Amazing Art made of Books

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Today my book comes out of its pre-order bubble and goes out into the big bad world (at Amazon US and Amazon UK). Woo hoo! If you read it and enjoy it by the way, please tell someone who you think might also like it — word of mouth means life for a new book. So please share the love!

In the mean time I thought I’d celebrate my book news with a post on amazing book art — that is art made of books, not art put in or on books. Here are a few of my favourites:

This is my absolute favourite — looking past the fact that an antique book has been used (which I really don’t agree with). But the idea of making a book into lungs and blood vessels is a beautiful way to represent how important books are to life.

Giving a whole new meaning to tea and books! This would be right at home in Alice in Wonderland….

This one is achieved by carving out parts of every page.

This one reminds me of Petra, Jordan:

A whole new way of losing yourself inside a book!

Aren’t they beautiful? If you want to find more, you can see the full page here.

One of the artists calls this a way to ‘remix’ a book — like many musical artists remix old songs into something more contemporary. I love the thought of turning something as traditional as a book into something cutting edge and modern.

It makes me wish that big publishers would find a way to send unwanted books to artists rather than pulping them. Wouldn’t be amazing if unwanted books were given a new lease of life in the form of a sculpture or some other kind of 3D art?

Incidentally for anyone interested, the practice of bookstores returning books to publishers can be traced back to the Great Depression of 1929. In light of the economic crash bookstores were (understandably) nervous about ordering new books. So, to keep business going, publishers put together arrangements whereby the stores could return any unsold books, therefore passing the risk of a book not selling to the publisher.

This practice continues to this day, and it is in part why so many books get pulped (somewhere around 77million a year – that number never fails to upset me). Large book stores can place huge orders without worrying too much because they’ll be able to return anything that doesn’t sell. Which is crazy when you think about it: no other industry allows that kind of setup in this day and age.

This is why I think the advent of the ebook is the best possible thing to happen to physical books: I firmly believe physical books will eventually reach the same status as vinyl, or even these days, CDs. Slightly niche, and bought by deeply committed book lovers to add to a carefully curated personal library. Which would mean the end of huge book orders and returns, and therefore the end of or at least a massive decrease in book pulping. Books being treasured and loved can surely only be an improvement on the current model of mass order and mass wastage.

In the mean time, I really hope that one day one of my books will find its way to an artist who will make a piece of art out of it. That would be just magical. So if you’re an artist and you like to make beautiful things out of books, come say hi!!

My Very First Blog Appearances

Very excitingly, today I’m appearing on not one but two blogs.

The lovely Kelli of Forty and Fantastique interviewed me about writing The Viper and the Urchin and other things. It’s my very first interview, and as far as interviews go, this is a fantastic one to start with! I had a lot of fun answering her questions.

Nicholas Rossis also featured me over on his blog with a very kind compliment on my bio and blurb.

All in all, a great way to end the week! Big thanks to Kelli and Nicholas! 🙂

 

Playing with Swords and Creepy Swamps… An Interview with Lori MacLaughlin

Today I have an interview with fellow blogger Lori MacLaughlin, and we talk about her Fantasy saga Lady, Thy Name is Trouble.

The interview is part of a series of posts where I talk to writers about the interesting things they dig up during their research process. If you know of an indie writer who you’d be interested in seeing featured in this kind of interview, let me know in the comments and I’ll see what I can do. And now, on with the interview!

Thanks for taking part and being on the blog today Lori! Could you please start by telling us a bit about your book?

Screen Shot 2015-07-15 at 15.32.02Thanks so much for having me here, Celine! Lady, Thy Name Is Trouble is a fantasy adventure novel with a side of romance. Main characters Tara and Laraina Triannon are sword-for-hire sisters, whose exploits are legendary. They get caught in the middle of a surprise invasion of the Dhanarran kingdom, but they manage to escape, along with Dhanarra’s playboy prince (Laraina’s current lover) and a young sorceress whose spells never work quite right.

The invading general sends his executioner, the Butcher, after them, a terrifying wolf-like assassin no one has ever escaped, to keep them from warning the neighboring kingdoms of the general’s marauding ways.

