…or as they say, “The devil’s in the details.”

I keep thinking of a moment I had with an artist while having tea in Piccadilly circus!

Thing is, I get approached by a LOT of Muslims who want to break into the business. Most of them are people who want to be writers, only some of them are people who want to be illustrators.

There was one illustrator who did implore me to speak to my publishers, but the problem was we’d already been paired together and she really botched up an illustration.

You have to realize that people in the biz do talk to each other. The editor involved complained about her. Said she’d never work with her again for some very basic, and pretty reasonable reasons.

So that when this artist came up to me during a party and asked that I intervene with my publishers and recommend her, nope, wasn’t going to do that.

I told her, what I firmly believed at the time, that my say so carried very little weight with the publisher. She assured me that wasn’t the case, and I’m beginning to think she may have been right.

Why wouldn’t a publisher take an author’s views into consideration on the illustration of their book?

In fact recently a publisher even called me up and we had a long conversation about that very matter, him asking me who I thought would be best to illustrate a manuscript.

So anyway, after you’ve seen enough really shabby attempts at writing, you can’t help but start to get leery of that email saying, “I’ve got a story…”

I know of some authors who’ve posted big warning signs on their website to not even bother approaching them like that. I’ve always resisted doing that.

Guess I can’t help but remember when I was desperate to catch the attention of a published author so that maybe they could help me, maybe I could get a leg up, stuff like that, so I just can’t seem to close the door.

And yet…you never know!

I had one experience where a lady contacted me, asking me to read a story of hers and give her feedback.


I don’t have the time.

And for what it’s worth, it’s incredibly presumptuous to ask an author to do that.

But something about the way she asked me made me agree.

I gave it to her bluntly. Told her what was wrong, and sat back and waited to see what she would do. Either she would curse me and berate me or she’d thank me for telling it to her straight.

She thanked me and we began a conversation that actually taught me a lot!

(That’s another reason why I don’t close my door to such inquiries. I do sometimes learn from them!)

That reaction of hers to my blunt assessment says more than her actual story did. It tells me that she has potential.

And potential shows up in details.

With that illustrator in Piccadilly, it was just a brief moment, when I made a suggestion that she use a short cut for the background design and she said something very interesting. She said, “I suppose I could, but I like to use my own designs and textures.”

And I looked at her differently from that moment on.

She obviously enjoyed the process! She found the choice of patterns and textures that weren’t even part of the main interest in the picture–intriguing!

That attention to detail…that’s precious!

It’s like when an author gets an exact turn of phrase just right to convey exactly the right emotion at exactly the right moment!

It can make or break the whole piece!

Like that one scene in No Country For Old Men with Anton Chigurh at the gas station and tossing the quarter.

Just a quiet scene that turns out to be one of the most powerful moments in the whole film!

Ah the details!