Monday, January 5, 2015

The Making of 'Death Touch'
Hey fellow space adventurers! I thought it would be fun to share some of the original art and ideas from my book. Early sketches and ideas from the beginning of the process, if you will!

When I write, I often have a blurry image of the character in my head. A sort of cloudy, half-formed creature that floats around in my brain. Because of this, I often try to get an artist on-board early in the process, so I can SEE the character more clearly. It's amazing how helpful seeing your characters can help with with your writing (at least for me).

Today, I'm going to share with you the process of creating HER
(Also known as Death Touch - Killer of Souls - Death Dredger.. ect)

 In 'A Space Story'... the female Earthling takes Dean Kilmer under her wing, though Dean is unsure why. SHE is mysterious, clever, sarcastic, dangerous... and originally the lead for the story! 

I came up with the idea for 'A Space Story' all the way back in 1995. Back then, I worked as a projectionist at a movie theater. It was lonely up in the booth, sitting in a dark room for 8 hours a day. In between cleaning projectors, putting a movies together (back when they were on film), and threading projectors, I would jot down ideas in a journal. Most of those dark days were spent drawing maps and writing characters for an epic space story. And during that time, the story was told from the perspective of a young, sarcastic female with fire-red hair. 

Originally, she went by the name 'Vyrus'.

HER back-story has remained very much the same, with some tweaks here and there. But years later, when I finally set out to write the story, I decided against having her as the lead. My reason... I didn't want the reader to get inside her head. She needed to remain mysterious, and having the book (journal) written from her perspective ruined any mystery. That's when Dean Kilmer was created!

But this post isn't about Dean - it's about HER!

When it was time to flesh-out what SHE should look like, I tapped my buddy John Zarate-Khus. Like all the other characters from the book, I had a cloudy version of HER in my mind:

Red-hair, freckles, sporty build, tall, experience and determination in the eyes, hood, long rifle...
Heading in the right direction!

Unfortunately, this was around the time John got pulled away from the project.

Now it was Adam Barutis's turn! 

I sent Adam the sketch John had done. I also met up with Adam to go over her back story. Death Touch was the last known human left in the universe. She flew her own ship, mostly stayed away from others, and had an affliction that caused death to anyone she touched. Her only companion was a billion+ year old robot she found floating in space. 

My original intentions for the art in the book was muted. I was reluctant about forcing an image of the characters into the readers mind. Adam took that into consideration...
I was loving it!

We were both content with this version of 'Death Touch'. The stance, the gun, the hood - it was awesome. I was willing to run with it. Then... Adam texted me. All he wrote was...

"I just want to try something."

Days went by, and my mind wandered. Early on in our discussions, he said he liked the visual in the book of HER and Dean sitting in the cave - the fire between them. He liked the idea of Dean sketching HER from his point of view from inside that cave. I wondered if that was what he had in mind. A late night email answered that question... 
I was blown away!

After almost 20 years of having a character in my head, it was surreal to see HER sitting across from me. Yes, my idea of a muted character was stripped away, but I was okay with it. There SHE was, face exposed, for all the world to see. But, like most art, it inspired me.

Now, all we had to do was give it that sketchy look...

The Female Earthling, Death Touch, HER, She was done! Out of all the characters Adam has done for the book, SHE had the quickest turn-around. It was an awesome achievement, and gave me a great deal of momentum to finish the book, and share Death Touch with the world.

Now, if you will excuse me... I must get back to finishing Book 2.

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