With the absolutely jaw-dropping "BLUEBERRY" now finished and in the happy hands of numerous readers, a harsh winter looms ahead for D. and -- in an attempt to create a watershed to help him get to SPRING in tact -- "A WINTER'S TALE" is already underway.
Here are the first few words as a teaser...
THE LAST STORY: THE WOLF OF WEREGILD
Even the ice of the blood moon trembled at the howling.
Above the treeline, for at least nine miles, snow dusted from the full crimson face of night fluttered down through the Bavarian bleak, shivering in unison with the wail of the desperate animal. The countryside stilled. Only the undulations of the wolfen cry dared move...and move they did, racing through every split of branch and base of ten-thousand trees, filling the far and wide with it's anguish. Every other animal for five miles down the range stiffened, statues now in the Czech-border forest, piqued at their ears and tails, the howling itself making fur stand on end and eyes sharpen and search in circles through the snowfall.
Somewhere through the unapproachable path that ran serpentine through the otherwise bestial Bavarian out-land, the Grand Monarch Hotel huddled against the preternatural, its brick and glass and mortar and moorings quivering at the baying beyond it all. Though the string quartet played on in the 300-year-old Altbayem Hall, every human eye widened, every human muscle tightened.
The Wolf of WereGild chilled bone and blood.
The girl at the first of the eighteen steps that led to the last story of the hotel was the only one moving at this moment. Cef was herself eighteen. Daughter of the dowager Alcira, set from birth to inherit the hotel and its outlying lands as far as the howl could travel, her hand slid across the garish wood rail as she cocked her head. The music seventeen floors down could barely be heard. Instead, at this altitude of the lavish oasis, only the howling could be heard, not from the forest outside but the rooms above.
The wolf was not without but within.
Ceferina -- almost a captive of the carved wood and gilded decadence -- had slipped from the whispering guests and followed something tangled and writhing in her senses here.
Here...where only one guest remained unaccounted for.
The wolfen howling had become — step by step — less animal and increasingly...human.
Cef released her bottom lip from her top teeth, fought the stiffening of her spine and clenching of her grip on the rail.
Centuries of folklore and mythology might be at her fingertips now.
She looked down the flights of stairs.
Then again, as though they might save her, beckon her back from her folly.
But without a friend, and only one remaining living relative, only the hotel and her fate there represented any kind of future.
So on she went. Up.
Up to the last story.
Towards the howling.
Towards the first fierce choice she had made in her otherwise imprisoned life.
"A WINTER'S TALE" promises to be not just the ultimate masterpiece but also his opus. Probably the last.
We are all praying he survives the winter.
I've been asked to design and draw the FINAL COVER and look forward to doing so. For now this will do.