My late father often used the expression ‘running around like a blue-arsed fly’ to suggest frenetic activity. To me the sentiment always suggested a bluebottle hurtling from one side of a room to the other, bashing into windows and walls, and constantly buzzing with caffeinated rage, or whatever it is that fuels flies. It was a colourful piece of description like some of my father’s other oft-visited phrases, which included, ‘like a bear with a sore arse,’ to suggest an irascible character, and ‘tighter than a gnat’s chuff,’ to identify someone who was parsimonious.
I mention this because, this past week, I have been running around like a blue-arsed fly. The nine-to-five has been typically challenging. I got the Covid jab on Friday, and that’s slowed my pace a little. I’ve been fighting to create a plot outline for Kurgan that I think will please readers. I’ve been digging into some marketing texts. And I’ve also been rebranding the website and the Facebook area.
The rebranding is underway and was made possible through the input from friends and readers. I shared the image opposite, asking which image readers preferred.
The two colours that proved most popular were red and blue. They weren’t just most popular. They received an identical number of votes. After that there was a huge drop in votes before the tally reached the green numbers and the yellow barely registered.
My good friend Steve Green made the observation that the colours could represent pus, frostbite, gangrene and blood. As he said, “Pus and gangrene suggest rotting away. Frostbite the slow leeching of life, a slower decline, but less icky. More foreshadowing. Blood could include more violence.” He ended his observation with a question, saying, “Whilst I’m sure your writing encompasses all these, is there one that you lean towards, feeling that is more horrific?”
I pondered the question and realised it was an extremely salient point. Personally I’d seen the blue image to represent ghostliness rather than frostbite but he was right about red with its connotations of blood and violence. And, because my most recent novellas include aspects of ghostliness and violence, I wondered if I could use both as part of my revised colour scheme. I had an idea what I wanted to see but it took three hours learning how to use Gimp before I had created the image you see below. This was done with a dual tone lighting effect and I’m genuinely pleased with the effect.
One of the things I wanted to do with this image was use it as a background for social media engagement. Previously I’d used a white background behind a black square and overlaid with red writing. It was a simple colour scheme but I thought it lacked on two levels: it didn’t overtly suggest that I was a horror writer, and it looked a little nazi-ish. But this new image suggests something sinister, and has enough black saturation so I can use it as a background for text. Further, because I needed a text colour that was vibrant, I opted to use the eye-catching green colours.
I’ve used the same dual lighting effect on other images and I think it works to support the brand identity I’m wanting to infer with the Innsmouth stories. There’s lots of darkness. There’s the idea of the cold and the ghostly, blending with the bloody and the violent. And this is all as a background to the bold and authoritative text of the same copperplate font that Colin Davies has used for the covers of the Innsmouth titles.
Consequently, blue-arsed fly mode involved a steep learning curve of how to use photo-editing software, and how to implement various ideas in the construction of images. And, whilst those skills are usually outside my wheelhouse, I think the results have been worth the effort invested.
And, the time spent being creative in a different area other than writing, has allowed my thoughts to develop a fuller and promising plot outline for Kurgan.