Saturday, September 4, 2010

A Peek Beneath the Duct Tape: A Whiter Shade of Pale

So...A Whiter Shade of Pale has been online for almost a day now, but you might not have noticed because Simon posted this week's update early. He caught me off guard, too, which is why I'm a little late getting this Peek online. But here we go!

Now, at last, you have the answer to at least two riddles I've posed in this blog. The first is the solution to this post, in which I invited you to guess what three out of four pictures have in common.

Actor Jeffrey Combs was the obvious inspiration for the character of Geoff Coen; in fact, Dalila even teases him at one point by "misremembering" his last name as "Combs." Jukebox and I borrowed Amanda Palmer's dress from the center picture for Dalila to wear in seducing Abby (You haven't seen the last of that dress, either!). And of course, the Count was your big clue that the whole post was about my upcoming vampire collaboration with Jukebox - who, as he said in his own Behind the Music blog post, really didn't want our vampires to be traditionally vampiric. That was fine with me, since a certain sparkly blockbuster series has pretty much peed in the genre's pool, anyway. Check out the fantasy/SF section of any large bookstore these days, and practically half the books look like really awful vampire fiction (Half the rest, of course, look like really awful werewolf fiction).

But back to Combs/Coen for a moment. I'm sure you've realized by now that he's the character I had in mind when I said someone had a very obvious "Jukebox" stamp across the forehead. Combs is also the actor I hinted about when I said we'd specifically "cast" one player in our story before we even started writing. It's funny how he turned into such an obvious Jukebox character, considering how equal our input was in his creation.

Let me give you a taste of our collaborative process in action. The dialogue isn't exact, because it's been too long for me to remember everything we said, but this is the gist of the discussion leading to Geoff's creation:
Jukebox: I'd like to have a character who can tell Abby what Dalila is and warn Abby about her. Maybe she's some kind of supernatural detective.
Me: That sounds great, but let's use a man this time. Right now, all our main characters are women. He could be a Harry Dresden kind of guy, a street-smart vampire killer. Having Dalila take him down would show our readers just how powerful she really is.
Jukebox: No, I'm thinking he's just a bumbler who keeps trying and failing to kill Dalila: he uses a stake, but it just glances off her rib, etc. That will make the ending even more tragic.
Me: Oooh, perfect! And hey, if we're going that direction, then let's make him Jeffrey Combs! He always plays the best loonies. [One quick Google Image Search later]. Here, take a look at this picture. Isn't he perfect for the part?
Our whole collaboration was like that: constant back-and-forthing, pushing each other to higher levels of imagination. Every character, every scene, every sentence, is a combination of thrall and Jukebox - even the bits where you think it's all one of us or the other.

And now on to a couple of other sources of entertainment and inspiration. I promised you new pictures, and I try to keep my promises! So first, here are a few more potential Dalilas. My casting post to the contrary, I never really settled on a single mental image of Dalila; she's just too mutable by nature. Before, I used this picture from my collection because I couldn't leave her out, but Mela von Winter is no more "my" Dalila than any of the women below. They all have a certain look, though - a certain essential attitude that is part of my mental image of Dalila. Put all four of these pictures together, and you'll start to see what I think about her.

At left is Kitty Cosmo, photographed by Jennifer Garcia. Next is Ruby True, photographed (wearing Violaceous Latex) by Allan Amato. And on the right is Courtney Cruz, photographed by Michael Helms. Just pretend for a moment that Courtney's tattoos are body paint. ;-)

Now here's one more source of inspiration that I've been dying to share for ages. I just had to wait until enough of the White Album had been published for it to make sense to you. Quite some time ago, I ran across the work of Kimiko Yoshida, a Japanese/French photographer who's even more fascinated with the faceless/voiceless aspect of traditional brides than I am. She takes pictures of herself veiled, painted, and otherwise obscured, so that she becomes less of a person than an object of art. These are just a few of the images I've saved from her website. I chose them because they're most in line with my vision of The White Album, but the website has dozens more - some even tastier than these. Check her out.


Callidus said...
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Callidus said...

Just wanted to say how much I'm loving The White Album thus far! Of course, I'd expect nothing less from the collaboration of two mc-titans like you and Jukebox. I cannot wait to read the conclusion!