Showing posts with label Barczak. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Barczak. Show all posts

Saturday, November 17, 2018

Barczak Loot and XP - 2018

"Bakassas The Witch Queen" - 2018 Tom Barczak
As I attended an annual Surfactant Consortium meeting (IASR) in Norman, OK, I swung by Tom Barczak's art show. His Prophecy of Evarun series is emotive dark fantasy. He's working on the next installment now: "Hands of the Dragon".

He had over a dozen sketches and paintings presented at a boardgame boutique called Loot and XP, a comfortable establishment with snacks and hugs tables... and tons of games to play. "Loot" is a good theme for the trip, since I returned with a sketch of the above painting and Prophecy of Evarun coffee mug. If you are a Norman local, check that out that place.

What started as a chance meeting has turned into an annual join up (list below). Every time we share our muses on weird art and writing. 

Reviews by SE of Tom Barczak's works:

My interview with Tom Barzcak on the topic : "Beauty in Weird Fiction"


SE and Tom with the sketch used for the "Bakassas Witch Queen" painting

We had to meet at 6:45AM prior my work meeting and school, and Tom had some of his boys with him in tow. Coffee helped wake a few. Was nice meeting them all.
That's me, stewing about whether or not I could actually by the Bakassas painting 
A sampling of other Barczak paintings on display at  Loot and XP








Loot: my very own Mouth of the Dragon cup!

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Barczak and Lindberg - Storming Norman 2017

Micelles in Evarun!

The last several years I head to Norman Oklahoma to attend the annual Institute for Applied Surfactant Research (IASR) meeting. What else is in Norman? My friend and author Tom Barczak, a fellow Perseid Press contributor with a poetic, dark style.  Barczak is an artist & architect who has a beautiful ability to capture angelic warfare with drawing pencil and keyboard. 

Before the seminars started, I squeezed in another Starbuck's meeting.  This time I got a glimpse into Tom's sketches for his Hands of the Dragon book...and  was allowed to share a bit with you (see below)!  And what out! I think creepy surfactant assemblies are inspiring him!

Tom Barczak holding Helen's Daimones : S E Lindberg with Mouth of The Dragon
Tom Barczak & his notebook

The notes read: "A suitable sacrifice .... A cenotaph of blood..."
[click to expand image]
Barczak's Notebook: Hands of the Dragon


Eh gad, is that a micelle?

Of course my mind is focused on surfactants, and what do I see has Tom's notebook? A micelle? That's a spherical assembly of soap molecules, a key technology for detergency. Well he claims his sketch is his visualization of an epic assembly of people as they execute a divine ritual.  Anyway, I adore micelle formations, having illustrated them for Prof. Steven Abbott's Surfactant Science: Principles and Practice ... with the app Practical Surfactants (available for free).  But they also creepy me out (surfactants can form some scary "living" structures, such as myelins). 

So the moral of this story is:

 Obey your muse... and be wary of self-assembled structures!


Micelle Illustrations By S.E. for Steven Abbott

Surfactant Packing Illustrations - S.E. for Steven Abbott



Previous Barczak Coffee Runs:

  • 2016: Drawing Evarun Dragons & Dyscrasia Skeletons
  • 2015: Heroika #1: Dragon Eaters
  • 2014: "Soap, disease, and dragons"

Interviews and Reviews









Saturday, March 4, 2017

Mouth of the Dragon - Review by SE

Mouth of the Dragon: Prophecy of the EvarunMouth of the Dragon: Prophecy of the Evarun by Tom Barczak
S.E. rating: 5 of 5 stars

Mouth of the Dragon: Prophecy of the Evarun is surreal, angelic warfare

Enjoy walking in cemeteries? This book is for you. If Edgar Allen Poe or Clark Ashton Smith were to rewrite Tolkien, they would produce something like Tom Barczak’s Evarun series. There are no elves here, but there are angels who have abandoned a land to susceptible humans. Disembodied forces and corporeal possession abound. The author’s dark, poetic style keeps bringing me back to his portfolio.

