TOTEH Characters: Sarah

January 31, 2011

"Sarah of Blanchefort" by Eve Ventrue

LADY SARAH OF BLANCHEFORT is the eldest daughter of Lady Poe of Blanchefort. She’s the cousin and best friend of Kay and joins him on his adventures, primarily in the second and third books in the Temple of the Exploding Head trilogy.

Sarah is the spitting image of her maternal grandmother, Countess Hermilane, right down to the blue hair and rather pugnacious temperament. Sarah is a notorious tom-boy, and often dresses like a boy, eschewing the fine Blanchefort gowns her mother wishes she’d wear. She is Gifted with the Gift of Sight, a usual Blanchefort Gift, and the Gift of Strength, which is unusual for a girl to receive. Her mother has forbidden her from powering up inside the castle due to past mayhems she has caused.

Sarah refuses to see any gentleman hoping to court her unless they first have a “cool-sounding” name. The Blancheforts had to issue a public apology to the House of Posie after Sarah refused to see their son, Houck.

"Sarah" by Bea Matarredona-Garcia

She has a love of the lurid and the grotesque, and often seeks out “nasty” things to gawk at. Her favorite place is the “Mystery Library” located on the 50th floor of Xyotel Tower, which she shares with her twin brother, Phillip. There, Sarah maintains her collection of books and other materials on ghosts, demons, urban legends and other miscellaneous things. She is very meticulous and, as Kay often says, she would make a wonderful librarian. Her favorite “ghost” to chase is the Wraith of Gaston, an entity she is determined to uncover and confront.

Sarah is often said to be bull-headed, quick to judge, quick to get angry, loud-mouthed and opinionated in the extreme. To those she loves, she is loyal and dedicated, steadfast to the end. To those she does not know or dislikes, however, she is rude, rather boorish and, often-times, a vile bully. She has a running feud going with Kay’s sister, Lady Kilos, and often calls her Tez, which means “cheap prostitute” in Esther. Nobody can recall when the feud began or who started it, but Sarah takes every opportunity to be mean to her. Kay often speculates that Sarah is simply jealous of Kilos because she has the Gift of Stare, a Gift that Sarah had hoped to have.

"Sarah in Waam" by Carol Phillips

When Sarah found out that Lady Sammidoran of Monama would be seated at their table at the annual “Falling in Love” ball, she was incensed. Sarah hated and mistrusted Monamas–those odd loners from the south who often turned into Berserkacides. Sarah had a whole section in the Mystery Library dedicated to Berserkacides, and she was convinced Lady Sammidoran would turn into one right there at the ball. When she thought she caught the Monama girl making eyes at Kay, her cousin and best friend, she was determined to put a stop to it at once. Cracking her knuckles, she stood, ready to call “Sam” out.

Sarah appears in all three books in the Temple trilogy. The first book, The Dead Held Hands will be out in March, 2011 by Loconeal Publishing.

copyright 2011, Ren Garcia


The ancient and varied line of LosCapricos weapons (LC’s) are a feature of the Great House system in the League. Each Great House has its own unique LC which was, in part, designed by the Elders themselves centuries prior. As the Elders had a hand in their conception, LC’s are considered sacred. No murders can by committed with LC’s–any killings done by them are forgiven in the eyes of the Sisterhood. LC’s are always spelled using UPPERCASE letters.

Facing a LosCapricos weapon in battle is a bewildering thing. Some are fairly straight forward in design and concept, (swords, knives, pistols, and so forth), some are purely technological in nature, while others are bizarre in the extreme and perform any number of mystical effects. Knowledge is one’s best defense against an LC; knowing what they are and what they do is key to surviving against them. Learning LC lore is a required field of study for boys in most Vith Great Houses.

