Living in a body that has an expiration date leads people to seek things that will endure, that have the permanence that they don't have. Inevitably, that leads to a search for things we can possess that have the quality to endure for generations and that can be passed between generations. The necklace above is a four-thousand-year-old piece of jewelry created as a defense against the Sun Gods so that the wearer can remain independent of their influence. It was handed down within Tyco's Mayan family for many generations along with the knowledge of how to use it. In "Stefan's Owl from Oblivion", Tyco receives the medallion from his father when it becomes apparent that the Sun Gods were again going to visit Earth. The medallion connected each generation of the family with the previous generation in a very tangible, comforting way. The medallion lured the attention of each new generation of the family, allowing the current generation to capture the minds of their children and pass down the stories that are a part of the family, that define it as an entity independent of oppressive external influence.
With today's corporate cultures being focused on ruthlessly harvesting wealth rather than serving humanity in some way, people now more than ever seek out that independence and permanence, that quality that says that what they possess is a symbol of the family's progress toward a sustainable existence. They seek a book that is not merely some transitory trinket that will self destruct, vaporizing their hard-won money, and reducing their efforts to serfdom serving some soulless corporation who forces them to give their wealth to its masters. The opinion piece on Bloomberg, "Why Vinyl, Books, and Glossy Magazines Will Never Go Away", opines that people are rediscovering quality made, tangible objects that embody art. They are surging in popularity, serving as a representation of the soul of the acquiring family and as their direct connection to the creation of art. As the article points out, many creators of art (authors and musicians) have once again taken possession of their art away from corporations who only seek to extract money from their customers. The artists seek to give their patrons a connection to the art's soul.
Permanence, Quality, and Independence is exactly what I seek to capture with my strategy to publishing. I have chosen to spend years producing an illustrated novel of literary fiction that represents the high quality care, my soul, that I like to infuse into my writing, uninfluenced by corporate mass production culture. I intend for each book to be one that can be handed down for generations, with the previous generation reading it to the next: a memorable experience carved indelibly into the family collective consciousness. The book itself will be manufactured with a quality that no corporate plant would ever pursue because the expense will deprive them of profit. They have tried to train their customers to expect something transitory, an endeavor in which customers must pay to keep the experiences coming or risk the image of them fading away. EBooks are an ideal medium for this, for the quickly produced entertainment has no lasting significance and the lack of a tangible artifact means that the consumer must continue to pay to refresh those reading memories. The access to those memories is at the leisure of the lawyers of the corporate, literary "drug" lord. I want to produce a work of art, where each and every copy has been touched by the author/illustrator in a personal way... a book that can establish a new family tradition handed between the generations.
One of the first steps to promoting a book occurs long before the book is in print, and that is increasing the name recognition of its title. One of the simplest ways of doing that (and of practicing your promotion skills while adding to your wardrobe) is to create T-Shirts about your book. Sure, you can eventually give away some if you want. But if you are working on a book that will take years to produce, you can start right away by simply wearing around T-Shirts about your book. Each shirt should embody some key, interest catching element of the story along with the title of the book displayed in an eye catching way. One of the elements of "Stefan's Owl from Oblivion" is being a member of the Federation of the Twenty Planets. The insignia of the organization appears on the shirt above. The organization's charter is to make sure telepaths become the dominant life-form on all worlds on which they arise. Telepaths are just now being born on Earth, an new evolution of humanity, and they are referred to as the Children of Sophista. Naturally, there is a bit of animosity from some humans who aren't so lucky in their genetic heritage.
Indeed, Ty does know your fate because he is a mix of Saeshell and human. And the Saeshells have plans for the ordinary humans of the Earth. It's one of many reasons he is sad since he loves all people and animals.
Neshalia does indeed control your mind, because she is an alien, a Saeshell. Her suggestions are irresistible. You must obey them. It's how the Saeshells are able to engineer the downfall of factions of humanity that will not serve them. They mostly focus on violent humans.
And of course, you must have the main character himself, Stefan. He is a mix of genes from many races. He can already read your mind and force you into one of his dreams (delusions). His power grows every day so who knows what he will do to you in the future.