Mouth of the Dragon: Prophecy of the Evarun continues the royal Chaelus’s journey from Veil of the Dragon, which readers will want to read first. His body has become a puppet in war between good and evil. He is currently possessed by good-natured angel(s) tasked to confront the demonic, disembodied evil that was mastered him. The major conflict is between Chaelus (and the spirit Talus within him) versus the titular Dragon that has corrupted land of the Theocracy and his betrothed Faerowyn. The war escalates to epic, apocalypse. It closes well but sets up for another book.

Deep and Poetic: As revealed in many interviews, Barczak is an architect by day and writer/painter by night; he also experienced the death of a 2yr old daughter named Olivia. His artistic flare shows through with wonderful architectural descriptions including “clerestory lights” and “dark pools of cenotaphs.” He paid homage to Olivia with a character of the same name who first appeared in the Awakening Evarun set. Olivia appears in Mouth of the Dragon as Revered Mother over the Servian Order, centuries old. This echoes other instances of children saving adults. From the prelude book Veil of the Dragon, “Al-Aaron,” a child priest-warrior, saved and mentored Chaelus. Barczak continually explores the role of children saving or superseding adults: in Mouth the main duo for this interplay is Login and Maedelous.

Style: Barczak style defines his writing. He writes with entertaining paradox. In one sense, the conflict could not be more stark: good angels vs. evil demons; yet both are presented as reflections, or veiled versions of the other. The author is fascinated with sensing strange/beautiful things, such as the ailment synesthesia which refers to a secondary stimulus of senses. For instance, a subset is called chromesthesia, in which hearing certain sounds will trigger recoloring of whatever is being viewed by eye: one could be looking at a white wall and it would change to red or blue as certain music is played. Such dissonance is similar to one making sense of Rene Magritte’s Ceci n'est pas une pipe (this is not a pipe). Barczak intentionally provides beautiful synesthetic observations. Here are example excerpts:
There was nothing to see here but a sullen whisper.

Darkness seared her vision. It bled down her cheeks like oil. It drained from her mouth, like every soul she had ever taken it from.

The gray morning light, sullen, settled in full over the golden city of Paleos, the glimmer of its domes struck mute by its haze.
Everything is veiled and unsettled: A surreal milieu pervades the book. The best example is of the gossomar covered blades of Servian knights who vowed to kill only non-blooded humans (i.e. wraith like Remnants). The cover of Veil of the Dragon drawn by the author displayed this. It highlights the paradox of a military legion representing a benevolent religious organization. Again, Barczak intentionally blurs what is superficially clear. The Servian Order plays a large role again in Mouth, of course. However the cloth “veil” over the blade resonates with myraid other veils: ghostly phantoms, smokey tendrils obscuring vision, memories bleeding into dreams and reality. There are two contrarian, prophetic forces running in parallel: two sets of Servian knights, two sets of prophets, two armies…etc. It is like both good and evil are personified and stare through a window at each other; the reader is watching too, trying to figure out which one is real… or are they reflections of the reader in a mirror?

Poetic Style: There is an obvious rhythm. This is done in part with oft repeated words (azure, veil, Happas…which is an archaic word for a Roman highway), and with repeated phrasing such as:
The man’s eyes stared up at her from somewhere beyond, where he cradled himself at her feet. The stain of blood and darker things colored his chin, his face, his chest. Black tendrils had begun to lace across his pale skin. Soon, the Dragon’s Sleep would take him. Soon, the Dragon’s Sleep would take them all. Even the one she had just let go. Even her lover who was coming for her, for she knew it was the only way he could save her.

He could still see them, all of them. He could still see the knights’ faces staring back at him with their dead eyes, staring back at him from the edge of the encampment; seven of them, each of them with arms and legs flayed out upon a prostrate cross, staring back at him, staring through him long after they had passed from his sight.

Evarun series: Evarun’s audience and backing is deservedly growing. The serial Awakening series was an independent endeavor, but not Barczak now has the backing of Perserid Press who provided the book with a Roy Mauritsen designed cover (elegantly embedding the author’s sketch).

Awakening Evarun (Part I of VI) by Tom Barczak Awakening Evarun (Part II of VI) by Tom Barczak Awakening Evarun (Part III of VI) by Tom Barczak Awakening Evarun (Part IV of VI) by Tom Barczak Awakening Evarun (Part V of VI) by Tom Barczak Awakening Evarun (Part VI of VI) by Tom Barczak
Veil of the Dragon (Prophecy of the Evarun) by Tom Barczak
Mouth of the Dragon Prophecy of the Evarun by Tom Barczak

Judging by the author’s blog, the next installment is to be called “Hands of the Dragon,” which would refer to several wizards serving all-things-dragon: Vas Ore and Vas Kael. The author has drawn them too.


