today's guest is essayel, writer and artist, who has very kindly offered to share some work with us. The drawings are fabulous :).

The pictures all open in a personal album, so be prepared for some that are large.
I've created thumbnails for the pictures, so you can open each one either from clicking the pictures - as they occur in the text - or from the links in the text itself.

PS: And I must thank essayal personally, because as a result of this post I finally mastered creating thumbnails that open in a new window LOL.


Bio: I'm more than average old for LJ, but hold to the idea that 'you' - the bit that thinks - stays at an optimum age and all the rest crumbles around it.

I've drawn, painted and written for as long as I can remember. Perhaps I've wasted my time, perhaps not. I've had fun with it anyway. I was in my late 40s before I showed anyone anything I had written and she liked it! Since then I've posted stuff, usually fan fiction, where other people can read it. Reviews, as they say, are mixed. Occasionally I flirt with the idea of trying to start the long agonising process of getting something published, but usually manage to talk myself out of it.

I love my cats, dog, kids and husband and love my online friends just as much, though in slightly different way.

I work in a museum. I have worn chain mail [it sucks] and a lorica segmentata [sucks too but not as much as chain mail], and used to ride, fence and shoot a longbow before my joints gave up on me.


Here's a question for the proper authors out there. When you're writing your stories how do you visualise your characters? Do you pick actors to 'play' them or put them together like an Identikit? Do you have a strong visual image to go by or describe them meticulously and let the words do the work? Are you inspired by visual images or do you make your own?

Ever since I started writing stories, and that was over half a century ago, I've been making drawings to go with them. They aren't very good drawings, but I enjoy doing them so thought I'd put some out here for you to look at.

This is a little bit of my 2010 Nanowrimo attempt about a naval lieutenant who falls in with pirates. Two of the pirates, Lewis and Protheroe, are 'mess mates'.

Kit hadn’t been prepared for Tortuga to be so beautiful. Also it appeared that the utter lawlessness of the town was either an exaggeration or a report of time past, because the harbour was in good order and business seemed to be going on calmly. But there were differences. For instance, there was no line of tarred corpses swinging on gibbets to warn potential wrong doers.

“Oh, bless his dear heart,” Lewis said when he asked about this. “Did you hear that, Protheroe? Kit wants to know if pirates have any capital crimes.”

“Plundering,” Protheroe said, not even looking up from the knife with which he was trimming a thumbnail. “Arson is capital fun too.”

“That – um – wasn’t quite what I meant,” Kit said.

Once he had explained both pirates gave the matter some thought. Both were dressed in their best. Lewis was sporting a satin coat in the Spanish style cut for a much smaller man, so somewhat the worse for wear around the shoulder seams. Protheroe’s shirt must have come from the same source and bore a year’s worth of naval lieutenant’s wages in Brussells lace. They were each wearing one of the same pair of earrings, which made Kit feel uncomfortable at the same time as he was amused.

“He’s looking at our earbobs, Lew,” Protheroe said with a grin. “Do you want to tell him or shall I?”

Lewis chuckled and flicked the pendant. It sparkled. Kit couldn't quite bring himself to believe they were diamonds.

“We’re going ashore, see. If there’s – an accident – the earbob covers the cost of the burial and, more importantly, the wake. Otherwise they just heave your corpus into the jungle. At sea there’s no way to bury you,” Lewis smiled, “so your mates slip a round shot into your breeches and send you down to rot in peace. Nice and tidy and out of the way. On shore – well you can’t leave corpuses just lying about, can you? It gets messy.”

“Yes, it would,” Kit agreed. “That's a remarkably sensible idea.”

“Isn't it, but I’ve thought of a capital crime,” Protheroe said. “It's keeping honest pirates talking during their hard earned drinking times. But,” he surged to his feet, chest hair bristling through the open front of his lace trimmed shirt, and reached up to pat Kit’s cheek with a broad tar-stained paw, “I’ll let you off because it’s a first offence.”

“You behave now,” Lewis suggested, slipping his arm through Protheroe's, “and we'll bring you back an earbob of your own.”

“Aye, we'll make a pirate of you yet, Lieutenant Penrose bach,” Protheroe promised and they laughed as they headed for the boats.

1 2 3 4 5 6

I know exactly what Lewis and Protheroe look like (!). They are both Welsh from the southern valleys, stocky, dark, strong as the little Dexter cattle they bred round there then. I see them in the streets every market day. This isn't them, but gives an idea.