While on the run from the Butcher, they enlist the aid of Jovan Trevillion, a mysterious rogue with an agenda of his own. Sparks fly between Jovan and Tara, though she tries her best to snuff them out, having been burned badly by another handsome rogue in the past.

Many dangers and soul-searching moments test their endurance as they fight to save themselves and the neighboring kingdoms. Through it all, Tara is tormented by nightmares caused by the use of her long-hidden magic. An evil Being, caught in a centuries-old trap, seeks to control her magic and escape through her dreams.

Tara must find a way to stop the marauding general’s quest for vengeance, save herself and her companions from the Butcher, and somehow prevent the evil being from destroying her mind and escaping to annihilate the world of Alltyyr.

Looking at the general research you did for Lady Thy Name is Trouble, what are the most interesting/random facts you uncovered?

Most of the research I did for this book revolved around the sword fighting and the army battles. I wanted them to be believable, but, since this is a fantasy, I didn’t want to be tied down by real time period expectations in terms of weapons and tactics. I’ve always been fascinated by swords. The most interesting fact, to me, was that most medieval swords weighed between 2.5 and 4 pounds. Even the two-handed great swords generally weighed between 5 and 8 pounds. The idea that these swords required Arnold Schwarzenegger-type strength to wield is a myth.

I also researched castle terminology to learn more about different types of castles and what the various parts were called, such as barbicans (stone buildings with towers and portcullises, used as gatehouses), battlements (the walkway along the top of a defensive wall for fighting or guard patrol), and murder holes (holes or trapdoors that allowed for attacking the area below). One thing I discovered is that the raised sections that look like teeth on top of the parapet (the low wall atop the curtain wall that protects the battlements) have their own name. They’re called merlons, and the spaces between the merlons are embrasures. Rows of alternating merlons and embrasures are called crenellations. I found it odd that an empty space had a specific name.

That’s interesting about the embrasures – it’s also a French word that means the same as in English, but it also means the empty space within a window frame or doorway (it’s still very much used nowadays.) I guess it must be a leftover from the time the Normans ruled England back in the 11th century. 

Your main character, Tara, is forever getting herself into fights and brawls, which is very entertaining! How did you go about writing the fight scenes?

I broke the scenes down into individual movements and choreographed them in my head, again, wanting to be realistic but unorthodox, too. Tara is not a classically trained sword fighter, by any means. She learned how to handle a sword from a pirate/smuggler who rarely ever followed any rules.

The best part was acting out the scenes (sort of, since I was by myself) to see if they worked and made sense. I own a few full-size swords that are meant to be decorative, but are a whole lot of fun to play with.

You and Charles Yallowitz ought to exchange notes on acting out fight scenes (he does it too!) I love that you own swords — between you and Charles, I’m feeling very inadequate with my lack of acting out fight scenes and my non owning of swords. What kind of swords do you have by the way? 

I have a few replicas of ceremonial swords belonging to historical figures, such as Sir Francis Drake and Charlemagne, a Viking dagger, and a collection of miniatures (about 12 inches long) representing swords through the ages. I used to collect them a long time ago when I had a little extra money to spend. If I ever find myself in that position again, I’d love to get some of the Hobbit/Lord of the Rings blades. They are breathtaking.

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Replica of Charlemagne’s sword, taken by Kari Jo Spear

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Replica of Sir Francis Drake’s sword, taken by Kari Jo Spear

I can understand why you’d act out your fight scenes with those swords – they’re beautiful!

Your characters travel through a rather terrifying place called the Bog, which is populated by all sorts of horrid creatures, including lots of spider (eep!) How did you go about creating such a place — did you use any real or fictional places for inspiration?

I created the creepiest place I could think of, somewhere I definitely would not want to go, and filled it with creatures I would NOT want to meet — particularly the spiders. Just writing about them gave me the willies. The Bog isn’t based on any real place, per se, but I did look at a lot of spooky swamp photos online, some of which were real, some artistically rendered.

