Joanne Renaud

Joanne Renaud is a graduate in illustration from Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California. She currently lives in New York, and is agented by Tugeau2. Recent clients include Simon and Schuster, Random House, Houghton Mifflin, Harcourt Inc., McGraw Hill Glencoe, Mazer Creative Services, Delta Education, Zaner Bloser, Trillium Publishing and Astonishing Adventures Magazine.

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Friday, April 30, 2010

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Tuesday, March 30, 2010

I guest blog on Ticket to Nowhere

Oh my goodness! It has been almost an entire month since I have blogged. But in my defense I have been very busy, working on a new reader and doing part-time work at WFMU, freeform radio station extraordinaire.

But, I have just guest blogged for Gail Yates for her wonderful book review blog, Ticket to Anywhere. I review Bride of Pendorric, a gothic romance by Victoria Holt.

Oh, good old Victoria Holt. She's not the best author in the world, but her books can be very satisfying in a chicken soup kind of way. And what's better than chicken soup, especially when it's pouring outside, like it is now?

Bad news for this blog: Blogger is no longer publishing by FTP, so somehow I must figure out how to migrate everything to Wordpress. Thanks for making my life so much easier, Google.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Dark Valentine Magazine is here

I'm the art director on a new magazine, Dark Valentine, that is dedicated to dark fiction. The publisher, Katherine Tomlinson, veteran of the movie, magazine and publishing industries, is our publisher, and author Christine Pope is our valiant editor. The amazing graphic designer/illustrator Sarah Vaughn designed our website, which is now up and running.

You can see the new Dark Valentine website here. I'm very happy with the site, and I can't wait until the first issue.

We are accepting submissions for story submissions and illustrations. Here are the details:

The first issue will be in May, deadline is April 1.

We’re soliciting entries for our THROUGH A LENS DARKLY (they’re not paid) and we will pay $10 for stories and $10 for illustrations that run in each of our quarterly issues of DARK VALENTINE. We know that’s not much but it’s coming out of our own pockets.) Web design is by the multi-talented Sarah Vaughn, whose stories and art you may remember from Astonishing Adventures Magazines #7 and #8.

We will be specializing in dark fiction—mystery, horror, romance, slipstream, urban fantasy, fantasy, sci fi, cyberpunk, you name it. Our influences range from E.A. Poe to Tanith Lee. We know you’ve got a story to tell us.

Here’s where you send it:

Sunday, February 28, 2010

My Top Eight Favorite Romance Novels

In honor of my attendance at Lady Jane's Salon tomorrow, I decided to make a list of my favorite romance novels. Originally this was going to be my top ten, but unfortunately I could only think of eight. But here goes!

#8 Enchant the Heavens-- Kathleen Morgan

Ignore the cover, where the hero's hands look like he's about to crush the heroine's skull. This is a fine book, with a sexy, smart hero and a strong, capable heroine who actually fights her own battles. It's also well-researched: the Celts act like Celts, and the Romans act like Romans (who even have proper nomenclature). The story involves a British chiefain's daughter and the Roman governor's nephew during Boudica's revolt, but unlike most romances set during this period, the Celts aren't romanticized into nature-loving New Agers, and the Romans aren't evil. And neither the heroine or hero give up their cultures or identities in the end; in fact they work on bridging their communities in the aftermath of war. It's mature and refreshing. Also, kudos to Ms. Morgan for featuring Nero in an awesome, non campy and non Christian-burning cameo!

#7 Charity Girl-- Georgette Heyer

I'm generally tired of the Regency setting, but it's hard to go wrong with Georgette Heyer. I always particularly liked this one. The hero is the blond, witty and effortlessly fashionable Viscont Desford, who takes the bedraggled poor relation Cherry Steane under his wing. Cherry isn't the heroine though; the viscount's BFF Henrietta Silverdale turns out to be the heroine, and their slow discovery of their love is actually pretty sweet.

Also, Cherry's dad shows up in the end, and he is such an OTT bloviator he would give P.T. Barnum a run for his money. A charming, and sometimes even hilarious story. (This cover pictured here is the exact same edition I own too.)

#6 Sympathy for the Devil-- Christine Pope

One of the best paranormal romances I've read. It's a clever, fast-paced romance starring... the Devil. Yes, that devil! But there's no tail or horns, here Lucifer is a dapper and suave fallen angel who makes a deal with God, who offers him a chance at redemption if he can experience human love. Easy enough, according to the Devil, who thinks that making the woman God has chosen fall in love with him will be a simple task. Unfortunately, Lucifer didn’t count on interfering demons, blundering boyfriends, and a young woman who has more questions than he’s willing to answer.