Here's a bit of 4 century BC "historical", set on the north coast of the Black Sea where Greek colonists were trying to bring a little civilisation to the Scythian nomads, not all of whom wanted any. Scythian warlord on his way up takes on a second best Theban sculptor as PR.

Atei looked at Anatolios again.

“Come here,” he said, and Anatolios stepped to the shoulder of the red horse and looked up at him.

Atei looked at the mallet in Anatolios' hand and frowned. “Just what did you intend to do with that?”

Anatolios shut his mouth and looked at the mallet in embarrassment. “Nothing, probably,” he admitted, after a moment. “It just made me feel braver.”

Atei grunted then put out a hand and cuffed Anatolios lightly on the back of the head. “Don’t pick up a weapon unless you intend to use it,” he said, gruffly and his hand lingered on Anatolios head for a moment, the calloused fingers catching in the fine black curls of his hair.

Anatolios laughed, not sure whether he was actually being punished or not, and looked up to see if Atei’s expression would give him a clue. The man looked impatient, obviously making time to deal with a minor matter, but his eyes were amused and kind – and something more. As Anatolios met his gaze he felt his colour rise so he looked away and smoothed the shoulder of the red stallion.

“I won’t,” he promised. “I’ll leave fighting to people who know what they are doing.”

Atei nodded. “Good,” he said. “Take care of Lydia and yourself.”

Again there was the feather-light brush of fingers, this time on the sun browned skin of Anatolios’ shoulder, then the red horse sprang away.

This whole story came from a photograph (2) I spotted in an archaeological book, with these two bods (3) as a centrepiece. I've drawn the protagonists many times – the Eastern Scythians were big guys, blond and blue or green eyed according to Herodotus and scared the north Pontic Greek colonists silly.

I've even drawn a comic strip (4).

Atei [aka Ateas or Ataia] (5) was an actual historical personage about whom very little is known apart from a few bizarre references by classical authors so :D I made a load of stuff up. Anatolios here (6) is out of breath due to running, though I must admit that his expression is open to other interpretations.

7 8 9 10 11 12 13

Nor do I let that characters belong to other people stop me. Fan art seems to be more acceptable than fan fiction for some reason. Most authors will put up with a poor drawing of a character even if fan fic makes their flesh crawl. I don't expect my drawings to look anything like the characters they portray, but - well - it's fun, the materials are cheap, and it keeps me out of the pub.

So here's a couple of pages of Harry Potter graphic novel (7) and (8), story by copperbadge, and a sketch of Remus J Lupin (9) for no better reason than I like him.

Here's Bagoas (10) from The Persian Boy by Mary Renault. The poor lad's gone a bit 'manga' but luckily she'll never know.

I watched the very first ever episode of Dr Who the first time it was ever shown, and spent a lot of my childhood hiding behind the sofa. I loved ALL the Doctors but Matt Smith (11) is the only one I've ever drawn. I love the manic hair and bow tie.

To come more up to date, with apologies to charliecochrane, here are Messrs Stewart and Coppersmith (12), the Cambridge Fellows.

And finally for erastes, Rafe from Standish (13), on a horse with legs all over the place.

I wouldn't normally let people see the doodles I make when on the phone or watching TV, [let alone the stick figure flow charts I do when trying to work out a tricky action sequence], but I have today because it's as well that people be warned that the characters they create take on a whole new appearance in other people's imaginations, especially when filtered through limited artistic skills.

You have power, ladies and gents, so use it wisely and, please, go easy on the bits with tricky perspective.



Like to stretch your writing fingers after Christmas' excesses? Take the prompt "A NEW RESOLUTION" and write something for the visitors this month. It can be anything from a flashfic 3 sentences to a drabble of 100 or so, or even more. Any genre, any theme, any rating, any character(s). Maybe ones you already love, maybe the chance to try on a new character for size.

Depending on how many (if any!) contributions we get, I'll post them during the month or all in the last week. Just send them in to me at clarelondon11 AT yahoo.co.uk and we'll go from there :).


Follow this month with Clare - and the goodies so far:

JAN 08: A great new novel and sequel from mickieashling.

