June 25, 2019

Queen of the Sea Blog Tour: Author Tens List + Giveaway

Queen of the Sea

Author: Dylan Meconis 
Release Date: June 25, 2019
Publisher: Walker Books US
Age Range: 10 - 14 years
Grade Level: 5 - 9
Hardcover: 400 pages


Cult graphic novelist Dylan Meconis offers a rich reimagining of history in this hybrid novel loosely based on the exile of Queen Elizabeth I by her sister, Queen Mary.

When her sister seizes the throne, Queen Eleanor of Albion is banished to a tiny island off the coast of her kingdom, where the nuns of the convent spend their days peacefully praying, sewing, and gardening. But the island is also home to Margaret, a mysterious young orphan girl whose life is upturned when the cold, regal stranger arrives. As Margaret grows closer to Eleanor, she grapples with the revelation of the island’s sinister true purpose as well as the truth of her own past. When Eleanor’s life is threatened, Margaret is faced with a perilous choice between helping Eleanor and protecting herself.

Praise for QUEEN OF THE SEA:

The art, reminiscent of Raina Telgemeier’s style, creates levity during perilous situations. The book is dense with dialogue, often feeling more like a work of prose than a graphic novel. As a result, this complex work will be more accessible to those familiar with graphic novels…Certain to charm sophisticated graphic novel devotees. —School Library Journal (starred review)

Meconis offers an atmospheric alternate history inspired by the childhood and succession of Queen Elizabeth I in this quietly ambitious graphic novel…Art in soft, earthy colors brings this singular story to life in styles ranging from simple line drawings to elaborately styled text illuminations. The island world is richly developed, both in its physical particulars and its close-knit community (fascinating digressions into topics such as convent time, hand gestures used at table, and chess and embroidery flesh out daily life), and Margaret proves herself an endearing heroine with a strong voice full of humor and wonder. Her perspective transforms a storm-wracked rock into a vibrant world of hidden treasures. —Publishers Weekly (starred review)

Meconis’ humor and storytelling gifts here wed seamlessly with her evocative pen-and-ink and gouache illustrations, which are rendered in warm earth and sea tones and brim with movement, expressively capturing even Margaret’s interior monologues. With its compelling, complex characters and intrigue-laden plot, this will have readers hoping it’s only the first of many adventures for Meconis’ savvy heroine. —Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“Weaving faith, love, statecraft, and self-discovery into a tale of palace intrigue relocated to the halls of a convent on a remote island at sea, Dylan Meconis uses the trappings of the history we know to create a high-stakes adventure in an alternate past that feels so detailed and so familiar, you’ll find yourself wondering why you never read about it in school. This beautiful book swept me away from the first page.” —Kate Milford, author of the Greenglass House series

“Dylan Meconis is at the absolute top of her game. A gorgeously rendered, lovingly realized alternate history, full of personal revelations in the midst of political intrigue. A tale of growing up, and of understanding that the world is larger and stranger than it once seemed. (Plus it has a Terrible Recipe for Terrible Gruel.)” —Ben Hatke, author-illustrator of the Zita the Spacegirl series

“This is the book I was always trying to get my hands on in high school that never seemed to materialize. An adventure to lose yourself in, with an attention to historical detail to please the nerdiest among us. I fell easily and completely into this world and its characters, knowing I was safe in Dylan Meconis’s hands, and I’m really excited for more people to find out what I’ve known for a long time—that she is one of a kind.” —Kate Beaton, author-illustrator of Hark! A Vagrant

You can purchase Queen of the Sea at the following Retailers:

Ten Facts about QUEEN OF THE SEA
1) The title was the first thing I knew about the book. I have a mental list of titles in search of stories, and “Queen of the Sea” is one of the oldest ones. It dates back to my childhood!

2) When I was watercolor-painting the final art for the book, I only messed up one page so badly that I had to start over. My artwork itself looks very tidy, but everybody who knows what a klutz I can be when it comes to cups of coffee, bottles of ink, etc. will find this shocking.

3) The little ballad that Eleanor sings when practicing on her lute is a song I composed in high school, for a prose story that I’ve since lost. The song has been stuck in my head for the last umpteen years, so it seemed like it deserved a second chance at life on the page. I’d like to record it when the book releases!

4) I researched most of the plant and animal species in the book very carefully. Just about everything you see actually would have existed in the British isles in the 16th century. I really enjoyed researching the history of goats in particular, and I was delighted to find out that the old goat breeds of Scotland and England were very shaggy and had enormous horns.

5) All the embroidery in the book is real. I designed most of the letters and images, and then my studiomate Erika Moen turned them into actual stitches. I scanned the fabric and color-adjusted the thread to be colors that existed in the period and fit the color scheme of the painted art in the rest of the book.

6) I accidentally gave the evil queen in the book the same first name as…my wife. So I changed the spelling. Problem solved! (According to me. Not to my wife.)

7) Almost all of the book is painted in just three unmixed watercolors: Yellow ochre, burnt sienna, and Payne’s Grey. The places where they combine to make colors like green or purple were made by overlapping layers of those colors on the paper, not by mixing them together into a new color of paint.

8) Saint Elysia is not a real Christian saint – she’s unique to this story. A lot of real saints have been demoted by having their feast days removed from the liturgical calendar because their actual existence isn’t well-documented enough.

9) I designed all the fonts inside the book. The word balloons use a variation on my normal hand-lettering style, which I call “Audric” after a character whose dialogue needed a slightly swishy appearance. The script-style captions are based on Queen Elizabeth I’s handwriting from a letter she wrote when she was twenty.

10) When drawing and painting, I “watched” (ie, mostly listened to) a lot of stuff on Netflix. This book took so much work that I listened to every single episode of Forensic Files, Psych, Supernatural, Columbo, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, and Crazy Ex-Girlfriend at least once. Several of them twice.
Photo Content from Dylan Meconis

I’ve been writing and illustrating my own stories since the first grade, and I’ve been making comic books since middle school (no, really! Seventh grade was a tough year for me socially, so I had a lot of time to draw). I started my first book-length comic (graphic novel) in high school.

Unlike a lot of people who become professional artists and authors, I didn’t go to art school or a creative writing program in college. Instead, I mostly studied history, literature, philosophy, and French in the College of Letters at Wesleyan University. This means I have a brain full of weird facts, old books, strange art, and the extremely useful ability to read The Tales of Canterbury in the original Middle English. Except for the Middle English bit, it’s all come in very handy for writing and drawing historical fiction and fantasy.

I first started to get paid for making comics when I was still in college, when my first graphic novel was published online. After college, I worked as a graphic designer and visual communications consultant (which means “person who helps teach adults complicated stuff in cool new ways using pictures”). I’ve worked with Fortune 500 companies, global charities, technology companies, libraries, and a lot of other interesting organizations. I’ve made illustrations, animations, information graphics and cool presentations, explaining everything from how microchips work to the ways that clean drinking water can help communities in the third world.

For the last ten years, though, I mostly work as a writer, comic book creator and illustrator! Sometimes I make books totally by myself, and sometimes I get to team up with other writers or artists. It can be lots of fun, but it can also be very hard work. Luckily, I never get tired of making new stories.

 *JBN is not responsible for Lost or Damaged Books in your Nerdy Mail Box*
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