Inkblots, Page Formatting, and my Kids by Dylan Callens

Guest Post by Dylan Callens – Inkblots, Page Formatting, and my Kids

Dylan Callens

Dylan Callens lands cleanly. That would be the headline of a newspaper built with an anagram generator. And although Dylan is a Welsh name meaning god or hero of the sea, he is not particularly fond of large bodies of water.

His last name, Callens, might be Gaelic. If it is, his last name means rock. Rocks sink in the sea. Interestingly, he is neither Welsh nor Gaelic, but rather, French and German. The inherent contradictions and internal conflict in his life are obvious.


Inkblots, Page Formatting, and my Kids

When I sat down to start formatting the interior file for my new novel, Interpretation, I wanted to do something neat at the beginning of each chapter. I perused through images of nicely formatted book interiors on Google as a first step.

I like chapters that have fancy first letters and interesting fonts but these are pretty common and it didn’t really fit the theme of my book. After the first few chapters, things get a little… harsh for my protagonist, Carl Winston. I continued searching and found a few examples with pictures at the top of the chapter, which I really liked. I thought about how I could adapt that to my novel and finally, it dawned on me: I could use inkblots, since the book is based on a number of psychological experiments. There is even a moment where Carl does an inkblot test.

A quick sigh of relief escaped my lips because I am no artist. I figured that I would be able to lift inkblots online and dump them at the top of each chapter. But then I started to think about copyright laws. Plus, each online image was a different size, some with ugly backgrounds, and most with a low resolution. Plus I needed thirty-one of these things.

I soon decided to abandon my search and just make the inkblots myself. Well, sort of.

What I did was dupe my children into making them for me. I told them, “It’s a fun art project,” not leading on to the fact that I had secretly created a sweat shop to produce antiquated psychological pseudo-art. We took out the cheap acrylic paint, some recycled paper, and randomly threw globs of paint across the page. A quick paper-fold and a smash of the fist – voila! Insta-art.

It’s quite amazing how effective inkblots are at inspiring the imagination. As each one was created, their excitement grew. “That one looks like a crab!” “That one looks like fish!” “That’s a heart!”

Every time that they saw something interesting in an inkblot, it drove them to make a new one, in hopes of discovering new images. Which is exactly what I want a reader to do when they come to a new chapter.

There was a down side, though. Once they knew that this was for my book, both my ten and eight year old agreed that they wanted a royalty deal for their art. And they drove a hard bargain. According to the contract that I was forced to sign, they now get 90% of my royalties.

Ultimately, the joke’s on them, though. They agreed to royalties on net income, not on gross revenue – and I dump most of my money back into books. Let that be a lesson learned for them!

For me, interior design is typically a tedious job but having my kids help with it really brightened up the process. I love the way that each chapter title looks. More importantly, whenever I look at the book, I’ll be reminded of them and the fun that we had creating the images. I’ll also have the satisfaction of knowing that when someone looks at those inkblots and tries to decipher what the image is, I’ll know that my kids inspired the reader’s imagination.

So, no matter how hard it was to format those pictures properly, and no matter how much effort went into the rest of the book, my favorite part of this novel are the thirty-one inkblots scattered throughout Interpretation.

inkblot 2


Interpretation by Dylan Callens


Author – Dylan Callens
Publisher – Cosmic Teapot Publishing
Pages – 254
Release Date – 12th July 2017
ISBN 13 – 978-1988762111
Format – ebook, paperback, hardcover

New Synopsis

Carl Winston awakens to find his son, Liam, screaming with fear. Trying to understand why, Carl tries to soothe him. Neighbors gather in front of Carl’s apartment to help – until they see him. The crowd cowers back, afraid of this monster.

Carl runs. His life of luxury is ripped away. Forced beyond the city limits, Carl sees a land bereft of life. Traveling in search of answers, his quest comes to a sudden halt when he collapses. As darkness shrouds him, a figure hovers from above.

Traveling along the same route, Eva Thomspon finds Carl and nurtures him back to life. Together, they continue the journey, finding out that their lives have too much in common to be a coincidence. As their affection for each other deepens, an unknown nemesis attempts to remove their only source of happiness – their love for each other.

Interpretation is a dystopian fiction that explores hope and happiness in the bleakest of conditions and what happens when it’s torn away.

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Carl closed his eyes and tried to laugh at himself. Barely a squeak left his mouth. What was he thinking, trying to enter this godforsaken wasteland by himself with no supplies? Still on his back, he dreamed about opening a bottle of Ocean Surge. Wet bubbles danced against his tongue, bathing his taste buds with refreshing fruit-infusion – small bursts of happiness made his lips sing an ode to joy.
But forget that fantasy; sulfur-ridden tap water would be just as good. Carl knew the taste would not equate, but its effect would invigorate. Carl smiled, his eyes wide open, staring into the dimming sky, into the nothingness that surrounded him. Gulp after glorious gulp of imaginary liquid until he couldn’t keep up, showering his face with it until a puddle formed around him. That puddle turned into an ocean and Carl sank to the bottom, his faint breath weakening further. The light grew dimmer. He tried to reach up, to reach out of the depths of his hallucination, but his arms felt too heavy, as if the pressure at this depth couldn’t be overcome.
A shadow hovered over him. Carl tried to speak to it, but words didn’t make sense. The shadow spoke back with a meaningless, muffled slur. Water entered Carl’s mouth, nearly choking him. Nonetheless, the delicious wet felt so good, like ocean refreshment in every bottle. That was the slogan, right? Carl laughed or cried, he couldn’t tell. For all he knew, he was dead. The shadow grew, saying something that he couldn’t work his mind around. Darker. Darker. Clock, what the hell was that clock song? Darker. The shadow drew nearer. Or maybe it was the darkness. It was bought on the morn of the day that he was born, And was always his treasure and pride… Ah yes, there it is. But it stopped short – never to go again – When the old man died.

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