It's kind of funny, since starting the PitchWars prep, I've been doing a lot of peripheral creation. Mostly with imagery. Which has been fun. I've gotten a much firmer handle on GIF usage, image curation and the like. I've created traditional art for Liadan in the past, utilizing illustration skills and testing out some different styles, but I'd never really toyed with cultivating a mixed media presentation of sorts. It's sort of fascinating actually, this mesh of words and images and tiny video clips that helps sell the story you're trying to explain.
I've done a couple portraits of Liadan. One in a more illustrative style and one with more realism. The one on the left is a version of her that's older (around 14) while the one on the right I conceived closer to her age in A Matter of Mummies. I like both of them for different reasons and more importantly they helped me sort out her appearance and personality.
Novel aesthetics are this sort of phenomenon that's emerged from the digital age of stock photos, screenshots and the millions of images available via search engines combined with free, easy to use image editing software. I've used one of them, but I prefer using Gimp. It's also free but it has a more Photoshop like feel.
It's actually been really helpful for me, much in the way the portraits were. It made me focus on the atmosphere of my book and I even ended up adding in some descriptions I'd glossed over because I had a more definite idea of certain buildings.
I even learned about a new painter, which always makes me happy, and started working on Liadan's aesthetic for potential future books. In historical fiction, clothes can be everything. Liadan's disdain for hats I knew, but getting to look at extant garments for the era gave me ideas about what Liadan would look like a little older. What she'd wear, how she'd walk and sit and exist in space.
Images can be incredibly powerful and when you can combine art and words together it can spark new ideas and new creative venues. It certainly helped breathe new life into my creative process. So if I get nothing else out of PitchWars (and I've already made some new friends!) it's definitely been worth it.
Good luck to the mentee hopefuls and happy reading to the mentors!