Monday, March 7, 2011

Alicia “Kat” Dillman - SPOTLIGHT Guest Author & Illustrator

Please welcome our SPOTLIGHT GUEST!

Author, illustrator Alicia “Kat” Dillman is a life long resident of the San Francisco Bay Area. She received a BFA in Illustration from the Academy of Art University and has spent the last few years working as a professional illustrator.

When not writing and illustrating she can found performing in historical re-enactments, participating in weekly industry chats, dancing, watching anime, or sewing cosplay.

Tell us about your upcoming book? Some of your other projects?

I actually have three upcoming books if you can believe it. Two picture books and my debut novel Daemons in the Mist.

Daemons in the Mist is a Young Adult urban-fantasy paranormal romance novel set in modern day San Francisco which will be published by indie publishers Korat Publishing. Here's a little blurb about it that's on the publishers website.

She could have been a perfectly normal, albeit a breathtakingly beautiful girl, but she wasn't, for I knew there were secrets hidden behind her eyes.

Seventeen year old Patrick Connolly has been drawn to Nualla ever since he first saw her, but as the years pass she seems to take absolutely no notice of him. Until, that is, he rescues her from a confrontation in the school hallway. Little does he know that he’s about to be thrust into a world of life altering secrets and things that shouldn’t exist, because the fog and mist of San Francisco is concealing more than just buildings.

As for other projects, in late spring I will be turning my novel Daemons in the Mist into a Visual Novel for the game company CWS Software. I've never done one before so it should be an awesome experience. If you don't know what a Visual Novel is you can learn more about them here.

I'm also in the scripting/story boarding phase for a full color graphic novel and a wordless picture book.

How long did it take you to illustrate the cover for your upcoming book?

It took me about 3 days to paint the cover for Daemons in the Mist. I actually drew two sketches for the cover but decided that the character (Nualla) looked too passive in the first design and she is anything but passive.

I included a process animation for the cover here.

You also write MG/YA books, can you share a bit about them?

Most of my stories are paranormal or magical in some way. It's the stuff I like to read and so it's what I create. But I don't like to play in other people's sandboxes so I tend to make up the creatures that are in the stories.

Some of them are simpler stand-alones but one of them COR, is a complex four book epic. COR's a project I have been working on since 2003 whenever I have free time. I built their world from the ground up, the calendar, creatures, races, religion you name it. It even has its own wiki which will be made public when the books are published.

You are also a talented artist how do you create your art?

I used to create my art differently but currently I work 100% digitally. I do my work in Painter 11 mostly with brushes I created myself. I usually work in a 4 layer process; sketch, ink, base, details. First I sketch the illustration in blue digital lead. Then I turn the opacity on that layer way down and ink over it on a new layer. When that's complete I turn off the sketch layer since I won't be using it again. Then I create a layer under the ink layer and do my base painting. Lastly I create a layer on top of everything to do my details. You can see visual examples of this process here.

In what formats, other than books, do you sell your art?

My personal artwork also appears on postcards, buttons, greeting cards, jewelry, clothing, and on prints and Giclées. My work for clients has been on clothing, websites, wedding invitations, instructional pamphlets and any number of other products. Come this summer my artwork will also be in Visual Novels.

What great projects have you worked on as an illustrator?

Wow I've worked on a lot of projects but I would like to think that the best is yet to come. The projects I'm working on right now and the other ones coming out this year are going to be some of my best work.

Please share something quirky about yourself?

I have a rather large collection of small and miniature stuffed animals. I have a good 34 in my studio alone. I have always loved stuffed animals, mainly because the idea of playing with miniature people (dolls) creeped me out as a child.

What was the inspiration for your main character(s) in your book?

The short answer would be music. When I listen to music I see stories; like small movies playing in my head. But in reality I do not create my characters and give them things to do. They create themselves and in turn tell me their stories. I feel more like I am eavesdropping on their lives than directing them.

How was your way to publication paved?

I'd say difficult. I graduated from the Academy of Art in 2008, considered by most to be one of the worst years in economic history. There seemed to be no work to be had and no one was hiring. But in the last few years things have steadily gotten better. Interestingly all the publishers I have worked with found me instead of me querying them. One of my current publishers, Flinders Press, found me through the Illustrators showcase at the SCBWI Summer conference for example.

The first book I worked on that actually made it to publication was Lions in my Tummy which came out last March from Viscus Vir Publishing. This year however I have a least 3 books coming out.

Do you have any other books coming out?

I do, two in fact. Neither has announced a solid release date but both are scheduled for early fall. One, The Koi Who Cried Wolf, is a creative retelling of the classic story and is the second book I will be illustrating for Viscus Vir Publishing. The other book coming out is Lazy Saturday Afternoon, a hilarious book in song written by songwriter Bryant Oden and will be published by Flinders Press.

What do you like to do when you're not writing and illustrating?

Historical re-enactment, cosplay, mini bookbinding. I have been involved in historical re-enacting for over 10 years now. I used to do a couple different types but now I only do the Dickens Fair. For the re-enactment and cosplay I make all my own costumes and patterns.

What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?

I had to look up and research a lot of things for Daemons in the Mist from how long a broken arm takes to heal to electronic paper. But the most interesting was probably how retro-viruses work.

What would you like to tell your readers?

To my future readers, I hope that I have created worlds for you that extend outside the page. That the characters will stop being characters in a book and start being people; friends you might meet on the street.

How can we get our hands on your books? Your Art?

The books will be available through all the standard digital channels (ie amazon, B & N online, Apple etc.), through their respective publisher’s websites and select retailers. And of course you can visit KatGirl Studio for more info on each book and where you can get them.

All my art is currently available through my website.


My site:
Publishers site for Daemons in the Mist:
Book Trailer for DITM:


salarsenッ said...

"Kat" sounds like loads of fun. Her YA book sounds amazing! It's so cool she's and illustrator, too.

Thanks for a great interview.

Kelly Hashway said...

Awesome interview! Kat's illustration is simply gorgeous! I'm looking forward to her upcoming books.

I laughed about being creeped out by dolls. I always thought they were creepy, too.

Melissa said...

Kat's book sounds awesome!!!
This was a great interview!

Laura said...

I loved all the information about Kat, how she thought up her books and what she does in her spare time. Excellent interview! :-)

Pk Hrezo said...

Wow! Very cool! This was interesting to read, and i love the illustrations.

LM Preston said...

Kat is a great artist and writer who's perserverance has paid off and I'm happy to have her as a guest.

Laurie L Young said...

Great interview! It's so nice to learn more about Kat since we have been twitter friends for awhile. I look forward to reading her novel.