Hello, Internet! Welcome back to the Art of Lex Chase. I’m your one and only host, Lex! Every month here at The Novel Approach, I share a new art piece by yours truly. If it has completely escaped your notice, I’m an author with Dreamspinner Press and DSP Publications, but I’m also a digital artist. Got the BFA to prove it! So if you’re looking for custom art for swag, covers, posters, blog tours, et cetera, I’m your person!
Last month’s piece was my ode to the Showtime show, Penny Dreadful, and why you should watch it. Plus my eyecandy of the month was pretty dandy Victor Frankenstein and sexpot Dorian Gray. Check it out here!
This month is something a little different and more personal to me. If you follow me on social media, you might have seen me babble about a series I’m writing called Grow. I sometimes refer to it as “Dystopian Flower People Book.” Yeah, really. To sum up Grow as quickly as possible: A catastrophic event hits the US Eastern Seaboard and wipes out the US, Canada, and Mexico. All human life wiped out in a blink. Decades pass, and signs of life return. Only they’re not human. They’re plants. And the entire world is now scrambling for ideas for wtf to do about these new beings.
Our hero, is a strapping lad named Iris. Yes. He’s an iris. And he wants to know about the world outside of his own. But it will lead him to some very dangerous places and how one odd Bloom, an iris, a flower of inspiration, has a legacy that precedes him. Among his allies, is Muir. A completely batshit, snarky older man that insists he’s a human. But Iris believes Muir is a figment of his imagination. After all, humans don’t exist. Do they?
But the more Muir tempts him the more Iris must face the idea he might be going insane. But he might not care. So this month’s piece is Iris with a hint of his “imaginary friend” Muir. Facing the frayed threads of his sanity, will Iris cave to his fantasy with Muir? Also as a bonus, I’m sharing a hearty snippet of Chapter One!
Grow by Lex Chase
My name is Iris.
I can read.
And I’d be executed if they knew.
None of the Farmers suspected anything when I had been stealing away during the dark. I had been surprised, comfortable and cocky even with how many darks had gone by and no one questioned it. The first time I had tried to falsify records, I was certain I’d be caught. But when I never was, I tried again, and again. Each time growing bolder with forged information. It had been easy to lie when no one else could read or knew which wires to rearrange in the Hive control room.
When I found the map, I was shocked that a sheaf of antiquated, brittle paper had survived the Barren Times until now. I kept it secret as my own special prize. I wouldn’t dare let anyone take it.
It had been marked with what had been called letters and numbers and the diagram depicted held the key for me to finally understand those who came before us. I had once heard our world called the Americas, but I had yet to understand why and what it meant.
But even more peculiar is that when I found the map, I had met Muir. And lying about the map and Muir’s existence had become a necessity. He intrigued me. He called himself a human, and I wasn’t quite sure if he was just as insane as I was. There weren’t any. Not anymore. There were Blooms and Farmers.
Muir was my curiosity, and what I’d consider a friend. He came and went as easy as the rains. Most of the time I wondered if I had imagined him. But there he was, in his tattered overcoat and shaggy silver hair, bringing me Barren Times objects like a magpie offering gifts.
We studied the map for too many darks to count—and I can count to 100—until I realized the map didn’t lead to a treasure somewhere. It was somewhere, a plan, a blueprint.
It wasn’t in the typical conical nest shape that Blooms constructed their shelters. It was boxy, with right angles. The faded letters called it an Adams Home. In a fit of madness, I decided to build it. I couldn’t build it anywhere close to the Farmer Hive, but not so far away that I couldn’t get back and forth easily to escape notice. I settled on the Astrod’me swamp. The massive cavernous swamp was a relic of the Barren Times. Supported by steel arches and with a towering, flat ceiling, it was the perfect place to hide the “house,” as Muir called it. The Astrod’me cave was vast and foreboding enough to deter any Farmer or Bloom lest they be killed by one of the many swamp creatures or fall victim to the quagmire.
The work was long and meant for a team, but I had convinced Muir to help. I couldn’t trust anyone with the information but, figment of my overactive imagination or not, Muir had won me over.
If anyone discovered us, I’d be tortured and composted while I was alive. I didn’t dare contemplate Muir’s fate. But it was worth it. We built the Adams Home to the best of our abilities with the tools I could steal or Muir could fashion. The walls were straight enough, and the frame was definitely sturdy. The map indicated rectangular cut-outs in the walls, which I assumed were for some kind of lookout point, maybe for hunting. I tried to replicate them but didn’t know what purpose they served.
