Saturday, October 04, 2008

The Last Renegade

Today I’ll be finishing a project that has kept me busy all summer. What I've been doing is illustrating a novel, The Last Renegade.

The novel is by noted author Mike Kearby, author of the great western novels Road to a Hanging, Ride the Desperate Trail, and Ambush at Mustang Canyon. It will be published in time for Christmas.

Like myself, Mike is a native Texan, and in fact was born in Mineral Wells, the same town I was born in—and in the same year, I might add, 1952. With this in common, you would think we had known each other for years. But, actually, we did not meet until just a few months ago.

You see, Mike grew up in Mineral Wells, whereas my family moved down the road to Fort Worth when I was very young. Over the years, I returned many, many times to visit my grandmothers and other relatives, sometimes staying for weeks at a time, but never lived in Mineral Wells again.

Thus, we did not meet until last spring when Mike decided that his next novel, The Last Renegade, should be illustrated. In his search for an illustrator, he came across my bio on Wikipedia, which mentions Mineral Wells as my birthplace. That got his attention. Then he took a look at my artwork, thought my style might be right for his book, and contacted me.

He visited me on his next trip to Austin and we had a great time, talking about Mineral Wells, Texas history, and a great many other topics we have in common. He left a copy of the manuscript with me. I read it, loved it, saw right away it was my kind of story, something I would enjoy illustrating, and the next thing you know I was hard at work on the project.

I should add that this is the first of Mike’s novels to be illustrated. His idea was that illustrations would enhance the appeal of the book for young people. As a retired schoolteacher, he has a particular interest in encouraging young people to read. Therefore, he created The Last Renegade to be especially entertaining for boys and girls in the 10-17 age range. But don't think this story is only for kids. Believe me, you can be older, a lot older, and get a big kick out of The Last Renegade. I sure did.

Mike is offering a sneak peak at the book on his website. This link will take you directly to chapter one. And while you’re there, be sure to explore the rest of his site to find out more about Mike, his other novels, and the collaborative novel project, a wonderful (and fun) learning experience he has brought to high school students throughout the state. Also, check out Mike’s new blog, Mike Kearby's Texas.

Well, it’s time for me to sit down at the drawing board and get to work. I’ve got one more illustration to draw, then The Last Renegade will go to press …