New Artwork for Titan Magic

I recently received proofs for Titan Magic and Titan Magic: Body and Soul—complete with new chapter headers and matte finish—and I wanted to share them with you.

Titan Magic’s cover beside Titan Magic: Body and Soul’s interior:
TM1 and 2

Titan Magic: Body and Soul’s cover beside Titan Magic’s interior:
TM2 and 1

The new artwork was all done by the incomparable Abigail Larson. If you’re not familiar with her work yet, you should absolutely check it out. Needless to say, I adore it.

Abigail had ambitions of becoming an opera singer and joining the circus while growing up, and although neither of those ended up working out too well, she still enjoys both.

Abigail LarsonShe began drawing with ink and painting with watercolor. She has recently developed a taste for flat digital coloring in addition to traditional media. Her biggest influences are Edgar Allan Poe, Dr. Seuss, and many classic gothic works of fiction, such as Bram Stoker’s “Dracula,” and Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein,” just to name a couple. Her greatest artistic influences have been Arthur Rackham, Edmund Dulac, Kay Nielsen, John William Waterhouse, and Edward Gorey.

Any spare time that’s not spent basking in darkness, hunting monsters, or watching re-runs of The Addams Family, she is creating art for private clients, illustrating books, and spending time with her favorite long-leggity beasts, ghouls, ghosts and other things that go bump in the night.

Read more about Abigail Larson at her website.

For Wendy’s Mother, Peter Pan Is a Horror Story

Excuses are my speciality. For example, part of the reason I’m the worst blogger in the world this month is I’m working on a challenging revision. And part of the reason the revision is challenging is a new point of view I’m having to write from. I chose to write from this point of view both because it was challenging and pivotal. The character is central, a catalyst, and I think he’s freakin’ adorable. But that’s neither here nor there. Mostly, I’m using him as an excuse to lead in to a blog post about a film I love and how point of view changes everything. Sorry, Kaspar. You are freakin’ adorable, though.

I first saw The Orphanage after watching an incredibly disappointing horror movie and deciding to begin a new quest for high quality horror. The Orphanage was the first film I tried, and I didn’t have to look any further. It was chilling and powerful in that way that keeps you up all night, thinking.

I was so haunted by the film, I started looking up interviews and extra information on it, and what I learned about its conception taught me something about my own writing: story may be king, but point of view is… the pope or something. On his inspiration for The Orphanage writer Sergio G. Sánchez said, “My influences were more literary. One of them was Peter Pan. Basically, it was just that picture of Wendy’s mother sitting by the window waiting for her child. That’s the spark that ignited everything. I was thinking, it would be really interesting to tell the story of Peter Pan from the point of view of the mother.”

Think about that for a second. From Wendy’s point of view, the story of Peter Pan is a great adventure, sometimes terrifying, sometimes exhilarating, but an adventure still. From the point of view of her mother, Peter Pan becomes a horror story. Can you fathom how terrifying it would be for any parent? You brush off your children’s stories about an imaginary friend who comes to visit them through their window every night as normal childhood whimsy, only to find, one night, their window flung open, their beds empty. I can’t imagine it, but that’s exactly what Sánchez does. Never mind the little classic “horror” moments sprinkled throughout the film; The Orphanage is terrifying because of the point of view.

If you can handle any amount of horror, I highly recommend you see The Orphanage. It is beautiful, touching, terrifying, and strange. I’ve not seen another film quite like it. I even question whether marketing it as pure horror really did it justice. It’s not your classic teen slasher flick. It’s more elegant than your typical supernatural horror movie or your psychological thriller. There are moments where you can feel the not-so-subtle hand of someone who said, “let’s make this appeal to horror movie fans, K?” but overall, the piece is stunning. And if it doesn’t make you think about the story of Peter Pan in a whole new light, you just weren’t paying attention.

Chemistry: Free E-Book and an Excerpt

Chemistry CoverChemistry is a retelling of Victor Hugo’s The Hunchback of Notre-Dame, set in a modern high school and told from the perspective of Claude Frollo, the story’s antagonist.

For the next few hours only you can download the entire e-book for free from Amazon. Grab it while you can!

EXCERPT:

The drumbeat of Phoebus’ party still throbs in my ears as though I never left. It’s so loud I can’t hear anything else. The light from that full moon still glows through my eyelids, red like slow-burning coals. I can’t shut it out. So it doesn’t surprise me at all when I catch the sound of Peter’s voice and realize he’s been talking to me all this time, though I haven’t heard or even seen him. It’s all a jumble, whatever he’s saying, but I catch the word Esmeralda and I’m snapped out of my hellish daze.

I lift my head and blink. “What?”

“Claude, are you okay?”

I’ve been wallowing on the floor, so of course he would ask. “Just had a weird stomach cramp,” I say. “It’s better now. What were you saying?”

Peter shakes his head. He doesn’t believe me, but whatever he’s about to say takes precedence, so he gives me the benefit of the doubt. “Esmeralda is missing.”

Those three words are a flood; they wash me away. I never saw them coming, and I don’t know how to deal with them now that they’re here. “Don’t joke around, Peter.”

“I’m not joking. She and Djali have been gone three nights in a row.”

“Is that unusual?”

“Yes!” He’s overwrought. “She always comes home by midnight every night. I live with her, so I know. She wouldn’t just stay away like this. Djali needs routine or she starts to shed.”

I have no idea how to respond to this. In the first place, I’m horrified that Esmeralda is missing. In the second, I’m beginning to suspect Peter’s primary concern is for the goat. “Have you reported her missing?” I say.

“How can I?” He throws up his hands, dramatic as always. “Who am I to her?”

“Well, who’s taking care of her? Why haven’t they reported it?”

“I don’t think anyone takes care of her. She’s always been by herself. The truth is I kind of suspect she’s in the country illegally, but I don’t know. It’s never been a problem until now. Damn that Phoebus. I swear this is all his fault.”

I cock my head. “Phoebus?”

He leans in. “You know he was stabbed at that party.”

“Was he?” I hope my feigned ignorance is convincing.

“Jesus, Claude, where have you been?” Peter reaches down and helps me to my feet. “Everyone’s talking about it. He was stabbed in the back with Esmeralda’s knife. The whole school thinks she did it, and the fact that no one has seen her since only confirms their suspicions. But I’m telling you it wasn’t her. She’s not like that. She just isn’t. Someone’s done something to her, Claude. I heard some of the guys on the soccer team swearing revenge. They say Phoebus is paralyzed for life; he got hit in the spinal cord, and he’ll never play again. They say she’s not going to get away with it. I think they took her, but I have no idea what to do. I mean I haven’t got any evidence, have I?”

I can’t breathe any more. You know how in really campy films, one of the characters will realize he’s destroyed something precious, fall to his knees, and scream, “What have I done?” while pounding a fist into the ground? Yeah, I always laugh at that scene, too. But just now, I think I could do with a good, long, what-have-I-done moment. It would be far better than what I’m really feeling. It’s like my heart has stopped and every limb has fallen asleep. I’m afraid if I try to take a step, I might fall down. If I try to speak, I might scream. And if I blink, the tears gathering in the corners of my eyes will fall. Once the dam breaks…

“We have to do something.” I flinch when my voice cracks.

“I know,” Peter says. “But what? We don’t even know where they’ve taken her.”