Available in paperback and in ebook formats at distributors everywhere!
🌟 Please join me in welcoming author Bob Appavu to Stories that Make You Smile! Bob is here today celebrating the release of his intriguing new novel, Art of Death. Bob has kindly brought along an excerpt, a giveaway, and is taking the time to sit down with us to discuss his fabulous new series and tell us all about that absolutely gorgeous cover! 🌟
Art of Death by Bob Appavu
The undead have unique superhuman strengths born from the way they lived or the way they died. And once they rise, they’re nearly impossible to kill for good—unless you know their secret weakness.
Series: Lychgate (book #1)
Publisher: DSP Publications
Cover Artist: Bob Appavu
Release Date: September 3, 2019
Length: Novel / 93k words / 264 pages
Pairing / Genre(s) / Keyword(s): Urban Fantasy, Paranormal, Thriller, Mystery, Fantasy, gay, undead (similar to vampires, zombies), superhuman, murder mystery, serial killer, amateur sleuth, art school, nude model, mental illness.
Not a romance, but has a strong romantic subplot – primary pairing is Riley/Westwood.
Starving artist Riley Burke refuses to be dependent on his rich older boyfriend—hence his second job as a nude model at the local art school. When the famous artist Coliaro requests him for a private modeling session, he jumps at the chance to earn some real cash.
But then Westwood, a mysterious stranger, warns him to steer clear—it’s said Coliaro is undead. That his worshippers perform rituals to fill him with life energy. That every time he paints a male nude, the painting transforms to depict a gruesome murder. And that shortly after, a young man turns up dead.
Riley dismisses the rumors—until they start to play out before his eyes. When he becomes a target, Westwood comes to his aid. But Westwood is secretive and dangerous himself… which just makes him more attractive to Riley. Riley is in over his head, and even his tenuous alliance with Westwood might not save him.
Note: This title was originally published under an alternate pen name. This second edition has been re-edited and significantly updated.
A young artist’s life changes forever when he stumbles upon the secret society of the undead… and those who defend humanity from the depravity of their brethren. Lychgate protects the innocent from the monsters stalking the shadows, and Riley and his undead lover, Westwood, must fight together or lose each other.
☆ Guest Post ☆
Art of Death: Creating the Cover
When I was a teenager reading epic fantasy novels by Janny Wurts, my dream was to one day be able to write a novel and do my own cover art. The curse of being a writer-artist is that there are just too many ways to be a control freak when it comes to your creative work. I’m actually not my own universal, uncontested first choice of cover artist. I have a great many novels in my queue that I’d rather give to someone else whose style is more suited to the story.
But when inspiration strikes, it’s hard to fight.
By day, I’m a full-time artist. I’m inspired by everything from Renaissance paintings to manga to kitschy collectibles. A major focus of my work is my creator-owned, crowdfunded indie webcomic Demon of the Underground. What I’ve discovered about myself as an artist is that, although I can appreciate a pretty face, pretty isn’t the thing that moves me most. Emotion is. Every time I create a new comic page, the thing I look forward to most is depicting emotionally charged facial expressions.
I feel the same as a reader and writer. When it comes to novels, what drives me is the empathetic connection to the character. As readers, we share the emotional journey with the characters on the page. Even though my favorite genres are mystery and thriller, I demand empathetic mystery-thrillers that allow the reader to see what the characters are feeling, and that don’t use death purely for shock value.
Art of Death is an m/m supernatural mystery about Riley Burke, a starving artist who takes on a dangerous nude modeling job with a rumored undead serial killer. It’s a fast-paced murder mystery, but it’s propelled by emotion.
Riley takes on the role of amateur sleuth, putting his life on the line to combat the undead. Having failed to prevent his own brother’s suicide, he’s driven by a determination to prevent any more deaths in the future. This determination carries him past his fear, past the notion that the police will handle it, and past the debilitating seasonal depression that visits him every year.
Westwood, the mysterious undead investigator who comes to Riley’s aid, lost his humanity when he first revived from death. He can only feel emotion vicariously through humans—and the easiest way to feel their emotion is to hurt them, badly. Westwood’s past is shady and his future is tenuous; he craves the addictive rush of human emotion, but he doesn’t want to hurt Riley to get it.
When I started working on the cover of Art of Death, I knew that I wanted the cover to show emotion. Riley’s fear for survival, his fear of intimacy, and his fear of the unpredictable-but-attractive Westwood are all crucial. So Riley’s fear takes front and center on the cover.
As for the overall appearance, that was a risk I might have only been willing to take on one of my own books. I’m not sure I would have dared to give a client’s murder mystery about an undead serial killer a hot pink cover. In fact, my first draft of the cover had a green color palette with stereotypical blood-red paint streaks. But like I said, when inspiration strikes, it’s hard to fight.
We have two more books to go in this series. The remaining covers aren’t finalized yet, but I’m planning for Westwood to take center stage on the cover of Bonds of Death (Lychgate: Book 2).
My tools of the trade? This cover was created entirely in Photoshop, where I create the majority of my visual art. I’m more of a digital painter than a photo artist, but in this day and age, a photo-based cover seemed like the best choice for this story. That said, I still wanted to give it a painterly feel due to the subject matter of the book. It’s about undead painters, after all. So here’s the cover of Art of Death in all its wide-eyed, hot pink glory.
Meet the Author
Bob Appavu is an author, illustrator, and creator of the long-running LGBTQ+ webcomic Demon of the Underground. Born and raised in a conservative Chicago suburb to South Indian parents, Bob turned to reading at an early age to find the inclusive, illuminating worlds that couldn’t always be accessed in real life. Bob recalls spending most of the 90s at the local bookstore feigning interest in the poetry anthologies that were conveniently shelved next to the LGBT fiction.
As a queer writer who enjoys challenging conventions and pushes creative boundaries, Bob has a passion for crafting the types of stories she can’t readily find on the shelf and the types of characters who are often denied the spotlight. Bob is a lover of suspense, speculative fiction, and deep world building, but her greatest joy is portraying the full scope of her queer characters’ humanity.
Bob is an incurable workaholic whose preferred fuel is tea. When not at work, she enjoys caring for rescued ferrets.