Don't forget that all comments on posts with the Earth's Children logo made before Midnight GMT on the 8th April 2011 will get you entered into my international giveaway to win a book of your choice from the Earth's Children Series! See this post for more information.
When I was first contacted by Kate from Holler about reviewing The Clan of the Cave Bear I think I made my love of the series quite obvious in my reply. What I never expected was to receive an invite to an exclusive event organised by Hodder and held at the Natural History Museum, I can't tell you how excited it was when I got that email! It was an exclusive event that 10 fans won tickets to on the Earth's Children facebook page and I feel very privileged that I was able to attend. Even better I was allowed to bring a guest and the first person I thought of was my cousin Emma who was the one who introduced me to the series so many years ago. It was a special day and I'm glad we got to enjoy it together.
Emma & me
When we arrived at the Natural History Museum and had been given our guest passes we had a guide to show us to the room where the event was being held (it was a good job too as I don't think we'd ever have found it otherwise). Along with the fans and Hodder staff we sat around a big conference table and after the introductions it was time to learn a little more about the technology behind the augmented reality cover that we were going to help design. The idea of the event was for us to decide what Ayla looks like, the artist Judy was going to use our input to create a picture of Ayla and that picture would be used as the basis for the 3D version of Ayla that you will be able to see online if you have one of the limited edition covers.
The technical team explained more about how the 3D technology works and showed us an example of a 3D car using their laptop. I wasn't really too sure what to expect but just by holding a normal picture up to their web cam a 3D car appeared on the screen. What I found most interesting was that by tilting the picture or by moving it around the car on the screen moved too and you could see it from all kinds of different angles, it was quite fascinating to watch and I can't wait to see the finished version of Ayla on screen!
Demonstrating with the 3D car
We were split into smaller groups to have a brainstorming session about what Ayla would look like and I was amazed by the amount of knowledge everyone had about the series. We all had quite clear ideas about what Ayla looks like and what she should be wearing but luckily each of the groups seemed to come up with very similar suggestions. As we were discussing our ideas the artist Judy had the difficult task of trying to create a drawing we were all happy with. I did feel quite sorry for her as we argued over the shape of her chin or the width of her face and any number of other tiny little details but luckily she was very patient and managed to come up with a picture we were all happy with. The slide show below shows some of the different stages the drawing went through before we got to the finished version:
Having recently re-read the series I think my favorite descriptions of Ayla were found in The Plains of Passage and I think we did a reasonable job helping to create a picture of her.
"Her long, thick, dark blond hair, gleaming with highlights where the sun had lightened it, was held back out of her way with a thong. But it had a natural wave and loose strands that had escaped the leather binding curled around her tanned face" Pages 83 & 83
"Her large eyes were grey-blue outlined with lashes a shade or two darker than her hair; her eyebrows were somewhat lighter, between the two in colour. Her face was heart-shaped, rather wide with high cheekbones, a well-defined jaw, and a narrow chin." Page 85
The finished picture of Ayla
"The sleeveless leather tunic she wore, belted, over leather leggings fitted comfortably ... The laces at the bottom of her leggings were open and she was barefoot. Around her neck was a small, beautifully embroidered and decorated leather pouch, with crane feathers at the bottom, which showed the bumps of the mysterious objects it held ... Hanging from the belt was a knife sheath ... On the left side was a rather strange, pouchlike object. It had been made from a whole otter skin, cured with the feet, tail, and head left on. The throat had been cut and the insides removed through the neck, then a cord was cut and strung through slits and pulled tight to close. The flattened head became the flap. It was her medicine bag, the one she had brought with her from the Clan" Pages 83 & 84
Our version of Ayla's outfit, including her otter skin pouch
Judy had just completed the pictures when we were introduced to a very special guest, yes you guessed it Jean M. Auel had come to see the finished version! I don't think I was the only one who was feeling very nervous when she had her first look at the pictures but she seemed happy with them and said it was a pretty good likeness of Ayla.
Jean M. Auel gets her first look at the finished picture
children!) but that she would love to write Durc's story if she can (I would absolutely love to find out what happens to Durc so I'm keeping my fingers crossed!). Jean said she writes the books for herself but feels lucky that other people enjoy the series too. Someone asked her a question about the film that was made of The Clan of the Cave Bear and she confirmed that she hated it, she actually sued the company that made it because she was supposed to have been allowed a say in how it was made. She did say that she would love to see the series made into films but that it probably isn't something she will let happen, she is going to leave the decision up to her children when she is gone.
I would like to say a massive thank you to Kate from Holler for inviting me to the event and also to the staff at Hodder for arranging it. Emma and I both had a fantastic time and meeting Jean Auel was a dream come true for us.