Captain Davage and his King CARG

The tribes of Vith and Esther tend to have offensive-minded LC’s that aid them in battle. The CARG of House Blanchefort and the CEROS of House Probert are two examples, both being rather deadly. The Remnaths and the Zenons tend to have very arcane, mystically operated LC’s, such as the BESSAMER of House Hobby and the NTH of House Belmont, both of which can do very odd things. The tribe of Barrow often features defensive-minded LC’s–the ARLISS of House Dare which creates a suit of armor around the user is a notable example. The Calverts and Halas tend to make use of LC’s that enhance the luck, skill and attributes of the person using them. The MOLLY of the House of A-Ram allows its user to know things and perform feats they otherwise shouldn’t or couldn’t.

The Deadly Princess Vrok of Xandarr with her BEREN (Carol Phillips)

The Xaphans do not have a tradition of creating LC’s. Instead, many of them use the LC’s they brought with them when they betrayed the League in 000000AX. The Xandarr’s, for instance, still make use of the invisible BEREN sword.

RUMALORE: A Rumalore is a bit of disinformation regarding a LC that has been filed with the Sisterhood of Light. The Sisters have a complete listing of each weapon and what they do. A Rumalore is intended to either hide a weakness or foster fear of an LC. For example—the NAS of House Albans, a small jewel-encrusted dagger, was said to create wounds that would bleed forever, and that only the Sisters or the Hospitalers could stem the bleeding. The relentless wounding power of the NAS was a Rumalore exaggerating the power of the NAS, as small, shallow cuts inflicted by it would indeed stop bleeding on their own after several hours.

copyright 2011, Ren Garcia

The Yoda Way

January 20, 2011

Antioch College

I wanted to share this musing with you. I once saw something in Yellow Springs which I thought was really stupid at the time, but now, years later, I see the truth of it.

Yellow Springs is a pocket of profound liberalism tucked deep in the conservative gullet of Southwestern Ohio. Founded with the intention of being a Utopian Society, it’s like a weird Austin Powers movie brought to life where long hair, bad teeth and men who wear skirts is the norm rather than the exception. Ground Zero of all this strangeness is Antioch College, which often seems more like a bizarre cult or Celtic tribe right out of the Dark Ages rather than an institution of higher learning.

Near Antioch College is a very nice bike and skating path that goes fifteen miles all the way to Xenia, passing through haunted Medway where Tecumseh was born. I used to skate that path every day. I could do it in about two hours.

On the approach to Yellow Springs, the path dives into a thick forest full of deer and wild turkeys–I liked to call it the “Sherwood Forest of Ohio”. One day I saw a man dragging another prone man off the path into the woods. I didn’t know what I was seeing–possibly a homicide in progress. I didn’t have anything to defend myself with, but I couldn’t allow it to go on unchallenged.

As I got nearer, I saw the man being dragged along the ground was actually a dummy made of cloth and rags. He was dressed in a plaid shirt and filthy jeans. He had on a werewolf mask and a pair of woolly clawed hands from a costume shop.

I couldn’t take it anymore, I had to know what was going on. I ground to a halt. “What are you doing?” I demanded.

The man doing the dragging was a typical Yellow Springs guy–unbathed, rather stinky and generally unkempt. He was wearing a hooded butternut robe that went down to his ankles. He wiped his brow and explained that it was his son’s tenth birthday.

“So?” I said.


He said he was going to put his son to a test, a-la Yoda in The Empire Strikes Back. As he explained: he was going to make his ten year-old son walk down a path deep into the woods. Eventually, he would come to a fork in the path. If he chose the right path, he would eventually encounter the dummy, which was supposed to represent evil and vice. If he chose the left path, he would discover a hollowed-out tree at the end of the path which, the man explained, had a large mirror stuffed into the hollow–meaning that his son had discovered himself.

Only in Yellow Springs …

I thought about it a moment and started laughing. I laughed so hard I nearly fell down off my blades. “That is the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard! You’re going to take a hackneyed Jedi Force test from a movie and apply it to your son in real life and hope that it somehow has a profound effect upon him?? You’re dumb! You’re so dumb!” I said, hardly containing myself.

