There are times in one’s life and career when something you’ve dreamt of and worked towards for many years comes to fruition, in a way that far exceeds your expectations and at the same time is exactly how you envisioned it. That time came for me last week.
It felt different than my film experiences since it truly is a first for me. I’ve been making movies since I was a wee lad, but book writing always seemed more fantasy than reality. A kind of “one day I’ll do that” goal that other commitments and life in general tended to get in the way of. That also ended last week.
For months we have been in the thick of edits and revisions on my upcoming book AFTERLIFE, but last week I received the final artwork for the cover, and I’ve got to say it rocked my world.
Co-written with my author partner J.K. Ishaya over the past three years, after being developed for more than a decade with co-creators Debra and Gerald Hopkins from an award-winning short film I directed, this has been a journey that none of us could have predicted, yet at the same time feels incredibly right and authentic.
I knew receiving the final art after months of design work with amazing artist Brad Fraunfelter would be a pivotal moment, but I didn’t expect it to affect me the way it did. It was a powerfully emotional experience. The culmination of some fifteen years of story development and visualization and collaboration boiled down into a brilliant piece of art that encapsulates the essence of everything we’ve been working on.
I literally couldn’t stop smiling and staring at it.
It was also a testament to, as Steven Spielberg has said, listening to the whispers in your head and trusting your gut, as this could have gone in a completely different direction.
We had been presented with numerous other cover design options from different artists, and though interesting and intriguing, ultimately none of the designs resonated with us or were exactly what we had envisioned for our book and what the story and emerging franchise required.
So I reached out to my talented Displacement poster artist Chris Davidson and he referred me to book cover artist Brad Fraunfelter, a genius if I’ve ever met one. The moment I saw his work I knew he was the guy to create our cover and I committed to bringing him aboard and making it happen whatever it took. It was another one of those “jump off the cliff” moments I’ve mentioned before and though I had no idea where I would find the budget to hire him, I nevertheless negotiated the deal and figured out a way to make it work.
That was back in June. Five months later, after many rounds of design notes and sketches and a photo shoot in Brad’s studio, we have finished artwork that truly blows me away.
I also must acknowledge and thank the fantastic Courtney Hope and young Hanna Aniela for being our cover models, and doing an absolutely outstanding job capturing the essence of these characters and bringing them to life.
So this is what visualization looks like. And perseverance. And commitment to an idea. Fifteen years in the making. Following one’s gut and listening to the whispers of inspiration.
And I couldn’t be more proud.
AFTERLIFE, Book One of The Arcadia Chronicles, releases in Hardcover and eBook from Zimbell House Publishing February, 2020. More info coming soon.
Kenneth Mader is an award-winning writer, filmmaker, and self-determined dreammaker. Much to the chagrin of the “committee” in his head.
His award-winning feature film Displacement was released theatrically in Spring 2017, acquired by A+E Networks for broadcast on Lifetime, curated by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for inclusion in their historical Margaret Herrick Library, and is now available on VOD and DVD. For more info click here.
He was named one of the “Top 100 Indie Filmmakers in the World” in the book by Action On Film’s Del Weston. He is the founder and operator of Maderfilm Studios, a full-service boutique production studio specializing in high-quality films and entertainment projects, along with its Nightfall Studios post-production division. He is available for consulting on scripts and film projects as well. Contact him here.