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  • Kristina Elyse Butke

Moodboards and Magic!

Confetti exploding
Photo by Jack Van Hel on Unsplash

I'm in a bit of a block right now with revisions, and so usually what I do if I'm creatively stuck with a book is to try and do something else creative related to the novel, just to keep the gears turning. For example, maybe I'll watch a movie or series that takes place in a fictional world like mine, or in similar settings or time periods. Or maybe I'll make a playlist of soundtracks that keep my mind in the world I've created.

Or, I could just make moodboards!!

I have an old Pinterest board for Son of the Siren back when it was still supposed to be a comic series, so the images (and plot!) are pretty outdated. However, if you want to take a look, feel free.

The moodboards I made yesterday are closer to the type of stuff I see Book Twitter share frequently -- small, bite-sized collages of images related to the book or WIP. I made two of them.

This one represents the book in its entirety (all images licensed from Deposit Photos):

Collage of white animals, sea textures, and sky images; Son of the Siren

I've got the three animals the royal children are transformed into, then images of mermaids and the sea, and then the three materials from the sky that must be woven into robes to bring the children back into their human forms.

If these motifs sound familiar to you, it's because I took aspects of three fairytales and smashed them together: Allerleirauh, The Wild Swans, and The Little Mermaid. The largest influences come from Allerleirauh -- if you are unfamiliar with the fairy tale, I recommend a quick read of it!

The next moodboard I made focuses on the wandering forest of Elythia, which is home to the Fae, giants, tricksters, and other magical creatures (all images licensed from Deposit Photos):

Collage of gold textures, forest, fox, fairy, and fire; Son of the Siren

Some of my favorite scenes in the book take place in Elythia, and that's also where readers get to meet Kitra -- she's a fae fox, a special kind of trickster who can shapeshift from a fairy to a giant fox that breathes balls of fire that lead people off of their path. Her ability is inspired by kitsunebi, will-o'-the-wisp, and foxfire, and I took that "foxfire" part kind of literally, ha ha!

This collage features gilt flowers, the golden blooms that control the flow of time in Elythia, a red fox, pretty glitter textures and gold, Autumn Wood (one of the four forest realms inside Elythia), one of the fireballs Kitra can make, and of course, a pretty golden fairy to show you that it's where the Fae live.

After playing around with moodboards, I discovered through Book Twitter that you can get an AI to render artwork of your book just by typing in the title of it -- just like magic!

Here's a collage of all the auto-generated art the Wombo Dream App made using the phrase Son of the Siren:

Collage of artificial images depicting a figure in the sea with rocks and structures in the background; all art by Wombo

I'm really pleased the app interpreted "siren" as "mermaid" as opposed to something like a police or ambulance siren -- go AI! It also seems to have focused, on at least two pictures, something that looks like a creepy pair of eyes. Not sure what's up with that, but whatever! You can at least see a kind of mermaid creature shape in the rest of them.

It's a really fun app to play with. Again, if you want that link, it's the Dream App by Wombo.

Even though I'm a bit blue about the book, making moodboards and magical AI-generated art cards has kept my mind attached to the book even though I'm blocked on it at the moment. It's a way for me to stay connected to the work even as I take a little break trying to figure out what's happening next.

If you're ever feeling stuck but don't want to detach from your work, may I recommend doing little creative art projects on the side to keep you going? They're so much fun! I hope you enjoyed looking at these!