Door of the Day: The door to the dead

Door of the Day: The door to the dead

 

Paris-catacombs-doortodeath“Stop! Here is the Empire of the Dead”—that’s what the warning above this doorway says! It leads to the catacombs of Paris, where we spent the first week of our honeymoon back in 2013—I mean we spent the first week in Paris (not just in the catacombs!).

These tunnels make for an overwhelming and creepy visit–the bones seem to go on forever, disappearing into the gloom.

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I’m posting my door inspirations from around the world to celebrate the release of The Guardians of Zoone on February 25!

There are catacombs beneath Zoone station, which our characters visit in The Guardians of Zoone. This is where all the former stewards of the nexus are laid to rest—well, most of them. Legend has it that Zephyrus Zoone wandered into the Infinite Wood when it was his time, and that he might yet wander amid those solemn trees.

You can find order links for the books of Zoone HERE.

Zoonecovers

Door of the Day: The door to nowhere

Door of the Day: The door to nowhere

Today, the paperback version of The Secret of Zoone launches, so I’m posting the “door to nowhere” from Exeter England.

Exeter-bricked door

If you’ve read Zoone (or are going to), then this door will mean something to you!

I found the Exeter door just while walking down the street and it’s really just an archway that has been bricked over, but it sure looked like a secret door to me. I imagined that I would just have to find the right stone to press (or the combination of stones), and then the portal would open and lead me (hopefully) to Narnia. Alas, I could not discover the right stones (at least not before my wife wandered back down the street where I had lingered and told me to stop being weird).

You can find order links for The Secret of Zoone HERE.

TheSecretofZoonepaperback-bookshelf-feathers

Door of the Day: Old-school education?

Door of the Day: Old-school education?

chippingcampden-oldschoolhouse

The door (and accompanying sign) to the Old School House in Chipping-Campden does not seem that inviting! I mentioned in a previous post that I found a plethora of doors in this delightful town in the Cotswolds (by the way, is there a collective noun for doors?), which means I still have a few more great ones to come from here . . . so stayed tuned!

ChippingCampden-oldschoolhousedoor&wall

I’m posting my door inspirations from around the world to celebrate releases of The Secret of Zoone (paperback – January 28) and The Guardians of Zoone (February 25) with HarperCollins Children’s Books.

In Zoone, as in our world, some doors come with warnings! Do the characters heed them? Rarely! So, head through the nearest portal, and join them in their latest adventure in the multiverse!

Purchase and preorder links for both Zoone books can be found HERE.

Door of the Day: Chapel of Bath

Door of the Day: Chapel of Bath

Let’s head to the chapel at Bath to gaze upon this steampunk door knocker.

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I’m posting my door inspirations from around the world to celebrate releases of The Secret of Zoone (paperback – January 28) and The Guardians of Zoone (February 25). This knocker would really fit into the nexus of Zoone, on one of the thousand doors that leads out to the worlds of the multiverse!

I saw many amazing doors and details when visiting Bath in 2015 with my family as part of a literary, family history, and inspiration tour.

Bath is famous for the Roman baths, of course, and we enjoyed visiting the ancient bathhouse. There was a mosaic featuring hippocampi and a display of ancient keys.

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Purchase and preorder links for both Zoone books can be found HERE.

TheSecretofZoonepaperback-bookshelf-feathers

Door of the Day: three magnificent gates leading to a secret world

Door of the Day: three magnificent gates leading to a secret world

Here are three magnificent and imposing doors at Changdeokgung (the Palace of Prospering Virtue), one of five grand palaces in Korea—and a UNESCO world heritage site.

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This site also features a secret garden and, when we were there, we saw a neoguri (raccoon-dog).

Changdeokgung-Korea-secretgarden

Changdeokgung-Korea-neoguri

I’m posting door inspirations from my travels to celebrate the release of The Secret of Zoone (paperback – January 28) & The Guardians of Zoone (February 25) with HarperCollins Children’s books. There will be many photos from Korea, since it (and the UK) are the places outside of Canada that I spend the most time in!

Purchase and preorder links for both Zoone books are HERE.

 

Are you a traveler? Then pack your suitcase for Zoone!

Are you a traveler? Then pack your suitcase for Zoone!

In just three weeks, my new book, The Secret of Zoone, will be hitting shelves. Typically, this is a time for an author to invest extra time in marketing, host a launch, and plan tour or bookstore events.

For me, it means something just a little extra—building props! While I am usually making props throughout my writing process, preparing for events usually means I’m thinking not so much about how to help bring my fantasy worlds to life for me, but to help promote them to the world.

The idea

Since Zoone is about the nexus of the multiverse, where travelers from many different worlds cross paths, it was a no-brainer to introduce a suitcase as a prop. In addition to being a great “set piece”, I knew a suitcase offered one other advantage: I could fill it full of MORE stuff—even display copies of my books.

The problem

We actually have quite a few vintage suitcases in our house, but most of them are quite big, and many are a little tired. In other words, they’re not that sturdy anymore. My suitcase would have to be small enough to take as carry-on for a flight and be durable enough to survive lugging around to schools, libraries, bookstores, and conferences.

