Man I love Josh Keyes’s work! His surreal images of a world reclaimed by nature just tickle my post-apocalyptic pips. JG Ballard meets Salvador Dali, feast your eyes on a painter with veins full of imagination and skill.
The day young Gabble peers inside the hollow of the Hag Tree his life is changed forever ¬- for the stories are true, the legends hold fact, something unnatural does lurk in that rotten chasm, something ancient, something hungry… something evil. She has a name, Jezawrath, and after centuries of imprisonment she is eager to be free.
Infected by the Jezawrath’s insidious whisperings, Gabble seeks help from Mardy Bo, the wise old woodsman, but there is little comfort in the knowledge he gains from Bo, revelations of other worlds and arcane energies, of ancient wars and fallen kingdoms. The peaceful life Gabble has known is over; as the Jezawrath’s strength grows, he must leave his family and friends and embark upon a journey to try and stop her from breaking free; a journey that leads him through the wilds of his own world, where he learns of its dark and forgotten past, and on into the Second Thread, a reality broken by civil war, where the tribes of the Loamkin fight to protect their homelands against the warmongering Shadelings.
It is here Gabble encounters Tabba, a Loamkin forager who bears her own guarded secret. Thrown together by chance, the unlikely pair soon discover they share a common goal, but the clock is ticking: the Shadelings have learned of the Jezawrath’s awakening and they plan to summon her into the Second Thread and use her power to destroy the Loamkin once and for all. As the darkness gathers, Gabble and Tabba find they have a pivotal role to play in the fate of two realities; however, if they are to thwart the Shadelings’ plan and destroy the terrifying Jezawrath they must first learn to trust each other and believe in their own abilities.
Avatar meets the Edge Chronicles with a twist of steampunk and shades of the Bartemus Sequence, the Hag Tree is a novel for Young Adults loaded with beauty, darkness and adventure.
Okay, so I’ve just finished watching District 9…again…and I thought it was time to have an adoration gush, a gush aimed at a fine, bearded fellow called Greg Broadmore. Greg is one of the lead concept designers at Weta digital and is, without doubt, one of my favourite concept artists.
I first became aware of Greg’s work when I was bought ‘The World of King Kong’, a book showcasing all of the concept work that went into Peter Jackson’s awesome retelling of the 1933 movie. Something about Greg’s style really caught my attention and his dinosaur paintings and creature designs are some of the best I have ever seen.
I then managed to acquire myself a great book Greg had written and illustrated himself, Doctor Grordbort’s Contrapulatronic Dingus Directory. This was my first taste of Greg’s insane weapon design, steam punk style. So, when I heard Greg was lead concept artist for District 9 I was naturally geekily excited. Not only did Greg design the filthy death dispensing ‘prawn’ hand canons but he was also responsible for one of the coolest mech/robot designs to ever grace the screen (in my opinion at least).
The man is a genius as far as I’m concerned and a source of immense inspiration. If you don’t know his work I suggest you check it out.
For me, as I’m sure it is with many creative types, music is a constant source of inspiration. A good piece of music will often set my cogs-a-whirring, whether it’s creating an illustration or painting or getting into the mood to write a scene. For me music is a key factor in getting the creative juices flowing and so I will probably mumble on about various musical bits and bobs a lot on this blog.
My first mumble, or shout rather, goes out to Fever Ray.
Fever Ray is the alter ego of Karin Dreijer Andersson, formerly one half of the awesome Swedish brother/sister duo The Knife. I have been a fan of The Knife for a while now and I would highly recommend any of their albums if you like your electro deep, weird and lush, especially their critically acclaimed Silent Shout. Naturally, Fever Ray has definite wafts of The Knife in her work but her self-titled album is something completely different again.
Every so often you come across an album that is so good you just have to listen to it again and again. This is what happened to me the first time I heard the Fever Ray album. I became addicted. Andersson has tapped into something dark and primitive but also something insanely beautiful. This whole album appears to have been written in the crepuscular hours, during spells of severe sleep deprivation and thoughts of Native American Indians. The vocals ooze in slow motion, the synths slide with glacial clarity. Listening to this album is like walking through a mist-cloaked pine forest in the early hours of the morning or floating face down in a cold mountain lake, eyes wide open staring into the deep jade void. It makes me want to paint images of shaman and half-seen beasts, of moth-like spirits and silver-eyed wolves.
Needless to say, Fever Ray has been at the top of my playlist for a while now, I guess I should give it a break soon, lest I ruin it through overexposure, but it is so immersive, so darkly inspiring that its difficult to stop.
My final word then is this: if you like good music, if you like to experience something new and interesting, if you like to be transported somewhere strange and beautiful, then I can’t recommend Fever Ray enough.
I must have been about five or six years old when I bought my first Star Wars action figure. It was purchased with three weeks worth of saved pocket money from Contob’s Toys, a musty treasure trove of a shop run by the kindly Mr. Contob – who, if my memory serves me correctly, had one glass eye. The figure I bought was the gleaming Death Star Droid, ten centimeters of sleek, evil-looking silver plastic. At the time I had no idea what Star Wars was. All I knew for sure was that the droid was insanely cool and that I, judging from the other blaster-toting characters featured on the back of his packaging, was about ‘to take a step into a larger world’.
And so began my childhood obsession with Star Wars. From that moment on, my thirst for weird alien worlds, gnarly monsters and kick-ass space weapons was born and with it a love of Science Fiction and Fantasy and, most importantly, storytelling.
Etherwheel started out as a concept for an interactive cartoon for the internet but as I began to create the characters and jot down the ideas I realized how much I enjoyed the writing and the process of world building. Before I knew it, I was writing a novel and so began my quest to become a storyteller.