Tuesday, June 30, 2015

The Art of GRACE AMONG THE DEAD: Digital Drugstore Cowpunching

My wife, Cynthia Aiken, took it upon herself to illustrate scenes from my novel Grace Among the Dead by way of fulfilling an art school assignment, and maybe drawing attention to my work, while in turn drawing attention to her art. So let’s see if this works:
Art Copyright © 2015 Angry Chicken Studio.

Oxford shirts smeared brown and black, their ragged ties stiff with old blood, our first three office stooges get their numb, dead feet back under them. The two others behind them shuffle and growl for the delay. Now, all five are reaching for me over the counter, trying to work out how to get over it without falling face-forward and losing their footing again.
Their craving to chew into my warm, living flesh will soon overcome the matter of their undead dignity. Here, with their arms outstretched, their heads laid out across the counter, these ghouls are all but offering themselves to me.
I pull my panga from my belt. My beautiful panga, weapon of choice of the Rwandan genocide, and the most invaluable souvenir of my Kansas adventure. My left arm is hobbled from the woman’s crushing grip so it’s raw adrenaline driving its wide blade through the arms of the first two office stooges and the near hand of the third before sticking halfway through his other wrist.

The man in the picture didn’t look at all what I imagined Derek Grace to look like. The Dead Silencer is in his mid-40s. This character is dressed young. A duckbill and a wife-beater? Heck, put some ink on those arms while we’re at it.

To be fair, my wife had not read the previous novel, Bleeding Kansas, in which it’s established from the jump that he’s a middle-aged man struggling out of middle-aged professional irrelevance when the Final Flu crashes infrastructure, and the rise of the dead to feast on the flesh of the living separates him from his two nearly grown children. I may have to retcon Chapter 1 of Grace Among the Dead to fix this, as I like the idea of the books in my series standing independently of each other; i.e., you don’t have to read the book that came out before to make sense of the book you’re reading now.

Also, I subscribe to Elmore Leonard’s philosophy regarding character description. Unless there’s something about the character’s appearance that is integral to the story, let the reader cast and clothe the character in his mind. My wife read the above quoted passage, and that’s what she came up with.

I’m flattered to see these characters coming to life at all. And if you buy the book, and you like to think of Derek Grace as rocking full sleeves of sick ink, well, that’s how he rolls.