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YOURS

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An interesting post on the co-creative process of reading.

“These images we “see” when we read are personal: What we do not see is what the author pictured when writing a particular book. That is to say: every narrative is meant to be transposed; visually translated. It is ours.”

The blogger goes on to say:
“Why are novels or short stories any different? Reading means producing a private play of sorts. Reading is casting, set decoration, direction, stage management…

Importantly: all of these choices—these transpositions we choose when reading— work. They work for us because books do not tender precise images, sounds or smells. Books, like plays, present ideas, and the juxtaposition of ideas. It is the interaction of ideas that catalyzes feeling in us readers.”

And this was the crux of our artistic decision: to make Parabolis visually compelling without robbing you, the reader, of the creative liberty to imagine it as visually granular or sketchy as you please. It is, after all, yours.

MARKETING

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I’ve been thinking about marketing. I’m not a very good salesman. In fact, I’m terrible. So I sat down with a friend who has been attending business workshops to pick at his brain. And he shared with me this gem: “Business is about finding a need and meeting it.” 

Then he asked me, “What do people need that you can provide? What does Parabolis offer?”

I didn’t have an answer. I thought to myself, “It’s not a cure for cancer. It’s just a book.”

It made me wonder what exactly other products were offering. What do various successful marketing campaigns promise in their brand that wins its loyal customer base? Identity? Sex? Salvation? At the end of the day, aren’t they all just selling snake oil? I mean, shoes are just shoes and cars are just cars, right? Maybe. Maybe not. Maybe it really is more than just that. Sure, it’s not eternal life, but you can look preoccupied browsing 9gag on your iphone when you’re in a room full of people you don’t know. You thought it was just a smartphone, but really, it doubles as a tool to mitigate socially awkward situations. And that’s “value-added,” isn’t it? What about that extra rep you were able to do because of your new inov-8’s that you couldn’t do in your old gym shoes? Was it really the shoes or how you felt in them because of a carefully crafted brand? And what if that hipster chick wants to go home with you just because she saw you being all ironic and drinking Pabst instead of a proper scotch like you should be?

Marketing seems to me an illusion attached to a product that becomes a reality in the hands of the consumer. The ultimate placebo effect. A self-fulfilling prophecy. Inception.

So what about Parabolis? What need does it promise to meet? Why should anyone spend money on it? What are we offering besides entertainment?

Truth.

Parabolis is not a cure for cancer and depending on the scene, you’ll probably fare better with a Pabst in hand or a video game character tattoo. But the book is beautiful, the story is compelling–truth in both the art and the narrative. And that’s a need we can meet.

THE DANCER

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We wanted Curt’s illustrations to keep clear of literally depicting elements of the narrative because we didn’t want Parabolis to be an illustrated book. We wanted it to be a work of art. So the plan was to approach it with some abstraction. To give Curt an autonomous voice in Eddie’s story, like two different instruments collaborating in syncopation. Jazz.

But somewhere along the way, it began to change. It began to evolve. And we realized that we had overlooked an important variable: the possibility that Curt would become invested in the story itself. You can see it in the progression of his work. A transition from editorial imagery to emotive. You can see it in the visual tenor he brings to the subtext–his affinity for the characters, the mood, the loneliness, darkness, his commitment to a burning building that the manuscript only lends a single sentence to. 

The book still has some ways to go but it’s been interesting to witness its development, to see how the art grows with the reading. And it’s starting to look less like Jazz and more like a dance solo. 

The story’s the song. And the artwork, the dancer.

THE REAL

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When I read fiction, I picture a movie in my head.  I have a mental casting call for every character.  Philip Seymour Hoffman somehow always gets a role.  I put on some Sigur Ros or Ennio Morricone in the background.  And the curtains go up.

I wrote Parabolis much in the same way–like I was watching an epic steampunk fantasy directed by Michael Mann or Tony Gilroy.  There are skyships, flint-lock pistols, submarines.  But I wanted it to feel real.  Believable.  I wanted the Real to be in the details.  The non-sequitur moments.  The taste of bile stuck in your nasal cavity after vomiting.  The philosophical questions.  The dialogue.  I wanted to write dialogue the way Cormac McCarthy writes dialogue.  Then again, ideally, I’d want to write everything the way Cormac McCarthy writes everything.

I hope if/when you get a copy of Parabolis, you enjoy the show.