If you happen to live in Silicon Valley you may see me roaming around in one of these shirts!
This blog posting represents a new resurgence in me posting articles on this blog. I was using Twitter for this purpose, but it seems they are falling into the bad habits of Facebook, not even allowing all of my followers to see my posts. So this is my attempt to jump past their limitations and appear directly to the search engines.
This illustration above is the first one I have done in a long time. I started it while on break waiting for a major professional edit of this book, "Stefan's Owl from Oblivion," to be performed. Like all things associated with this book, it was not just a learning experience but a true journey. If you can illustrate at all, I recommend illustrating your characters. You will find that you learn a tremendous number of things about them in the simple of act of illustrating them.
This illustration is of a Saeshell Female in general and specifically the Saeshell, Neshalia. Neshalia is known as the Saeshell Nanny because she takes care of young Saeshells, teaching them what they need to know to survive and to become part of the Saeshell's culture. This can prove rather interesting because one way in which Saeshells propagate is by partially rewriting the genes of the race dominating the planet they wish to take over. But there is quite a lot more to it than that. They are also scientifically mixing the genes of races available in their current environment with their own to assimilate the good properties of the target races into their own genome. The Saeshells are the most dominate life-form in the known universe and they wish to remain that way.
In the case of a large, resource rich planet such as Earth, it inevitably ends up being contested by multiple advanced races all vying for dominance over the resources. But rather than these advanced races warring with each other in a hot war, raising the possibility of destroying the very planet they seek to conquer, conquest by the advanced races is via genetic assimilation. This assimilation also leads to a race being created embodying a mixture of the genes of the attacking races. In a sense, it is a natural process in that these hybrids by their very nature gain the trust of all the races, becoming the trusted arbitrator of all disputes.
These hybrids are known as the "Children of Sophista," named after the first extraterrestrial race to perform genetic experiments on the humans. The Saeshells try to gain advantage by sending Neshalia to guide and as much as possible, protect the Children of Sophista from the violent, exploitative humans. Because Neshalia is so alien, she remains invisible through much of the children's early childhood, remaining a comforting and wise whisper guiding the children. Only after she feels the children have matured enough, does she visually reveal her form. The characters in the book have a slang name for the Saeshells, referring to them as "the bugs."
Traditionally in fantasy literature, fairies have pointed ears and they either have beautiful, almost child-like faces or in some scarier fairy tales, they have a more triangular face. In "Stefan's Owl from Oblivion," the fairies are an engineered race made by the Saeshells as a combination of Saeshell and human genetics. The fairies' purpose is to be the human face of the Saeshells, responsible for influencing the humans in ways that the Saeshells deem necessary to allow them to succeed in their conquest. The fairies are kind, gentle, like a humanitarian aid organization that the humans could become addicted to. The Saeshells are much more cynical and sinister -- the form the fairies are derived from. So I needed to take the traditional fairy form and make it more alien, more sinister.
The Saeshells needed to be serious looking, being a cross between human attributes and insect attributes. So I used the flesh of humans and the segmented, multiple joint nature of insects to create Neshalia. Rather than fingers, which are very unique to primates, I used pincers/feelers, which are common to uncountable numbers of bug species. For flight to be remotely feasible, I made the body small and the head over-sized large to contain a large, very intelligent brain. The larger legs not only support the Saeshell at rest, but serve like a kite tail to give the overall body stability. Neshalia is not a pretty sight compared to characters in more traditional fantasies.
I struggled for a long time with this illustration. Instinctively, I wanted to illustrate something beautiful. That would have been difficult since I don't think my illustration skills are not far enough along yet that I could have illustrated a beautiful, whimsical form. But more importantly, it would have violated the realism of the book and looked cartoonish in this context. To test that theory, I had a fairy illustration illustrated by an illustrator for one of my previous books. Sure enough, when you drop that illustration into this book, it removes the whole seriousness, the realism, of this book. As shocking as it is, this illustration is what fits best with the actual story of the book. And more importantly, it is the natural revulsion to the figure that demonstrates why it is so difficult for human beings to accept one another's differences. And it is this revulsion to differences that drives the misery of the Children of Sophista's lives.