Blurb: Are you back, Angelique?”

 He waits in his library, alone,  drawing back curtains on memories of love so    many years lost. Reports of dead men, bloodless, all eerily similar, tell Vincent the tale. Stalking in shadows, she seeks him.
Will she have him still?
Told first in Helen A Rosburg’s poem “Angelique,” the story of Angelique and Vincent’s undying love now comes to resplendent life in this novelette illustrated by Cherif Fortin and Lynn Sanders and offered in animated-book format. With its beautiful prose and breathtaking images, this instant classic vampire story will haunt and delight readers for  eternity.
The Illustrators
Cherif Fortin is a freelance photographer, illustrator, and writer living in
Chicago, Illinois. At one time he
has worked as a professional stuntman, as a full-time firefighter, and as one of the country’s leading romance cover models. Cherif’s artwork has been featured on the covers of hundreds of books in dozens of countries, and on calendars and collectibles. He runs the successful Fortin & Sanders Studio along with partner, Lynn Sanders, producing commercial art and photography for leading clients internationally.
He lives with his wife, Dawn, and their three children: Kira, Kai, and Lara.
Lynn Sanders is an artist, photographer, and writer of romance fiction and children’s books. She is co-owner of Fortin & Sanders Studio, which produces cover art for some of the top publishers in the world. Her paintings have been exhibited at Epcot Center and are owned by private collectors such as Hugh Hefner and Fabio. She has three adult children, three grandchildren, and one great-grandchild. She lives in northern Illinois with Ce Ce, her faithful Cirneco dell Etna.
The Interview

The Interview:

1) Tell us a bit about yourselves.
Lynn: I am a great grandmother. I have 3 children. I’ve lived most of my life in Illinois. I have always loved art and romance. I lean toward depicting the fantasy side of life rather than the stark, bare-my-soul type of art. I love pretty things.

Cherif: I’m married and a father of three. I live in a northwest suburb of Chicago and work as a full time firefighter for the city of Elgin, Illinois. My other full time career is as an illustrator/photographer, which I started doing professionally in 1993. I’m big into sci-fi/fantasy literature.  I love art, video games and going to the movies with my wife. I’m also an avid kick-boxer.
We recently welcomed an addition to our family: our brand new, Doberman puppy, Shogun.  Artistically speaking, I am strongly influenced by the great illustrators of the 20th century as well as many photographers and representational artists. I sometimes work in oils, but mostly I work digitally, so I am interested in technology. I love the work of contemporary concept artists.

2) When did you start working together and what brought you together.
Lynn: In 1993 I met Cherif at Medieval Times at one of his performances (he worked there as a stunt performer for 12 years). I offered him a trade shoot at my photography studio: comp pics for his modeling portfolio and contest pictures for me. He came to the studio a couple times and that’s when I found out he was also artistic. I had a fledging commercial background painting business at the time and I needed artists, so I gave him a job. Within a year we became partners in that business and started working together on a variety of other illustration projects.
A couple years into our partnership, I started piecing some of the shots I had taken of Cherif into a personal project. It eventually evolved into Passion’s Blood, the first-ever illustrated romance novel. Passion’s Blood was initially published by Genesis Press in 1998, then republished ten years later by Medallion Press as the flagship title launching their Masterpiece line. It was published again in 2010 by Medallion for the iPad as an animated romance.

Cherif: About the time Lynn and I started putting Passion’s Blood together in the middle 90’s, we also broke into the publishing field as book cover illustrators. We had the good fortune of working for most of the big publishing companies, and many great independents over the years.
Our work has been published on thousands of book covers and seen by millions of people all over the world. A lot of our work has been for the romance genre, where fans know us as Fortin & Sanders. We still work together painting, illustrating and photographing all kinds of projects, though I think our favorite jobs will always be illustrating books.

3) What are some of you favorite pieces from Angelique?
Lynn: I like the painting of the mist scene where Angelique walks toward the viewer. That’s one that Cherif painted and I thought he did a brilliant job capturing the scene. It has a really creepy feel to it.

Cherif: I dont know if I have one absolute favorite, though one of the paintings I like best has to be the one of Angelique at the window. Sometimes when I’m working, paintings can take on a life of their own, but this one came out exactly as I saw it in my mind’s eye when I read the storythe first time.

4) Was working on an iPad app completely different from other work you’ve done? Was it more or less challenging?
Cherif: Yes, this was different because of the animations which required us to do  several versions of the paintings (or parts of the paintings). Angelique was the first project we worked on where we intentionally crafted our paintings to be able to move and interact with the reader.  It meant we had to do a lot of extra work, but I think the added value of having sound and motion in the finished product is definitely worth it.

5) What’s coming up for Fortin & Sanders?
Lynn: We are always working on stories and illustrations. We have all the illustrations ready for another story that is similar in tone to Passion’s Blood, and we’d love to see that released as an app in the future. We also do fine art portraiture for private clients, painting everything from pets, to children, brides and corporate execs. We are still illustrating book covers for a variety of clients and we hope to keep doing that for many more years to come.
On a personal level, I just finished a series of paintings for a group of silk-flyer acrobats. I’m also working on illustrating some kids books which I’d like to see published one day, and I’m doing a lot of portraits of Elvis, which I sometimes put up for sale on ebay.

Cherif: We’re spending a lot of time promoting Passion’s Blood and Angelique these days, doing signings and appearances (our next appearance will be at the Printer’s Row show in Chicago, June 9th). We’re also finishing production on some artwork for the Gordie Brown Live! Show at the Golden Nugget Casino, which you can see on 8 billboards throughout Las Vegas.
My personal projects lately include doing a lot portraits of my family (puppies and kids, they’re just so darn cute), as well as some paintings exploring fantastic and mythological themes (uh oh, sounds like a new section for the website). I’m putting the finishing touches on a new book which features art techniques for professional photographers; I’m hoping to have that ready by the end of the year.

Thanks to Cherif Fortin and Lynn Sanders for their time today!  If you would like to purchase the app, you can get it here on itunes.