CreepySwamp1CreepySwamp2

 

 

 

 

Do you have any particular books or websites you go to for inspiration when you need to research something for a story?

One of the books I own that has been useful is The Writer’s Complete Fantasy Reference published by Writer’s Digest Books. I’ve also found the Lord of the Rings to be inspirational. The battle scenes from those movies are awe-inspiring. I’ve taken bits and pieces from other sword fights I’ve seen in the movies and on TV and incorporated them into my mental library of maneuvers I draw on when choreographing a scene. Things I learned in the self-defense martial arts classes I took a few years ago sometimes make their way into my stories, as well.

 

 

 

 

 

 

As far as websites go, I don’t have any particular one I go to for information. I type key words for what I need to research into a search engine and start reading. It’s absolutely amazing what you can find online.

That’s very true. Well, thank you so much for being here today Lori! 

Lady, Thy Name is Trouble, by Lori MacLaughlin

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Trouble is Tara Triannon’s middle name. As swords for hire, Tara and her sister Laraina thrive on the danger. But a surprise invasion throws them into chaos… and trouble on a whole new level. Pursued by the Butcher, a terrifying assassin more wolf than man, Tara and Laraina must get a prince marked for death and a young, inept sorceress to safety. There’s only one problem – eluding the Butcher has never been done. Aided by a secretive soldier of fortune, they flee the relentless hunter.

Gifted with magic and cursed by nightmares that are all too real, Tara must stop an army led by a madman and fend off an evil Being caught in a centuries-old trap who seeks to control her magic and escape through her dreams – all while keeping one step ahead of the Butcher.

Now Available at: 

AMAZON.COM | BARNES & NOBLE | KOBO | ITUNES

Book Trailer:

About the author:

LoriLMacLaughlinLori L. MacLaughlin traces her love of fantasy adventure to Tolkien and Terry Brooks, finding The Lord of the Rings and The Sword of Shannara particularly inspirational. She’s been writing stories in her head since she was old enough to run wild through the forests on the farm on which she grew up.

She has been many things over the years – tree climber, dairy farmer, clothing salesperson, kids’ shoe fitter, retail manager, medical transcriptionist, journalist, private pilot, traveler, wife and mother, Red Sox and New York Giants fan, muscle car enthusiast and NASCAR fan, and a lover of all things Scottish and Irish.

When she’s not writing (or working), she can be found curled up somewhere dreaming up more story ideas, taking long walks in the countryside, or spending time with her kids. She lives with her family in northern Vermont.

My tattoo story

Since I had a post about Pe’a tattoos the other day, I figured it was only right that I share my own tattoo story. No need to worry, Mum and Dad, you’re not about to discover I’ve been keeping a tattoo hidden from you all these years.

When I was 19, a good friend of mine moved to South Africa with her boyfriend (she was a few years older than me.) The last time we hung out together in London, we decided we had to do something to commemorate the occasion and mark her departure.

So we decided to pierce our belly buttons. That is how you say goodbye to a friend, isn’t it?

We picked the first tattoo and piercing parlour we found. It was a small place, underground, but it looked clean enough and the guy inside had an Irish accent. Everyone knows the Irish can be trusted, and at the time that seemed enough of a guarantee that we’d found somewhere suitable. My friend went first.

I waited, flicking through a book of tattoos. I came across a photo of a guy with tarantulas tattooed in his armpits (why?! Seriously — why!?!) I kept on flipping, and thought about the tattoos I’d considered getting. An eye of Horus on my ankle, and…. I’m really quite embarrassed to admit to this next one…. A black panther, ready to pounce. On the top of my right bum cheek — yes, on what is now effectively my muffin top.

I know. I know. What can I say – I was 19. I also didn’t realise at the time that I would, one day, have muffin tops.

I wasn’t as fussed about the eye of Horus as I was about the panther. And the more I looked at other people’s tattoos, the more excited I got about the idea. It would look so cool (or so I thought at the time). It was such a bad girl thing to do and I had never in my life been a bad girl. Maybe on top of the tattoo I’d get a leather jacket and a biker boyfriend.

