|Self-portrait - by EEG|
Last month I had the privilege of doing my very first cover art for the amazingly talented Jack L. Pyke, an erotic romance/BDSM author from the U.K. The premise of her thriller Lost in the Echo intrigued me -- I'm a sucker for suspense -- so I hired a model and set off to work. Creating an image based on a premise is something I started doing last year and I confess I enjoy it very much. It's completely different than planning a landscape or a portrait shoot. When you are given a theme you have to think ahead, jot down a bunch of ideas and be ready to try out many different things until you nail the one you love. I loved working for Jack, and after a few iterations we ended up with an image we both loved for her thriller.
And guess what I got as a thank you? My very first interview! I enjoy interviewing authors here on the blog, but I confess I was also very flattered when Jack asked me to be the interviewee for a change!
Here's an excerpt of the interview:
JLP: Besides providing the image for Lost in the Echo, I have a few of your prints here that show the scope of your talents. This shape shifting, surreal effect to the print below is one of my favourites. I know you’re a photographer from these, but can you tell us a little bit about you? Who’s the person behind the camera?You can see the sparkly new cover I made for Jack and read the full interview on Jack's blog.
EEG: The story of my life in a nutshell: I was born in the UK, grew up in Tuscany (Italy), and lived in 4 different European countries and 4 different states in the U.S. before settling in beautiful New Mexico. As for “what” I am, I’m first and foremost a scientist -- that’s how my brain works. But I wouldn’t be who I am without my two creative outlets: writing and photography.
JLP: There’s a lot of scope for inspiration in all of the places you have lived, and it’s sparked a writing talent too. How long have you been a photographer? What influenced you to first pick up a camera?
EEG: I’ve been drawing and painting since I could hold a pencil and paintbrush. My first camera was a Sony point and shoot, which I used mainly to take pictures of things and people I wanted to paint. Painting is a demanding activity, though: you not only have to find the time to do it, you also need to have the right space. It’s a lot easier when you can afford a studio where you can keep up your work in progress for as long as you need. In my case, life took over: for about a decade we kept moving every other year, and the paintbrushes and paints ended up in a box, and, well, they stayed there. All those pictures I was still taking never turned into paintings. It finally dawned on me that I might as well perfect the one thing I was already doing: photography! I bought a used DSLR from a colleague, and once I discovered the freedom of being able to choose my own settings (aperture, ISO, exposure time, etc.) I felt like I had a whole new world to unravel. I started doing landscapes. I live in a place (New Mexico, USA) that offers staggering views and incredible skies, so it was the natural thing to do. I progressively moved on to macros, portraits, and now I’m doing the one thing I enjoy the most: photo composites, images that I create combining different pictures and backgrounds. It’s as if the cycle closed back, because compositing allows me to do what I used to do with my paintbrushes, except now my canvas is a JPEG file and I no longer need a studio. All I need is my laptop.
JLP: Along with your photography skills, you’re also an agented author. What kind of novels do you write?
EEG: Thrillers. I love action and I love to get my characters in a lot of trouble. I think it makes up for my long days spent in a cubicle at work.
JLP: Can you tell us about the novel you’re working on?
EEG: I just finished writing the first book in a new series set in the future. It features a murderous and sexy computer hacker, the biothreat federal agent who’s after her, an eccentric medical examiner, and a deadly pathogen. The world building was daunting at first. Even when I’m writing fiction, I research everything (location, people, history, etc.), but here I actually had to make up a whole society on my own. I solved the conundrum by doing both: I researched all the current state-of-the-art technology and then tried to imagine what it would look/be like one hundred years from now. I actually ended up having lots of fun with it. My agent just started shopping the book around, I’ve got fingers and toes tightly crossed!
JLP: I can hear the scientist and a love for facts in there. Do you think you’re more comfortable with writing from a male or female point of view, or doesn’t the gender of the MC hold any barriers for you?
EEG: The real “barrier” (though it doesn’t stop me from writing, so more than a barrier I would call it a challenge) is the voice more than the POV. No matter whether it’s male or female, young or old, I strive to give my characters their own voice. Success comes when you can tell the gender from the voice without knowing the character’s name. My first book series is written in first person, and the main character is a male LAPD detective. One of the agents who offered representation made me the best compliment ever: she said she had no idea I was a woman until she read my full name. At the time, I’d read all the Philip Marlowe books and loved the voice. Like Marlowe, my detective is also from Los Angeles, so I wanted to continue in the noir tradition with the first person, witty and sarcastic narrative. I guess the ultimate judges will be the readers.
JLP: Knowing you’re both photographer and author raises a curious conundrum. Do you find there’s anything you can express more in photography than you can in writing, or vice versa?
EEG: That’s an interesting question. There are instances when I can picture the setting of a scene very vividly in my head but I struggle to find the right words to describe it. I find myself thinking, “If only I could take a picture...” But for the most part it’s the other way around. Photography has made me very aware of the light around me, and it does affect the way I write. I’m often describing light sources in my scenes and how the light falls on my characters and how it affects their vision.
JLP: The idea for Lost in the Echo came from a photo supplied by a reader through a reader challenge on Goodreads. It’s a very intimate and annual author-reader challenge on Goodreads. Have you ever used any of your own prints to inspire your writing?
EEG: Not my own pictures, but I do browse images to inspire my writing all the time. For example, when I was researching the world building for my last book, I browsed a lot of futuristic buildings and architecture and I had a lot of fun doing that. Whenever my brain draws a blank on a particular setting for a scene I go to Google images, type a few keywords, and then inspiration suddenly comes to my screen in the form of beautiful images.
Jack L. Pyke is the author of the BDSM thriller Don't, a rainbow award honorable mention, nominated for the 2013 Goodreads best debut novel and best BDSM. The sequel, Antidote, is to be released in April. You can find Jack on Amazon and on Goodreads.