{FTF Interview} Todd Harris, Illustrator of THE HERO'S GUIDE TO SAVING YOUR KINGDOM

Welcome to Fairy Tale Fortnight, home of fairy tale lovers everywhere!
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I was honored to recently feature a Story Excerpt and Illustration Reveal for Walden Pond Press' upcoming release THE HERO'S GUIDE TO SAVING YOUR KINGDOM, coming next Tuesday, May 1st.

Walden Pond Press will also be hosting a blog tour from April 30th to May 14th, so visit A Backwards Story again next Thursday, May 3rd, for my review of THE HERO'S GUIDE TO SAVING YOUR KINGDOM.

To celebrate Fairy Tale Fortnight and get an early start on featuring this fun new novel, I sat down and interviewed Todd Harris, the book's illustrator!

Plus, Walden Pond Press has shared an audio excerpt to get you even more excited:

And now, the interview you've been waiting for, complete with concept art!

Todd Harris illustrated the upcoming novel THE HERO'S GUIDE TO SAVING YOUR KINGDOM by Christopher Healy, published by Walden Pond Press, an imprint of HarperCollins.

This is the first book to feature Harris' artwork, which has previously been used predominantly in video games.

An interview with Todd Harris 
All artwork is concept design, not final product!  Click each image to see a larger-size picture!

Are you a fan of fairy tales? What were your thoughts when asked to do the illustrations for THE HERO'S GUIDE TO SAVING YOUR KINGDOM?

Concept Art © 2012 by Todd Harris
I live in a fairy tale, so yes! I create imaginative worlds around me all the time so when I was given this opportunity I was excited. Visions popped into my head immediately when I was reading the story. I knew exactly what the characters looked like.

Which image was your favorite to create and why?

I loved creating Zaubera's laboratory/office. I was able to run with the author's description of how the the witch pulls off her witchiness and add my own flair to it. Above the witch's head is the Spider 5000, a spider incubator and receptacle. With a slight tug she can add the right number of spiders to her brews.

What kind of preparation goes into your process ahead of time? Do you focus on character sketches, or visualize a scenario? Do you read the whole book before you begin, or are you given short, descriptive passages for the sections that will have artwork?

Concept Art © 2012 by Todd Harris
When I first start on a character I will do some rough sketches and really explore some options. I will sometimes do some internet searches for inspiration, especially for clothing and architecture. I love finding something special about each scene to give greater humor or depth to the characters.

Does the publisher decide where to insert artwork? Does the author or do you, as the illustrator, have any input in what scenes would look good visually?

The editor and art director collaborated with the author to choose what scenes to illustrated. As far as each individual scene, they gave me incredible freedom to explore, which was very enjoyable.

With everything you had to choose from, how did you decide on what to feature on the novel's cover? I also love the way you framed the image. What inspired you to do so in this fashion?

Concept Art © 2012 by Todd Harris
I worked with the art director and together we explored some comps of character arrangement and quickly found what seemed like the right direction. It was challenging to get a total of 10 characters and a dragon on the front and back covers. I am happy with the final outcome.

What other books have you illustrated? What are your favorite creations?

This is actually my first published book. I have been creating art for decades, but mainly in the video game industry. I have always wanted to illustrate a book like this, so this was a bit of a dream come true.

What media do you typically use when creating your illustrations?

Digital. I use Corel Painter mostly and a little bit of Photoshop. The art world moved to digital during my career and it's amazing how much easier and faster the work is now. I still bring my old fashioned paper sketchbook and a pencil with me wherever I go, though. :)

Concept Art © 2012 by Todd Harris
Do you hope to continue doing book illustration in the future? What are your artistic goals?

Yes! My wife and I are working on an illustrated fantasy story replete with monsters and magic. My artistic goals are to be able to draw rad art while sipping on a cool drink in the south of France. In a digital world there's no reason this can't happen.

Todd, thank you so much for taking the time to answer my questions. I loved seeing all of the concept art and hearing about how you brought HERO to life!

Bookworms, don't forget to check out next week's review of THE HERO'S GUIDE TO SAVING YOUR KINGDOM!


  1. What a great interview! Probably one of the most creative and interesting ones I've seen! And . . . is it just me, or does Todd look a bit like Prince Charming himself? Hee.


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