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What a month. I am going to make a blanket assumption that everyone reading this is at least as terrified as I am at the political climate change going on, which is almost as dangerous to the future of humanity as the natural climate change we have even less control over.

But in the tradition of artists in times of crisis, and I am going to keep on doggedly doing what I do, as hard and as best that I can. To that end I’m extremely pleased to announce that Heliopause put out three new titles this month! The long-overdue third rotation of Driving ArcanaProfessor Odd #9, and last but not least the Perihelion 2017 issue of Apsis Fiction! You’ve probably already seen the covers, but I’m going to share them again, because I am so proud of them.

Looking forward to next month (tomorrow—eep!) things are going to be very busy on the Professor Odd front: we have Episode 10, “The Thousand Songs” coming out as a single, and—hopefully—the Complete Season 1 (episodes 1-6). The Season 1 volume is still in the process of being put together, but I can share with you the cover for “Thousand Songs” (which can also be found in Perihelion 2017).


It has been an interesting winter here in Oregon. Snowy and cold, we’ve had a minor respite these past ten days, but the prediction is for another good dump this week followed by rain—and just when the roads were beginning to recover! Oh well. It’s given me an opportunity to put to use the shoveling skills I honed cleaning up after horses as a teenager, and I’ve been keeping in practice for mountain biking by navigating the icy, slushy, snowy streets and bike/ped paths between my house and the gym, where I’m doing weight training and lap swimming. Gary Silver (my hardtail) has been tricked out with studded tires, fenders, lights, and flat pedals, so I can ride him in my snow boots. All this combined has rendered him a more reliable means of transportation that my poor little Fit, who performed beautifully in the snow and ice with her own studded tires, but was bested by the deep slush and has spent the last ten days hiding in my garage. But as this is what she often ends up doing even in good weather, it is of no great loss to me. My trusty Blue Sky Cycle Cart has been sufficient to haul the week’s groceries home from the nearby store, though dodging the potholes on the return journey (for the sake of the eggs) has made these trips quite exciting.

Bend is beginning to feel more like home, and less like some surreal, never-ending vacation. Part of this I am sure is that I have set to work in earnest on the titles scheduled for release later this year, and my studio is at last getting the use it so richly deserves.

And on that note I shall leave this post and return to it!

Ice bikes of Bend! Gary Silver is in the background.

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It’s been a very busy summer and autumn. How busy? Well, I’ve been so busy that I haven’t had time to blog here at all! But this is okay; I’ve been doing lots of writing instead—and I have the books to show for it!

 

RotationTwoCoverSmFirst, there’s the second installment of Driving Arcana stories, Rotation Two, which is out from Heliopause and available on all channels. You can pick it up from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Nook, Kobo, or have your local bookstore special-order it. (And yes, for Christmas shoppers, it’s available on Amazon Prime!)

07DogsofCanarySmSecond, “The Dogs of Canary Island” which debuted this summer in Aphelion 2015 is now available as a single! Search it on any of your preferred online book vendors, or find handy links over on it’s Heliopause page.

Also worth noting: I now have a Red Bubble shop! You can find the original cover art for Odd 7 there as a print, along with many more pieces! Do take a look!

On the convention front I attended Sasquan earlier this year, which was a blast. The WM and I took a road trip up through Oregon to get to it (we’re in California) and I got to visit some old friends on the way up and down. The greatest highlight of that con was probably Helsinki’s win for WorldCon in 2017, though the whole weekend was delightful—Mordor-like weather notwithstanding.

All that seems a long way away now, and never more so than last weekend when I was in Chicago for Midwest FurFest. This was a mind-boggling experience as I got to meet several artists whom I’ve long admired, as well as reconnecting with old friends. I took a short holiday in the city itself to visit the Shedd Aquarium, the results of which can be found on my tumblr, here, here, and here. Chicago is a wonderful city and I cannot recommend the Shedd enough. Also, Chicago Pizza and Oven Grinder Co. and Smoque are two excellent choices for food.

Looking forward I have the usual Holiday tasks still in front of me, as well as the impending release of Perihelion 2016 next month. Also next month I’ll be traveling to Boston for Anthro New England, where I’ll have a table and will be dealing next to my partner-in-crime art, Mary Capaldi. I’ll also be doing a reading, and probably running around as Tachyon a lot.

So many things! Oh, and I’ve got the second Sir Camilla novel to finish in the mean time. Better get crackin’. I’ll leave you with the newly-unveiled Perihelion 2016 cover, and the usual reminder that twitter is the best place to follow me these days, and I post WIPs and other pictures to my tumblr.

