I knew Teufel’s story needed to be illustrated. For reader reasons, for location reasons, for writer reasons.
For those who haven’t been to the Tower, experiencing that level of history – almost a thousand years – should be on the page visually, above and beyond any attempt with words.
You should be able to see and feel the place, without running off to Google. See it from Teufel’s view. And, see the Tower that is hidden in plain sight. The Tower of ghosts.
I started with cats.
Who can draw cats?
I popped onto Google. And what a search. Page after page of dullness. So much cutesy. So much flat. So much of all the styles I wasn’t after. I’m an instant decision person (excluding menus and what to do nexts). I immediately know if I love something or not. And this was a sea of “no”.
Then I found one.
An English artist in the midlands, doing amazing cats but she didn’t illustrate for other people.
I returned to the search.
Deep, deep in Google-land, I saw a MonoKubo artwork. I stopped in my tracks. Everything I was after. In front of me. The instant emotion of art. I found more of her work. The feeling exploded.
Searching for Japanese language items in English language search engines isn’t easy if you don’t know what you’re doing (I don’t), but eventually I found an email address.
I composed a mail. Sent it to an old Japanese boss/friend to get some cultural input and check the Google Translate work. ‘You can’t write to a Japanese person this informally,’ was the response. To which I replied, ‘yes, but as you know, I am this informal. This is me.’ So, with a few translation tweaks the email was off.
There was a 1% chance MonoKubo would say yes.
But here’s what I know about 1% chances.
They come off.
They’ve been doing it since I was a kid.
That’s why they’re not zero.
Put your best work and heart in, and see what answer comes back. My email explained the story, what I wanted to do, a Google translation of the opening three chapters (not easy with my sentence structures).
MonoKubo said yes!
She read the chapters using DeepL, a better translation tool. She read the whole book by it. We shared 300 emails using it. We never spoke. We never met. We never saw each other. There was no contract beyond our agreed terms. No deposit. I didn’t know her name until I paid her. We shared laughs, thoughts and troubles. We shared cats. She was relentless, brilliant and fearless (in so many ways).My heart sang when she said yes. It still does. At every memory. Yes! Yes! Yes! And so we began. I’ll save that journey for another story.