November 16, 2017

I’m planning on compiling the three Temple of the Exploding Head books into one deluxe volume. In going over the material, I re-discovered the Monama people who figure heavily in those books. A pet project of mine, their lore has expanded greatly since I completed the Temple books.




The Horned God, by Fantasio

A celestial being of immense power, the Horned God was worshipped by the Berserkacides for ages. By his command, they built a temple for him and buried it deep underground where they gave him torn and burnt offerings unabashed for centuries. Reveling in the carnage, the Horned God lured in unsuspecting alien beings for the Berserkacides to slaughter.


When he snared the alien beings who came to be known as the Gods in Jade and Sapphire (GJS), the Horned God thought they would make easy prey for his Berserkacides. They proved to be much more resourceful than he anticipated, building cities in the cold north of Kana where the Berserkacides couldn’t get to them. Additionally, the GJS began experimenting on the Berserkacides, eventually developing them into what became the Monama peoples. Unable to compete with the prolific Monamas, the Berserkacides went extinct. Forsaking him, the Horned God haunted the Temple alone for a vast period of time, and, like a spurned lover, he swore vengeance on the Monamas.  He eventually replaced the Berserkacides with the Golden People, whom he bade torment them without mercy.


Modern Monamas are creations of genetic engineering undertaken by an alien species  whom the Monamas referred  to as the Gods in Jade and Sapphire (GJS) for the clothes they wore. These were a decadent people who were at an evolutionary dead end in their development and were mostly infertile. Their lived in windowless cities in the northen reaches of Kana. In the fertile but savage Berserkacides of south Kana, they found possible surrogates to bear their offspring. Too brutal and blood-thirsty to be of any use, the GJS began capturing and experimenting on them with the goal of toning down their bloodlust. After several generations they successfully engineered what would become the Conox Monamas (Mo-Na-Ma meaning the “Bearers of Children”) who were much more docile that the Berserkacides, were extremely fertile, and only had a single pair of arms. Continuing their experimentation, they eventually created the larger Anuian strain, whom they considered to be more successful than the Conox.

The GJS were eventually made extinct by the Horned God’s shape-shifting Golden People, who stole their forms, slaughtered them, and occupied their cities.




The Temple of the Exploding Head, by Carol Phillips

The Temple was a place built deep in the ground by the Berserkacides. Under his direction, they hacked out and shaped each brick with nothing but their bare hands. A colossal structure more than a mile long, they worshipped the Horned God there unobserved by the gods for ages without pause or rest. The Temple became a temporal anchor point due to the rage and suffering that went on there that was eventually discovered by the time-traveling Golden People. Given that the temple created a tunnel into the past for them to harvest slaves and brood-stock for their children, the Golden People continued the practice of worshipping the Horned God there, sacrificing Monamas there by the untold score.



Sinister and inscrutable people, the Golden People served the Horned God as his “Dark Angles” for many ages. Shape-shifting entities from far in the distant future, they rode the waves of time searching for temporal anchor points to latch onto and explore. When they discovered the Temple of the Exploding Head, they found a place rich with potential victims to exploit. Pretending to be subservient to the Horned God, they found the Monama people of south Kana ideal, prolific and disposable warriors for their various conquests, and even developed the ability to revert them in time, transforming them into Berserkacides.


Servants of the Golden People, the Killanjo were hideous beings and primary tormentors of the Monamas. They were invariably victims abducted by the Golden People and placed into a caustic substance that would prime their bodies to the rigors of time travel. This preparation created hideous results and put the victim into a rabid dream state which caused them to behave in a sadistic fashion. They were then sent back in time to do the Golden People’s bidding. They were often skinned and bleeding, with additional parts attached to their bodies. They could cast spells which would render the Elders immobile. They could not bear the sight of their own reflection.


The large, bold, more warlike strain of Monamas are, for the most part, gone from the modern Kanan landscape. In the early days of the League on Kana, the Anuians were many, their numbers on-par or exceeding that of the smaller, more timid Conox Monamas. Large, dense, incredibly strong and fast, the Anuians ruled over most aspects of Monama culture, their language and customs passed onto the more primitive Conox. They were bold, stubborn, and passionate. Rejecting weaponry, Anuians always fought with their hands.