The man waved me off and continued his work, dragging the dummy into the woods. I finished my skate and had no further thought about the matter.

Years later, I sit here in the basement wondering about the future. My wife wants to have a child. She’s working very hard at it, and it’s very challenging. I wonder, if we’re successful and actually do have a child, possibly a son, what will I do to teach him between good and evil, right and wrong? I actually have no idea. I can preach and cajole all I want, I can punish and rage–will any of it work??

Maybe the Yoda Way is the best way after all.

Bowl Naked


"Morgan Jeterix" by Eve Ventrue

THE GRAND ORDER OF HOSPITALERS and their various Sub-Orders are the Warrior/Healers of the League. The Hospitalers are an old sect, second only to the Sisterhood of Light. They are also the only Peasant Sect to achieve a very high position of power in the League. Originating in the city of Figg on Onaris centuries ago, they started as group of fighting valets and porters. They served their Blue Vith lords and were their trusty companions. Powerful fighters, the Hospitalers earned a reputation for their speed and fierceness in battle, using a strange silver weapon called a Jet Staff instead of usual swords, pistols or axes.

The Elder-Kind were engineered to remain young and disease-free throughout their lives by the Elders during the CX time epoch on Cammara (200,000 years prior). Freed from the ravages of age and sickness, the Elder-Kind lost their lore of the medical arts over the ages and became rather infantile in their knowledge of their own bodies. They had no need for it any longer.

"Ennez and Beth" by Bea Matarradona-Garcia

The EX time epoch saw a return of war and armed conflict with the coming of the Xaphans and the Great Blue Lords died on the fields, often bleeding out from the various wounds they received. On the forgotten wastelands of some churned-up battlefield, the Hospitalers put down their Jet-Staves and began trying to attend to their master’s wounds. Through persistence and practice, they perfected techniques in binding wounds, clearing blood poisoning, re-attaching fallen limbs and so forth. Little by little, the Hospitalers re-learned most of the knowledge that had been previously lost. Their influence grew so great that even the mighty Sisterhood of Light turned to them for medical help when it was needed, sharing with them some of their most guarded secrets that the Hospitalers have never divulged. The Hospitalers have always worn black and silver. They adopted the silver winged helmet of the old-earth god Mercury as their symbol. Their silver tools and medical instruments are considered marks of pride and honor and they wear them prominently upon their person.

"Ennez holding Syg's shoe" by Jon Harvey

The Xaphans had nothing like the Hospitalers for a long time. Often times they tried to recruit them with promises of wealth and other pleasures. When recruitment efforts failed the Xaphans often resorted to kidnapping, pressing them into service with the penalty for refusal being death. Eventually, the art of Xaphan Cabalism came into being, serving the same role as the Hospitalers did in the League, only the Cabalists tended to make use of more arcane methods of performing healing.

There are a number of Sub-Orders within the Hospitaler circle of influence. Some of the more notable ones are:

The Ephysians are an order seeking to expand the Hospitalers knowledge. They often go outside of the Sisterhood’s approved lines of teaching to gather their knowledge and their methods are often called into question. The flamboyant Morgan-Jeterix, Lady of Thompson is a notable member of the Ephysian Order.

The Eyrnes were an order dedicated to promoting healing and enlightenment through Weed-fueled sex and other such pleasures. They were eventually kicked out of the Hospitalers, though the order remains active.

"Wendilnight/ Bellathauser" by Bea Matarredona-Garcia

The Jones are a branch of Hospitalers located on Bazz. As per typical on Bazz, the Jones grew away from the main circle of Hospitalers and went off in its own direction, becoming more “Bazz-like” in the process. The Jones’ ongoing mission is to locate a bizarre creature known most commonly as Bellathauser and study/worship her. Bellathauser is said to be the pinnacle of human perfection.

