Right now, a good cover image to use for The Affix is rendering on my wife’s computer. In order to get to that point I had to think not in sci-fi terms but in thriller terms. The book doesn’t seem to want to fit snugly in any genre, and is only loosely a sci-fi because I can’t think of what else to call it; it isn’t quite paranormal fantasy, and it does have elements of an action thriller. Thriller covers tend to be dark, have big titles, and show some kind of still life presentation loosely related to the subject material. And thinking of this, I finally realized my files for attempts I had already made could be rearranged into just such a set piece with limited effort.
Of course, seeing the big render I now see a flaw in the way I oriented the pips on the dice (but since the dice read 2, 4, and 5, it only shows up on the 2), and there’s a minor artifact from an object I used to insert some “shine” into the scene. I’ll fix all that when I do the wraparound cover for print. In a lot of ways doing this twice at 300 dpi is probably pointless, but I want to get the ebook cover version ready as quickly as possible. I figured if I did this one at full size, and assembled the title text at that scale, I could just modify the Photoshop document later on with minimal changes for a wraparound.
Now that I’m close to a release on this, I’m really thinking I need to get my butt in gear and write something else. Although I’d really like to consider a sequel here, I have a terrifying notion that this will involve having to do actual research. I hate research. I don’t mind looking up a factoid here or there, but honestly the most research I did in One Woke Up was finding out what weather patterns were like in certain parts of the Midwest, and determining if Parker should say “soda” or “pop” and if that could be used as a clue to his origin. (Apparently, it could not.)
My best prospect at this point is to revisit a past fantasy project. I have two to choose from. I wrote a full-length novel in college, tentatively titled “Call of the Questsman”, which had a quirky ensemble cast and some tongue-in-cheek humor, with a bunch of anachronisms thrown in for the heck of it. It had some holes, and my writing at the time was nowhere near as developed as it is now; it can be made much better, though I’ll want to preserve the light-heartedness of the original. The Questsman series had several books planned out, and indeed I got a good way into the second book before running up against a wall thanks to lack of planning.
The other option I have is to expand Below from a 25,000 word novella to at least a 75,000 word novel. It’s more of a roguelike style, and while I think it stands alone fairly well, it too could benefit from a bit of work. Since there are some parts that feel more rushed than others, it would be an ideal choice to remake as a novel. It’s not like I haven’t done this kind of thing before, after all.
A third choice, perhaps, is fleshing out another fantasy idea I had more recently. But I think it’s too skeletal.
In a lot of ways revisiting fantasy has me excited. And with doing this from a past work, I can practice some kind of minimalist not-exactly-an-outline technique for story planning so that hopefully I can have an easier time with future work. Below is a little dearer to my heart these days and might be the best choice for a redo, especially since it has far fewer plot holes. But for that, I very much hope to get a painted cover.