View all my reviews

Friday, November 11, 2016

Norman OK - Tom and his Dragon



For the last several years I have made an annual trip to Norman OK to attend a consortium on surfactants (IASR). I've been lucky to sneak a snack in with local friend and author Tom Barzcak. He also writes surreal dark fantasy, and is an artist too. This round we took turns speed-drawing as we talked. I drew a portrait of Tom with a shadowy dragon perched on his shoulders and he drew my lead protagonist, the skeletal warrior Lysis! Woo-hoo fan art of Dyscrasia Fiction!

We both contribute to Perseid Press's Heroika and Heroes in Hell series. Always enjoy discussing art and writing with Tom. Below is table of contents of my posts on his work and a great interview about his inspirations. 





Nov 21, 2015 ... Last year I took the opportunity to track down Tom Barczak whom I interviewed in 2014 and happens to live there. He has a similar poetic/dark ...
www.selindberg.com
Jun 12, 2014 ... Tom Barczak Interview. This continues the interviews of weird/speculative fiction authors on the themes of Art & Beauty in Fiction. Tom Barczak ...
www.selindberg.com
May 9, 2014 ... Veil of the Dragon by Tom Barczak S.E. rating: 4 of 5 stars “…all seemed like a ghost that he could scarcely remember…” There is a lot to like in ...
www.selindberg.com
Aug 19, 2016 ... Awakening Evarun by Tom Barczak S.E. rating: 5 of 5 stars. Thaumaturgy is associated with deep incantation of magic, and Tom Barczak is an ...
www.selind

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Latte with Tom Barczak - Norman Oklahoma 2015

S E Lindberg and Tom Barczak - 2015 Norman - Heroikan's drink lattes
This month I visited Norman OK for the third year in a row as I participate in a consortium on surfactants run by chemical engineering professors at Oklahoma University (IASR). Last year I took the opportunity to track down Tom Barczak whom I interviewed in 2014 and happens to live there. He has a similar poetic/dark style. Apart from our own endeavors (his Evarun and my Dyscrasia Fiction), our short stories appeared together in Heroika 1: Dragon Eaters this year, an anthology which many are proud of; here is a snippet of Ricky L. Brown's review via Amazing Stories Magazine:


Heroika 1: Dragon Eaters is an anthology of well-crafted work with a wide range of entertaining perspectives. Spanning across cultures, centuries, and even the dimensions of time and space, each contribution has its own distinct charm. In essence, this book is a colorful bouquet of bold stories about one of the darkest primal forces in mythological lore...  Published by Perseid Press and edited by Janet Morris, this collection is due to be released on May 25, 2015. There are seventeen tales in all. Though breaking each one down with literary criticism would take multiple reviews to cover thoroughly, it is advised to just pick up a copy and dive right in because odds are pretty good you'll find plenty to enjoy...

In the Legacy of the Great Dragon by S.E. Lindberg, readers will discover another use for the dragons in getting one’s sight back, but here we cross the fine line between man and god, and see how the twisted significance of the word “legacy” can define both... 

Forged by Tom Barczak is a fairytale adventure with good versus evil, eventually allowing readers to discover the hidden magic of dragons that lies in the soul of a young girl and how “love” works its magic in unexpected ways..."

I highly recommend Tom's work. As I reviewed Veil of the Dragon, his style is poetic, and it is timely to note that this prose can now be heard thanks to the beautiful narration by Neil Hellegers. Check out the audible sample on Audible: 




Saturday, November 15, 2014

Soap, Disease, and Dragons - Visiting Norman OK

Talking art, books, and synesthesia with illustrator and artist of Viel of the Dragon 
  1. SOAP: 

  2. This month I visited Norman OK, with the primary goal of attending a consortia on surfactants run by chemical engineering professors at Oklahoma University (IASR).  I am not the only scientist attending who has an artistic side; in fact Professor John Scamehorn has ventured into producing film (he is leading a steampunk web series no less, due out in late 2015).
  3. DISEASE: 

  4. Before the consortia began, I managed to connect with writer/illustrator Tom Barczak who resides in Norman. I had interviewed Tom Barczak early this year (July 2014)
    Over some Starbuck's coffee we discussed art, writing, and disease. Of course, my own series fictionalizes the alchemical humors, posing them as a source of necromancy; an imbalance of humors was called a Dyscrasia (a word popular in 1880). 