The Knickerbaums are the Hospitaler group most often associated with shipboard Fleet travel. The Knickerbaums are dedicated to discovering, treating and documenting new maladies. Ennez of Innari and Bethrael of Moane are two notable members.

copyright 2011, Ren Garcia

"Sygillis of Blanchefort" by Eve Ventrue

SYGILLIS OF BLANCHEFORT is the mother of Lord Kabyl of Blanchefort and is a character in the Temple of the Exploding Head trilogy.

Her origins are unknown, having been abducted at a young age and raised to be a Black Hat in the Shade Church. She was given the name “Sygillis” personally by the Black Abbess. As a Black Hat Hammer, Sygillis of Metatron was infamous for slaughtering a whole squadron of League Marines single-handed. Tiny, barely five feet tall, red-haired and green-eyed, she sat in her Temple in Metatron, a diminutive yet utterly evil and terrifying figure atop her throne. She was often brought prisoners condemned to death, and there, like a bug on a spider’s web, they would stumble through the pitch darkness of her temple, eventually being killed by her. A particularly ruthless Black Hat, she was one of the Black Abbess’ favorites.

"Syg" by Jon Harvey

Select Black Hats have the occasional ability to see the future—Sygillis being one of them. She would later recall, sitting on her throne, having a vision of a tall man with glowing eyes searching for her in the dark. Lost in a Shadow tech nightmare and her soul being stunted and evil, she didn’t understand what she was seeing. In later reflection, she understood she was dreaming of Captain Davage, her future savior, looking for her in the night.

She was captured by the League in 03189ax. There, instead of being executed by the Sisterhood, she was “saved” by the ship’s captain, Lord Davage of Blanchefort. She, for reasons unknown, did not attempt to kill Davage, and eventually was “turned” by him. Eventually, she worked her way into Davage’s heart and they were married in the Telmus Grove, Sygillis becoming the 1,463rd Countess of Blanchefort. Breaking the usual tradition of Countesses staying at home in the ancestral castle, Sygillis went everywhere Captain Davage did, sharing in his adventures. Her Silver tech familiar is a tiny replica of Captain Davage’s former Fleet ship, the Seeker. Through it she can unleash a torrent of firepower when needed and destroy StT’s at a high rate.

Their first child was a son, whom they named Kabyl, after an ancient Blanchefort lord.

"Syg in the Chapel" by Carol Phillips

“Syg” has many interests. She loves old Castle Blanchefort and spends much of her free time exploring the lost passages and covered up runs. She also developed a love of bowling–a “hidden” pastime played in secret. Syg took over the Blanchefort family business of creating fabrics and garments–a trade Lord Blanchefort himself had no interest in. When the designers and artesans at the factories tried to push aside her ideas and brush her off, she sacked the lot of them and took up their responsibilities herself, being known for a time with scorn as “Madame Thimble”.

Being an ex-Black Hat, Syg is fearless and unabashed. She often publically goes against the Sisterhood of Light and is candid in her opinions. She is notoriously without shame and impossible to humiliate. Her ongoing issues and public confrontations with the Duchess of Oyln (she also an ex-Black Hat) are a constant source of A-List gossip.

copyright 2011, Ren Garcia

"The God of the Basement" by Ren Garcia

I looked at the phone and held the receiver in my disbelieving hand.

Is it 2 … 3 … 7 … ?

I could not remember my mother’s phone number. My mom’s had the same phone number for thirty years. Land-line, old school. I know that number backwards and sideways. I’ve known it since I was a kid, when Mom used to write it down on a scrap of paper for me to take. “Now, call home if you need anything,” she said. I didn’t need the paper–I knew it cold.

I knew it cold …

And now I’m standing there with the phone in my hand and I can’t remember mother’s number. I could, of course, grab my Smartphone and speed dial it out of the Contacts list, but what would that prove, that my mom’s nothing more than a blip on a screen.

I stood there completely blank.

Why? What happened? I’ve spent so much time locked in the basement like a family secret, writing my stories in millions of words and reveling in things that never were. I am a god in the basement where I create all things. I step out and what am I? A creature who’s quickly forgetting many of the things that matter most.

