Creation

How a ghost girl was
brought to life

In 2020, during a particularly dark time, I wrote, “A is for Axe to chop off your head.” I felt both disturbed and liberated by it. I had tried for much of my life to be a light unto the world, so a foray into the dark could mean both the death of my identity and the opportunity to reanimate parts of myself I thought I had killed off. I kept writing. “B is for Burial when you are dead.” There it was. I had to bury the old self if I were to survive the pandemic, coparenting, distance learning, and financial loss.

I finished the poem, A through Z, and turned to it and returned to it as though someone else had written it. I think it saved me in 2020. Well, she did.

How a ghost girl was
brought to life

In 2020, during a rather dark time, I wrote, “A is for Axe to chop off your head.” I felt both disturbed and liberated by it. I had felt obligated for most of my life to be a light unto the world, so a foray into the dark meant losing my identity. “B is for Burial when you are dead.” That next line made sense much later as I realized my subconscious had had its own plans for me if I were willing to listen. I had to bury the old self if I were to survive the pandemic, coparenting, distance learning for my kids, financial losses, etc., etc.

And then I finished the poem, A through Z. I turned to it and returned to it as though someone else had written it. I think it saved me in 2020. Well, she did.

I began to draw first concepts for Little Morwenna and possible illustrations. I wanted to see the whole thing turned into a book, but I knew my drawing skills weren’t up to the task. I needed a professional illustrator.

Hopeful, I reached out to a few artists on Fiverr, but the subject matter of my book was understandably problematic. I put the project up on Upwork. To my delight, I received 42 proposals. I had found my people. I reached out to four, though there was one I couldn’t stop thinking about. This is what he wrote to me:

Hello! I am very much interested on this semi-dark lighthearted idea of a children’s book of yours. Love the irony and humor of it. I have some sample illustration that I think is very much Edward Gorey-esque. Anyhow, I am Juno, an illustrator from the Philippines. Here’s the link of the sample illustration and story we made for your reference

And then there was a link. I clicked on it. This is some of what I saw.

I couldn’t look away. His style was like something I had never seen, and yet it felt like such a complete match to what I had been hoping for. Night after night, I would gaze at his illustrations on my phone in the dark before nodding off. I was that kid again who would sneak his flashlight under the covers at bedtime to get in a few more pages of his favorite comic book.

I sent him these sketches:

And I included few parameters: “I’d like Little Morwenna’s face to basically have the shape and look that I’ve given her but in your style. The drawing would be black pen and ink, except she would have orange-red hair. I love your use of light and shadow. . . . I need to be careful that Morwenna doesn’t come off looking like Wednesday from The Addams Family animated movies. That being said, I’d like her dress to be black or dark gray. Lastly, could you tell me a little bit about your process? Your drawings appear to be freehand, which I love. Are you then importing them to be manipulated via computer? I ask because I’m wondering how easy it is to make revisions on your drawings. Thank you!

And then, Juno came back with this:

He included a note: “Hi Paul! I have attached the first sample image for the book and a character design just in case.
Hope you like it.

Like it? I was beside myself. Couldn’t believe what I was seeing. In those few drawings, Juno not only nailed who Little Morwenna was but showed me that he totally “got it.” He got what this book was—a loving, gentle, sweet tribute (and call) to the shadow in all of us.

Our working relationship began. Sometimes I would send him rough drawings for concepts; other times I would ask him to turn his imagination loose. Though I set some guidelines around how children should be portrayed and the use of blood, nothing, creatively, was off limits or too dark. 

I feel so grateful to have found Juno—as grateful as I feel that this book, or even just this website, has found you. Perhaps what waits in your own shadow has found Little Morwenna. Who’s to say?

One thing I do believe—whatever might be in your shadow, a little child is in there, too, who would like to come out and play. If you haven’t already done so, I hope you’ll open up their door and invite them to the moor, where Little Morwenna, Calliope, Shivers, Grimbald, Corbin, and Uncle Ulfred will all be waiting.

Follow Me

I began to draw first concepts for Little Morwenna and for possible illustrations. I wanted to see the whole thing turned into a book, but I knew my drawing skills weren’t up to the task. I needed a professional illustrator.

Hopeful, I reached out to a few artists on Fiverr, but the subject matter of my book was understandably ________ for some. So I put the project up on Upwork. To my delight, I received 42 proposals. I had found my people. I saved 4 and reached out to them, but there was one who stood out.

His name was Juno Abreu. He wrote: Hello! I am very much interested on this semi-dark lighthearted idea of a children’s book of yours. Love the irony and humor of it. I have some sample illustration that I think is very much Edward Gorey-esque. Anyhow, I am Juno, an illustrator from the Philippines. Here’s the link of the sample illustration and story we made for your reference:. And then there was a link. I clicked on it.

Following is some of what I saw.

I couldn’t look away. His style was like something I had never seen and yet felt like such a complete match to what I had hoped for Little Morwenna. I remember going to bed night after night and looking at his illustrations one more time, like a kid sneaking a flashlight under his covers to just get in a few more pages of his favorite comic. I sent him the following drawings…

…as well as a few parameters: “I’d like Morwenna’s face to basically have the shape and look that I’ve given her but in your style. The drawing would be black pen and ink, except she would have orange-red hair. I love your use of light and shadow….I need to be careful that Morwenna doesn’t come off looking like Wednesday from The Adam’s Family animated movies. That being said, I’d like her dress to be black or dark gray. Lastly, could you tell me a little bit about your process? Your drawings appear to be freehand, which I love. Are you then importing them to be manipulated via computer? I ask because I’m wondering how easy it is to make revisions on your drawings. Thank you!

