I never planned to go to the UK as many times as I did to work on the costumes for Ren: The Girl with the Mark. Actually, when I saw Kate Madison’s first post about the series, I thought I wouldn’t be able to help out because of the North Sea between the UK and the Netherlands, where I live.

I knew Kate from Born of Hope. I had wanted to do costumes for that movie, but we decided back in those days that it would be hard to ship costumes back and forth between the countries. Instead, I made banners and helped out on set.

So, my first reaction was: “Cool, but I feel sad at the same time, because I won’t be able to help out.”

Kate’s response: “We are going to do weekends when everybody comes together to build Ren’s world. Maybe you can come over?”

And I decided that I could spend one weekend in Cambridge. I hadn’t anticipated that Ren fever would infect me.

I arrived on a Friday. Kate showed me the empty parking lot that had to become Ren’s village. There was nothing there yet. But there was already this feeling of excitement. If we can pull this off, it’s going to be epic. I went upstairs to the wardrobe department and met Miriam Spring Davis. We decided I would work on Hunter’s costume first.

It was a weird experience. Long days, sometimes with a whole group, sometimes just by myself. Just sewing and working, what’s so great about that? But even that first weekend, I could see Ren’s world taking shape. There were things going on in the parking lot. There were costumes being made. Actors came by and transformed (at least partially) into their characters. And I can’t remember if this also happened in the first weekend I was there, but inside the buildings, Karn’s wonderful house arose from a pile of wood.

There was some real magic in working with all these amazing people. They all brought their unique skills, but I am sure everybody discovered that they could do so much more than they thought. I can tell you I did. It was supposed to last only three days. For me, I mean. Sunday afternoon I flew back to the Netherlands. I felt so sad to leave this creative atmosphere behind. I was there at the start, now the only thing I could do was wait for the end result.

As soon as I arrived at Schiphol Airport I knew I had to go back as soon as possible. The next day, the first thing I did was go to my manager and ask for some more days off. I had Ren fever and there was only one medicine: be part of it until the end. I managed to come over three times. I caught the earliest flight possible and left Cambridge as late as I could. Got up early and worked till late, because except for the first visit, we slept at the studios. Every time I went back, I was amazed by how much everything had grown. From an empty parking lot, to buildings out of wood and pallets to a village that feels like people were living there. From piles of fabric, to basic costumes, to racks full of detailed and weathered clothes.

A big part of why Ren fever struck me so hard were the people working on the series. We were all committed to this great cause. We were making a dream come true. And we gave it our all.

Now, with the anticipation of a second series, I understand that you can never completely heal from Ren fever. I need this story to continue. Not only the story of Ren and Hunter and all the other characters. But our story. The story of creating something amazing together.

Kim is a Dutch fantasy novelist whose books include The Lilith Trilogy and Hunter & Prey. Find out more at kimtentusscher.com or listen to our podcast interview with her.

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