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For this week only (May 9 – 15) the first hit is free (if it’s the iTunes eBook). Now is as good a time as any to get yourself introduced to the series! The Season Two premier, The Dogs of Canary Island, is coming this summer in the Aphelion 2015 issue of Apsis Fiction.

More about Professor Odd here.

Professor Odd Season One

  1. The False Student
  2. The Slowly Dying Planet
  3. The Promethean Predicament
  4. The Elder Machine
  5. The Dragons of Geda
  6. The Monster’s Daughter

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Now that Professor Odd #6: The Monster’s Daughter is finally out I can share the interior illustrations I did for the special two-part finale! They are both graphite pencil on bristol board, and while the versions in the book were digitally adjusted/cleaned up, I’m also posting the original scan, since I think the texture of the graphite pencil looks cool. I was greatly inspired by the work of John Picacio, and I think it helped me in this case—since these illustrations are something of a departure from my natural style. As always, click the image to embiggen!

The Detective Raw

Detective Final

Subject 0D Raw

Subject 0D Final

Prints are available here (The Detective) and here (Subject 0-D). Maybe also check out the book?

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RotationOneCoverAbove is the cover for the first collection of Driving Arcana stories, fittingly titled Rotation One. It is available as an eBook from Amazon, iTunes, Barnes and Noble and Kobo, and you can also get the paperback edition via Amazon or order it through your local bookstore. The relevant links can be found over at Heliopause.

About the Story

If you follow my twitter, you’ve probably heard me mention the name Driving Arcana in relation to my word count tweets. I’ve been writing a lot of it lately, and Rotation One is only the first three of nine stories which make up Wheel 1 (Arcana is the name of a truck, so the volumes are called Wheels, and a small collection is a RotationI had considered calling the individual stories Spokes but thought better of it). There will be five Wheels all told, each consisting of nine novella-length stories. So it’s early days yet as far as this series is concerned.

Yes, what about the series, then? Well, Driving Arcana was born out of my frustration with a certain television show that, while it had many good qualities, utterly failed in the representation of women, people of color, skeptical thinking, women, realistic U.S. landscapes, women, and…

You get the idea.

Also drawing inspiration from Neil Gaiman’s American Gods (in the road trip sense, not the dude-gets-eaten-by-a-vagina sense) (sorry was that a spoiler? sorry, sorry), originally I had imagined Driving Arcana to be another serial webcomic, like I had already done with Angeldevil and Year of the God-Fox. What the latter of the two taught me, however, was that if I wanted to actually make a story as epic and far-reaching as Driving Arcana into a reality, it would have to be through pure letters.

So it was, in the fall of 2012, that I began writing the first episode (I think of the stories as being like hour-long TV episodes) as a distraction from my other two major series (Professor Odd and Bouragner Felpz). I had intended them to be short, fun things that wouldn’t require a lot of energy or research.

Ha ha ha.

Driving Arcana shares some similarities with Professor Odd in the style and construction of the episodes in that there is a small main cast who travel around and have adventures, with a different set of guest stars in each story. There is more of an over-arching tale to Driving Arcana, however, though it is revealed slowly, and I have so far refrained from writing “cliff-hanger episodes.”

Another feature of Driving Arcana are the songs. At the end of each story there is an original poem, a bit like an end-credits song, that is evocative of the preceding story. The trick to know is that they are not really poems: they are songs and they can be sung to the tunes of real songs that I listened to while brainstorming the series.

I had constructed for myself a lengthy playlist of songs which I felt were in the spirit of Driving Arcana. This list was originally a mix of Eurythmics and Lady GaGa, but has since been fine-tuned as I figured out more and more about the story, and it now contains songs from everyone from Jefferson Airplane to David Bowie to Katy Perry.

It must be said I picked these songs for their feel, not their lyrics, and I was a little dismayed to find that, when examined, the existing lyrics did not match the world I had created at all. Besides, since I didn’t wish to get sued six ways from Sunday, I couldn’t actually include them in the books. So I wrote my own songs, though I carefully made them scan to real tunes. I also made up fake bands and artists, who are referred to in the stories themselves, to help flesh out the world. Two of these later made in-person appearances, and have become characters in their own right.

Driving Arcana can best be described as dark, contemporary fantasy, with a light dusting of horror. There is some blood and gore and themes such as racism, sexism are tackled head-on rather than danced around, but I have endeavored to keep the language PG-13. I’d like these books to be easily accessible to older kids and teenagers as well as adults because they address issues (like racism, sexism and homophobia and transphobia and a whole lot of other bad stuff) that are usually relegated to adult-targeted books, because these issues are relevant and worth thinking about no matter what your age.

