This is one of the recent illustrations I’ve completed for Kendra Kandlestar and the Crack in Kazah. This is the character I’m simply referring to as the “teen Een” for now. She a rather tempestuous character, but in this scene I’ve tried to catch her in a more poetic moment, as she sits in her front garden, playing the musical instrument known as the narfoo.
I knew early on in the writing of this book that I wanted this teen Een to play an instrument. I named it quite early on, but I had NO idea what it would look like. I just knew that I wanted it to be complicated and unusual.
After a lot of research on other instruments, I began sketching. I was pretty sure I wanted something more like a French horn or a baritone tuba (the instrument I used to play), but in the end it I suppose the narfoo is more of a hybrid between a saxophone and a trumpet. With its many valves, horns, and buttons, you can imagine that the narfoo is a complicated instrument to play. But, once mastered, it is capable of a wide range of sounds. One minute you might hear the player emit a solemn, woeful tune and the next a loud and raucous melody.
For this specific illustration that depicts the teen Een playing the Narfoo, I took some inspiration from the cover of the classic fantasy book The Moorchild by Eloise McGraw. I just like the idea of the little Elf-like character sitting amidst nature, playing a tune.
The final thing I’d like to say about this illustration, is that I’m sure it’s going to serve me well in future creative writing classes. I’ve already taught classes in which we’ve designed musical instruments, so perhaps it’s time to roll out that activity again. Who knows? Perhaps I’ll find inspiration for another instrument of Een!