When working on a new book, sometimes I need to stop and think things through for a bit. If it’s something I plan on independently publishing, I’ll often work on a mock-up of the cover art as I turn things over in my mind. However, as most authors can attest, some books just kind of fizzle out. Maybe the timing for that particular work wasn't quite right and it will be revisited in the future or perhaps the initial excitement for the project waned. Or, as is most often the case, I simply get swept up in another idea. Because of these parts of my writing process, I’m left with a handful of covers for books I never actually finished writing. Perhaps some day I really will come back to some of these ideas. Perhaps not. Regardless, some of this left-over artwork is shown below, along with a brief description of what the book was to be about.
I started Albatross four years ago, but never really made it that far into the story. It was intended to be a web serial with eventual print run once the plot had run its course. The story centered around Albert Ross, a man charged with caring for his terminally ill mother. Caretaking can be emotionally and physically exhausting at times and I wanted to set a character in that role who was ill-eqipped to actually handle it. To exacerbate matters, his mother was to be a mean and spiteful old woman with a persecution complex who took some sort of sick glee out of pushing her son’s buttons. This was to be a novel of human darkness and would not have ended well for any of the characters involved. While working on this blog post, I found that the original chapters are still out there on the web. Any interested parties can check it out here
Drug Slaves of Satan was an attempt to write a horror novel in the style of a 1930’s propoganda film. Drawing from inspirations such as Reefer Madness and Devil’s Harvest, I’d wanted to throw in a supernatural element as well. The story was to center around a clean-cut, all-American teenager whose older brother was pulled into a world of sex, drugs, and black magic. When the older brother was found sliced to ribbons in a dumpster, the younger boy begins to emmulate the behavior of his deceased sibling in a misguided attempt to figure out exactly what happened. This is one I may very well return to at some point, perhaps with a different title though.
A Feast of Fools: The Cannibal’s Cookbook was to be a novelization of my short story Cooking With Grace. The novel was to be told entirely through letters, emails, articles, recipes, and transcripts. The short story (which followed this formula) was to be the first chapter in the book and the book was going to be a collaboration with my wife. To further expand the story, I’d actually set up email accounts for every email address referenced within the original short story. These accounts were then equipped with auto-responders. Anyone curious enough to send an actual email to the addresses in the story would then get a reply from the character they were emailing, which I thought was a great way to expand the universe beyond the pages of the book. I’d also planned on doing webisodes of a cooking show where I would be masked and playing the role of the serial killer/cannibal, which I think would have been a lot of fun.
The Curse of the Walking Dead was to be the first book in a series of Victorian-era steampunk novels featuring detective Bastion Folks. Some of the characters from this book have really stuck with me over the years and I’m positive I will be exploring them in different works. The most intriguing of these is the novel’s antagonist who goes by the moniker Lady Entropy. Born into the upper-class, she turned her back on her country after her father was suspiciously killed while on an expedition funded by the Queen herself. Vowing revenge, Lady Entropy’s sole purpose is to bring the government to their knees, even if it means destroying citizens in the process. She is very prim and proper, given to wearing white, lacy dresses with lace-up leather boots, and her parasol is never far from her. In one of my favorite scenes from what I’d actually written on this one, a laborer who has incurred her ire kneels before her. Using the tip of her parasol, she lifts the man’s chin so he is looking directly into her eyes. A lever on the parasol causes a spike to shoot out of the tip and into the man’s throat; as she withdraws the weapon, the umbrella-portion deploys, shielding her clean clothes from the spray of blood which follows. To date, Lady Entropy is my favorite villian that I’ve created.
Godhammer. I have a feeling this one would have come to around novellas-size. It was to be a dystopian tale, set after a series of events had crumbled the infrastructure, permanently changing the United States as we know it. The madman who seizes control blames organized religion for every problem the old world knew and outlaws them all. In their place, he calls for new religious orders which causes cults to spring up left and right. The vast majority of the population has aligned themselves with one cult or another since that is the easiest way to gain supplies and protection. Those who have not pledged their allegiance to a faction are bombarded with propaganda from the various cults and in a world where there is no regulation of the recruitment methods things can go bad very quickly.
Vigilante Messiah was to be a story about a homeless man and possible paranoid schizophrenic who finds a Jesus outfit in a dumpster behind a costume shop that’s gone out of business. He lives in an old, burnt out church on the outskirts of the city, between the railroad tracks and the riverbank. After witnessing a woman get brutally killed, he returns to his “home” and starts a fire in a rusted fifty-gallon drum to keep warm through the night. The fire, however, turns into a flaming pillar from which a voice booms out instructions. The voice tells him that he is the avatar of Christ and the second coming is at hand; he must go out into the world and cleanse it from evil, freeing the demon-possessed souls of thieves, rapists, drug dealers, and pedophiles. There is a damn good chance I might come back to this one as I really like what I've completed on the book so far.
The Bugout Bag of Holding is one of those books where I don’t really know what I want it to be. I know it’s a tale of a terrorist attack on a city. I know it involves a prepper who has 72 hours to find her way out of said city, thus securing her safety. I just don’t know in what world I want it to be set in. My initial thought was in our world and the title would come from the fact that the protagonist would be an avid role-playing gamer. However, I've also toyed with a different idea. In this one, the world is similar to ours in a lot of ways; however, it would be set in a Dungeons and Dragons style reality where those campaigns were part of their history, much in the way Vikings are a part of ours. The city would be urban and there would be a fusion of magic and technology at play with the prepper protagonist being a half-elf. When this cover was created, I was still thinking the tale would be set in our world and if the woman in the gas mask looks familiar then you probably know her. It’s none other than Joy Killar, who’d graciously given me permission to use her image.