So after my friend came out with her piercing, I went in for mine and spoke to the Irish guy about my tattoo idea. I just wanted a small panther, I told him. Maybe 3 inches long.

“Won’t work,” he said. “It’s too small and detailed. It’ll blur into a black blotch in five years or so. You either need to make it big, like over your entire bum cheek –” (I paled at the thought) “or just do a big panther head.”

I hesitated. A full bum cheek tattoo was much bigger than what I had psyched myself up for, and I didn’t like the idea of a panther head.

“If you’re not sure then you’re not ready for a tattoo,” said the Irishman.

THANK GOD!! Can you imagine if I now had a frigging black panther tattooed on my arse? I’d be making strippers look classy. Don’t get me wrong I’m quite partial to tattoos, some are beautiful pieces of art. But a black panther on my arse?! That was such a narrow escape from my own stupidity.

If the tattoo artist had just seen a way to take money from a silly girl and not cautioned me, I might have gotten it. And I’d now be bankrupting myself with expensive laser removal sessions. All I can say is that clearly the decision to trust in the Irish turned out for the best.

But, the fact that I even considered a black panther tattoo tells me I am not the kind of person who should be trusted to get inked. Hence why to this day I remain tattooless, and will probably remain that way for the rest of my life.

Oh, and do you want to be grossed out? The tarantula tattoo looked something like this:

spider-3d-tattoo-on-armpit-for-men

Seriously — why????

 

 

Of Course You Realise… How French Women Work Out

I had to share this as a Monday smile – it make me laugh!  It’s obviously completely factually correct – that is how all French women exercise in France 😉

This post is part of my ‘Of Course You Realise’ series, a collection of random or interesting or funny things I find during my meandering on the internet. 

An Interview with C.D Gallant-King

Today’s interview features C.D. Gallant-King and we talk about his book Ten Thousand Days, a modern fairytale set in a very unique fantasy world.

The interview is part of a series of posts where I talk to writers about the interesting things they dig up during their research process. If you know of an indie writer who you’d be interested in seeing featured in this kind of interview, let me know in the comments and I’ll see what I can do!

Thanks for taking part, it’s great to have you on the blog! First, could you tell us a bit about your book?

newproject_2Ten Thousand Days is a contemporary fantasy, a “modern fairy tale” if you will about a young man named Isaac who doesn’t know how good he has it until his simple life is torn apart by losing his beautiful wife. At first it just seems like a cruel accident of the universe, but as his world falls apart Isaac discovers that perhaps it wasn’t an accident, and that there were dark forces at work against him and his love. He sets out on a quest into a strange Other World to try and get her back, meeting many weird characters and terrible villains along the way.

 

 

You created a lot of weird and wonderful creatures for your story. Which is your favourite and why? What was it inspired by? 

I don’t want to spoil too much – a lot of the fun in Ten Thousand Days is the surprise of meeting all these weird and wacky creatures and characters. But one oddball character we meet early on that turns out to be something more than he seems is the garbage man, Frank. Frank appears to just be one of those weirdos who pick through other people’s trash, looking for something worth selling or what not. You see these guys going around on garbage day and think they’re kinda creepy and sad and you assume they’re drunks or drug addicts and they have a lousy life. But I always wonder when I see these oddball people, what is their story? They must have a life outside of just picking through garbage. Who are they really?

Having the mind I do, the backstory I make up for them is usually fantastic. Maybe they’re exiles from a different world, looking for materials to build a machine to communicate with their people. Maybe they’re some kind of monster disguised in human form, and they’re looking for something to eat. Or maybe they’re a mentor, already looking out for our hero before he even knows it…

I really like that. I think it’s so easy for people to pretend those living on the fringes don’t exist, to walk past them and not even glance in their direction, so I really like that you create these cool stories for them.

I know that overall, Ten Thousand Days not a book that required much research since so much of it is fantastical, but speaking of your research in general, what’s the most interesting thing you’ve uncovered? Any cool tidbits to share with us?

