Sunday, September 22, 2013

R.I.P. Darrell K. Sweet

My bucket list is fairly long, but I have been fortunate to have crossed off a number of items. I have seen The Kinks play Apeman live, I have met a few Hall of Fame Rock and Rollers, and I have written novels and pieces of music. But I just realized that there is one thing that will never come to pass. In addition to writing a novel, another goal of mine was to have the art of Darrell K. Sweet on the cover of one of my books. But I just learned that he passed away in 2011.

I first became aware of his work when I saw Lord Fouls Bane in a local bookstore. The back cover blurb was interesting, but it was really the cover that pulled me in.

Two successive chapters in the Thomas Covenant series followed, and each time the artwork called out to me:
I would have bought them right away had I not been an eleven year old with barely enough money for a comic book.
As it was, I would gravitate to them each time I found myself in a bookstore. Eventually, I bought and read the series, which completely lived up to the artwork. Yet I couldn't help wishing he had done more than just one picture per book.

Evidently, it wasn't just me who appreciated his work, since his art has graced countless other books. For me, he has achieved THE trifecta, in that his artwork was chosen for the three greatest trilogies of all time, namely The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, The Lord of the Rings,

and the original Foundation series:
Perhaps it is wrong to judge a book by its cover, but I can't help thinking that Darrell K. Sweet inspired an awful lot of people to open a book and explore when they might never have otherwise. Farewell, Mr. Sweet, you have left an impressive legacy, both in what you have drawn and what you have drawn others into.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

The Road to "Perchance To Dream"


Perchance to Dream is my new novel, and I wanted to take a moment to explain how it all came about. First of all, it may be obvious to some that it comes from Hamlet's second soliloquy. It is a play on words, referring to the Dave Morse’s ability to see things in his dreams. The name was originally a working title for my first book which eventually was changed to The Amazing Morse. Perchance to Dream was never really meant to be a title for any book, but it happened to hang around for a long time just out of convenience. But when I had finished with The Amazing Morse, I couldn’t help the feeling that I had really only begun to flesh out ideas with the novel. Not ideas of characters or plot, but ideas about how people, myself included, perceive the world. I wanted to explore these ideas further, and these characters I created for the first book were eager to investigate their universe more fully as well.

And so began my next novel. And the title, Perchance to Dream, just seemed to fit. It dealt with the subject of death, of man’s attempt to escape it.

Which then leads to the cover image. I wanted to show the elements of escape artistry, thus the chained coffin. I wanted the cover, like the last one, to look like an old-time magic poster. Magic has always made use of the macabre, so a coffin would fit right in with the concept, as would a spirit rising from it. But beyond making a good magician’s poster, I wanted it to say something about man’s attempts to explain death, to triumph over it. Originally, the spirit rising from the coffin was inspired by this album cover:

I wanted to show man's ability to transcend over his earthly condition. It started well:


But somehow it got lost in the final version:
So we went with scary instead, which worked out well:

Let me give a quick shout out to the people who took my ideas for a cover and made them a reality. First of all thanks to Nate Adams who is perhaps too willing to trust my judgment on matters and tirelessly tries to bring them to life. His blog can be found here:
Also thanks to Suzie O'Connell for her graphic work that seems to come effortlessly and adds things I didn't even know I needed. You can find her website here:
I feel as if I expanded upon the concepts that were begun in The Amazing Morse, but I also think there’s some grand vision that I want to achieve with the series. There are some deep religious ideas that can play themselves out against the background of a magician/escape artist, his assistant, and the people they encounter. They exist in a word far beyond their abilities to understand, and need to find their own places in the universe. There is nothing supernatural about that, but it can be magical.
You can find my new novel, available for Kindle, here:
More formats will be available soon.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

I've added a little prologue to my debut novel, The Amazing Morse, and wanted to post it somewhere so that anyone who read the book already could have a chance to read it. Any comments or catches on spelling/grammar errors would be appreciated.


The bell attached to the front door rang, signaling Evelyn’s arrival. This would be Jennifer’s only client today, she had cancelled all the rest. She would have cancelled this one too, but Evelyn simply would not take no for an answer. She had important news to share, needed the wisdom only Jennifer could impart.

It was touching, really, the amount of trust her clients placed in her. But there was nothing she could do for her, nothing she could do for any of them any longer. She had seen their futures and knew she was powerless to protect them.

Jennifer steeled herself for the encounter, attempted to assume some pose that would hide the dread that welled up in her. At length, she forced herself to open the door that separated the room she was in from the spacious foyer where Evelyn waited. Evelyn entered in excitement, the brightness of her mood cutting through the darkness of the room.

“I’m sorry,” said Evelyn. She was wrapped up in her own joy, too much so to notice the horror that the other woman was attempting to conceal. “I know you didn’t want to be bothered,” the words escaped Evelyn’s lips, enthusiasm besting courtesy. “But I just had to share the news with you. It’s maybe the best thing that’s ever happened to me, and I owe it all to you. I just had to thank you for directing me the way you have. And…”

She paused, hoping that she wouldn’t have to ask. But Jennifer sat unresponsive in front of her, barely listening.

“…and I wanted to know if it was as good as it seems. I need your advice, I need to know I’m not rushing into anything. I just need a quick consultation…just in case.”

Evelyn smiled an appeal at Jennifer to no avail. But Jennifer’s enthusiasm would not be denied.

“Oh, please? Just a word. Just a simple yes or no. It’s only that I trust you completely that I ask you.”

Jennifer stared up at the taller woman, prepared herself to tell her whatever needed to be said in order to get her to leave. But when she grabbed the hand that was already being held out to her, the flood of emotions and images she received from the contact was too much to bear. She envisioned terror in Evelyn’s eyes, saw fingers tightening around her neck, felt the savage glee of the man who would soon take her life.

“Run!” Jennifer tore her hand away from Evelyn’s. “Don’t you see? You’re going to die! You’re all going to die!”

Jennifer ran from the room, leaving her client alone in the shadows, confused and frightened by the revelation.