Over a year ago, Brandon’s YA editor at Tor Books, Susan Chang, approached us with doing something really special with the reissues of the Alcatraz books. The concept basically came down to this: Let’s fill it with illustrations. Fueled by memories of illustrated books from our own childhoods, Susan and I sat down at Westercon last year and brainstormed illustration ideas for the Evil Librarians series. Then I took to the internet to find the right person to bring the vision of the interior illustrations to life.
(Mild-but-really-amazing-looking-so-it’s-worth-it spoilers for Alcatraz vs. The Evil Librarians ahead.)
I love working with professionals who are already fans of Brandon’s books. The love of the stories adds a certain extra fire. It becomes not just a job, but a labor of love. So that’s where I started. I wanted to see which artists had already been inspired by Alcatraz vs. The Evil Librarians, and eventually I found a match.
Hayley Lazo. This image in particular caught my eye. I love the attitude she gave Bastille. I thought, “This artist gets it.” And later I saw more of her work related to Brandon’s worlds, The Knights of Crystallia. And a Shallan/How to Train your Dragon mashup, “How to Train Your Chasmfiend.”
Not only does she get Brandon’s work. She loves it, so I contacted her and asked if she’d be interested in illustrating the Evil Librarians books. Her exact response:
“I hope you don’t take offense if my first thought is that you’re pulling my leg.”
I assured her that it wasn’t a joke, and we worked on getting a proposal ready for Susan, which was later accepted. So, let me introduce you to Hayley Lazo, also known as Art-Zealot on Deviantart. I asked Hayley to tell us a little about herself.
“I graduated with a Graphic Design BFA from James Madison University, but if this experience has taught me anything, it’s that pursuing the things that really sing to you will get you places faster than traditional education (not that I didn’t learn anything there or meet awesome people, but most of the things in my portfolio are self-motivated projects). My personal motto kind of sums up my interests: Storyteller first, Artist second. Pretty much all of the art I make is either based on my own narratives or someone else’s, and one of the reasons I got so invested in Sanderson’s work is because of how visually compelling it is. I’m beyond honored by this opportunity.”
Welcome to the team, Hayley! And to the rest of you, take a look at the sketches she’s putting together for the Evil Librarians series. Wow! They fit the feel of the books perfectly. I can’t wait for you all to get your hands on the finished books. In the meantime, Hayley, Susan, and I will get back to work on these awesome stories.
From Chapter 3:
From Chapter 7:
From Chapter 8:
From Chapter 10:
From Chapter 14:
From Chapter 15: