Sunday, November 30, 2008

From the Archives: A Bitter Pill to Swallow illustrations, 1996-2000

I've saved the best for last in my November From the Archives series. These are illustrations for my novel A Bitter Pill to Swallow. It is the novel I worked on the longest. Almost as much time was spent on illustrating it as was spent revising it. In fact, I had so many illustrations that I had a hard time choosing which ones to post. It all began with this illustration of my main character, Janina, crying:

It was an enlarged version of a drawing I'd done while taking notes in class in 1996. (By now, you probably know I like to do that) It measures about 11"x14" and was drawn with pencil in a sketchbook. From there, I began a series of drawings of the characters. In this one, she and boyfriend Devante share their first kiss:

By now, as I describe over at my other blog, Tragedienne, working on my story had become an obsession. In an effort to make the illustrations look more "real," I decided to make dolls of the characters from polymer clay. Because I didn't have the skills or the right camera to photograph my dolls the way I wanted to, I turned to digital technology. I put them in my parents' flatbed scanner and taught myself how to use the Corel Photo-Paint software that came with it.

So. I experimented. And sometimes, experiments fail.

But I learned from my mistakes.

After taking a class in web design, I thought about creating a web site for my novel. I still have a few illustrations I designed for it:

A Bitter Pill to Swallow
is the story of two teenagers who meet under difficult circumstances.

After witnessing the drive-by shooting death of his friend Monica, 15 year old Devante develops post-traumatic stress disorder and attempts suicide.

His parents send him to a mental hospital that treats children and teenagers, where he meets 14 year old Janina, who has been there for four years. She has spent most of her life too preoccupied with drawing and living in her fantasy world to care about anything else, until she meets Devante.

What happens next has been the subject of numerous revisions. And I am still planning a few more. So far, I can tell you that things are not what they seem. Beneath the surface of this beautifully designed facility, which was intended to be "a place of healing, not of punishment," something sinister is afoot. And Janina and Devante must overcome their personal problems in order to solve it. I can also tell you that I even started a sequel, which is a little crazy considering the fact that I kept changing all the things the happened in its predecessor. It's called Psindrome. Here's the cover for it, designed in 1998:

And there's also a weird little clip for a trailer I'd planned to make for it, designed in Kai's Power Goo:

If you're interested in reading excerpts from my novel, I'm sorry to say that I have no excerpts online right now. But I have posted two prequel short stories on my other blog. The first is entitled "A Little Fall of Rain" and the next one is called "A Reason to Die."


  1. Thanks! I plan to get back to working on this story again someday...


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