Monamas AnuiansThe Anuians also were more inclined to fight back against the enemy: the Horned God and his angels–the Golden People, their constant tormentors. When the League came to Kana, the Anuians were impressed by their technology and presented themselves to their local warchief, a man called Atrajak of Want. They even presented him with a gift: a princess of the Nebulon tribe. Following Atrajak, they embarked on a long series of battles with the Golden People, confident he would lead them to victory. Losing his mind after a failed attempt to attack the Golden People on their home world, Atrajak was executed by the Sisterhood of Light. Without their leader, the Anuians were lost. The Golden People, seeking revenge, hunted down and harvested the Anuians without mercy, wiping them from the face of Kana, leaving only the more easily-controlled Conox.

Today, there is no stable population of Anuians on Kana. Their bloodlines still exist in the Conox genetics, and, on rare occasions, an Anuian will be born amongst the Conox. As the Anuians reqired a six-month gestation persion instead of only three for the Conox, when an Anuian is born, they are severely under-developed. The Anuian Jar is an artificial womb filled with brine, allowing the Anuian to complete their development.

Attempts to cross-breed Anuians generally leads to failure, as they tend to give birth to more Conox. They are also mystically bound to Kana, as they quickly grow sick and die when taken into space. They also are extremely susceptible to cold temperatures and were confined strictly to the south of Kana.


The smaller, more tame, more timid strain of Monamas, the Conox comprise 98% of the current population on Kana. Much smaller than the larger Anuian Monamas, they are slighter in many ways. Their heads are smaller, with, accordingly, smaller facial features. They are not as fast as the Anuians, and not nearly as strong, though they tend to be about four times stronger than the average Elder. They are, on average, only half as heavy as an Anuian.They are more prone to make use of weapons,

Monamas ConoxBut, the Conox are more adaptable than the Anuians. They tolerate cold temperatures much better and they can survive in space much longer. They are incredibly prolific, having ten to twenty young to a litter after only a three month gestation period.

Per Monama writings, the Conox were the original Monamas engineered by the Gods in Jade and Sapphire. The Anuians came later, a second-generation of engineered peoples whom the GJS considered to be superior to the Conox. Concentrating on the Anuians, the Conox were left to fend for themselves, and, accordingly, it was the Conox who had to fend off attacks from the Berserkacides to the south, relying on their weaponry and their sheer reproductive power to thrive and eventually overpower them.


Terrifying monsters once the bane of the Monama peoples of South Kana, Berserkacides are extinct in the modern League, though the Monama believe they will one day return to plague them.
Bersekacides.jpgAncient Monama writing states in the primordial days of Kana, the Berserkacide (the word “Berserkacide” is a modern appellation–they had no particular name) was the apex predator of the south, living in the vast tangle of the forests. They were brutal and savage, hunting and killing anything in their grasp. They rejected civilization, had little language and no written word. They worshipped a terrible Horned God who was delighted by their horrendous bloodlust. Adopting them as his Dark Angels, the Horned God brought them victims to slay so he could watch and revel in the misery.
When the Horned God lured in a weak and sickly race of star-faring alien, he thought they would be easy prey for the Berserkacides. However, the aliens proved to be more resourceful than anticipated, and they made shelter in the cold north of Kana where the Berserkacides could not get to them. Furthermore, the aliens found the Berserkacides to be beautiful and fertile. Hoping to quell their blood-thirsty nature, the aliens, using their superior technology, captured them by the score and took them into their northern cities where they experimented on them. After several generations, they were successful, creating what would become the modern Monamas, much more docile, much more fertile and only having a single pair of arms. The Berserkacides loathed the Mo-Na-Mas and made war on them without end, only to find themselves wiped into extinction, as the Monamas were just as strong as they were and reproduced at a staggering rate. So passed the Berserkacide.

Berserkacide 2

A Killanjo with a leashed Berserkacide (Carol Phillips)

The hated Golden People, coveting the Monamas for their strength, discovered a method to revert them genetically, turning them back into Berserkacides at their whim. Using the strength and fury of the Berserkacide to their own ends, the Golden People enslaved the Monamas until the Horned God’s temple in the ground was destroyed, thus ending their reign on Kana. Lord Lon of Probert, researching the matter discovered a method to remove the genetic trigger, thus ridding the Monamas of the threat of being transformed into a Berserkacide forever.
Berserkacides were fast and savage. Any Monama at any time could be reverted into one, and, once transformed, there was no going back. They were cruel and merciless, taking great pleasure at harming and killing those they formerly loved. Their extra set of arms appeared rather crab-like. They did not appear to suffer from cold temperatures and were thought to be able to breathe under water. They had an odd hole between their eyes that was thought to aid them in locating prey. The hole appeared to be an adaptation coded into them by the Golden People.