JAN 01: A FREE short from me, revisiting Nic and Aidan from Sparks Fly.
JAN 01: Delicious m/m icons from luscious_words.
JAN 02: Why I want to be a Bond villain! by chrissymunder.
JAN 03: The world of inspiration between 'historical' and 'contemporary' with stevie_carroll.
JAN 04: Some fascinating Swedish proverbs from 1more_sickpuppy.
JAN 05: A round-up of a great year just gone from angelasstone.
JAN 06: The countryside and history that inspires author sandra_lindsey.
JAN 07: The challenge of trying to balance edits, with diannefox and anahcrow.


Check up on the original post and the Guest Schedule for January HERE.

Want to join in but missed the original call? Email me at clarelondon11 AT yahoo.co.uk and I'll happily find you a space ♥

NOTE: most pictures chosen by me and credited where known, others may be used without direct permission, please contact me with any queries/concerns.



( 22 comments — Leave a comment )
Jan. 9th, 2011 02:05 pm (UTC)
Thank you for sharing your drawings. They are beautiful and as a Standish fan I could easily picture Rafe in your drawing.

To answer your question about writing and visuals. I do have faces in mind when I write. Some of them are actors, others are random men I've seen on different sites. The erotic picture thread over at Goodreads has been a great source of inspiration lately. So yes, pictures do speak to me.

Jan. 9th, 2011 06:17 pm (UTC)
Thank you. There are so many inspiring scenes in the m/m novels I've read. I just love drawing blokes!

The erotic picture thread over at Goodreads

Wow, I didn't know they had one of those. I'll look out for it. Drawing sex scenes is difficult. The anatomy has to be spot on other wise it just looks silly. I'll certainly look there - for reference, of course *coughs*
Jan. 9th, 2011 02:05 pm (UTC)
This is a very interesting topic, and one that I think depends on whether or not you're a visual thinker. As an artist (and don't disparage yourself; those pics are good!), you see things fully fleshed out as images in your mind's eye. As someone who can't draw a stick figure without it looking crazy, I can answer you by saying, "No." I never have a clear visual image of anything, be it scenery or the physical nature of my characters. That's why I tend to forget to include physical descriptions (particularly clothing) when I write and always have to go back and put that detail in later when I realize that I've neglected to do so. I do write with a vague movie in my head of what's going on in a scene, but the actual figures are shadowy and indistinct. I may have a general impression of height, eye color, skin tone, hair color, etc., but nothing more specific than that. An image doesn't inspire me on its own unless it's been associated with personality traits, like an animated character that I really like - oh, and he looks good, too (if that makes sense). Hope that helps!
Jan. 9th, 2011 06:25 pm (UTC)
Thank you kindly for the compliment.

Reading these comments makes it clear to me hOw different we all are in our approach to fiction.

That's why I tend to forget to include physical descriptions (particularly clothing)

I do that too because I have SUCH a clear mental image I forget that a reader won't know what I'm talking about.

oh, and he looks good, too (if that makes sense)

Yes, a lot of sense. I need to slightly fancy my protagonists. Nothing extreme, but if I don't like them I find it hard to imagine anyone else liking them.

Yes, a great deal of help, thank you.
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Jan. 9th, 2011 07:59 pm (UTC)
I worry about where they got their earrings from, though!

Protheroe 'liberated' them from the Spanish and gave one to his cariad Lewis. Their story, and that of Kit Penrose and his pirate captain is up to over 60K now - I've slacked off over xmas. Another 40K or so should do it and then - deep breath - second draft.

I'm REALLY looking forward to reading about your pirates.

It's interesting to hear about the grey fog with words in it. I have movies, or maybe more like rather jerky animations, and have to remember to put enough detail in to make it clear what's happening when I try and write it down. Isn't the human brain an infinitely variable thing?
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Jan. 10th, 2011 04:50 pm (UTC)
Ooh Privateers! yes, far more romantic.

I have to be totally honest about my pirate story. It has to class as fan fic of the biography of Bartholomew Roberts, who was Baptist, abstemious, tee-total, very definite that there should be no killing and seems to have been desperately in love with naval surgeon George Wilson. So I've hedged my bets and have 2 pirate crews. The other is more Treasure Island - Robert Newton's version crossed with the Muppets. :D
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Jan. 12th, 2011 11:25 pm (UTC)
On the other hand there were true monsters like L'Ollonais who used to eat prisoners' hearts and Howell Davis who used to hang people up from the yards so his men could practice with their pistols. It's a fertile period for all kinds of shenanigans.

