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story.lead_photo.caption This page from Michael Scott Clifton's fantasy novel shows how Nancy Durham has chosen to illustrate the author's character Mother Forest. Clifton of Mount Pleasant is writing the "Conquest of the Veil" series. His first two books were "The Treasure Hunt Club" and "The Janus Witch." Photo by Neil Abeles / Texarkana Gazette.

The artist-illustrator must use her imagination equally as well as the author.

Linden artist Nancy Durham said she was "stretched" when fantasy author Michael Scott Clifton asked her to illustrate his books.

"Fantasy, I don't read, I said when he came and asked. That's pushing me. I do birds and flowers and things, not creatures," Nancy said.

Nancy Durham's home in Linden certainly looks like an artist's lair where book-lined shelves and a warm, friendly feeling.

Then Nancy read the first of Clifton's books and made notes. Here's how the author described the character Mother Forest he wanted illustrated:

"She's a Cyclops"

"She's 1,000 years old."

"She blue and pregnant."

"She has three fingers on each hand"

"She wears a fur tunic and has tusks."

"She uses telepathy and doesn't speak. "

"My mind said to create a woman more like a goddess. Let her be beautiful, looking down boldly, with pepper and black hair like Cher of the 1960's."

"Michael said he liked it," Nancy said. "And I loved it, too. He asked me how I did it, and I said it's how he wrote it. I didn't need to go into his imaginary world. I just created Mother Forest from what he wrote."

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