copyright 2017: Ren Garcia and Carol Phillips



In just a week or two, Book V, “The Temple of the Exploding Head” will be out and that will do it for the “Temple Trilogy”

It’s been a grind and the end result barely resembles the original draft I finished back in 2009. As with anything, the story morphed, went off in unexpected directions and changed before my eyes and quite beyond my control. What began as a small coming of age story, became a complex treatment on what it means to be a hero and all the responsibility that comes with it. I changed characters, amputated body parts (literally) and fussed with the villains without pause for nearly three years Now that the final piece of this puzzle is ready to hit the shelves, I can finally says it’s done.

LoE Second Series kicks off with the "Sands of the Solar Empire" in April (promo piece in production by Fantasio)

But now that we can move on from the Temple, we explore further waters of the LoE Universe with the League of Elder Second Series starting with “The Sands of the Solar Empire” in April. Same world, just a different batch of characters. The “Sands” is a very different story, much simpler and more swashbuckling than the Temple. Also, Lord Stenstrom of Belmont, the main character, doesn’t have some of the advantages the House of Blanchefort does, he has to get by on his wits and his skills. The surrounding cast is also rather odd: Private Taara, a vagrant and petty thief from Bazz, Lord A-Ram, a meek, timid fellow who can barely see, and we also return to Captain Davage’s old ship, the Seeker–much older and ready to be scrapped. The ship also appears to be haunted, squealing and groaning, which makes for great fun.

Book V, The Temple of the Exploding Head will be out by the end of January, 2012

copyright 2012, Ren Garcia

Today I got the last pieces of artwork from my Sister-in-Crime, Carol Phillips for LoE Book V: The Temple of the Exploding Head.

Book V is done, now just to get it formatted and on the shelves and its history.

Looking back on it–what an undertaking TOTEH was. It is, by far, the biggest and most complex story I’ve ever attempted to write, and, prior to The Shadow tech Goddess, was the most grueling, most time-consuming manuscript I’ve ever written. It began, literally, with nothing but a title and underwent massive changes several times during its maturation to the point that I was ready to pull my hair out in frustration and delete it altogether.

So, what follows is a commentary and revelation on many aspects of the story as they came and went and you’ll bear witness to the story and characters from its tentative genesis to its current incarnation.

I began working on TOTEH in early 2008. Usually as I get to the last quarter of a manuscript, I begin wondering about the next book; what is it? What will it be? Will there even be a next book? I normally find myself bereft of new ideas as I end a manuscript–it’s like the gas tank is totally empty. As I finished up Sygillis of Metatron, I fretted over The Hazards. Likewise, as I finished The Hazards, I wondered what was next. Surely Carahil’s saving of Xandarr wasn’t the end of the LoE universe–was it??

Little things I encounter cause big inspiration and my mind turned to a tale I called “The Shadow tech Goddess“. I liked the title, but was having issues formulating a story for TStG so I set her aside (I would set her aside two more times before finally settling in and writing her story).

I remembered loving an AD&D adventure called “The Temple of Elemental Evil” that I played in college. I never forgot the name, it stuck with me through the years. Eventually the “Temple of the Exploding Head” entered my mind. I had no idea what the name meant, I just liked it. So, with nothing but a title, I opened a new file one day and began what would eventually become a 450,000 word manuscript taking a little over a year to form into a first draft.


The Cursed Captain Plotline: I started the manuscript having no plot. I knew I wanted to move on from Captain Davage and Syg a little, so I decided upon centering the story on their son, Lord Kabyl who was first mentioned in Book II. I floundered about for months. One of the issues I had was something I’d never encountered before: publication. As Sygillis of Metatron was going through publication I found the process was swallowing up much of my time. In fact, I often went months without even looking at TOTEH. I found myself growing distant from the story and disinterested. The initial plot I came up with was that an unknown group seeking revenge placed Captain Davage into a Death Curse, and it was up to Kay and his cousins to uncover the perpetrators and save Captain D. This “Cursed Captain” plot-line was how I initially structured the story.