This story is refreshing, delightful, and with some really... pardon the pun, but I can't resist... devilishly sexy scenes. It's too bad this book has not been published yet, but if you email Ms. Pope, she might be persuaded to send you a few excerpts.

#5 Elsingham Portrait-- Elizabeth Chater

This possibly one of the first paranormal timeslip category romances ever written, since it was published in 1979. It also isn't the first bodyswap time travel ever written, but it might be one of the earliest. Mousy librarian Kathryn Hendrix has just been dumped by her sports-car loving stud of a boyfriend (who also must listen to disco on his eight track machine), but a chance encounter with a Georgian portrait of a voluptuous redhead, hung in a small gallery that she visits in her despair, sends her back in time to the 1770s, where she finds herself in the body of the redhead, aka Nadine, Lady Elsingham.

Kathryn's shock at finding herself in a foreign body is really well done, and the 18th century atmosphere is well executed too. Kathryn finds out to her dismay that Nadine is a sluttish, uneducated girl completely under the thumb of her sinister maidservant Donner, and she must win over her handsome but bitter husband, Lord John, whom she finds herself falling head over heels for.

I've read my share of body swap time travel stories, and this is definitely one of the best. Kathryn doesn't forget Nadine, who is in the future (it's too bad there was never a sequel about her plight), and she must keep herself from falling into the clutches of the evil Donner. A very diverting read; highly recommended!

#4 Greenwood-- Sue Wilson

This is a great book, and it used to be available through the (now defunct) NovelBooks Inc., but it has unfortunately vanished into the ether of the internet. It's a romance about the Sheriff of Nottingham and a poor healer named Thea. It's emotionally satisfying melodrama, with adventure, excitement, heaping helpings of medieval culture, and a very interesting take on the Robin Hood legend.

But why did it disappear? I hear you asking. The story is too long to recount here, but it is discussed in this post on Smart Bitches, Trashy Books. Before it was published by NBI, Greenwood was available through an old (also defunct) AOL Hometown page called the St. Rose Press, and many clever members of the Bitchery found links to the chapters through the internet archives. The links to the archived chapters are in the comments. If anyone's curious about Greenwood, you can find most of it through there.

I can't find Sue Wilson to tell her how much I love her writing, but if you're out there, Sue, I think your books are awesome, and I hope you find another publisher.

#3 The Captain's Pleasure-- Mary Ruth Myers

I wish I had a better scan of the cover to show you guys, since it's very much in the tradition of Sanjulian's paintings for early '80s bodice-rippers, but alas: my copy is packed away right now, and I can't find it. I had to make do with this teeny jpeg, courtesy of Ebay. But perhaps it's just as well.

Silly cover asides, this is a wonderful book with a kickass heroine. Also, it has a setting-- early 16th century colonial Peru, with lots of adventure and political intrigue-- that I have never seen anywhere else, ever. It was published in the early '80s, so it begins not terribly promisingly, with our aristocratic heroine Catherine, at the prospect of becoming the mistress of a villainous politician, endures a "forced seduction" turned marriage of convenience at the hands of the lower-class conquistador hero, Valdivia.

But hold on, cats and kittens; the book is better than it sounds. Catherine is an AWESOME heroine who really holds her own, and while great sex isn't a problem, her husband learns to respect her plenty. Oh, and best of all, Catherine eventually gets her own revenge on her archenemy, the politician. I'm not going to give away. But I don't think I've seen another romance novel where the heroine has so much nerve.

#2 City of Forever-- Barbara Blackburn

And for something completely different, here's City of Forever by Barbara Blackburn. I discovered it purely by luck, as I often do, in the stacks of Cliff's Books, a great bookstore in Pasadena CA. I had no idea what to expect, but I liked the early '60s cover art (the woman with the bouffant and the gloves, the man in the skinny tie!), and so I got it.

It's too bad this book is so hard to find, because it's great. Sheltered English girl Miranda leaves her home for a job in Rome to forget wealthy playboy Tony, who is clearly miles out of her league. And who should she run into Rome but Tony, who's there on business! The writing is graceful and assured, the romantic tension builds nicely throughout the story, and there's a little suspense too, even if it's not the Gothic thriller the cover would have you believe. It's more of a character piece, and the atmosphere of early '60s Rome is nicely evoked. Miranda and Tony are great characters-- Miranda is serious, earnest, overly sensitive, but she has a lot of male friends and is comfortable hanging out with men. In some ways Tony reminds me of an updated Viscount Desford from Charity Girl-- he's a humorous, charming blond guy who knows everything about sports cars, and never appears to be serious, although he turns out to be quite serious about Miranda.

