First exhibit, the cover of my upcoming book The King of Nightspore's Crown:
Ha ha ha, just kidding. (I probably had too much fun making that.) Here is the actual painting, in its current state of completion:
For your viewing pleasure, here's a close-up of the lovely mosses:
and here's the two dudes fighting:
As you can see, I've got some Oceanic and Central American influences going on here. Wouldn't this make a cool movie? I'd go see it. Maybe I'll try to interest Guillermo del Toro in optioning the series. If that works out, I'll probably insist that Doug Jones portray at least some of the abhuman characters.
I'm still leaning toward making the left-hand side of this image the front cover, which would maybe look something like this:
As I hope is abundantly clear, I'm still going for the Ballantine Adult Fantasy look. The design's a bit busy, perhaps, but that's kind of my trademark.
I've been listening to Joseph Conrad while painting, which seems fitting. I've also been re-listening to the Imaro books, in anticipation of acquiring the further volumes. Something about the Imaro stories reminds me of the freshness of the old pulps. No doubt this owes partly to the newness of the setting, but there's an earnest seriousness to Saunders' stories that puts me in mind of Robert E. Howard. I like the wilderness stories the best.
A reader objected the other day to attempts to "erase" authors from history. Regular readers of my blog know that, while I may get in a high dudgeon about this or that, I'm quite shameless when it comes to filling my own skull with garbage. I would also defend to the death (or some such rhetorical extremity) the right of the writer to depict the ugly side of life in an ambiguous way. And I don't apologize for reading and liking authors who hold opinions that I or others regard as morally repugnant.
But that doesn't mean that commenting on authors' viewpoints is off-limits, either. It's a free country!
So, suppose you get irritated by something that pervades an author's work – an author you happen to really like on the whole. You want to do something about it. There's a few things you can try. You can grouse about it on your blog, and see where that gets you. That's one approach. You can repudiate and utterly contemn the author's works and urge others to do so. We might call this the bonfire-of-the-vanities approach. Or you can just write your own awesome stories in the same genre, with a certain amount of subversion and subtle commentary.
Which seems like the most fun?
Inspired by such ruminations, I here announce the inception of an alternate-history sword-and-sorcery subgenre set during the time of the Spanish conquests. Of course my protagonist will hail from Puerto Rico. Of course he will be of mixed ancestry. And of course his adventures will take him across an alternate Texas in search of God, gold, and glory. Just like me!
After careful consideration, I propose "sword-and-santería" as a name for the subgenre, having briefly considered but ultimately rejected the "arquebus-and-sorcery" label. I've written one story so far, set in the location of the town where I live. From here I think he will wander out to the painted canyons of the west, to encounter cosmic weirdness and mete out sudden vengeance. No doubt his perambulations will eventually take him to all the really interesting places in the American Southwest, Mexico, and Central America. It's Conrad and Cather meet Howard and Lovecraft, Kane and Conan meet Coronado and Cortés. I wish my antihero luck in his morally dubious adventures.