"The Machine" plotline was a late-comer

The Machine Plotline: “The Machine” plotline eventually won out and drove the story. However, the Machine itself was very late in coming and didn’t exist as a concept until many drafts into the story. The Machine plot-line felt right and I cast aside the “Cursed Captain” in favor of it.

It took me forever to figure out who the bad guys were.

Bethrael of Moane: My first thought was to make good-guy Bethrael of Moane the main bad guy of the tale. My thought was that Beth had secretly been in love with Captain Davage for years but never could make any headway with him as he was with Syg. She then decided to court Captain Davage’s son, Kay, and when he rejected her for Sam, she lost her mind a little. The oiled, feathered High Priestess seen in the Temple at the beginning of the story was originally Beth. But, I couldn’t do that to Beth, so I discarded that idea and let her remain a good guy. The one remaining vestige of her sexual connection to Kay is the touching of her Silver tech which drove her into a frenzy.

The Horned God: The Horned God started out life as a benevolent elemental spirit of lightning who had been summoned by the Kestral Oligarchy and forced to do bad things. In the first drafts Carahil and the Horned Gods were friends, though they served differing factions. I found the Horned God to be unbearably boring, so I eventually “upped” the voltage and made him one of the main bad guys of the story soaked in evil.

Killanjo: The skinless and gross henchmen of the Kestrals, the Killanjo started out as mere apparitions. A Killanjo was spell cast upon a person by a practitioner skilled at focusing their mental energy. The Killanjo once cast, would sit invisibly on the shoulder of the victim and attack later in their dreams. Sam, in the first draft, was skilled at creating Killanjo and she was to place a Killanjo on the shoulder of Captain Davage. As I abandoned the original incarnation of the story, I kept the concept of the Killanjo, transforming them into grotesque, skinless monsters.

The Kestral Oligarchy: The Kestrals have been around since the beginning as rabid, golden-skinned inhabitants of the Temple. At some point I turned them into aliens with unknowable logic and an undecipherable language. As I settled on the Horned God as the Main Bad Guy, they sort of fell by the wayside, but then I had a moment of clarity and added the Kestral’s horrid City of Many Forms and they peaked my interest at just the right time.

The Spectres: “Punks” from Xaphan space and Black Hat underlings, the Spectres once played a much more active role in the story being a usual antagonist of Kay and his cousins. Sam herself was a Spectre at one point. But, as the story evolved away from the “Cursed Captain” plot-line, the Spectres were mostly cut out.

The Circle of Five: The what???? The Who???? The Circle of Five was to be the main bad guys of Book IV. A criminal element pervasive through the League the Circle was the mysterious group responsible for the “Cursed Captain” plot-line. When Sam led Kay into Grove, she was originally leading him out to meet the Circle of Five. I could never get a good feeling for the Circle and I discarded them in favor of “The Machine” plot which eventually drove the story to its conclusion. I did reuse the names of the Five for the various Black Hats seen in the city of Waam in Book IV. So, for a long time, Book IV was known as “The Trials of the Circle of Five”.

The Monamas: The Monamas were initially minor bad guys doing the Circle of Five’s bidding. They weren’t black-eyed and clawed at the time–they looked like anybody else. However, as I transformed Sam into a Monama, I also added their unusual appearance and attributes.

The Bersekacides: Berserkacides started life as typical zombies. As I modified the Monamas into alien creatures, I also added to the concept of the Berserkacide.


Kay: A storyline that cropped up in The Hazards of the Old Ones” was Syg’s pregnancy with a boy they would one day name Kabyl. I decided to focus the story on Kay and make it a coming of age story. I wanted to make Kay flawed and imperfect, an odd counter-point to his formidable parents.

Lt. Verlin: I initially planned to make the Marine Lt. Verlin Kay’s love interest. With that in mind, I decided to add a chapter to Book II discussing Lt. Verlin and some of her history in detail (Lt. Verlin’s Hero). The problem was I couldn’t make Kay and “V” gel–it was like a bad date you want to be over. I tried and tried and eventually gave up. I wrote V out and never looked back.

Thanks to Sarah of Blanchefort, I continued on and finished the MS.

Sarah: I came up with the idea for the feisty but loyal Sarah after watching actress Sarah Bolger in “The Spiderwick Chronicles”. Oddly, it the was insertion of Sarah into the book that really reignited my interest for this storyline. I’d become rather put off by the MS and it was the addition of Sarah that got me going again.

