Friday, January 8, 2021

Eleanor's Tears: Interview with Cover Artist Ginger Hoesly

 


If you've been following Altrix's work for a while, you've probably seen the work of artist Ginger Hoesly. So far she's drawn and designed covers for the first of our Chronosmiths Chronicles books, Paul Driscoll's After Vincent, as well as for our charity releases Seasons of War: Gallifrey, Master Pieces, and Unearthed.

Ginger is back again for the cover of Eleanor's Tears, and she's also contributed something else to our latest book. Read on as we chat with her about the latest foray into the universe of the Chronosmiths!


For those who are new to our site, tell us a little about yourself.

My name's Ginger Hoesly; I'm a "graphic designer by day, illustrator by night" type of lady who can oftentimes be found ranting and raving about various nerd subjects, and also baseball. If you've ever wanted very strong opinions about, say, the best Elder Scrolls game, underrated pitchers in the MLB, and get a drawing out of it, you turn to me.


You've done four covers for Altrix Books so far. What's your design process like?

Well first, I'd like to say thank you for allowing me to work on those covers, as I find the whole process a very rewarding one. I am a designer by choice (which is not exactly the same for all illustrators) and it satisfies a certain need in my brain.

As far as the process, the initial thing I like to establish is the general mood and tone we want to convey. With pieces that need to communicate something, I like to have input from the author to understand what they are thinking and are going for so that what I create is not going to cause a disconnect from the actual work itself. However, I understand that it can be difficult to try and narrow down your whole story into a single image, so I mostly ask for a wide net of key words, scenes, and locations that I can then draw from.

For The Chronomsith Chronicles, I wanted to establish a certain look and layout to the covers that would tie all the books in this brand-new series together. For Master Pieces, I was more concerned about trying to represent a variety of characters involved without drawing portraits of them - so, the opposite of CC. It varies by project, which is again when I turn to author/editor input.



There's one more thing you've brought to this book - the character of Tati. Tell us a little about her.

Ohhh Tati. Well, she was a character I created back in 2009, and can be seen in several of my college art projects (though looking a little different). However, artists have a curious habit of making characters but then not actually doing much with them, so she kind of just lingered for a while when her story didn't get off the ground. I don't exactly recall how it got brought up, but at some point in time you (Kara) and I were talking about something or another, Tati was mentioned, and eventually it came about that she would fulfil a perfect niche in The Chronosmith Chronicles. Her original story has her start in a far future on a colonized planet, and eventually in the narrative she becomes a dimension-hopping bounty hunter, which I am amused to see was something actually needed!



What's it like seeing her in this new setting? Any hopes for what she'll get up to?

I'm honestly just glad to see that Tati has a home. It is a little bit nerve-wracking to hand off your creation to someone else when you have such a strong idea of who she is, even if you (I) have never done much with her. However, I trust you guys to do her right. I'm hoping Tati makes life annoying for the various parties involved and maintains her great hair while doing so.



Where can people see more of your work?

If you just want the art, the best place to follow me would be on Instagram. If you're also interested in my fandoms and baseball opinions, my Twitter and Tumblr would be great places to check out. Finally, I do have a website which contains illustration & design work, plus my shop! I have various t-shirts, prints, pins, and other sundries available for purchase.

Buy your copy of Eleanor's Tears now on Amazon!

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

Eleanor's Tears: Chronosmith-Inspired Tea from Adagio!


Book 2 of The Chronosmith Chronicles, Eleanor's Tears, is now available in paperback and digital formats. If you know anything about book author and co-creator Kara Dennison, you know she likes tea a little. She entertained that hobby (is it even a hobby anymore?) in this latest book, and even more so.

The estate where Eleanor's Tears is set has a special tea blend that you won't find anywhere in the world... and that's probably a good thing. But in anticipation of the book release, Kara has come up with teas inspired by the characters from the series — and you can purchase them from Adagio!

Adagio Teas is a long-running tea maker with all sorts of blends for all sorts of tastes. Several years ago, they gave customers the option of making and sharing their own custom blends. A few creative sorts began making blends inspired by their favorite TV shows, along with custom labels. From there, Adagio became a major supporter of the fan community, and encourages and promotes "fandom" blends.


A fancy tea assortment

At the moment, there are six Chronosmiths blends, which you can order in sample sizes, 3 oz bags, or 5 oz tins. (Note that some products may be temporarily unavailable due to the holiday rush — just wait a bit and they'll be back!) You can get:


The Soldier-Poet: Classic and romantic but strong, like Savalia. A blend of Earl Grey, rose, and vanilla black teas.