About the Characters

The main cast of Driving Arcana consists of three women, a truck and a motorcycle. The women are (in no particular order; they are all equally important) Jill Hamilton, Clara Nordstern and Selene Shields. The truck is a bright red 2010 Heavy Duty 3500 Ram Laramie—which for those of you who don’t know trucks, is this hulk of a vehicle—named Arcana. He (yes, he) was based on a real truck belonging to a friend of mine. I wanted a truck that was really huge. A beast. And one that had an animal emblem (the Ram part of him becomes very important). Having become intimately acquainted with my friend’s truck, I knew a Ram 3500 “duallie” was exactly the vehicle I wanted for Jill and co., even if it wasn’t the most practical car for a road trip across the continental United States (which is what happens in the series). And the motorcycle is a heavily modified prototype Yamaha VMAX named Unicorn. Unicorn gets her name from the spike of anodized aluminum welded to her headlamp, and is Clara’s preferred mode of transportation. I chose the Yamaha VMAX because I wanted something as big and powerful as a Harley, but not a Harley, and not something as famous as the Hyabusa or Ninja. The VMAX also nicely straddles the line between cruiser and racer, which again is not the ideal thing to ride across the country on, but it fits Clara’s character.

Clara is really Claymore Nordstern. She is the youngest of the three, well over six feet tall, wears all black biking leathers (even in Death Valley), is bald, pale-skinned and blue-eyed, and fights monsters using her namesake sword. She’s taciturn by nature, socially awkward, and there is a lot about her past we don’t know at the beginning—the long, slow reveal of her character is a major part of the main arch of Driving Arcana.

Selene Shields is named after a moon goddess and the first U.S. woman to win an Olympic gold medal in boxing. I imagined her to be a friendly and talkative counterpoint to the Giant Mountain of Ice that was Clara, but the more I wrote, the more I realized Selene plays a lot close to her chest, in her own way. It is through Selene, who is both black and gay, that a lot of the major social issues are explored. She being a triple threat of marginalized people was partly accidental, but once I realized it, it informed a lot about her character and how she reacts to the things the group encounters. Selene is neither exceptionally strong, big, or fast, but she’s an expert shot and an excellent tactician. Her favorite weapon is a vintage 1963 Winchester Model 12 trench gun (an homage to the Winchester brothers from Supernatural), named Elvis.

Finally, there is Jill Hamilton, whose full name of Gillian Sarah Hamilton is an amalgam tribute to three legendary genre actresses: Gillian Anderson (of the X-Files), Sarah Michelle Gellar (Buffy) and Linda Hamilton (Terminator 1 and 2). If any of them could be said to be the “main” character, it would probably be Jill, but only because she serves as the audience’s entry point to the story. Jill, unlike Clara and Selene, is not a fighter, but a scientist, and it is through her that the repeating theme of science vs. magic is explored. One of the big motivations for me to write Driving Arcana (aside from frustration) was that I wanted to see what would happen if a proper, skeptical, rational atheist encountered a unicorn. The result spawned a series that I don’t see myself finishing for several years.

Jill is also unique in that her physical appearance remains largely up to the reader. There are a few features (the presence of hair, glasses, and her being the smallest) that are mentioned, but for the most part I wanted the reader to be able to put whatever face or color on her that they wanted. I also wrote her this way so that, in the unlikely event of Driving Arcana being adapted into a live-action production, the role of Jill could be cast without any regards as to the prospective actress’s race.

More to explore…

The world of Driving Arcana, though it is ostensibly not that different from our own, has already caused me to doodle a lot of sketches and concepts, most of which I haven’t shared. In the coming days, however, in honor of the release of Rotation One, I’ll be doing a series of Driving Arcana “bonus feature” post over on my tumblr in which I’ll share some of these drawings, and also the songs for Rotation One and my notes on writing them. You can find them under the “driving arcana bonus” tag.

In addition to the three stories found in Rotation One, the fourth, “Sex, Blood and Rock ‘n’ Roll” can be found in the latest Apsis Fiction, while the fifth will appear in the upcoming Perihelion issue.

As of this writing all the stories for Wheel 1 are completed—in the form of first drafts or better—and will appear first in future Apsis Fiction issues.

Links to available titles and a nifty episode guide can all be found on the Driving Arcana page over at Heliopause Productions.

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Goldeen Ogawa is a writer, illustrator and cartoonist. To keep tabs on what she is doing you can follow her on twitter @GrimbyTweets, and on Tumblr. You can also contact her directly.

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