Last summer we had the privilege of working with Olivia to help her create a header image for her superhero web serial, Anathema. At the time her image was commissioned, Anathema was just making its debut. Now that the serial has been live for several months, we checked in with Olivia to get more background on the story and her work as a writer.
To commission work of your own from railgunner, check out her commission pages.
Q&A with Olivia – Backstory Behind Anathema
ArtCorgi (AC): For how long have you been creating stories?
Olivia (O): I started very early, back when I inherited my grandpa’s old mechanical typewriter as a kid, and the first kiddie drafts featured my grandparent’s dog. 2-4 years later, I shared pages of Fantasy and SF short stories with classmates. Online fiction wasn’t a reality back then, so I never thought about publishing until around April 2014. I had spent a decade or so sharing very small pieces of Fanfic with friends online. Anathema is my very first serious project, both as a longer work consisting of numerous chapters, and as fiction in English.
AC: What inspired Anathema?
O: I’d say there were three major sources of inspiration: Music, a Song of Ice and Fire, and Worm. Worm is a quite popular (and complete!) dark Superhero serial by Wildbow that introduced me to a genre I had never visited before. More gritty and realistic than the genre standard – just like a Song of Ice and Fire. That’s technically Fantasy, but it got me hooked on the concept of characters that are people rather than heroes or villains. Characters who make mistakes, deal with tough choices and can die.
AC: Do you have an idea of when the serial will be complete?
O: I’ve written close to 200K words so far, which translates to about a third of the complete story that keeps developing in my head. I know how it’s going to end, and I know some of the things that happen along the way, but I haven’t connected all the dots yet. I think it should done before the end of 2016.
However, the first two ebooks will be released this summer, and I’m very excited about them! The books will tell the same story, but edited to a professional standard. And I think the cover art is going to be fantastic.
AC: What made you decide to commission original art for the serial’s site?
O: I had actually been looking for a safe, reliable commission service for years, and never found one. When I asked for advice on how to get in touch with artists who won’t just take my money and disappear, someone on Myth Weavers (a play by post roleplaying website) mentioned Artcorgi. The first look convinced me to stop looking elsewhere. The most important point, for me, was the guarantee that I only pay if the artist finishes my piece.
AC: What lead you to choose railgunner as your artist?
O: I was originally looking for a more photorealistic style, but Railgunner convinced me otherwise. Her gallery expressed that slightly gloomy, apocalyptic atmosphere I’m aiming for. Besides, the end result went above and beyond my expectations in terms of realism – honestly, I feel I probably didn’t pay enough. It’s that good.
AC: What advice would you give to authors who are looking to commission art related to their stories (be it for book covers, sites, or other materials)?
O: Self publishing has become a reality the past years, and the demand for skilled artists has increased. I’d advise authors to not choose the very first option that presents itself – Artcorgi is a great place to start looking, especially for website art. It’s very affordable and provides a kind of security that isn’t found elsewhere, because the artist doesn’t receive payment before the commissioned work is complete.
Also, word of mouth is often more reliable than ads. The various online communities for authors usually offer great advice on how to find solutions to specific problems.