#1 Promise of Summer-- Louisa Rawlings

And finally, here we are at #1. Louisa Rawlings (aka Sylvia Halliday and Sylvia Baumgarten) was wrote a lot in the '80s and '90s, but her last published book was in 1997. Which is too bad, because-- as one of my friends put it-- her books read like Georgette Heyer's Georgian novels, "but with more sex." Promise is quite possibly my favorite read by her. It's a rollicking adventure story set in 1730s France about a streetwise young urchin named Topaze who's hired by an embittered, disinherited young gentleman, Lucien, to scam his estranged provincial noble family out of an inheritance which rightfully belongs to him. Lucien's young lady cousin has been missing for years, and Topaze, who bears an astonishing resemblance to her, is hired to act her part, infiltrate the family, and get Lucien his inheritance back. Of course, the family has deep dark secrets, and Topaze wonders why she is so strangely drawn to them. And what about her growing love for Lucien? And is someone trying to kill her?

There's so much great stuff going on in this novel, I don't know where to start. It takes a lot of well known tropes, like the Pygmalion plot, Identical Stranger, and Becoming the Mask, just to name a few, and mashes them all up into something unpredictable and fun. Topaze is tough, strong and smart, Lucien is brooding (but not too brooding), sexy and clever. There's terrific period detail too, and a host of well-drawn minor characters.

This is a great read, and again (I feel like I've said this a lot already), I wish the author was better known.

This post was the idea of Alea at Pop Culture Junkie. Thanks, Alea!

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"Tornado!" reader available on Delta Education site

I worked on a reader for Delta Education last fall, called "Tornado! A Meteorologist and her Prediction," about real-life meteorologist Lynn Burse, who currently lives in Alabama. I did twelve paintings, ten of them full-bleed, double-page spreads for this project, and while it was a rewarding experience, it was a lot of work!

You can see a full view of the cover image here. (You can also see the tornado I painted too.) For the cover image, note the Miyazaki-style waving grass and super DRAMATIC SKY! I swear, I must have used an entire tube of Payne's gray working on this project.

Anyway, the other day I saw it on the Delta Education website, which is pretty cool.

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Sunday, February 14, 2010

Happy Valentine's Day with Belle and Gaston

Sometimes reading fanfiction can be a relaxing break from work (or trying to get work, as is often the case with freelancing). For some reason, I felt in the mood for reading Beauty and the Beast fanfic; and when I saw a recommendation for the fanfic of TrudiRose, who wrote about everyone's favorite swaggering heavy Gaston, I thought, "Sure, why not?"

Well, I was really pleasantly surprised. I was not too fond of the character of Gaston beforehand, but such was the author's skill that I found myself actually getting personally invested in what happened to him. In fact, if you're in the mood for some good fanfic, check out Picture This and Man of Stature -- both by TrudiRose at Both stories are smart, entertaining and compulsively readable, and they treat Gaston's character quite differently in both. Check them out-- you won't be disappointed!

Then, for the hell of it, I decided to do some fanart of Belle and Gaston. So here they are:

It was a challenge to draw Gaston realistically, since in every screencap I found he's mugging more than Brian Blessed. DID SOMEBODY ORDER A LARGE HAM!?

As for Belle, I couldn't stand the idea of drawing her in her generic peasant outfit and ponytail, so I put her in a simple but fashionable robe a l'anglaise from the late 1770s or early '80s. Her hair is loose and flowing, like the Gainsborough portrait of the Linley sisters.

Belle definitely seems to fit into the 1780s, I think. I can just see her in some small village in Poitou or elsewhere, sitting under a tree, reading Rousseau's Julie and sighing over the love of Julie and Saint-Preux. And then Gaston would come and annoy her. I am sure he would make plenty of disparaging remarks about Rousseau and other such wild, radical authors, while eying her bosom.

Happy Valentine's Day, everyone!

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Thursday, February 11, 2010


I'm published! My short story "Wendy" was published by Astonishing Adventures Magazine last month, and it's free to read and download here. It's a slipstream riff on the Peter Pan story: above is my illustration of Peter.

Last year, AAM also published my essay about ancient Rome as depicted in pulp paperback novels from the '50s, '60s and '70s, which I called Toga Porn. It's also free to download. I hope you guys enjoy!

It was a great experience working with AAM. I'm now working as art director on a new magazine called Dark Valentine which shall be debuting this spring. More to come soon.

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