You cannot spend so much time in the make-believe that you forget to exist in the real world. I promised my wife I’d take her to Paris–and I have not taken her to Paris. I’ve made lots of promises, how many have I broken?

My Honeydo list is intolerable.

I stood there with the phone, the dial tone converting to an accusing howl. I clicked the switch and started over and forced the unreal from my head. I forced myself to remember my mother’s number, seeing the digits in my head, tracing it out on the dial pad with my finger. One digit at a time, then: “Hello?”

“Hi, mom …” I couldn’t even recall what I was calling about . It didn’t matter. I’d remembered my mother’s number.

So, to my wife–I will take you to Paris. I’m sorry, my love, please forgive me.

To my mom–I will never forget your number again. Oh look, your birthday is coming up. I won’t forget.

I swear it.

UPDATE: 2014
So, here it is just a little over three years since I posted this cathartic little item when I became distant from the people I love. I’m happy to say I kept my promises to myself. I still remember my mother’s phone number and I took my wife to Europe last year(just not Paris–that’s next trip!). This post was a harsh wake up to myself reminding me not to allow the unreal to dominate my time and thoughts, at least not to the point of madness and obsession. I have since changed my writing process. I migrated from the basement to upstairs in the bright lights of the loft where my wife watches television. I stand at a podium with my latest WIP while the giant TV blares. I talk to my wife. I ask her about her day. We laugh. I peck away at the WIP.

I still create a host of strange things, just not as quickly as before. I keep things in perspective.

You cannot allow yourself to become like I did, a wraith in the basement possessed with an imaginary world. No matter what your personal situation is, it’s simply not a healthy way to carry on. Ask yourself some tough questions: Have you broken any promises? Have you forgotten important things? Have you neglected yourself and your health?

Be honest in your answers. Change things up, alter your process, adjust the mood. Take a day off every so often. Set yourself a limit, I usually don’t go much past 2000 words a day. 2000 words is good. Very good.

While creating the lives of imaginary people, don’t forget to live a little yourself.

Bowl Naked


As The Dead Held Hands, the first book in the Temple of the Exploding Head trilogy nears publication, Loconeal Publishing is also planning on re-releasing Books 1 and 2 in the League of Elder series at the same time.

Book 1, The League of Elder: Sygillis of Metatron will be re-released as a deluxe printing featuring additional interior artwork by Carol Phillips, Bea Matarrendona-Garcia, and Eve Ventrue. Remember your old favorites: Captain Davage, Lt. Kilos, Ennez the Hospitaler and the vile Sygillis of Metatron? They’re all back once again in this revised format from Loconeal. Can Captain Davage, a heart-broken man, discover love at long last despite himself, and, in the process, will he survive the deadly attention of Sygillis of Metatron? Sygillis craves his death and will kill any who might wish to get in her way. It will be available as trade paperback and as ebook. March, 2011

Book 2 in the series: The Hazards of the Old Ones, will also be re-released by Loconeal. All the action and suspense you remember is back with a vengeance, as Carahil, the little god who could, seeks to save a distant world from destruction. Interior art by Carol Phillips, Justine Marie Hedman and Chantal Boudreau. Trade paperback and ebook. March 2011

copyright 2011 Ren Garcia

"Sam" by Eve Ventrue

THE HOUSE OF MONAMA (pronounced: mon-ama) is something of a misnomer in League society. The “House” is composed of a number of distinct tribes located all around the fog-bound shores of Lake Monama far to the south of Kana. The tribes of Astralon, Minzer, Cardinal and Fphenook are the largest. They speak a family of similar languages that are not recognized by the Sisterhood and are therefore unofficial. They speak Systerel, Anuie (or Monama-Noble) and Conox. Conox had no written alphabet only until recently when they incorporated the League-Common alphabet. Being a rather reclusive people, many do not speak League-Common at all.

