It’s official, dear readers: Issue 048 has left the nest and all sixteen of our spectacular bird-themed stories are flying out into the world! Flutter over to our homepage to read it, or grab a print or digital copy of your very own!
Along with these stories, we just couldn’t wait to show you the first-class cover art! Artist Jana Heidersdorf was kind enough to give us a glimpse into the inspirations behind her haunting works.
LSQ: Please tell us about the cover image “The Snowqueen.” Is there a story behind this image? What was your thought process while creating this image?
Jana: I originally created the artwork as a contribution to the Month of Fear, an annual artist challenge during the month of October started by Kristina Carroll. (I always think of it like the fantasy art community having a decadent, lush masked Halloween ball where we all try to outdo ourselves with the fanciest, creepiest costumes we can come up with.) The theme for that week’s challenge was “Beauty” and since I’m forever fascinated by the blend of beauty and cruelty that perfectly culminates in Winter (the romanticized, fairytale version of it, anyhow)—magical flurries of snowflakes and glittering icicles, but at the same time bitterly cold and deadly—and one of my favorite fairytales is Andersen’s The Snow Queen, I used the opportunity to once again try my hand at the titular character. (Please send all your favorite books containing the “Winter as a person” trope my way! I am mildly obsessed.)
LSQ: Birds are the theme for this issue, and they seem to appear often in your art. What is it about birds that pulls you in?
Jana: It’s not necessarily birds in particular, but the local wildlife, particularly wild animals sharing
spaces with us. Birds are simply the easiest to observe in the city. I mean I love foxes, and I’ve seen a bushy tail vanish into the bushes once or twice, but it’s different from when I can familiarize myself with all the charming little quirks and behaviorisms of the local crow population. I find everything about them delightful, their stupid strutting and hopping, the fah-fah sound of their wings, them bullying the kestrels, their curious black eyes.
I also have a much easier time connecting with animals than with people, so sometimes when I’m out and about and I see a wild animal in a public place I feel a physical sense of relief, a sensation of, “Oh, there is still life here.”
LSQ: Can you tell us a little more about your “dark fairytale sensibilities”? What do you like most about the spookier side of fantasy?
Jana: I think a big part of why I like fairytales and folklore is that they have room for the sort of romantic nature that is wild, untamed, and as beautiful as it is dangerous – forests that had not had their teeth pulled. There are still nights that are dark enough to see the stars and shadows that are dark enough to hold mysteries, may they be wondrous or fearsome.
When I was a child I had this fantasy of living in a hollow tree in the forest with a pet squirrel (I blame Astrid Lindgren) and the main appeal of fairytales for me is, I think, that they may not be safe, but at least I get all the hollow trees I want.
LSQ: Nature plays a big role in your art. Why is it such an inspiration to you? What are some of your other inspirations?
Jana: Well, we are all natural creatures, aren’t we? Even though, living in our glass and concrete cities, we tend to forget. However, seeing ourselves as something separate is not only dangerous to our environment and our planetary co-habitants and the ultimate survival of our
species, but to us as individuals as well. Simply seeing greenery can have a positive effect on somebody’s well-being, so even those poor dehydrated city trees and manicured lawns are good for something. But for many that’s as good as it gets. I’m a city person that wants to live in a hollow tree. You know how when you’re starving, you’re fantasizing about food? I think I’m just starving.
LSQ: Do you have a personal favorite of the projects you’ve worked on? Or one that was memorable due to its challenges? If so, can you tell us a bit about it?
Jana: Well, I love books and book illustration, so I’m chuffed whenever I get to draw a book cover or interiors. Pre-pandemic I got to illustrate dreamy little chapter headers for Juliana Brandt’s The Wolf of Cape Fen, which was an absolute joy to work on. Chapter headers are such intriguing visual teasers and they remind me of so many of my favorite childhood novels and the books my parents read to me. Although I could not actually read the words, I would flip through them and tried to figure out how the story continued by analyzing the chapter header illustrations. Generally I’m most delighted with my work when the artist in me creates something the reader in me loves.