Follow the Muse…
Before I became an author I had a twenty year art career under my belt. I always loved experimenting with materials, and worked in theatre- designing and creating sets, props and costume, fine art- with painting, drawing, and photography; and sculpture. I could list accolades and exhibitions to prove my artistic credentials, however, in beginning my publishing career and choosing to write M/M, I decided that I needed to keep my art and writing separate.
This separation was not as easy as it first appeared. I’d had severe artists creative block for more than a year, during which time I couldn’t lift a pencil to draw, couldn’t paint and had no inclination to go down to my studio at the bottom of my garden. My paintings and drawings gathered dust and mildew, but then, out of nowhere I began writing like the devil was at my back.
As an artist, I’m drawn to visual stimuli, and have always been inspired by masculine physical beauty. While writing a description of a person for a scene in a novel is wonderfully satisfying, there is a part of my brain that compulsively needs to create art from my words too. Therefore, over this past year I have faced my artist block head on and I began painting my characters.
My paintings started with my first M/F/Bi novel “Schonling”. My protagonist Pieter Bayer is a male model with an androgynous look, and was inspired by model Paul Boche. Paul’s boyish bone structure, blond hair and blue –grey eyes are virtually catnip for artists, and his long, eclectic fashion career proves that I am not the only artist who gazes upon his androgyny and goes all weak at the knees.
The character of Pieter Bayer became a catalyst for my writing and my art. He became the inspiration for the book cover, and in turn, I painted his best friend in the story — model Simeon Duchamp. Simeon was far more difficult to put a face to. His personality was playful, French, and again, he had the stick thin, Yaoi-Bowie-esque look that sets my heart a pitter-patter. I researched for more than six months before I found reference images of models who reflected aspects of the Simeon in my head. Eventually, I used model Michael T, and twink porn star Greco Rai, and with their looks merged, Simeon Duchamp jumped out of my head and onto the page — looking just fabulous!
With my current “Shatterproof Bond” series, Sam and Declan are only just beginning to have art made for them. I have written two novels for this series in the last five months, and even though I have plenty of inspiration and images I want to paint, I just haven’t had the time yet. What I have done is pinned down what they both actually look like. Having a visual reference has in turn, assisted my writing. I love looking my characters in the eye and asking them what they’re going to do next. (Insert Sam and Declan banner please)
Sam Aiken is a twenty-three-year-old Englishman, with a slender and athletic build, and a playful, yet mysterious personality. I have a great love of mutable characters who change and adapt with the circumstances they find themselves in, and Sam offers me a great deal of scope for adventures in future stories. He was very difficult to put a face to, and again, I looked for reference images for a long time before I happened upon two models who, when combined became Sam. So after having a play in Photoshop I found my perfect Sam, inspired primarily by Canadian model Chad Kuzyk, and Nordic model Oscar Spendrup.
Declan Ramsay is thirty-two, brawny, Scottish and a little more of a fixed character. His outward appearance is extremely masculine, sharp suited and well groomed. He has a strong, ruggedly handsome Celtic face that looks just perfect framed by a dark beard. Initially I was looking at model Ben Hill, however, he is far too pretty, and author John Wiltshire has secured him forever in my heart as Ben-Rider-Mikklesen from his “More heat than the Sun” series. So no, Ben Hill could not be my muse. Eventually I decided upon a dash of Ben merged with the ruggedness of model Jack Guinness, and found my perfect Scotsman.
I am very lucky that I have the skills to marry my words to images of characters, and in turn design book covers that complete the creative package. I really don’t think I could ever be comfortable with giving a manuscript to a publisher and having an art department come up with the cover. Being an Indie author gives me the scope to fulfil my creative vision, merging both worlds and in turn making me feel happier with my creative work than I have done in many years.
© Isobel Starling 2016
About the Book
Blurb: The thrilling follow-up to Illuminate the Shadows
Pulled into a world of secrets and lies for the man he loves, Declan Ramsay’s life has changed immeasurably in the eight months since meeting, and falling for his boss’s son, Sam Aiken. Declan journey of personal discovery is about to take a darker turn, and for Sam, the world becomes more treacherous than he could ever have imagined.
Two agents are missing — presumed dead, while on a reconnaissance mission at an outdoor adventure centre in the Scottish Highlands. Sir James Aiken sends his son and Declan to follow the trail, and discover the fate of the agents.
As the mission offers his first chance to use the skills he learned on the MI6 training course in Morocco, Declan is keen to get started. However, Sir James sees to it that the seeds of doubt and discord have been sewn between the couple, as they begin their mission.
The journey to their Highland location, and the discoveries they make when they reach the G’wan Adventures centre, prove that Sir James Aiken has been less than honest with his son. Events in the Highlands force Sam and Declan to face their greatest fears, and understand what they both really want from life — and from each other.”
The first book in this series, As You Wish (Shatterproof Bond #0.5), is available FREE at All Romance eBooks.
About the Author
Inspiration strikes at the strangest of times.
Born in Germany, Isobel Starling spent most of her twenty-year professional career making art. She relocated to the UK and, faced with the dreaded artist’s creative block, Isobel started to write and found she loved it more than making art.
Isobel’s first novel “Schonling” was a best seller in the GLBT-Bisexual genre on the ‘All Romance ebooks’ site. She has just completed her sixth book, and signed French translation rights for novella “As You Wish”.
She adores the M/M genre, enjoys writing about wounded souls and the complexities of personal relationships. Despite not having found proof yet, Isobel believes in love at first sight and endeavours to give her men a thrilling journey and a satisfying ending!