The woman behind the curtain. Who is she?
I started my writing career when I still lived in Kansas, therefore references to The Wizard of Oz are to be expected. When my debut novel, Bayou Born, was in production, an artistic wizard created a beautiful cover for the book. I loved it from first glance. Later, when the book hit the market in February, I heard lots of “ohhhs and ahhhhs” about the cover. So as Dorothy followed a path to reach the Wizard in Oz, I decided to reach out to Kim Mendoza, the cover artist of my book.
I’m sure Dorothy envies me. When I pulled away the curtain, I discovered far more than I expected.
Please allow me to introduce you to Kim Mendoza.
LJ: Welcome Kim! Let’s start with the simplest questions first. Your name. What’s your writing pen name? Do you use another name for your artwork?
Kim: As an author, I am Kimberlee R. Mendoza. As an artist, people know me as Kim Mendoza.
LJ: When did you start writing?
Kim: I wrote my first “book” (and I say that loosely because it was like 5 pages but stapled together) when I was 7. I really got into it when I was 13. The book I wrote then was published by Wild Rose Press a few years back.
LJ: What is your genre and is there a reason you chose that genre to write?
Kim: I tend to lean towards speculative and YA romance. I love writing about things that are “out of this world,” so to speak. Most of the books that I haven’t published yet are because the publishers don’t know what to do them (how to classify them). They are supernatural in nature, but different than those on the market. I also love YA because of the innocence of it all. I work with youth and I just love the way they think. I love seeing them fall in love as well. It is just so pure.
LJ: What is your writing process?
Kim: I come up with a title first. That is initially my outline. I then just start writing. I follow the code outlined in the movie Finding Forrester… “Write the first draft with your heart, and the second with your head.” I have this incredible imagination, so I just let it play out in my head as I type.
LJ: What part of writing is the most challenging for you and why?
Kim: Having explained my writing process, this may seem like a strange answer…but the first draft. I won’t think too much, so if I start to think too much, I stop the process. I much prefer to write the second draft where the outline of the book is in place and I just need to tightened it.
Kim: I had just heard of this ministry called, “The Invisible Children.” It’s this organization that tries to help African kids who are kidnapped and trained to be soldiers. Shortly after, I watched the movie “Nikita” which made me start playing with the idea in my head…what if America trained orphan teenagers to become assassins. What’s funny is that in my critique groups, they wouldn’t comment on the writing, just the concept. That it wasn’t realistic. But from the research I’ve seen, it’s not all that crazy. Sad, but true.
LJ: What is your favorite book? Why?
Kim: Wow, how does one pick one? I really liked My Life as a Doormat by Rene Gutteridge, mainly because it deals with playwriting and romance. I’m also a published playwright, and theatre is a big portion of my world. But to say my favorite…there are just so many.
LJ: And the woman behind the curtain shows even more of her amazing self. Author, Artist, and Playwright. Fabulous! So how did you get involved in book cover art?
Kim: I had just been published by TWRP (I think they were months old back then), and saw an old post on their forum about needing a cover artist. I’ve been a graphic artist for years, so I wrote them about my interest. It was an old post, so they said they would hang onto my information. About 6 months later, they brought me on as their 2nd artist. I’ve been there since.
LJ: How do you go about creating covers?
Kim: I read through the spec sheet and then begin searching for artwork. I pull probably 10-12 pictures onto my desktop and then begin tossing them onto my “virtual canvass” to see what works.
LJ: What kind of information do you need to create a cover?
Kim: The four main things I want to see is: The color of the hero/heroine’s hair, the location, the genre (& mood), and a sample of what they like in other covers. If I have those four things, I can usually get pretty close. Not always, but most of the time.
LJ: What do enjoy most about developing covers?
Kim: I think my first cover I ever created (in 2007) is my favorite to date, Logan’s Redemption. But it has since been republished, and the cover changed. I think my next favorite would be No Second Chance by Maggie Toussiant. It won a bunch of cover awards. So it was with me for a while. You can see it here: http://coverartist.blogspot.com/
LJ: What goal are you still pursuing connected with writing and art that you see as a pinnacle of you career?
Kim: My biggest goal (or maybe more of a dream) is to end up on a bookstore self. My plays are in catalogs. My books are on the web. But I want to walk into a store and see my books sitting on a self (center aisle would be ideal). I just keep writing and creating…Someday…
LJ: Kim Mendoza. Kimberlee R. Mendoza. Thank you for sharing your story and about your stories.
If you haven’t read Kimberlee R Mendoza’s book, please give it a try. If you need art work, take a look at her portfolio. Here are links to connect with Kim:
Kimberlee R Mendoza on Facebook