  5. Tom, ever fascinated with sensing strange/beautiful things, discussed Synesthezia.  This ailment is a modern one, and refers to a secondary stimulus of senses.  For instance, a subset is called Chromesthesia, in which listening to sounds will trigger recoloring of whatever is being viewed by eye: one could be looking at a white wall and it would change to red or blue as certain music is played.  Great material for magic/fantasy! I can't wait to see how Tom translates his insights.

DRAGONS

Tom has a wonderful illustrated, poetic series that begins with 
Veil of the Dragon (reviewed May 2014). He is just now releasing an audio book voiced by Neil Hellegers. Check out the below video trailer.  If you like dark, poetic fantasy, you'll enjoy this.


Thursday, June 12, 2014

Tom Barczak Interview

This continues the interviews of weird/speculative fiction authors on the themes of Art & Beauty in Fiction.  Tom Barczak is an artist/architect who delivers splendid adventure with interesting characters, a beautiful style, and a haunting medieval setting. His fantasy fiction is compelling and poetic, and saturated with angelic warfare. We corner him here to learn more about his heroic journey, his creative process, and the spirits motivating him.

"I can’t not write about loss and love, death and rebirth.  It’s very much a part of who I am... Everyone has their own Heroes Journey. Tell it. And if you’re still on it, finish it. Then tell it." Tom Barczak 2014

The Cover: Gossamer covered sword

The cover of your debut novel Veil of the Dragon features a subtle, splendid weapon design.  It displays the sword of your crusader-like Servian Knights who swore oaths to only strike at evil demons, and to be merciful toward humans so much as to not strike them.  A symbol of their conviction was to cover their magic blades in fragile cloth. This was a great design that highlights the paradox of a military legion representing a benevolent religious organization.

Was this based in history or was this a Barczak creation?

TB: It was an image I carried in my head long before I even finished the story. Like a talisman. It carried so much meaning for me. Still does. In architecture there is a word we have, called a Parti. It is the essence."

Early Muses and “Studio”

Your online Bio goes as: “My background is an Artist turned Architect who is finally getting around to finishing those stories I started writing when I was sitting on my front porch as a kid.”  Of course, you are also illustrating those stories (see http://tombarczak.com/sketches.html ).  Given the poetic, fantasy milieu you created, I picture your childhood porch as the gateway between Dante’s Inferno and Purgatorio. 
  • What was your early muses and porch-studio like? Was that porch haunted?

TB:  Hehehe. Nope. No gargoyles on my porch.  Just pretty much a normal porch. Problem was I’ve never done very good with normal. A large portion of my childhood was me wishing I was someone else, doing something else, somewhere else. I always had a hard time just being where my feet were. Basically I was just a weird little kid. And I would just sit there for hours just making stuff up.

Creative Processes

Clearly you’ve had stories brewing in your head since childhood, and have develop a portfolio of artistic talents along the way; so your thoughts have been growing simultaneously with the tools you used to capture them.
  • What type of art did you create prior being an architect?
  • Does your architecture background inform your planning of a story? 
  • Do you plan all your work to be illustrated?
TB:  For a long time, particularly during my art school / college years, my painting was therapy for me. It was the only way I knew to take those places in my head and make them real. It was very dark. But it was like magic. It let me have some control over my feelings, instead of just getting swept away. But, looking back, I think that control I thought I had was only an illusion. What it did, was help my outsides match my insides a bit, which for the moment at least, would give me a little peace. The illustration I do now is just that, illustration. Not nearly the cathartic work I sought in my paintings. 
As for my writing and architecture, well, that’s an entirely different thing altogether. I believe that part of me allows my stories to have structure. And it also gave me an important tool. I tend to write with brevity. Very few words compared to what I see others do. Almost like a movie script. But a novel needs a bit more flesh than a movie script. So when I finish a piece, then I get to go back and do what I call, painting between the buildings. 
At least for now, I intend to illustrate my books. It’s hard for me to separate the two. But I understand it may not be appropriate for everything either.