The Engineer: Smoky, sweet, and with enough caffeine to keep Mordicai going. A blend of Lapsang, Irish Breakfast, chocolate, and a sprinkle of chocolate chips.

The Senator: A light and calming chamomile with fruit, perfect for Kendo. A blend of chamomile, white peach, and white peony teas.

The Super-Soldier: Mysterious and unique, like Tor Fasa. A blend of Pu-erh Dante and vanilla oolong with accents of cardamom.

The Detective: Strong, vintage, and down-to-earth, like Inspector Edensh. A blend of Irish Breakfast, Lapsang Souchong, and butterscotch black tea.

The Freelancer: Sweet and strong to get the job done, inspired by Tati Rhys. A breakfast tea base with chocolate, vanilla, and almond flavors and safflower accents.


Fandom blends can also be shipped with each other (in the romantic sense), meaning that ordering them together is worth your while. In our case, ordering Savalia and Mordicai teas together gets you a discount!

Also, Kara has foregone her loyalty points from orders of these blends — don't worry, she gets them in plenty of other ways — in order to donate a portion of the proceeds to charity. So a small portion of every Chronosmiths tea sale goes to Kara's personal charity of choice, the Epilepsy Foundation.

If you like these teas, have a look at the Total Party Wipe collection: a set of teas blended by Kara based on the Oxventure Dungeons & Dragons campaign, with label art by Ginger Hoesly! (Neither Kara nor Ginger has any official ties to Outside Xbox, Outside Xtra, or Gamer Network, and their cut of the proceeds goes to the charity Child's Play.)

Be sure to review the teas if you like them — and should you be interested in more (maybe a set for Aliens for Hire?), let us know!

Sunday, December 20, 2020

THE CHRONOSMITH CHRONICLES #2: Eleanor's Tears Is Now on Sale!

 


We're pleased to announce that, despite the many delays 2020 has dropped on us, Eleanor's Tears is now available for purchase! The second book in The Chronosmith Chronicles takes our heroes to Earth in the year 2012, where the hidden history of a tea plantation threatens to blossom into an extinction-level event.

Author and Chronosmiths co-creator Kara Dennison penned the new book, and sat down for an interview telling us what's to come in the heroes' second outing in a brand-new universe.


Tell us a little about yourself.

I'm Kara Dennison, anime news writer and occasional other things writer. I'm also 50% of Altrix Books and co-creator of the Chronosmiths along with Paul Driscoll.



What is Eleanor's Tears about?

My elevator pitch has been that it's an apocalyptic time-travel ghost story set on a tea plantation, with time cops and time robbers. That seems to have interested at least a few people.

More specifically, it's about the Chronosmiths having a bit of a locked-planet adventure. They've discovered that something is threatening to wipe out life as we know it on Earth (that's how you know this book was originally written in 2019!), but when they attempt to land and investigate, their time machine is tethered and they have no escape unless they basically consent to being arrested. So they have a small window in which to, as they see it, save the world. Meanwhile, there are two other parties from different points in time with their own designs on the situation.


Sign: Margaret's Hope, Maharanee Hills

Where did the concept for Eleanor's Tears come from?

From a real place! There is a tea plantation in Darjeeling called Margaret's Hope, which has a very sweet (and much more benign) legend concerning how it got its name. I learned about it while visiting a tea shop owned by two friends of mine.

I love horror and ghost stories, and I thought it would fun to throw something supernatural like that into the series. And, given my love of tea, setting a story right at the source like this only seems natural.



The Chronosmiths went through a lot in After Vincent. Where were they before Eleanor's Tears, and where are they now?

The Chronosmiths are an interesting group. They're very much that "why do we hang out with each other" energy that a lot of D&D groups get. They're conflicting personalities with conflicting goals and methods, even if they have an essentially similar aim. At the end of After Vincent, they'd come to terms with the fact that they won't always align on what are frankly pretty important decisions. A lot of this book deals with the four of them trying to define themselves. What is a Chronosmith? What's their code of ethics? Where do they align? The story at the root of Eleanor's Tears pulls them in several different directions — deep down they all want to do what's right, but there are little pivots where "right" can take on conflicting meanings depending on who you're trying to do right by.



