Anna in a Field

Meet the Real Isadora

Anna with her husband, Mike
Anna and her husband

Talent piques curiosity in the observer. Anna Bernas (née Melillo) is an exceptional example of talent and I am thoroughly happy as one of her observers. I can’t remember exactly how I met Anna or when I found out she drew, but I know we met through friends at Liberty University, where I was studying English and she nursing. Soon, I saw a few examples of her drawings and my curiosity was piqued so far that I needed to know what she could do with a book cover. And that’s how the cover of Omega: War and the Supernatural was born.

If Anna’s talent has piqued your curiosity, you’ve definitely come to the right place. A small gallery of her fantastic work is included at the bottom of this article. Since I began publishing, Anna has been a constant presence in my works. She drew the cover for Omega: War and the Supernatural and graces the covers of both With Her in the Night and Fight for the Undead. She is the model for Isadora and will likely also feature on the covers of future Isadora installments, including the upcoming The Last Enemy that shall be Destroyed.

Anna spent most of her life in Massachusetts, moving from small town to small town. She has ten brothers and sisters and says her life was, “always a little crazy, but fun.” Anna is more the quiet type, she prefers to spend her time reading, writing, playing piano, playing video games, and, of course, drawing. Her career path takes her towards nursing, which she studies at Liberty University. In July of 2013, Anna married her husband, Mike, who is studying to be a pastor.

Anna as Isadora Fleming
Anna as superspy Isadora Fleming

Anna’s art experience began when she was very young, only eight or nine years old. She received a book called “How to Draw Horses” and her very first horse took her only an hour to draw. “I showed it to my mom, and she started freaking out, saying things like, ‘looks like we have an artist in the family!’ From then on, I always asked for art supplies for Christmas and birthdays.” Anna soon graduated from drawing animals to drawing people. She enjoys drawing little else and says, “Really, the only type of drawing that excites me is drawing people. There’s almost nothing that can draw more emotion from a person than a meaningful facial expression. I have also dabbled in drawing animals and a few landscapes, but I detest drawing buildings and any perspective pieces. How tedious.” Unfortunately, time is less permissive for her to keep up her art, but her hand endures nonetheless. Her art is largely for her and her alone, which makes the cover art for Omega all the more special.

An alternate cover design for Omega, which shows all of the care and detail Anna put into the drawing.
An alternate cover design for Omega, which shows all of the care and detail Anna put into the drawing.

Speaking of Omega, Anna describes the drawing process for the cover, “Most artists may like a lot of artistic freedom, but me? I like to know exactly what I’m drawing before I begin. I used deviant art to find some pictures of people that I thought might fit the description. Then, I used the mirror in my room to draw the outline of a woman ‘shhhh-ing’ with her finger to her mouth. The rest was just shading and using the faces I had chosen to piece together a mysterious-looking woman. I must admit, I was not happy at first with the picture, because I am used to drawing on BIG paper, so I can include a lot of detail and textures. Having to work on smaller paper was a challenge, and I didn’t include my usual, anal detailing, as you can see with some of my other pictures. I guess it grew on me later, after I realized I wasn’t drawing a portrait so much as a cover to a book.”

Though her work for Omega was quite professionally done, Anna is hesitant to go professional with her drawing. Drawing is a hobby for her. “I never want drawing to become something that stresses me out, such as drawing for money, or with time constraints. So, I don’t think it will ever be anything more than a hobby. But who knows, maybe one day if I get better at drawing, and if an opportunity presents itself, I might consider it.”

As far as writing goes, Anna does some, mostly poetry and prose. While she has attempted writing books, she has never been satisfied with her progress. Writing is a different kind of release for Anna and she says, “in a lot of ways, I enjoy writing more than drawing.”

Anna is also an avid reader. She lists the Eragon series, everything from The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Harry Potter, and she reluctantly adds Twilight to the list. Further, she loves poetry, especially Emily Dickinson, Robert Frost, Edgar Allan Poe, and William Blake. One of her favorite authors is C.S. Lewis and adds that, “if this list doesn’t convince you I’m crazy, nothing will.” I suppose nothing will!

A fun example of Isadora modeling
A fun example of Anna modeling

Besides portraying Isadora, Anna has done some modeling in the past. “[My mother] usedto like to practice doing some fun dress-up shoots with my sisters and I. I also did a little “modeling” this summer for my mom’s best friend who is a professional photographer, doing a wedding dress shoot and a few other little things. Nothing too big. To be honest, I feel very self-conscious in front of a camera. Not to say that I didn’t have fun with the zombie photoshoot; that was great fun and I would definitely do it again if I was asked.” Anna makes for a fantastic Isadora and I think we can all agree that having her back in the future would be great!

Finally, I asked Anna if she had any advice for fellow artists. She found it strange that I called her an artist, though that is exactly what she is. For artists, she says, “If I had any advice to give in that area, it would be not to worry if you hit a creative block. After months and months would go by of not writing or drawing anything, I used to worry that I would lose all of my ability to create things worth reading or seeing. Don’t. The muse will come back to you.”

And her advice is true. One of the worst things anyone can do is worry.

There is not enough thanks I can give Anna for all of her hard work. Not only has she modeled one of the most important characters in my works, but she also took the time out of her day to pour her heart into a cover for me. From day one, Anna has been a tremendous help and a great friend. She is also well worth getting to know and I hope this snapshot of the woman behind my covers has been as fun for you to read as it was for me to write.

Here is the gallery of her work I promised. Please, drop a comment to let Anna know just how much you love her work!

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