The book was written in a fury, so there really wasn’t much time to research, nor as you said, much need. I made up the fantastic parts and the parts that were set in the “real” world were set in Toronto, which is city I lived in for 10 years so I used my own personal knowledge for what little background I required.

However, my next book that I’m currently in the middle of writing is also a contemporary fantasy, this time set much more firmly in “real” Toronto. This has required a lot more research on the history and details of the city, some of which I didn’t know and some of which I thought I knew but was completely wrong about. What I learned was what I suspected – that Toronto is a rich and vibrant city with just as much history and culture as major US cities like New York or Chicago.

I also learned that Canada had a Prime Minster – John Turner – who was in power for like 2 1/2 months back in 1984 that I had completely forgotten about. I was only a few years old at the time so I could be forgiven for not remembering first hand, but I think my high school history class must have completely glossed over him.

Yes, the history of Canadian Prime Ministers may have a (albeit small) part in my next book.

Wow two and a half months is short! That’s a pretty clear message that the Canadian people didn’t like him! 

When it comes to inspiration for setting or fantastic beings, what’s your go to place to get ideas from?

I would say my two biggest inspirations are music and role-playing games, like Dungeons & Dragons.

Music is hugely influential in my writing, helping me set the tone, theme and even the setting itself. The sound of a song is great for getting me in the right frame of mind to write the mood, and the lyrics often give me ideas one where to take the story. For instance, Tool and A Perfect Circle were big influences on Ten Thousand Days. They have the weird, dark, twisted sort of imagery that really helped me get in the correct headspace.

As for role-playing games, I don’t take characters and monsters from the game directly, but the idea of a hero going on a quest is identical in both games and stories. What I take away from gaming that helps my writing is the idea that weird things can and will happen, and you have to accept them and go with it to see where it takes the story. Because role-playing games are often dictated by the whim of the dice or the unpredictable actions of a group of imaginative players, sometimes unexpected curveballs will take a game in an unplanned direction. But a good game will right itself and continue on the new path. I think stories and writing should follow the same ideal. It shouldn’t be too predictable. Sometimes strange things you don’t expect should happen, and writers shouldn’t be afraid to follow those turns.

So yeah, I guess I’m telling you to go pick up a Tool CD and the Dungeon Master’s Guide. Couldn’t hurt, either way.

That’s great, thank you for taking part!

Ten Thousand Days by C.D. Gallant-King

Ten_Thousand_DaysThey say love hurts and time heals all wounds.

Sometimes the reverse is true.

Isaac was very good at wasting time. Video games, a mindless job, no responsibilities – he had a simple life and few wants. Despite being hopelessly average, unassuming and kind of useless, he had somehow married the most beautiful, wonderful woman in the world.

He had no idea how good he had it – until it was all taken away.

Time does not like being wasted. It is mercurial, inexorable and carries a wicked grudge. And sometimes, just sometimes, it enjoys playing games with people’s lives. To be perfectly honest, Time is a bit of a jerk.

Isaac had never learned to appreciate what little time he had, and now he must travel to the ends of the universe and face unspeakable evils in a cat-and-mouse game with Time itself for the slim chance to win back a few fleeting seconds of happiness. The price of failure? Only the end of all existence.

Ten Thousand Days is a fairy tale set in the modern day, a fantastic journey of desperate love and horror with a twisted sense of humour. It’s a story of exactly how far a young man will go for love…

Now available at:

ABOUT THE SALE!

In honour of both Canada Day and Independence Day for readers down to the South, Ten Thousand Days is NOW ON SALE FOR JUST $0.99 (or less!). That’s 66% off the regular price, so if you’ve been considering picking it up for your Summer reading list, now’s the time to do it!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR!

Writer, gamer, pro-wrestling aficionado. Dad.

I claim to write stories, but really I just find them in The Closet, dust them off, add a few commas and send them out into the world.

Proudly Canadian, born and raised in Newfoundland, fine-tuned and educated in Toronto and currently residing in Ottawa with a beautiful wife, two wonderful children and various furry four-legged companions.

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