Thursday, August 18, 2011

Thursday Randomness: The Deadlands

I'm enjoying a bit of a writer's high this year. Two of my short stories will be in different anthologies next month, and just six days ago, I finished the rough draft to my WIP, a young adult novel about a teenage vampire hunter. For today, I'm going to use my "Thursday Randomness" to spend some time plugging one of the short stories, "The Deadlands."

To help promote my story within the anthology Four in the Hole, I created a picture which is inspired by a scene within my story, a shot of Interstate 95 covered in wrecked cars. Yes, when the end of the world arrives, it makes a mess. There's just a small problem here. There's no one place a writer can go to snap a picture of an interstate all messed up like the above picture. Fortunately, I am not just a writer, I'm a graphic artist.

On August 4th, I received the good news in my e-mail about "The Deadlands" being the opening story to an anthology. The next day, the kids piled into the car with me on my quest to build an interstate in total disarray. The part with the kids coming along is clearly the real challenge here, but God bless their hyperactive hearts, they stuck it out like champs. No small task there, because it was a hot day, and all the stuff I needed pictures of was outdoors.

Our first stop was the Hermitage Road overpass to I-95. The kids earned their room and board here, because I couldn't park on the bridge. We went about a block away and hoofed it with my tripod and camera in hand. Ideally, I needed a shot of the interstate without any cars on it. "But wait," you might say, "what about the wrecked cars?" Well, I was going to have to add those in myself, unless I could cook up a way to manufacture a major, mass casualty traffic crash on the spot, and since neither of the kids was willing to jump over to start said chain reaction crash, I was gonna have to add in the wrecked cars later via graphic art magic.

I snapped more than 90 pictures of I-95 and not once was I lucky enough to get a car-free picture of the interstate. Fate did offer me lots of big gaps here and there, so what I did was combine the pictures with the best gaps until I got a relatively car-free picture of I-95.

From there, it was off to find some smashed up cars, and fortunately, I knew the perfect place to find some. Our next stop in this adventure was not a wrecker yard. Oh no. We went to Henrico County's Fire Training facility. Quite a few years ago, I took part in a citizens fire academy, so I knew the Division of Fire kept a bunch of messed up cars out there to practice extracting people who get trapped in car wrecks. Boy, did we ever hit paydirt. Not only did we score messed up cars, but we found a wrecked bus and tanker placed on its side.

Pictures complete, it was back here to my laptop where I cut out the pictures of the cars. Unfortunately, I didn't have enough cars to cover the interstate without reusing a few, but I just changed their color a bit and flipped them around and the like, and more than a week later, even I'm not sure where all the duplicates are in this picture.

Originally, I was going to just have the promotional image be of the smashed up interstate, but wasn't really working for me. I found it looked better when I washed out a lot of the color, so I tossed in an image of what most will only see as some red circle. Obviously, it's not just a circle. It's actually an important element to the story, but you'll have to read "The Deadlands" to find out exactly what it is.

All that done, it was time to add in the promotional elements: the title of my story, a tagline and when it's coming out--which is next month. I made a few versions of this, one to put at the end of my comic strips, another for the side panel of the Lair and of course, wallpaper for computer screens everywhere.

Next week, I'll post the wallpapers for your computers, and I'll offer a little insight into the other anthology my writing will appear in next month. Be sure to revisit the Lair then, and don't forget to catch the next episode of my comic strip tomorrow.


Beth said...

That's super cool, Bill! I really thought it was the shot from "The Walking Dead," with Sheriff Grimes riding his horse down the interstate. That shows that you did a very professional job. Nicely done!

Bucko (a.k.a., Ken) said...

I look forward to hearing how this unfolds. So much work for such a subtle cover, you are dedicated!