Phillip: I modeled Phillip after San Diego Chargers quarterback Phillip Rivers. Don’t ask me why, I just did, end of story.

Lt. Kilos: The presence of Lt Kilos was a big comfort for me, like wearing a comfy pair of shoes. In the Cursed Captain plotline, she was sort of a background character and stayed with the dying Captain Davage. As I made the change to The Machine plotline, I decided I wanted Ki standing at Kay’s side, and hence the big fight at the bar that will be seen in Book V.

Captain Davage/Syg: Captain Davage originally spent most of the story flat on his back, dying from a mysterious curse. Syg, seeing her husband dying, lost her mind. I restored his health in The Machine plotline and he and Syg conduct a parallel investigation in the background.

Thomasina the 19th: Thomasina existed in the story for a long time, especially during the “Cursed Captain” days. After I abandoned that plotline, I had no idea what to do with her–I even considered cutting her for a while. Eventually, it occurred to me to take the demure church-going woman from Saga and change her into a slightly crazed, green-haired Xaphan woman.

"Joy" inherited Sam's original look

Sam: Of all characters, it was Sam who underwent the most radical and all-encompassing changes from beginning to end, such that she is unrecognizable from when I started. Sam did not begin life as a powerful Monama princess, quite the opposite–Sam was a lowly servant in a Calvert laundry room with bad eyesight. I actually liked Sam as she was and I was heartbroken to cut away her best scenes hauling laundry and transform her into a clawed, black-eyed Monama. (I resurrected Sam’s original look with Joy–the Black Hat staying at Aunt Pardock’s castle. Joy looks exactly as Sam once did). Her shy nature also resembles Sam’s.

Sam was adept at creating Killanjo, little mental automatons that could cause misfortune. Sam was recruited into the Spectres and was tasked with placing a Death Killanjo on the shoulder of Captain Davage. Sam couldn’t go through with it and the Killanjo she created was full of goodness. Countess Sygillis detected Sam’s Killanjo and imprisoned it in a jar kept in a hidden room in the castle. When Kay first heard Sam’s voice in the chapel, he was hearing the voice of her Killanjo–in fact the first part of the story was originally called “The Lady in the Bottle.”

I’ve added a selection with Sam in her original incarnation in the FREE SECTION, so, if you want to see Sam as she was, give it a read.

Book V, The Temple of the Exploding Head, will be released in early 2012 by Loconeal Publishing.

Bowl Naked
copyright 2011, Ren Garcia

A fair portion of Book V: “The Temple of the Exploding Head” deals with locating the legendary Temple itself. The place could be literally anywhere on Kana, and, throughout history it has remained rather anonymous. It has defied the few attempts made over the years to uncover it.

Map of Kana

Not much is known regarding the Pre-History of Kana (pronounced: kay-na) prior to the arrival of the Elders at the beginning of the EX Time Epoch. Kana was found to be a bountiful world while the nearby star Codis was ideal to support the 25 Elders themselves. Kana was rather depleted of life, with only the Monama peoples living to the south. There were hints of a pre-cursor civilization scattered about the planet, but no serious effort was made to investigate as the Seven Tribes spread out over the planet and claimed it theirs.

The first mention in Elder lore of the Temple of the Exploding head was in the writings of the berserker Remnath hero Atrajak of Want. Atrajak had fallen in love with an Anuian Monama princess, Tiverlan of Nebulon. Through his dealings with the Monamas, Atrajak discovered Kana was under the eye of a mysterious group of beings who could come and go at will and were hidden sight and sound. The Monamas knew all about them, and when they accepted him as their Sar-Gra-Ma, they told him all they knew. These beings whom Atrajak called The Kestral Oligarchy appeared to be quite hostile and he went on a long series of campaigns called the Hidden Wars where the Kestrals were driven away for a time. However, given their ability to step out of thin air, the Kestrals always returned. Tiverlan of Nebulon told Atrajak about a temple hidden deep in the ground where the Kestrals worshipped a terrible Horned God, and that it was the temple where they gained much of their power over Kana. After the death of his wife, Atrajak sought this temple but was unable to locate it. Eventually, broken and raving mad, he himself was killed when he stormed the Sisterhood stronghold of Twilight 4.