As Monamas are clearly indigenous to Kana, they are a different species than the late-coming Elder peoples who arrived on Kana in 000000EX. In fact, the name Kana comes from the old Systerel word Ka-Na, which means “Jade/Sapphire”.

A standard Monama stands anywhere from 5’3 to 5’6 and usually weigh less than a hundred pounds. Monamas of old were much larger and much denser then they generally are now. They are known for their massive shocks of thick black hair which they wear down to their ankles, however, except for their heads, Monamas are hairless. Their skin is chalk-white and their eyes are faded black which see best in dim lighting. Their fingernails are known to be extremely hard and quite sharp. Wearing their fingernails long and black is a usual habit among them.

"Clatera and Mitz" by Carol Phillips

Monamas are remarkable physical specimens. Despite their smallish size, they are incredibly strong, being many times stronger than a standard, un-Gifted Elder. They are also extremely fast and agile, sure-footed and long-winded with great endurance.

Their fecundity is well-known, as all Monama tribes breed with great speed. A typical Monama birthing takes no more than three months in the womb and numbers anywhere from eight to twenty young. Many Monamas do not survive to full adulthood.

They are generally very susceptible to cold temperature. Any temperature below 60 degrees F is said to be quickly fatal. They also have little or no tolerance for alcohol, with a sip or two of the thinnest of wines being enough to inebriate them.

Monamas have a number of Gifts/Talents which make then notable/infamous depending on how it’s viewed. Monamas can change their shape and often sell their services as prostitutes, able and willing to become anything their clients wish. They can also see the future with great accuracy and often make their living as fortune-tellers. They often draw the scorn and mistrust of the Sisterhood of Light for their promiscuous ways, their Bronta-style of decorating clothing, pottery and masonry (branded obscene by the Sisters). They also make use of a strange device known as the NIGHTMARE which they are said to influence Elder-men’s minds.

Berserkacide (Carol Phillips)

The end of many Monama’s lives is as a Berserkacide. How or why a Monama becomes a Berserkacide is not well understood. The condition can happen to any Monama, man or woman, young or old. Many Monamas who have too many dealings with the Elders beyond their lake tend to become Berserkacides. Why this is the case is not known.

Berserkacides have four fully functioning arms. They are full of rage and loathing, seeking to harm themselves as much as any victims they might come across. They are no longer subject to the effects of cold temperatures as a Berserkacide, though they seem to lack all of the other Gifts/talents Monamas have. They generally do not live long; caged Berserkacides usually don’t last longer than a month or two. Once a Monama is transformed into a Berserkacide, there is no helping or reverting them.

copyright 2011, Ren Garcia

Sam’s Chain

January 8, 2011

Detail of Sam's Chain, from "Lady Sammidoran of Monama" by Fantasio

I’ve had such a great opportunity to share my crazy thoughts with talented people all over the world. Since I cannot draw, I take the help of those who can draw all the time. And, with each new picture I get back, I always find something that inspires and causes me to get the old eraser out and make changes. Ive added all sorts of things to the story after seeing things Carol’s done. I do it all the time.

Such is the case with the incredibly talented German artist, Fantasio. Fantasio painted me a great pic of Sam some time back. I gave Fantasio a detailed outline of what I wanted and he came up with a very gothic, stately looking Sam.

One odd thing. He added a chain to the skirt of her gown trailing off into the fog and hung it with bird skulls and keys. A pretty cool artistic detail, but nothing more. I didn’t describe Sam in the book as having a chain attached to her skirt.

"Sam's Vision 1" by Fantasio

When Fantasio began giving me series of dreamy sketches called “Sam’s Visions”, he again sketched a chain hanging on her skirt. The chain is also heavily featured in the cool frame he designed for the Sam’s Visions sketches.