Faith-inspired Fairy Tales:

Until I read your work, I had not stumbled across religiously-inspired fiction since C.S.Lewis and J.R.R.Tolkien (fantasy also derived from Christianity). As a die-hard agnostic, I thought the delivery of The Veil of the Dragon was wonderfully obscure; any audience can enjoy it (see review) .
Even though it is far from a controversial novel, I imagine that ultra-conservative religious folk may think it improper to dream up fantasy evolutions of religion…just as paranoid atheistic readers may fear they may be subverted into being exposed to religion involuntarily. 
  • Please confirm if faith played a role in writing or reading (i.e. is Faith a Barczak Muse)
  • Conversely, does the process of creative writing evolve your own faith?
TB: The biggest criticism I’ve ever had regarding my work has had had to do with the undertones of religion there. I don’t feel particularly bad about that. I certainly have no intention of converting anyone to anything. Nor is it any of my business what someone else believes.

Fact of the matter is I have to write what I know. I’m a Catholic and a Christian, but most of my faith I learned outside of a church. I’ve had the benefit of good teachers in my life. Men and women who taught me how to live a life based on principals and not on how I felt or thought at any given time. They continue to teach me to live a life not based on self, but one of being of service to others. I get to live a spiritual life today. It’s solely because of that, I believe, that I even get to write today.
So yes, some of that gets into my work. Anything less wouldn’t be the truth. And as a writer, I have to tell the truth. 

Symbolic vs. Allegorical fiction: 

In a Facebook conversation, I proposed categorizing your work as “Sword & Faith” or “Sword and Ghosts”; you replied that you preferred “Allegorical Fiction.” 
  • Just how allegorical is it?  Avoiding spoilers, can you clarify if specific people/ideas are re-casted in the book?  
  • Or is your more work more metaphorical and generalized? Any design strategies for those wanting to create allegorical fiction? 
TB: Some of what I discussed above. A big influence as well, was the death of my daughter, Olivia, when she was 2 ½. I think because of that, as well as some of my own other trials, I can’t not write about loss and love, death and rebirth.  It’s very much a part of who I am.
As for strategies, tell the truth. Doesn’t matter what your beliefs are. Everyone has their own Heroes Journey. Tell it. And if you’re still on it, finish it. Then tell it.

Beautiful Evil:

Master writers like Clark Ashton Smith, Howard Phillips Lovecraft, and Edgar Allen Poe professed that weird fiction is Artistic, one goal being to terrify readers (see essays).  From the Dragon, its disembodied shadows, and the beings it corrupts, your manifestations of evil are indeed emotive, and arguably beautiful. Here are some excerpts:

"Behind him, a bitter sigh resounded through the bent and broken wood. The forest was speaking. Behind him, the path he’d only just cleared had gone. From the trees, shadows bled like oil, folding down amidst the branches.”
"The spirits’ breath hung like a black vapor in tendrils about them. Armored veils hid all but the abyss of their eyes. Beneath them, their acrid laughter shrilled out amidst the grinding clatter of their teeth. Yet it wasn’t laughter. No; it was a desperate sound, one of anticipation, the kind that a starving cur utters for carrion."  
  • Is it enjoyable or scary to capture evil in art?
  • Do you find it therapeutic (or helpful to contemplate) unknown concepts (from the divine to evil) by turning them into art? 
TB: A few thoughts. One is I believe I have a mild case of synesthesia. My senses are a little cross –wired, so sometimes I describe colors as smells and tastes as sounds. I think some of that comes out as a sensual quality of my work. 
The second one is that I absolutely believe evil can be just as beautiful as good. Often it’s more so. Check out the Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis. Ever really looked at a black widow? Maybe not evil, but it’s certainly as beautiful as it is deadly. It’s captivating.
Bad is always going to look cooler than good.We’re drawn to the fix not consequences.And yes, it is therapeutic.  All of it.
It’s coming out of darkness that we best appreciate the light.It’s hard to appreciate heaven until you’ve been through hell.  
Thanks so much for having me. This was a lot of fun.Tom

Thanks to you, Tom, for sharing your soul in novels, art, and this interview! 

