I want to talk some about the plans I have for my work in progress, “Stefan’s Owl from Oblivion.” Now, in this race to the bottom, book-quality environment, where each book is just another blob of words to be read and discarded, similar to a newspaper, this may seem strange. And frankly, if you are just wanting to read something to see what some new twist of plot there might be, you can stop right here.
For one thing, I write literary fiction which means, in this case, you are going to take a ride on the lives of some alien-human hybrid kids as they try to fit into human culture and in many cases, try to survive the exploits of profiteering humans, whom would like to take their little bodies apart to find out how their unusual talents work and to increase human scientific knowledge on what’s possible in a life-form. I want you to feel what the kids feel, and to know how strange human thought, when held in relief against other life-forms and the way they think… how strange human thought truly is.
Isn’t the author human? Sometimes I wonder. But in any case, I can slip outside my skin to write from the viewpoint of another life-form. That talent is actually derived from writing some rather unusual software in my two decades of technical work that did require me to mentally simulate things outside the normal realm of human experience. My goal is to make you feel what these kids feel, to think in the philosophical way that these kids think. When they cry, perhaps you will cry with them. Reading this book will be an *experience*.
And part of that experience will be how the book itself is made. The picture at the top of this article is an “illuminated manuscript” hundreds of years old. It is still around because it was a total experience of writing and art and an illustration of the highest skill of the bookmaker’s craft. You don’t have to even read the Latin text to be fascinated by the book.
In the closeup picture above you notice that this is hand done. A large chunk of this monk’s life was spent on making this book. Notice that the monk used gold metallic ink probably made with gold leaf. Only a chosen few were going to read this book so they spared no expense in making this book a memorable… a great experience. Another thing to notice is how beautiful, how vivid the royal blue in the picture is. That monk uses a great royal blue ink.
Outside of a display screen or possibly an art or photography book, you have probably not seen that vivid royal blue. That’s because a standard, modern, four-color print process can’t make that color. You could come close to that color, but the ink density put on the paper would not allow the ink to dry in time before it got smeared all over the place by the printing press. My book will be adorned by these kind of features but it will not be done by hand, since I don’t want to spend my entire life doing it, though by the time this book comes out I will have likely spent about 13 years of my life on it. I will create this book by the thousands. There are presses that can do what appears to be a handmade book.
Offset book presses (as opposed to inkjet self-publishing POD presses) can generally do quite a number of amazing things. Four color presses are generally not limited to four colors but could print with up to eight ink colors. Beyond the standard Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Black inks, usually mixed in the printing process to create all the different colors you see in an illustration, you can buy special inks to load into those other, normally unused “print rollers.” For example, there is a company, called Pantone, that creates precise ink colors. I can load metallic gold color ink into one of the unused rollers to print the metallic gold like the monks did by hand. I can also load a clear colored ink, called a varnish. Varnish dries faster and harder than normal ink allowing higher ink densities to be printed by overprinting them with varnish to harden them up rapidly.
There is more to varnish than that, though. Different varnishes can provide different textures and glossiness on the illustration. Choosing the right varnish can give an illustration a magical quality like you are looking at a picture in some ancient book. And I shall try and use that, if possible. A full service press can do other things, like put a leather or simulated leather cover on the book, mix that up with front cover illustrations with parts highlighted with thick acrylic plastic. I will use a number of these press features to provide an experience that is unique for this book. So stick around and see how the story and the experience built around the story evolves.
Owner of the Children of Sophista Publishing and currently the author of books in the Children of Sophista universe.