Hmmm. I thought it over and added it to the cannon of the story:

“She was wearing a crinkled black gown covered with intricate black-on-black designs, low cut, showing off arms and shoulders and a fair amount of her cleavage, pulled tight into an hour-glass shape. The final strange touch was a chain wrapping around the skirt portion of her gown and dragging on the ground.”

So, I stuck the chain in and meant to leave it at that, just a weird detail, nothing more. But then, my little pea-brain began wondering: what’s the chain for? It had to be there for something. I added the exchange:

“What happened to your clothes?” Kay asked.
“My clothes? I lost them,” she said, her whispered voice trembling.
“Lost them? What’s with the chain?”
“Oh, it’s a tradition. Don’t pay it any mind.”

I thought to leave it at that. But then, I was at the tail end of a thirty-hour editing binge and my addled head went off in a strange direction. Quite without my consent, the purpose of the chain came into clarity:

She snorted. “We’ve played this game before. You can’t hide from me. Hide anywhere you want and I can find you like that!” She snapped her fingers. “And …” she took a deep whiff, “I can smell you, Kay.” She licked her lips.
“I think this time you’ll be a bit more challenged.”
She got off and huddled up on the dusty ground. “All right. Go hide, Kay. Hide anywhere in the castle you want. You have an hour. Oh, and Kay?”
She seized a piece of old mortar and shattered it in her hand. “You best get that chain and don’t be afraid to use it when I find you.”

So, that’s what the chain’s for. Still a little fuzzy. How about this:

She pulled the chain off her skirt. “You’re going to need this …” She threw the chain over her shoulder. Kay made to get past her and grab it and she tackled him.

Ah, love …

Bowl Naked


copyright 2011 Ren Garcia and Fantasio

"Sam puts Kay to Trial" by Carol Phillips

One thing I notice when most people are considering purchasing a book is that they go through a very rigorous decision-making process. They look at the book and judge the cover. They pick it up and flip it around, taking in the marketing on the back cover, and then they do a quick fan through the pages, looking for illustrations.

Illustrations are a gift from the author to the reader. As a boy, I loved my Narnia books. They were rife with little illustrations that drew me into the story and made me want to turn the page and get to the next one. As an author, I want to give that same gift to the reader.

"Cover Idea #2", by Carol Phillips

I always have several ready-made illustrations for each book. I never dictate to my cover artist, Carol Phillips, what the cover for each book is going to be. It’s a collaborative effort and I try to include Carol as much as possible. I usually give her four or five ideas, detailing them out to her as necessary. She then draws up a little thumbnail of each one and we toss them around and pick. “I really like this one,” Carol will usually say and I go with her judgment. Like I said–it’s my book, but it’s not my book; it’s a collaboration.

The above illustration was one of those cover ideas that didn’t make it to the cover. It was #2 of 4–with #4 eventually being selected for the cover. So, once it’s all said and done, I have these wonderful sketch concepts with no place to go. The next logical place to put them is in the interior, where they can light up the pages. Everything Carol draws is a masterpiece, and it’s a shame to see any of it go to waste.

Another consideration for picking the cover-interior illustrations is content. As with many of my ideas, they often skirt the boundaries of good taste, where the difference between being dressed and undressed is a whole lot of clothes, and, you can get away with a bit more nudity in the interior of the book then you can on the cover. My big guiding influence has always been Michael Moorcock, who, unlike C.S. Lewis or J.R.R. Tolkien, was always rather unabashed with the dress (or undress) of his characters, and I happily follow that model. I recall being astonished reading Moorcock’s work, where you could have long conversations or fight scenes between completely undressed people. Quite an eye-opener and Carol, being a fairy artist, is always up for drawing “The Undressed”. Take a good hard look at the illustration–what do you see?? A couple of naked people here and there, a little S&M going on–yep. One variation from the book is Kay being fully dressed, as, in the book, he’s not dressed at all–everybody’s naked.

This illustration, along with twenty more shall be featured in TOTEH, The Dead Held Hands.

Bowl Naked


Copyright 2011, Carol Phillips