Readers can learn more about Tom Barczak and his work on his website:  http://tombarczak.com/

Check out other interviews by S.E. on the topic of  “Beautiful Weird Art/Horror”:
http://sethlindberg.blogspot.com/p/interviews.html

Friday, May 9, 2014

Barczak's Veil of the Dragon - Review by S.E.

Veil of the DragonVeil of the Dragon by Tom Barczak
S.E. rating: 4 of 5 stars

“…all seemed like a ghost that he could scarcely remember…”

There is a lot to like in Tom Barczak’s Veil of the Dragon. Barczak is an artist/architect who delivers a splendid adventure with interesting characters, a beautiful style, and a haunting medieval setting. Veil of the Dragon is well-done, angelic warfare. Occasional sketches by the author are a nice touch, but they are not finished or abundant enough to affect the read. Barczak’s dreamy style carries the story well enough on its own (see excerpts below). Expect a poetic read, with lots of combat with demons, ghosts, and angels.

The two primary characters are neatly designed and paired: “Al-Aaron”, a young priest-warrior, serves as a teacher of sorts to the older “Chaelus,” a prince dragged into a battle for redemption. The child leads the adult in a believable, interesting way. They battle a disembodied evil (the titular Dragon), and those it has corrupted: the wraith-like Remnants. Chaelus is haunted by a former love, the loss of a mother, and a deadly relationship with his father.

Christianity is not overtly identified, but readers will detect its influence given the inclusion of:
  1. Ever present themes of redemption
  2. Lots of resurrection
  3. A magic system based on blind faith
  4. A medieval milieu with priest-warriors (Crusaders): these are the white robed, chain mailed Servian Knights, adorned with red, prostrate crosses on their chests. They are equipped with cloth covered swords and vowed to use their weapons only against intangible demons
  5. Angelic warfare between a merciful Creator/Giver and a Dragon/Serpent who assumes shadowy form that can poison souls (arguably a more effective dark-force than Tolkien’s Sauron)
Keeping this nice work from a 5-star rating is its unique strength: the dreamy style was so constant and intense that I often got lost in the trips. As a reader I really felt the character’s struggle to discern reality from fantasy: “…all seemed like a ghost that he could scarcely remember…” An overabundance of the following words proved distracting: veil, shadow, azure flame, cenotaph, and happas. Veil of the Dragon offers more than it can resolve in one novel, which should motivate readers to track down the prequels (Awakening Evarun, a serial of six parts). I look forward to reading more artsy, grim Sword & Sorcery from Barczak.

EXCERPTS:

Ethereal Haunts
"Behind him, a bitter sigh resounded through the bent and broken wood. The forest was speaking. Behind him, the path he’d only just cleared had gone. From the trees, shadows bled like oil, folding down amidst the branches.”

“His breath held like a vapor. The Dragon’s whisper splintered across the frozen air.”

“The stones trembled as they changed, melting away like ice upon spring water. The passage closed in ahead of him.”

"Illuminating from beneath the water like a fallen angel, ghostlike in her glow, a girl child lay drawn in upon herself. Her head was shaven and her skin was bare. Ebony spandrels laced out from the black spots that covered her. Her lips moved faintly upon her upturned face. Her gray eyes flickered. A shadow turned in the water beside her, matching the one within.”
Demonic Creatures:
"The spirits’ breath hung like a black vapor in tendrils about them. Armored veils hid all but the abyss of their eyes. Beneath them, their acrid laughter shrilled out amidst the grinding clatter of their teeth. Yet it wasn’t laughter. No; it was a desperate sound, one of anticipation, the kind that a starving cur utters for carrion."

"The demons drew closer beyond the wall of shadow, their armored veils now torn aside. The terror of their empty eyes was bettered only by their ghoulish maws beneath, filled with beast-like teeth meant for the consumption of souls, the corpses of the Khaalish, torn and cast away beneath them. Unsated, they howled at the ones who had retreated from them."

"…a black and bloodied claw emerged, grasping at its edge. Sand clung to its wet, skinless flesh. The creature pulled its body up, pushing its way past the heavy bones that had caged it. It clambered until it stood, stooped and broken, naked in the rawness of its gray flesh.”

View all my reviews