Diana Renn

Mysteries that Matter


Today’s post will be hasty, as I’m writing to the soundtrack of Tom and Jerry cartoons. It’s breakfast time in our hotel room, and my 5-year-old and his dad are in full vacation mode. That means breakfast with Tom and Jerry on YouTube. Sigh. I’m not exactly a fan of this show. Partly because of the violence, and mostly because of the music, which makes me feel completely frantic. I don’t know about you, but I like to ease into my mornings, not start them with maniacal chase scenes.

Nevertheless. Tom and Jerry are generously giving me some blogging time, so I’ll wrap up my notes from the Seattle TOKYO HEIST tour before the cat catches the mouse! (For those of you who actually have leisure time to read . . . notes from Part 1 of my tour, if you missed them, can be found here. And Part 2 can be found here).

Saturday found me in the beautiful port town of Edmonds, just north of Seattle. Once again, a CSI team beat me to the bookstore! Here’s the creative storefront display at the Edmonds Bookshop:

The Edmonds Bookshop is a real gem, bursting with books and bustling with customers. The booksellers made me feel right at home, and the owner brought in a spread of sushi. I spent an hour chatting with customers about TOKYO HEIST, YA lit, mystery writing, and Japan.

I was thrilled to meet two ladies from the Edmonds Sister City Commission, both of whom had read the book. Edmonds, WA and Hekinan, Japan are sister cities, with a great exchange program for teens. I donated a book and some swag for their upcoming raffle, and they gave me this cool T-shirt (above). One of these women came in adorned in gorgeous contemporary clothing from Japan, including these awesome split toe shoes! She said they’re super comfortable. (If you’ve been following my footwear travails on the previous posts, you’ll know how much I want these!)

After Edmonds, my chauffeur husband, my personal assistant son and I raced, Tom and Jerry style, our feet spinning into blurs, over to the city of Bellevue, for my final book event on the tour.

At the Bellevue Barnes and Noble, I joined my fellow Seattle-area Apocalypsies J. Anderson Coats (The Wicked and the Just) and Marissa Burt (Storybound) to chat about our books. This was especially fun because the three of us had met in Bellevue for coffee at the beginning of our publication journey, about a year and a half ago when we all joined the Apocalypsies. Now we were all presenting together, our books complete at last!

This event had great turnout, despite competition from the huge Bellevue Arts Festival right next door and a street closure nearby. We had excellent audience participation for some fun activities, and excellent questions. I’ve been raving about indie bookstores on this tour, but I have to say, my experiences with Barnes and Noble — here and elsewhere — have also been extremely positive. Every B&N seems to have its own character, and they’ve all been welcoming and enthusiastic. They really do support teen fiction as well as debut authors.

With Marissa Meyer, author of Cinder

At this event, I got to meet two rock stars! One was fellow Apocalypsie Marissa Meyer (author of Cinder) who showed up for a little shopping! Hey, look what she bought!

And . . . I met Realm Lovejoy! Realm’s one of the four artists who did an illustration based on Tokyo Heist, which I displayed here on my blog last month. She’s also an agented YA writer, and I’m hoping her book sells soon and I’ll be seeing HER present at Barnes and Noble. (And if you want to look back at my interview with Realm and her artwork inspired by the novel, you can find that here).

Thanks for reading my Seattle dispatches and book tour notes!

I hear an anvil dropping . . . I’m off to catch the tail end of Tom and Jerry with my son! 

With artist/writer Realm Lovejoy

Welcome to Week 4 of the Tokyo Heist Art Gallery! 

Violet Rossi, the young sleuth in Tokyo Heist, is a manga fan and an aspiring artist who secretly works on a graphic novel called The Adventures of Kimono Girl.

In the spirit of Violet, for the past three Tuesdays I’ve been featuring illustrations by artists to watch out for. These professional artists have donated their time and talent to illustrate a scene, character, or image from the novel, and to answer questions about their creative careers. I hope you’ll check out their websites and see more of their exciting work. The past three giveaways are over, but if you missed any of the art and interviews, you can always go back to the past Tuesday posts and get acquainted with Ming Doyle, Rich Lee, and Niki Smith.

I want to thank everyone who’s stopped by to enter a contest or just to check out the art and the artists! I love reading the comments people have left, and the different responses people have to the art. And a huge thank you to the artists. It’s been so much fun to see their interpretations of the book and to learn about their creative processes and influences. I’m not a visual artist — I draw passable stick figures — but artists really inspire me, and it’s been a blast curating this virtual gallery all month!