And what about Mordicai and Savalia in particular? Did their time together one book ago change anything about their relationship?

Savalia and Mordicai are the closest of the Chronosmiths - they all have some degree of crossover with each other, but their relationship is the keystone. They've spent a lot longer in each other's company than the rest of the group has with them or each other, thanks to the events of After Vincent. They still bicker because they are these very opposite personalities, but they're a work in progress.

I love a comment Paul made when he saw the covers for these first two books side by side, where we see Ginger Hoesly's gorgeous art of Mordicai and Savalia. Something to the effect of her being way out of his league. Though all joking asking, they really are an odd match, and I love exploring the places where they butt heads, and then what it takes to make them stop. How serious do things have to get before one or both of them back down?



There are also some new characters added to the universe. There's Isaac Edensh - what's his deal?

Edensh is, in short, a time detective. His presence cracks open this whole other level of what's going on in the 83rd century, where time travel is heavily legislated. He's a bit Gene Hunt, a bit Inspector Zenigata. If you've outlawed renegade heroes, someone has to go around picking up the slack, and that's him and his team. And now he's got these free-floating entities, the Chronosmiths, and he's not a fan at all.

His underlings do gossip a bit about him, especially this idea that he might have been around for whatever it was that caused the time travel ban in the first place. He's definitely impassioned about it — he's very clear that his goal is to someday make his own job obsolete — but beyond that he's not giving away any history. For now, at least.



And then there's Tati Rhys, of course.

Of course! She was designed by the aforementioned Ginger many years ago for another set of stories. I saw pictures of Tati when I was visiting a while back, and I liked her deal so much that I asked if we could put her in The Chronosmith Chronicles. 

Tati is a freelancer operating outside the law, which she can do thanks to a rather unique method of time travel. She's also a great foil for the Chronosmiths: she asks the questions they won't, and she's equally likely to be friend or foe or passive observer. She just wants to get paid. And sharp-eyed readers may have caught mention of her in After Vincent — but now you get to see what she's about.


Will readers need to read After Vincent to appreciate Eleanor's Tears?

When I write anything in a series (alone or with others), I write it with the assumption that someday someone will pick this book up at a thrift store or garage sale with no prior knowledge. I want any reader who finds this book at random to be able to enjoy it for itself. So you'll get a lot of the previous back story seeded through, a lot of nods to what happened before, so you won't be left completely  in the dark.

That said, After Vincent is a lot of fun, and so full of historical research and so beautifully written. And there are a lot of things that will eventually feed into the end of this "season," I suppose, that are worth diving into. Ideally, and a little greedily, I'd love to see people read the whole series.


The two books do have a tie thematically, though.

It wasn't planned, but Paul and I both hit on a similar theme: the fetishization of illness. With After Vincent it was mental illness; with Eleanor's Tears it's physical. I've endured a lot health-wise and gotten this kind of thing myself from genuinely well-meaning people. This allowed me a way to say something: not just "I don't like it," but why it's so important to view people for who they are and not what they suffer.

Despite what Mordicai may think, the Chronosmiths aren't about fixing history. They're about fixing conceptions of it, and what those conceptions do to the here and now (or, in their case, the future). Sometimes that does involve saving the day; other times it just means making sure a lost story is told.


What's next for the Chronosmiths?

Two books from people who aren't us! Next up is Jon Arnold, who's writing a really fantastic time-hopping political thriller. Then MH Norris is writing what she's described as The Aztecs meets Disney's Cinderella, and it's just as lovely as it sounds. Paul and I round out this first (and hopefully not last) run: he'll be tackling a medieval story, and I'm currently pulling together a great big daunting book 6.

Monday, November 23, 2020

Happy Doctor Who Day!

 

Happy Birthday Doctor Who!

It has been wonderful reading so many posts today celebrating yet another milestone for the longest running science-fiction series. Like lots of our friends and supporters, Kara and Paul have enjoyed travelling with the Doctor as fans and artists and we can’t wait to see where that blue box will take us next.

Altrix Books started out as an imprint for a charity book based on the Time War and although we have spread our wings, we are continuing to publish Doctor Who related books. Now would be a great time to pick up Army of Ghosts, a collection of engaging essays on some of Doctor Who’s forgotten stories that covers every decade of the series. Provocative, nostalgic and though-provoking, this would make a great addition to any Doctor Who collection.

