Wednesday, June 7, 2023

Book Cover Junkie Interviews YA Fantasy Author Christine E. Schulze

Christine E. Schulze has been living in castles, exploring magical worlds, and creating fantastical adventures and romances since she was too young to even write of such stories. Her collection of young adult and children’s fantasy books, The Amielian Legacy, is comprised of series and stand-alone books that can all be read separately, but also weave together to create a single, amazing fantasy.

One of her main aspirations for The Amielian Legacy is to create fantasy stories with characters that connect with readers from many different backgrounds. Her current focus is to include racially diverse characters and those with disabilities. The latter is inspired by Schulze working with adults with autism and other developmental disabilities at Trinity Services in Southern Illinois.

Schulze draws much of her inspiration from favorite authors like Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, and Diana Wynne Jones, favorite games like The Legend of Zelda, and especially from the people in her life. Some of her exciting ventures include the publication of her award-winning Bloodmaiden, as well as The Gailean Quartet with Words Matter Publishing. Her books for younger readers include In the Land of Giants and The Amazing Captain K.

Christine currently lives in a cozy Hobbit hole, but you can visit her on her website:

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Tiktok


Tell us about your book! What inspired you to write it?

Hello and thanks for having me and my book! Larimar: Gem of the Sea is a YA fantasy novella and part of The Amielian Legends, a series of stand-alone books, all set in my same fantasy universe, that can be read in any order. 

was originally inspired by my love for gemstones, including their lore and history. As a child, I created an entire breed of foxes in my stories that were each named after a gemstone and had magic powers based on those gemstones. I was super into rocks, gems, and minerals and still am. 

The larimar stone was named by an explorer after his daughter, Larissa, and the Spanish word for sea, “mar.” What a cool name to use for an underwater city and race of people! I’m also into taking typical fantasy elements and putting my own twist on them. So, instead of mermaids, I created the Larimar, an underwater race of elves.

How did you choose the title for your book? Did it come to you right away, before you started writing it, or did it come later?

It’s been a while since I wrote the original version of the book. It used to be a short story several years ago and has since expanded into its currently published novella form. But I’m guessing I likely had the title pretty early in the writing phase. That’s often important to me. If I don’t have something to call my story, whether an official name or just as a placeholder, I find it difficult to get started. 

Tell us about the cover design process. Did you have a basic idea of what your book cover would be like? 

I pretty much always have in my head what I’m going for. I’ve worked with numerous artists and they like that I give detailed descriptions to get them inspired. That said, I’m always open to the artist’s ideas on how to improve my concepts. And I like seeing how artists add their own flare to my ideas. For Larimar’s cover, the amount of detail in her dress and flowing hair is really amazing.

Who is your cover designer and how did you find him/her?

The artist for Larimar is Juney Nguyen, and as I recall, I discovered her on Instagram. I’ve used Juney for multiple projects, including the cover for two other books of mine, One Starry Knight and Narwhals in the Stars (a companion to Larimar).

I also worked with Allegra Pescatore, who created the border, text placement, and a lovely back cover and spine for the book. I found Allegra in a Facebook group devoted to cover artists. I highly enjoy perusing such groups and looking at all the potential covers, and Allegra certainly caught my eye as she does lovely work. She designed the borders and text placement for each book in The Amielian Legends series, to give them a cohesive look. 

Over the years, I’ve also found brilliant artists on freelance sites like Upwork. On Upwork, you can post the type of cover or other project you’re looking for, set your budget, and have artists bid on the project. Then, you pick the best fit for what you need.

What has been the readers’ response to your cover?

I’m still learning the art of online marketing and can’t speak on that aspect. However, readers respond positively to my book covers when I do in-person signings. I tend to sell out of a lot of books at events, which I take as the highest compliment.

What tips would you give to authors who are looking for a cover designer?

You can find a great artist in your budget by looking at Facebook groups, Instagram artists, or freelance sites like Upwork. I always recommend choosing from artists who have a decent portfolio on display, to make sure you’re getting the kind of art style you really want. Make sure whatever service you’re paying for is in writing. I’ve never been scammed by an artist but have been as an author in other ways. It’s always good to protect yourself and have everything spelled out clearly on both ends before beginning.

Anything else you’d like to say about your book?

I’d love readers to know that Larimar is available in paperback, Kindle (currently in KU), and as my first audiobook on Amazon! Auditioning narrators for the audiobook was a super fun process, especially asking them to sing the couple of songs I have in the book. I ultimately went with Jocelyn Duford as my narrator. She not only brings each of my characters to life just as I would imagine them, but also has a lovely singing voice. Her singing mid-book is really a delight. 


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