The Cylinder of Ugly Faces--the Entrance to the Temple of the Exploding Head (Carol Phillips)

The Temple is a plague and a curse upon Kana and has caused the Elders living near it no end of misery, however nobody, not the old heroes or the scholars or heads of the Science Ministry or even the wise Sisterhood of Light themselves ever suspected its existence. The Sisters never bothered much with Pre-Elder or Non-Elder lore.

They had warning, though. All the signs were there and the symptoms were a matter of public record. The occasional scribe wrote of “Bad Dreams” and a pervasive “Taint”, but nobody ever made the connection that the cause of this taint was an actual place hidden from sight.

(Ren Speaks–Though I make a big deal about the “Hidden Location” of the Temple, I pretty much say exactly where it is in one of the previous League of Elder books. There’s really nothing hidden or left to chance about it, it’s there in plain text. If you can tell me what part of what book “spills the beans” I’ll send you the entire LoE series, signed and remarked by the artist Carol Phillips. Done Deal, totally free.)

Bowl Naked

copyright 2011, Ren Garcia and Carol Phillips

Every person should know their limitations, and I know mine–I really, really suck at blurbing. I can write 300,000 word tomes, but God help me if I have to sum the damn thing up in 200 words or less. I go blank. I panic.

So here, for good or for ill is the rough back cover marketing blurb for Book V, The Temple of the Exploding Head. I have no idea if it’s any good or not. Thoughts appreciated.

copyright 2011, Ren Garcia

The House of Monama figures prominently in the Temple of the Exploding Head trilogy. Who are the Monamas and what differentiates them from the rest of the League??

“Sam” by Fantasio

This painting of Sam by Fantasio illustrates most of the various physical differences.

HAIR: Monamas have an incredibly thick and fast-growing head of hair that they normally wear down to their ankles. Their hair is invariably coal-black. Aside from their heads, Monamas are quite hairless.

NAILS/CLAWS: Monamas sport a formidable and iron-hard set of fingernails that can hack through a wooden door. Both male and female Monamas wear their nails rather long as they consider their nails a mark of beauty.

EYES: Monamas are well-known for their jet black eyes, including a lack of eye whites.

Note Sam’s black eyes, thick hair and claws hidden under her gloves (Painting by Fantasio)

PALLOR: Monamas are ghastly pale. Living in a perpetual fog by the lake, their skin is often chalk-white in coloration. Those select Monamas that choose to come out of the fog can develop a slight rose tint if they stay in the sun long enough.

BELLYBUTTON: Monamas lack a bellybutton. They find Elder’s belly buttons extremely seductive.

GIFT-LIKE ABILITIES: All Monamas have a number of Gift-like abilities that work when they are touching the ground. When elevated or away from Kana, these abilities vanish. Monamas can “Blink”, or teleport themselves vast distances. They can also transmit their thoughts across the ground and communicate without technology from far away. They also can transform themselves into various humanoid guises–Monama females are much better at it than the males. Monamas also are adept at seeing the future with a high degree of accuracy. Monama males are better at it than the females–female Monamas must partially bury themselves to see the future.

ANUIAN/CONOX: There are two distinct types of Monamas. The most common are the Conox, or “Lesser Monamas” who are rather small and thin of frame, standing on average about 5’2 – 5’5. Much less frequent are the Anuian, or “Greater Monamas” who are significantly bigger, stronger and faster than the Conox, standing about 6 feet tall. Anuians are much more full than the Conox and have markedly different facial features. The Conox, however, appear to be heartier than the Anuians, being a bit less susceptible to cold temperatures and can manage the rigors of space travel much better. The Anuians also require six months in the womb, as opposed to the Conox who require only three.

Anuian Monamas were once very common in the southern lands of Kana, but were said to have been wiped into extinction by a “compelling alien force”. They now only exist in rare birthings amid the Conox, where they must finish their gestation in an “Anuian Jar”, an external womb made of clay and brine.

HEAD SWARM: Monamas tend to fall into a profound, trance-like state when faced with traumatic situations. They call the trance “Head Swarm” and once in it they are difficult if not impossible to revive.

Sam wearing her “Snugs” pendant (Carol Phillips)

SUSCEPTIBILITY TO COLD: Any temperature below 60 degrees F is quickly fatal to a Monama. Even bundled up, the cold will render them sluggish and eventually kill them. Lady Poe of Blanchefort created a Silver tech pendant called Snugs (with the image of a hummingbird on the face) that creates enough warmth for a Monama to survive in the cold without limit. Take away the pendant, however, and the Monama will be dead within minutes.

