For the past two years, I have been working on my latest novel, The Princess of Aenya, inspired by classics like The Last Unicorn and The Never Ending Story, with a touch of Miyazaki and Game of Thrones thrown in for good measure. The book revolves around a young woman named Radia "Noora." Her beauty is a big part of who she is, but more than that, she charms and inspires everyone she meets. When people look at her, they see the person they love the most. So I knew I needed a portrait, and that it would be a tremendous challenge making one. How could I possibly convey all this to an artist?
When I came across Selene Regener's gallery, I knew nobody would be better suited for this project. Only problem? She had recently given up art for a career in music, and was no longer taking commissions! Another setback, I thought, until I came across a piece of hers called "Awakening." The more I looked at it, the more I was convinced I'd found the face of Radia. But could I get the rights? Maybe the picture belonged to someone else, was a commission for someone else's character? For months, I e-mailed the artist, without reply. Until finally, Selene got my letter, agreeing right away to my proposal. I was overjoyed to be giving life to her painting, a name and a story to the mystery woman in "Awakening."
Pretty young blondes are a dime a dozen on Deviant Art, however, so why did this piece strike me as it did? For starters, there's the name, "Radia," derived from the word "radiant." In the book, she glows with a divine light. And as you can plainly see, "Awakening" evokes this same quality. As for the star on her forehead, in one chapter, Radia dreams she is dancing through space and every star in the galaxy is her twin sister. While she isn't quite literally a star, like Yvaine from Neil Gaiman's Stardust, the dream sequence is a clue to her "true" nature. Finally, without giving away too much of the plot, the title of the piece perfectly coincides with the novel's climax, in a chapter that could very well be called "Awakening."
The Aenya System
Of course, I'd be remiss not to mention the mismatched eyes. I won't pretend that the artist had this in mind. A coincidence like that will make you question reality. But alas, no. Originally, the girl in "Awakening" had two turquoise eyes; Radia has only one. Still, that's pretty damn coincidental! How many people have turquoise eyes? Knowing how touchy some artists can be, I worried Selene might disapprove of my tweaking the piece, however minor, and I could not use a portrait of Radia without showcasing her most defining quality! Fortunately, Selene was happy to make the change, turning the second eye violet. And, in case you were wondering, Radia's eyes reflect the moons of Aenya; the turquoise, Infinity, and the violet, Eon; making the star on her forehead, symbolically, the sun!
Oh, and did I mention Radia loves to sing? And that her voice can best be described as ... well, just listen to Selene singing!
If you haven't done so already, please visit Selene Regener's remarkable gallery at Selenada. Also, be sure to check out the original "Awakening," and, while you're at it, consider donating something to her GoFundMe campaign, "Healing Through Sound." People with so much talent deserve our support!
Lastly, if you're out there reading this, Selene, thank you! A million times, thank you! You've given a face to a great character!