Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Horror Sci-Fi Artist-Author Lori R Lopez Talks Art and Inspiration

I invited artist and author Lori R. Lopez to share a bit about the inspiration for her unique cover drawings and her work. Read on for an excerpt and some insight into her writing and her latest short story (19 pages), Sleep Of Fools. (Her best cover, I think.)

In the sci-fi bizzaro story, SLEEP OF FOOLS, two residents of a certain town become aware they are nightly shuttled to the bottom of their world to sleep-work for a mysterious corporation that literally runs things. Their lives are the stuff of daydreams and nightmares, of continuous toil, and nothing seems to make sense.

What is your writing inspiration?

I like to weave wackiness and quirks into a lot of my stuff like elements of Bizarro, yet I had never tried an actual bizarro work. I thought it would be an interesting challenge to do one for an anthology. I mixed in science fiction along with dabs of humor and horror and voilĂ .

My manner of writing often breaks rules, defying convention, but in the plot I tend to be compulsive about details adding up. It wasn’t easy for me to abandon credibility for certain aspects of this story. I had to step out of my comfort zone just a little. It was great fun, however, since I do love to be weird.

I didn’t get accepted for the anthology, but I didn’t mind. They received a ton of submissions, and I knew mine was not as far out there as they wanted. I could have done something more peculiar, but I had to stay true to the story I came up with. I approach such things as a good excuse to write something new. The idea for “Sleep Of Fools” stemmed from a love of timepieces, and an interest in dystopian cities.

Tell us about your art work and how you got into doing your own art.

I’ve been doing art even longer than I’ve been writing. I didn’t know how to write at first, of course. Yet it all begins as images in my head, whether rendered by words or artwork or both. I love being able to combine the talents in my publishing.

 I’ve always done the two together. I was penning short stories, plays, novels and poems since childhood, along with drawing. For school, any chance I had to embellish reports or other projects with artwork made it much more interesting to me.

An art teacher wanted to help me get a college scholarship. My parents signed me up for the military instead. My father would always say that artists and writers are a dime a dozen. I was a journalist for a while in the U.S. Navy and then with several editorial columns for local papers. I did art for those too, and I was offered a position at one of the newspapers. I turned it down, saying I really wanted to write creatively.

How do you compose your art?
I had been composing songs and a nonfiction project for years, but my true love is fiction. I had already written and illustrated a pair of children’s storybooks, THE MUDPUPPY and THE FOX TROT, based on childhood experiences. I had also written a screenplay that would become my novel, DANCE OF THE CHUPACABRAS. The heroes are based on my sons.

Fifteen years ago I wrote the original drafts of two Young Adult novels, THE FAIRY FLY and TRICK OR TREAT. I finished and illustrated FAIRY FLY this year. I’m currently doing a final draft for TRICK OR TREAT: THE REAPER, to be followed by illustrations.

 I’ve been self-publishing for  5 1/2 years, and that’s how long I’ve been doing my artwork on the computer, although the initial covers were sketched with pencil and scanned, then finished on the computer. For three years I’ve been getting stories in anthologies with other authors too, published by small presses. While I don’t have many readers yet, I do have some loyal fans.

The children’s books were done with acrylic paint and pastel chalk. Most of my covers and interior art are done in computer graphics now, with a mouse; recently, using a stylus and drawing tablet. It took about 20 years to be able to take the pictures for MUDPUPPY, lacking a professional camera. It’s so much easier to do things directly on a computer.

I do drawing and painting on paper and canvas, and plan to get back to that when I have the space and time. Or the time and space, whichever comes first. I think that my style of art is as different as my writing style, whether poetry or prose. I feel I am telling the tale more fully with words and pictures, whether I do just a cover or add interior illustrations. It’s my vision.

Excerpt from The Sleep of Fools:

Chrono frowned and slowed his gait as he listened to the words. Music was for elevators. It buffered the anxiety of being confined in a tight space, occupying your mind and helping pass the time while nerves screamed at the social proximity and awkwardness of the situation. Who would be singing? It wasn’t done. Children were punished for it, for even pursing their lips to whistle. Nobody sang. Nobody. The tune was haunting, uncanny. He felt immense relief when it stopped in an abrupt manner.

Nearing a corner station . . . someone dropped a tool with a clatter and Chrono froze, gray eyes involuntarily beholding a young woman’s. Hers were green, he apprehended, and large. A spindly screwdriver trundled from her cubicle to bump his right shoe. Each instant was recorded in vivid detail, a phenomenon of sorts. Most of his life up to then had been a blur.

Hesitant, he compulsively reached for the rulebook in his jacket, but found himself squatting by instinct to retrieve the tool. She knelt with him, intending to recover it herself. They stared eye to eye, hers like the lushest forest, the tangle of trees etched on his wall, for his mind had described the hues the mural would contain if he could paint it with vibrant pigments. Trees did not exist, yet if they did they would resemble the greenness of her luminous orbs. Chrono was captivated.

“Thank you, I’ve got it,” she whispered.

“I’ve got it too,” he mumbled. He couldn’t let go.

She yanked it away and they straightened, practically nose to nose.

“I like your hair,” she remarked.

Was that a compliment? “Um, thanks. I meant for it to be messy,” blurted Chrono. Good grief! He hadn’t meant to say that. It was a blatant untruth! Her haircut approximated his, and everyone else’s for that matter. Except that hers and everyone’s but his laid flat.

“Thank you. But you should go!” she hissed.

“Your eyes. They’re beautiful. Magnificent,” he stammered.

“Forgot my gray lenses. What color are yours? Really?” she asked.

“Blue,” he replied.

“I’d love to see them.”

“It’s forbidden.”

“Yes, I know.” Her eyes lowered. “You won’t tell on me?” She looked up again.

“No.” He could get in trouble for keeping quiet, failing to expose an infraction. They were supposed to report unruliness, or anything suspicious. “I won’t tell.”

Sleep of Fools links:

Lori R. Lopez's Works Include:

Lori has written three short story collections, a poetry book and -- 23! short stories released as ebooks. She's now planning a graphic novel version of one of her novels.

Children's Storybooks:
The Mudpuppy, The Foxtrot

First Ebook:
Chocolate-Covered Eyes

An Ill Wind Blows (Illustrated novel)

Young Adult Novels:
The Fairy Fly
Trick-or-Treat: The Reaper (in progress)

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