Obviously, I don’t have enough projects on the go.
I’m about to create a pseudonym for a bunch of SF tinged fantasy tales, and may be using him to resurrect and repurpose a tale I first serialised on here several years ago.
Under my own name I’m still casting about for a possible follow up to Tiger (I’ve started three attempts which have each faltered). And there are a bunch of other shorts, novelletes, novellas etc. in the planning or plotting stages.
So, obviously, I have to start thinking about creating a picture book.
As a step-dad* I have been pondering the way that stepparents are portrayed in fairy tales. It’s primarily evil stepmothers, but there are bad dads as well. But you don’t have to watch Jeremy Kyle to know that natural parents can be awful too, and will happily use their children to hurt their partners and others. Time for a tale that addresses that.
The King of Lies is political allegory as well, because the themes can work on individual and political levels- anywhere where people use lies, misrepresentations etc. to try to further their own interests. The bad king lies to his daughter and his subjects so he can keep control and power, and is eventually brought down by his own shortsighted negative behaviour. In the roughs I’m drawing at the moment the king is King Boris, but that will probbaly become more pointed- King Gideon, perhaps.
The founding lie is that the Queen is dead and the King is the best person to decide on the Princess’s future. As the story starts the Queen is alive and well and living with a strange man in the forest- the good step-dad- trying to find the best way to get her daughter back. As the King ramps up his lies, so the Queen- with her champion by her side- sets out to rescue her daughter and the kingdom. Of course, the Princess has found out the Queen survives and set out on her own quest, just to make everything that bit trickier.
I see the story as a picture book, told primarily in full page shots with short text sections but with occasional panel to panel storytelling for more complex scenes. The pages will be rich with background details, little jokes and references. Whilst the format is inspired by childrens’ books, the content will be aimed at older readers. Thinking of it in terms of film ratings, it will be about a 12A. Younger readers will be able to appreciate the story and images, possibly with a parent to discuss some of the isssues, older children can read it themselves and adults can appreciate the allegory and humour.
I’d really like to see King of Lies drawn, so I’m going to have to go looking for an artist and some funding.
*There are formalities and legalities to go through before I can start calling them my children, but I’ve started using the term to get people (myself included) used to the idea.