STRENGTH/SPEED/ENDURANCE: In comparison to Elders, Monamas are incredibly strong. An average Monama is about ten times stronger than an average Elder, though the Elder Gift of Strength can usually match Monama strength. They also have amazing, jaguar-like speed with the endurance to match.

VULNERABILITY TO SPACE TRAVEL: Monamas do not do well when removed from Kana. Extended trips through space can be quickly fatal to them. They can survive on other worlds, however, they lose most of their gift-like abilities until they are returned to Kana.

LANGUAGES: Monamas speak a group of regional languages spoken nowhere else in the League. The Sisters at one time considered making the speaking of their native Anuie, Conox and Systrel languages illegal due to the fact that the Sisters cannot read the Monamas minds via the Stare, however, more reasonable heads prevailed. The people of Hoban find Monama accents very soothing. Monama bards and storytellers are popular on Hoban.

A Berserkacide (Carol Phillips)

EVIL NATURE: Although Monamas generally have very kind and modest personalities, they are convinced that they all carry within them a dark spirit of evil that is just waiting to come out. In their ancient writings they speak of the days when they were four-armed and evil and that the Gods in Jade and Sapphire freed them. The prospect of turning into a raging Berserkacide haunts them.

GODS IN JADE AND SAPPHIRE: The Monamas believe the benevolent Gods in Jade and Sapphire removed their ancient evil nature from them, along with their second pair of arms. They also believe they once bore the gods’ children.

SEX DRIVE/FECUNDITY: Monamas are well-known for their libidos and for their fecundity. They can have up to twelve children at a time in only three months. It is said Monamas can become carried away to the point of being dangerous when having sex.

copyright, 2011 Ren Garcia

Book V in the Temple of the Exploding Head series begins in a strange place.

"Carahil sees the Temple of the Exploding Head" by Carol Phillips

Carahil and Mabs (the infamous Cat Goddess of Zall 88) have journeyed to the Library of Time, a distant place where they have heard the story of all beings lives are written out from beginning to end and may be read like a book. Carahil and Mabs are gods (Carahil being a Nargal and Mabs being a Wind-Walker) but they have little knowledge of the intricacies of Time. Mabs is pregnant with their children and they’ve come to the Library to determine how best to raise their children; as gods or as unsuspecting younger folk.

At the Library, they meet the Proprietors: a mysterious pair named Fiddler Crow and Queen Wendilnight. They are admitted and allowed to see the story of their lives.

…And Carahil is appalled at what he sees. An Age of Blood where the Gods are gone and an insane evil spirit has lease to do what he pleases leading, eventually, to the end of the Universe. Carahil sees himself framed for crimes he didn’t commit, and then, of all things, he sees himself being eaten alive in a city of Many Forms.

The Proprietors see Carahil’s distress. He asks them if he can do something about this, if he could “fix” this bad future that’s coming. Fiddler Crow tells him it’s not possible to change the future and he will simply have to live with it.

However, Queen Wendilnight takes pity on Carahil and offers to help him in return for their service at a later time. Carahil and Mabs agree, and Queen Wendilnight shows them into the Time Tunnel Room. There, Carahil comes face to face with the time tunnel responsible for creating the bad future: the Temple of the Exploding Head and the Horned God who lives there.

copyright 2011, Ren Garcia and Carol Phillips

At last, the cover for Book V, The Temple of the Exploding Head is complete!!

"The Temple of the Exploding Head" by Carol Phillips

Now, for the difficult part–lettering the cover. Creating cover lettering is harder than you might at first think. What looks good, what doesn’t, it’s all very complicated. As The Temple is part of a trilogy, we wanted to keep with the style of the two previous books in terms of font, and general positioning.

The problem with Book V, the title is much longer than the others including spaces and letter kerning it takes up a fair amount of room on the cover. The artwork by Carol Phillips is also the most manic and “In Motion” of the three and we want to be careful not to cover up too much of that beautiful art with words–we certainly can’t cover up the Horned God. Finally, you also have to avoid the gutter and tear-off areas of the perimeter as well, further reducing the usable space to put the letters.

My thought was to place the lettering below the Horned God’s hooves, thereby covering up the mosh pit of worshippers. Carol was appalled and fought to keep them uncovered, besides, the other two books had their lettering in the upper quarter of the cover and Book V needed a similar treatment.

