The Genesis of The Winds of Khalakovo

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I posted up at the Night Bazaar a few days ago the path Winds took toward publication. I spent a good portion of the blog talking about the artwork that I used to create the story, and I thought I'd post it here as well for people to see.

After my agent finished reading the ms, he mentioned that he pictured one of my main characters, Rehada, as Rima Fakih. Remember her? She won Miss USA last year and there was a kerfuffle because she was (gasp) a Muslim-American. I replied that yes, Rehada bore a strong resemblance to Miss Fakih, but it was an interesting segue because I already had a picture of Rehada—at least one that I began with when I started to envision the characters.

Rehada—and just about every other main character in the book—was created from some artwork I saw in Edinburgh in 2004. My wife, Joanne, and I were on a whirlwind trip through the UK, and we stopped in Edinburgh for a few days. We visited the National Gallery of Scotland, and I was so struck by some of the portraits there that I decided I would take the ones that struck me the most and write a story from them. I still have the postcards near my computer desk, and I took a few snapshots so you could see them. They aren't exactly like I picture them anymore (now that the first book is written) but they're still quite close.

Mostwill not be familiar with the characters, but I think it's an interesting technique, and one I'll use again, that of taking individual portraits and using them for inspiration. I've already repeated the technique for a new book I've started (but not yet finished) and once again it helped to crystallize my thoughts. The characters as I envision them in the book end up deviating from the art, but it's nice to have something to go back to, to find the grounding and original inspiration you had when you started the work. It's so easy to get off track; having something like these helped me to stay true to what I was shooting for when I launched into the novel.

So here they are. Click to embiggen.

Rehada Ulan al Shineshka

Prince Ranos Iaroslov Khalakovo, Prince Nikandr Iaroslov Khalakovo, and Duchess Saphia Mishkeva Khalakovo

The Three Sisters – Atiana, Mileva and Ishkyna Vostroma

Ashan Kida al Ahrumea

Nasim an Ashan

Duke Iaros Aleksov Khalakovo

Duke Zhabyn Olegov Vostroma (yes, I know this is a Rembrandt self portrait, but it was filled with such character I had to use it)

Palotza Radiskoye, the seat of power for the Khalakovos


  1. Paul (@princejvstin)

    March 24, 2011 at 9:15 am

    I can see how these pictures were evocative and inspiring.  

    • Brad

      March 24, 2011 at 9:22 am

      Yes, they definitely were. Which reminds me, I need to try using this again for my next project, which is bubbling around in my hindbrain now.

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