I haven't read that book - yet - but cannot believe that they were all wonderful any more than all policemen, priests or estate agents are. It was probably just as well that they squabbled amongst themselves so much.
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Jan. 13th, 2011 11:23 pm (UTC)
Oooh Billy One-hand! Can't look him up til Monday because all my text books are at work. Philip Gosse is bound to have something about him - he had the largest pirate related archive in the world and made a wonderful 'who's who'.

There's some confusion about William Condent - some records refer to him as Condon and some as Christopher Condent. I get the impression that pirates were quite in the habit of changing their names.

Having a cameo is nice. I want to use Benjamin Hornigold, partly because of his name and partly because he once took a ship because he wanted to steal the crews hats.
Jan. 9th, 2011 05:23 pm (UTC)
Your drawings are so much better than mine could ever hope to be. I generally develop a clear picture of characters as I'm writing them, if not from the outset. Describing tem is the tricky bit!
Jan. 9th, 2011 08:02 pm (UTC)
Thank you very much, but then I've been scribbling for as long as I can remember. My father was an excellent painter and drawing was about the only game he ever wanted to play.

Yes indeed, it doesn't matter what one has in ones head if one can't make a sufficiently compelling word picture to excite or interest the reader. That's the really clever trick.
Jan. 9th, 2011 05:46 pm (UTC)
Wow! Never had fan art before - he's lovely, and the horse is fantastic - you even got the backward sitting position right - thank you so much!

(Clare, don't panic, I'm thinking... I am just a bit stuck for a subject...)
Jan. 9th, 2011 06:50 pm (UTC)
Isn't it a great picture?! And yes, the horse *is* fantastic, and I'm pretty sure they're some of the most difficult things to draw.

And LOL, yes I was panicking a little bit :). But good to hear you've remembered and you've got things in hand!
Jan. 9th, 2011 08:13 pm (UTC)
I'm glad you like him. Standish has some lovely visual images in it. So does Transgressions and I'm very much looking forward to drawing hussars!
Jan. 9th, 2011 05:56 pm (UTC)
Interesting that you draw the characters. I write a bit and I just have the picture of the character in my head. Sometimes not all that clear, bits and pieces of them, I know what their hair looks like, or their mouth shape, or .... other parts. :-) But I'm not sure I could even do a police artist sketch of them. I imagine they are made of bits and pieces of pictures or real people I've seen.

Thanks for sharing, it's neat how you draw out your characters. Mine would look much like stick men. LOL
Jan. 9th, 2011 08:53 pm (UTC)
From what I can see, everyone seems to have their own means of visualising their characters, whether pictorially or verbally. It's been great fun hearing your accounts. Thanks for commenting.
Jan. 9th, 2011 06:11 pm (UTC)
Thank you, Clare, for hosting this and making it look so pretty! Looking forward to reading the rest of the months guest blogs.
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Jan. 9th, 2011 09:03 pm (UTC)
I even had one character who so loudly demanded he be drawn, I had to stop writing and draw him so he'd settle down.

Oh crikey yes. That's happened to me too. Also locations. Sometimes I have to draw a fairly detailed map [complete with 'here be dragons' or whatever] to get a location straight in my mind.

Had a look at your website. Nice book covers!
Jan. 9th, 2011 09:21 pm (UTC)
Lovely post and drawings. Quite interesting to think that not only are our writings filtered by our own perceptions but also by our readers' perceptions as well.
Jan. 9th, 2011 10:57 pm (UTC)
Thanks. And definitely food for thought about the perceptions. Just think of - for instance - Severus Snape and the different ways he is perceived. I find it impossible to view him as a sex object while many people find his nasty 'emo'ness deeply alluring.
Jan. 10th, 2011 09:50 am (UTC)
Great post, gals. Your Bagoas is much more how I imagined him than the film version (I love Francisco Bosch, but the characterisation was too wimpy). Rafe is magnificent and my lads...just "Wow". You have Jonty's nose and eyebrows absolutely perfect and Orlando's cheekbones are a poem. THANK YOU!
Jan. 10th, 2011 05:06 pm (UTC)
I'm so glad you like your boys. Doing drawing for characters of people I 'know' is always more edgy than for people I don't know and have no possible hope of meeting.

The story in the sketch is that Mr Stewart has just realised that Mr Coppersmith is taking every word he says literally and has failed to pick up on the innuendo. He's now wondering how much more he can get away with.
Jan. 10th, 2011 06:32 pm (UTC)
LOL Oh yes, that happens very often. I think he'll get away with t----h----i----s much before someone twigs.
( 22 comments — Leave a comment )

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