Also from today you can pick up a copy of the 1987 fannual published by Terraqueous Distributors. It features some stunning artwork from our artist Ginger Hoesly and contributions from many Altrix Books friends and alumni. Order here from Lulu.

Raise a toast to the Doctor! They have been fantastic, all of them. (the featured illustration is by the fittingly named Imogen Newman. Check out the official Doctor Who Facebook page for this and more birthday delights).

Sunday, October 4, 2020

Book Report: Eleanor's Tears Cover Semi-Reveal!

As things open back up (albeit at different rates) and our various involved parties get their feet back under them, we're progressing steadily toward out next releases. As always, we thank you for your patience and enthusiasm as we roll on.

This month, artist and regular Altrix designer Ginger Hoesly is devoting her Twitch channel to Illutober: a personal project where she'll be streaming illustration and design work (and the occasional fun sketch). You can tune in and watch how she does her thing, from concept sketch to finished product.

First on her list was the cover for Eleanor's Tears, the second book in The Chronosmith Chronicles. We'll be preparing to release the book itself as soon as possible upon receiving the completed cover layout, but here's a glimpse at what to expect:


In the meantime, be sure to grab a copy of Paul Driscoll's After Vincent, the first book in the series. And if you've already read it, we'd really appreciate a review! Reviews help us (and all indie writers and publishers) get their books seen.

Also, if you're interested in following Illutober, follow Ginger on Twitter to know when she goes live. And be sure to keep an eye on her Twitch for the live streams themselves, and her Instagram for new art.

Stay tuned for more news on the publishing front.


Sunday, September 27, 2020

Dehibernating: Meet the Guinea Pigs of Altrix

 The world is just a little bit weird out there, and it's been affecting everyone... publishers included. From deadline changes to printing concerns, we're all feeling it to some degree. We appreciate your patience with us, and your other favourite writers and indie publishers, during this time.

We're lined up to launch some more things soon — both Paul and Kara working with publishers, and getting back in the saddle ourselves. We and are family are all well, and hope yours are, too.

In the meantime, however, there is an important point to address: that is, the preponderance of guinea pigs here at Altrix.





Overseeing our work at basically all times are these little (and less little) lads: two in the U.S., two in the U.K. Guinea pigs make for harsh, but fair, and overseers. They are never quiet when they have an opinion, but they can be paid off with greens if things get hairy.

The two above belong to Kara: HiFi (black) and Espresso (brown). They are the sole current members of Kara's long-running herd — she's been a guinea pig owner for 20 years.



And here are their U.K. counterparts: Pip (light) and Scruff (dark). These two live with Paul, and get plenty of attention from the family as a whole. They like to perch on couch arms and people, and will happily offer enthusiastic critique from any of these perches.

You will not be dealing with any of them on the customer end, though. Paul and Kara are still firmly in control of Altrix... probably. Provided we have enough kale on hand.


Sunday, June 28, 2020

What Is an "Altrix"?

brown and white concrete building during night time

Names always come from somewhere (unless they don't... but that's a very in-depth discussion for another day). When we decided we were going to have our own publishing imprint, we gave it the name Altrix Books. Readers of The Chronosmith Chronicles and its predecessor will know why — but if you're new, you might not.

So, what is an "altrix"?

Well, there are two answers.

person reading book

One of those answers is: it's a book. A very specific book, and a very very big book. Tor Fasa, one of the four primary players in The Chronosmith Chronicles, compiled that book — with a little bit of outside help. Essentially it's a book that, ideally, contains everything: everything that was, is, and will be. Such things take time, of course, so there are a few corners yet unfilled-out.

There are also a few sections that are completely wrong.

When the Chronosmiths rode the Time Winds into their new universe — our universe — a lot of the Altrix was no longer accurate. That sort of thing will happen across universes. As the Chronosmiths explore these new worlds, they'll cross-reference it against Fasa's Altrix, digging out the erased truths of history and amending their own records as they go.

You can learn more about the Altrix from our blog post on Tor Fasa, and see it in action in After Vincent, the first book of The Chronosmith Chronicles.

Altrix trifolium

The altrix is also, it happens, a type of sea snail. This wasn't something we thought especially hard about, but it did come in handy when it came time to design a logo. Note the design you see on our books and social media by Ginger Hoesly — do you see it now?

Altrix Books will probably never hold as much as the Altrix itself (we're only a small publisher, after all!), but we're looking forward to bringing you fact and fiction from all across the galaxy.