And so. This week is the final exhibit in this virtual gallery; the novel hits shelves this Thursday! (By the way, be sure to check out the exclusive premiere of the Tokyo Heist book trailer at YA Books Central! Screen time starts Tuesday June 12, 12:00 noon EST)

Today, I’m welcoming Realm Lovejoy to the gallery. She’s a triple-threat: an author, an illustrator, and a video game artist. The daughter of a Japanese ex-monk and an English teacher from Rhode Island, she was born in the mountains of Nagano, Japan, and later moved to Washington state. Her work combines Eastern and Western influences. I’ve been stalking her art online for two years now, so I’m thrilled she’s come by today.

Realm has brought along her illustration of Kimono Girl the heroine in Violet’s graphic novel. Here it is!

Illustration by Realm Lovejoy

I love the energy of this drawing! It wakes me up every time I look at it. I like how she’s wielding a paintbrush like a sword, and her determined expression. The idea of fabric spilling from the paintbrush is really fun too. And the off-the-shoulder outfit makes me think of Grecian statues, of the muses . . . though my sense is this muse is one who inspires by doing. Overall this picture makes me think about the combination of joy and persistence that’s involved in making art, whatever one’s medium might be.

And now, here’s my interview with Realm!

Q: Tell us about your illustration. Why did you choose to draw this image? Can you describe your process for us?
A: I thought the idea of “Kimono Girl” was super cute and immediately imagined a picture of Kimono Girl spilling kimono prints from a paintbrush with really bright colors, much like the colors on the cover of Tokyo Heist. Once I got the idea, I started sketching until the drawing became solid.

Q: What kind of work do you do as a professional artist? What does a typical week look like for you?
A: I work full-time at Valve as a concept artist and a 3D artist for video games. A game I particularly worked on a lot was Portal and Portal 2. I work Monday through Friday, eight hours a day. In my free time, I work on illustrations for my novels (which I write) and I have one graphic novel project going on as well.

Q: What are you working on right now?
A: I’ve got a YA sci-fi on submission, a YA four-book urban fantasy series near submission, and a graphic novel in the works.

Q: When did you know you wanted to become an artist?
A: Ever since I was a child, I was drawing and writing. I knew before I graduated high school that I wanted to go to college for art and get a job in the field.

Q: How did you go about pursuing art as a career? What kind of education did you have to become an artist?
A: I went to DigiPen Institute of Technology, interned at Nintendo, and then went to Valve, where I still am today.

Q: What artists have influenced you?
A: Tezuka Osamu! He has inspired me ever since I was a child with his graphic novels.

Q: What inspires you?
A: “What if?” questions seem to be the seed of all my ideas.

Q: What is the most challenging part of working as an artist? And the most rewarding part?
A: I think the most challenging part is that it takes a lot of time and practice to be good at art. You have to seek the right teachers and get criticism to help move your skills forward. The most rewarding part is getting to see your vision materialize and to be able to show others the world you’ve been imagining.

Q: Do you have any advice for young people who are considering a creative career?
A: Practice lots and seek criticism and apply it. Also [for visual artists], do study fundamental art such  as life drawing, anatomy, and lighting. Having the basics down is what’s going to set you apart from the others. I see a lot of young artists make the mistake of focusing too much on technology and software. That’s important too, but never forget the backbone of art that’s been around since the ancient days.

Thanks so much for dropping by, Realm! Good luck with your many projects in the works!

Here’s where to find Realm online and to view more of her work, including sneak peeks of her graphic novel CLAN:
Realm’s website
Realm’s blog
Twitter: @realmlovejoy

Oh, but wait . . . remember that final Gallery Giveaway I mentioned? Here it is!

This week, to celebrate the launch of the book, I’m offering two prize packs:

PRIZE PACK #1: A tote bag with Realm’s Kimono Girl illustration on one side and the cover of Tokyo Heist on the other. It contains a blank sketch journal, with Realm’s Kimono Girl picture on the cover. AND Tokyo Heist swag — crime scene tape, bookmarks, a paper fan. AND a signed copy of Tokyo Heist!

PRIZE PACK #2: A print of Realm’s Kimono Girl print, signed by Realm. AND Tokyo Heist swag (crime scene tape, signed bookmark, paper fan).

Click on the Rafflecopter thingie below for instructions on how to enter:
a Rafflecopter giveaway