“They’re windows,” Muir had said, smiling as he looked out over the dark swamp.
“That tells me nothing,” I said.
“Windows, ‘Ris.” He turned to me with a crooked, slightly demented smile on his face. “Windows.”
I sighed and used my sleeve to blot away the dew on my forehead.
“You’re not helping,” I said as I hefted the plank of hackberry onto the kitchen counter. “And don’t call me that.”
“It suits you,” Muir said as he leaned against the cut-out frame.
“It’s sproutish.” I patted my hip, then checked my pockets. “Where did you put the knife?”
Muir seemed to be lost in his own world and rolled what he had called a cigarette. He hummed to himself then licked the paper to seal it.
I balanced the hackberry plank on my knee to keep it from falling off the small counter. “Muir,” I said firmly.
Muir fished a chemflare from my jacket pocket hanging next to him. He didn’t say a word as he popped the stopper from the tubing and used the bolt of flame to light his cigarette. The blinding red flare filled the open floorplan in the living room and kitchen.
“Muir!” I snapped at him, and shielded my eyes.
Muir paid me no mind, and casually turned and tossed the flare out of the cut-out into the swamp below. He took a long drag on his cigarette and groaned in the back of his throat, seeming satisfied.
“Were all humans like you? This irresponsible?” I asked.
Muir didn’t answer for a long moment. And I wondered if he had gotten lost in his own mind. Or if my imagination of him faded.
“There’s no one like me,” he said finally.
“Good.” I nodded. “Because I think I’d truly be insane if there were more than one of you.”
“For the last time, ‘Ris, you’re not making me up,” Muir said as he slapped his forehead.
“Stop calling me that, and give me the knife,” I said. He could be so aggravating. I knocked my knuckles on the hackberry panel while wobbling on one foot. “We have to get the door hung this dark.”
“We?” Muir asked with his cigarette between his lips. “I didn’t come out here over a door. I came out here for the view.” He smirked, and the blotch of yellow in his left hazel iris caught the light. “It’s a nice view.”
I adjusted my footing and slid the hackberry plank further onto the counter. I took a tentative step back, making sure it wouldn’t fall. The plank remained in place.
Muir took another drag on his cigarette as I crossed the floor to him. He didn’t move from his post, and I shifted around him to get to my jacket hanging next to him on a nail.
“It’s a swamp,” I said as I searched my jacket pockets for the knife. “I wouldn’t call the view nice.” Again the knife was missing. I let out a frustrated grunt and then turned to him. “Hand it over.”
“This?” he asked, holding up my hunting knife with his same grin. “Sorry, must have missed what you said.”
I went to reach for it and he pulled his hand back.
“Ah-ah,” he said, his hazel eyes meeting mine. “What do we say?”
I reached again and he evaded me. “You’re weird and obnoxious?”
“Say please,” he whispered around the cigarette in his mouth. “Say pretty please.”
Squinting at him, I considered him for a moment. The cut of his jaw, his sharp cheekbones, and the arrogant way he sucked on his cigarette. I plucked the cigarette from his lips and pulled away before he could stop me.
“What do we say?” I asked, then pulled a long drag. The warmth filled my lungs, then cooled as I exhaled.
“That’s my last one,” he said.
“You need to quit anyway,” I said. “These things will kill you.”
Muir tilted his chin and smiled like a spoiled cat. “And where did you learn that?”
I took another drag. “The book you brought me. Gray’s Anatomy. There’s a section on disease and it talks about carcinogens.”
He tossed his head back and laughed, and he was far too amused for my liking. “You think I’ll get a disease?” he asked and made finger quotes.
“You are a disease.” I smirked and tapped my forehead, indicating where he lived.
Muir sighed. “By Sen’s tits, ‘Ris, you’re not making me up!”
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About the Author
Pop culture, comics, anime, and…cannibals?
These are a just a few things that go through Lex Chases head at any given moment. As an author, she specializes in stories of action, adventure, and broken yet true love. As an artist, she makes no apologies for drawing Hannibals Hannigram all the time.
Writing about boys who put the massively fun in massively dysfunctional, and drawing characters with questionable moralsor the precious cinnamon roll with questionable moralsgives her great pleasure. Lex knows everyone has a vice, and shes willing to put stylus to tablet for yours.
Lex is open to all kinds of commissions from promo art, to swag, to social media graphics, covers, branding, posters, prints, and gifts for fans or yourself!
Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org with “Commission Request” in the subject line!