Carol Phillips was able to block-in the lettering at the top of the cover, giving it a similar look to the first two books in the series. The coloration for the lettering should be bold, but not garish–something that pops out but doesn’t detract from the cover. I sort of like the “pop” of the red, but also like the somber black.

As usual, I like to hide my name on the front of the cover–it’s a quirk I have–I hate seeing my name on the cover.

copyright 2011, Ren Garcia and Carol Phillips

Carol Phillips

Carol Phillips is truly amazing. For three years now she’s been cranking out cover and interior art for The League of Elder book series, and I never cease to be amazed at the artwork she produces to match my crazy ideas. Carol is certainly The Queen of the League of Elder.

When we began planning the cover art for Book V: The Temple of the Exploding Head, the clear choice of scene was the Temple itself–it was only natural. The Temple is a rotten place, full of noise and death. A carnal orgy and rave has been going on inside the Temple for ages untold without stop or pause, and the Horned God has presided over it all, ever thirsty for more. As I described the scene to Carol, it was a phantasmagoric ride of cages and skulls and torn flesh, a captured Carahil, a demented Sam and a lonely, outnumbered Kay facing it all alone.

The floor of the Temple was to be where the Worshippers of the Horned God hung out. As I described it to Carol, “bad things” were happening there. I’m uninhibited and Carol’s uninhibited as well and she’s game to tackle anything I throw at her. I figured that, given the complexity and size of the area involved, the worshippers would be tiny in the extreme and all the nastiness I described to her would be nothing more than a curious, stick-figure Mosh Pit.

Carol delivered the art to me today. Stick Figure Mosh Pit?? Guess again, Ren …

What I was looking at was a masterpiece of carnal art, horrific and starkly brutal and all completely clear and richly painted. I marveled at it, but, as I took in the details I quickly realized this viscera and sex fest would never fly and would have to be changed. I mean, I’m pretty fearless about these things, but, I need to give my publisher a bit of a break every now and again.

So, the scene has to change. I emailed Carol and we talked. She’s going to obscure the floor of the Temple in writhing fog, offering only an occasional glimpse as to what is happening within. All in all, I think it’ll add to the drama of the scene.

So, let that be a lesson to me. If I can dream it, Carol can paint it bold and proud.

Bowl Naked

copyright, 2011 Ren Garcia and Carol Phillips

CAROL PHILLIPS is working away on the horrific cover to Book V, The Temple of the Exploding Head. It’s coming along quite well with the enhanced lighting adding mood and drama to the scene.

As Carol puts it:

Light and shadow is a really important part of creating mood in a painting. It can take a boring painting and make it look really awesome, or if done incorrectly, can make it look flat and dull. I learned early on it was important to pay attention to your various light sources and always keep them in mind while creating your piece. It is a key point in creating a believable environment, character or creature and can make or break your artwork.

"The Temple of the Exploding Head" by Carol Phillips

Creating an environment from your head can be tough and it can be difficult to keep your light source in mind. A good thing to do, is to mark out the direction of your light source with an arrow (on a separate layer or lightly on your drawing,) to remind you while painting where the light is coming from. It also helps with confusion of multiple light sources. Working from your head you probably wont get things 100% real life accurate but if you keep the light sources in mind it will help to make your work seem possible.

It’s also important to keep in mind if your light is warm light ( fire/ candle) or cool light (could be found out doors). It is especially challenging when working with both cool and warm light sources on a piece like the Temple, but using warm and cool lights can add a lot of drama and interesting colors to a piece.

Look how the warm fire light brings out the depth of the Temple, lighting up the back tiers giving the viewer a hint how wide the Temple is, while the cooler lighting provides a sense of loftiness and imposing height. With the lighting in place, you can see what was previously hidden behind the more prominent tiers of statue and pillars. With the orange light, the Temple looks more unsettled, more wild and dangerous, which is the impression the viewer should be getting. I can only imagine what the scene will look like when the character layers are turned on.

See the difference when only the cool lighting elements are displayed. The Temple looks calm, peaceful even, like a football stadium before the football game starts. Even though the place is festooned with horrific images, the lighting makes it seem at peace. It also loses all of its depth, with the deeper parts of the temple lost in shadow. The Temple seems much taller rather than wide in the cool lighting.

Book V, The Temple of the Exploding Head will be available for purchase November 2011.

copyright 2011, Ren Garcia and Carol Phillips