And then, Juno came back with this:

With the note, “Hi Paul! I have attached the first sample image for the book and a character design just in case.
Hope you like it.

Like it? I was beside myself. I could not believe what I was seeing. In those few drawings, Juno not only nailed who Little Morwenna was but I could see he totally “got it.” He got what this book was—a loving, gentle, sweet tribute (and call) to the shadow in all of us.

Our working relationship began. Sometimes I would send him rough drawings for concepts, other times I would say I didn’t know what it should be but to just turn his imagination loose and nothing was off limits or too dark (I knew I could say that to him because he absolutely got what this book was), though I did tell him “no of dead children, please, and no blood.” I mean, one has to draw a line somewhere.

I am beyond grateful to have found Juno, as much as I am that this book, or even just this website, has found you. Or perhaps that which waits in your own shadow found Little Morwenna. Who’s to say?

One thing is for sure—whatever might be in your shadow, I do believe a little child is in there, too, who would like to come out and play. I think we have that child in all of us. And if you haven’t already done so, I hope you’ll open up their door and invite them to explore.

Until then, Little Morwenna, Calliope, Shivers, Grimbald, Corbin, and Uncle Ulfred will be waiting for them near the moor.

Follow Me

I began to draw first concepts for Little Morwenna and for possible illustrations. I wanted to see the whole thing turned into a book, but I knew my drawing skills weren’t up to the task. I needed a professional illustrator.

Hopeful, I reached out to a few artists on Fiverr, but the subject matter of my book was understandably ________ for some. So I put the project up on Upwork. To my delight, I received 42 proposals. I had found my people. I saved 4 and reached out to them, but there was one who stood out.

His name was Juno Abreu. He wrote: Hello! I am very much interested on this semi-dark lighthearted idea of a children’s book of yours. Love the irony and humor of it. I have some sample illustration that I think is very much Edward Gorey-esque. Anyhow, I am Juno, an illustrator from the Philippines. Here’s the link of the sample illustration and story we made for your reference:. And then there was a link. I clicked on it.

Following is some of what I saw.

I couldn’t look away. His style was like something I had never seen and yet felt like such a complete match to what I had hoped for Little Morwenna. I remember going to bed night after night and looking at his illustrations one more time, like a kid sneaking a flashlight under his covers to just get in a few more pages of his favorite comic. I sent him the following drawings…

…as well as a few parameters: “I’d like Morwenna’s face to basically have the shape and look that I’ve given her but in your style. The drawing would be black pen and ink, except she would have orange-red hair. I love your use of light and shadow….I need to be careful that Morwenna doesn’t come off looking like Wednesday from The Adam’s Family animated movies. That being said, I’d like her dress to be black or dark gray. Lastly, could you tell me a little bit about your process? Your drawings appear to be freehand, which I love. Are you then importing them to be manipulated via computer? I ask because I’m wondering how easy it is to make revisions on your drawings. Thank you!

And then, Juno came back with this:

With the note, “Hi Paul! I have attached the first sample image for the book and a character design just in case.
Hope you like it.

Like it? I was beside myself. I could not believe what I was seeing. In those few drawings, Juno not only nailed who Little Morwenna was but I could see he totally “got it.” He got what this book was—a loving, gentle, sweet tribute (and call) to the shadow in all of us.

Our working relationship began. Sometimes I would send him rough drawings for concepts, other times I would say I didn’t know what it should be but to just turn his imagination loose and nothing was off limits or too dark (I knew I could say that to him because he absolutely got what this book was), though I did tell him “no of dead children, please, and no blood.” I mean, one has to draw a line somewhere.

I am beyond grateful to have found Juno, as much as I am that this book, or even just this website, has found you. Or perhaps that which waits in your own shadow found Little Morwenna. Who’s to say?

One thing is for sure—whatever might be in your shadow, I do believe a little child is in there, too, who would like to come out and play. I think we have that child in all of us. And if you haven’t already done so, I hope you’ll open up their door and invite them to explore.

Until then, Little Morwenna, Calliope, Shivers, Grimbald, Corbin, and Uncle Ulfred will be waiting for them near the moor.

Follow Me

About the Illustrator

Juno Abreu

Juno is an artist and illustrator living and working in the Philippines. He says about working on the book, “I really, really loved doing the illustrations for Little Morwenna. The idea of a little girl holding an axe is terrifying and at the same time adorable. To be honest, I kinda creeped myself out while doing the illustrations.”

Follow Juno

About the Illustrator

Juno Abreu

Juno is an artist and illustrator living and working in the Philippines. He says about working on the book, “I really, really loved doing the illustrations for Little Morwenna. The idea of a little girl holding an axe is terrifying and at the same time adorable. To be honest, I kinda creeped myself out while doing the illustrations.”

Follow Juno

Become a Subspider

Paul will be doing giveaways, sending out new gothic poems, announcing Q&As just for Little Morwenna’s fans, and moor. And Little Morwenna will be doling out dead advice to help you with life’s little problems. (For entertainment purposes only, lest you think you should actually take the advice of a ghost girl who wants to lovingly bury you.)

Ready to start your haunting?

Order your copy in time for Halloween!