Scouring websites wasn’t that helpful. You can buy vintage suitcases online, but I knew I’d need to see the item in order to know if it would work. So, that meant scouring local antique stores. Which I did! At one point, I was even picking my way through the overflow storage of a shop, sussing out what they had squirreled away.

The chosen one

I eventually found a case at a store called Baker Dozen’s Antiques on Main Street in Vancouver. They had a good selection of suitcases, and I decided to go for this little fella:

vintage suitcase

It was a little beat up (no problem!), but it was the right size. I took it home, began cleaning it up . . . and that’s when I decided that I needed to give it a retrofit.

The project

It wasn’t long before I decided I needed to “Zooneify” the suitcase. Especially the inside, which, on closer inspection, turned out to be pretty gross. It had cloth lining, some of it stained, and emitting that sort of pervasive stench that sticks with cloth and felt after eons untold.

So, Step One was to gut the interior.

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I put so much “knuckle-grease” into this project, that I didn’t even realize that I had bashed up my hand, tugging and yanking on the lining. It looked like I had gotten into a fight:

hand

When I was done gutting the suitcase (and bashing up my hand), I was left with rough, exposed wood that showed staples and nails. I’d have to make my own new, lining. But before I got into that, I decided to turn my attention to the outside of the case.

Painting the case

My original plan had been to cover the suitcase with these vintage-style travel stickers I had created to go along with my book. But prop building is always the same for me: In for a penny, in for a pound. I now decided that the color of the suitcase wasn’t ideal, and that I would paint it.

Zoone Station is described in the book as being turquoise, so that’s the color I chose. I had never painted a suitcase before, or this type of material, so I did some research on finding the best kind of paint and ended up going with some premium satin acrylic paint that I could buy at the local craft store.

Then I began painting . . .

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All the extras

As I said above, in for a penny, in for a pound. I decided I wanted to add some metal embellishments to the case: hinges (it didn’t have any), corners, and a steampunk-style gear on the front. I collected these places from all over the place: the craft store, the hardware store, and the Internet.

Unfortunately, they were all different colors, including the locking mechanism that was already on the case.

That meant, painting all the bits so that they at least looked close. I ended up painting the bits with black enamel model paint, then brushing over with another type of metallic acrylic paint to give everything a vintage coppery feel.

For the gear, I decided this would be the wizardly version of a combination lock. I found a brad with a “Z” embellishment, which I used to attach the gear to the case. Yes, the gear actually spins.

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What’s inside counts

The entire time I was painting and working on the exterior, I was strategizing what to do with the inside. I knew I could make a simple lining using illustration board, but I didn’t want to just paint it a plain color. I decided it needed a bit more flare.

I tried finding samples of wallpaper, but this turned out to be more trouble than it was worth. Most stores don’t carry it in quantity and buying online was a challenge because I couldn’t actually see the scale of the pattern. Shelf liners would have been a good option, but it seems that most of the ones in stock around the city are either clear or fake wood.

I finally ended up using scrapbooking paper, spray gluing it to the illustration board, then adding a veneer of mod-podge to protect it and stiffen it up.

I agonized over some of the patterns and options, but finally ended up going with something that had a subtle polkadot design. After all, I knew I would be filling the case full of wizardry items, and didn’t want the pattern itself to be too distracting.

The final touches

Once the outside was painted and the inside lined, I could add all the accoutrements, inside and out. That meant affixing the metal embellishments. Then I added my vintage travel stickers and started figuring out what sort of things would go inside the case.

My idea is that this case would belong to a wizard on his way to the Convention of Wizardry that is taking place at Zoone during the events of the book. That means a bunch of whimsical items to suggest and hint at his character.

Most of the props I fashioned myself, such as the miniature bestiary book, the dragon egg, the dragon scale, and the fox-box full of charms. I will probably add a few more things as we go along.

This will also serve as a great inspiration for classroom visits; students can imagine the character who owns this case and write a profile and story about him.

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And, of course, it will make a great display the next time I’m at a book store or conference and displaying my books!

Enter the Goodreads give-away for The Secret of Zoone

Enter the Goodreads give-away for The Secret of Zoone

My latest middle-grade fantasy book, The Secret of Zoone, is being released in March 2019, but you can get a sneak-peek by entering HarperCollins’ contest on Goodreads for a chance to win an advanced reading copy.

Secret of Zoone - ARC cover.jpgContest details

Just visit the Goodreads page by December 19, 2018, for your chance to win a copy of the ARC. These tend to be prized collector pieces down the road, but you might want to enter the contest simply for the chance to visit Zoone before anyone else.

After all, who wouldn’t want to visit the nexus of the multiverse, where a thousand doors lead to a thousand worlds? While visiting, you can hang out with a clumsy kid, a princess with inappropriately purple hair, and an overly-friendly skyger.

I’ll be talking a lot about this book in the coming months, but for now I encourage everyone to check out the page for a chance to win your very own copy of the ARC for The Secret of Zoone.