All my life I've enjoyed spooky things ("spoopy" as the internet calls it). As a kid I would gobble up any sort of ghost or alien-related media-- I had just about gutted my local library of anything it had on the subjects. The Goosebumps series by R.L. Stine was definitely a favorite of mine, as well as Scary Stories by Alvin Schwartz. Whether it was fictional or real-life accounts, I wanted to read it! My aunt and uncle took me to London at the tender age of ten, and I was excited and desperate to visit the Ghost Tower in Warwick Castle. Finally, I'd see some ghosts and learn that IT WAS ALL REAL! (Think of Baby Joie as a preteen Agent Mulder, yeah?) Sadly, no ghosts made any appearances, but I kept on reading and hoping one day I'd see something.
Even though I'm more of an Agent Scully now in my adult years, I still can't get enough of horror/paranormal/spoopy entertainment. When I was thinking up ideas for new illustrations recently, I remembered that horror-for-kids is a thing. In fact, I recently read a middle grade horror novel called Took by Mary Downing Hahn. (I really enjoyed the book a lot, btw). So, why not try something like that? I decided to cook up a faux middle grade novel about a bunch of kids who investigate paranormal stuff. Turns out it's a sub-genre which already exists in droves, based on my recent trip to the book store... but whatever, I wanted to do it anyway!
I didn't want the cover for this faux book be just a regular ol' "kids exploring haunted house" thing, though. I wanted something interesting and new-- I wanted the setting to be unique. They say draw what you know, right? Or does that just apply to writers? Anyway, I decided that the coastline of Oregon was perfect since it was so beautiful and specific. And, what sort of ghosts might one find near a coastline? A ghost SHIP! Of course the rhyme of "Ghost Coast" was my husband's invention, and I couldn't not use it.
So looking at photos from Battle Rock Beach and the general surrounding coastline of Port Orford, Oregon got me started. I've spent a lot of time up there, considering it's where Joel is from... and we also literally got married there last year. Dramatic rocky cliffs slathered in evergreen forest jutted up against a beach? You got it. Let's add in some kids who have found a map that draws them to the area and are an appropriate mix of "this is terrifying," "this is cool," and "I will conveniently miss any paranormal activity because I am always looking in another direction" respectively. (Of course, gentle reader, the latter's name is clearly Dana).
And finally, we'll add the "ghost." And I mean just look at that sick ship. Sick as in "it's a sickly color" but also "the concept of a ghost ship is cool." I'd be totally into seeing something like that when I go to the beach at night soon.
I enjoyed creating this illustration so much that I am going to do more with these same kids. So keep an eye out for that if you like this sort of thing. If you don't, there's not much I can do about that. Have a spoopy day!