Zeroes – Flicker

Hey, I’m on tour right now! Click here for a list of appearances! In the meantime:

Below is the first of six character illustrations for my new book Zeroes, written with Margo Lanagan and Deb Biancotti. The image is by Jennie Gyllblad.

Her real name is Riley, but she goes by Flicker:

Click here for bigness

Collective Optical Hijack
Flicker can’t see through her own eyes, but she can borrow those of anyone around her. in other words, in a room alone she can’t see. In a room with a few other people, she can see quite a lot. And in a huge crowd, she’s almost omniscient.

All the Zeroes’ powers work this way: the more people around, the stronger they are. Crowd-sourced superpowers!

Here’s a passage from Zeroes to give you an idea of how Flicker’s vision-hijacking works:

Flicker was in the concierge’s eyes.
      His long fingers were scrolling a touchpad screen, his gaze flitting across requests from customers arriving in the next week. The hotel was filling up, thanks to the big Fourth of July display. Everyone wanted a room with a view of the old Parker-Meridian Hotel, which was scheduled for demolition during the show.
      Every minute or so the concierge looked up, scanning the lobby in a discreet and professional way. Perfect for keeping watch.
      Flicker saw herself in her wingback chair, her bright red dress easy to spot. But as she gave herself a smile, the concierge’s gaze slipped past her and came to a rest on a huge man strolling across the lobby floor.
      The concierge stared. It was hard not to. The guy was as wide as a door, all shoulders and thighs. He wore a shiny black t-shirt made from enough silk for a parachute. Five other big guys cruised across the lobby floor with him, a formation of battleships.
      A man in a Magnifique staff uniform came up and started talking to them, and the concierge’s eyes dropped back to his computer screen.
      Flicker sent her vision into the big guy’s eyes. She couldn’t hear anything from across the lobby, but it didn’t seem like a confrontation. The two were huddled close, the big guy’s eyes moving warily from side to side.
      The hotel staffer, a short man with a shaved head, held out his empty palm, and the big guy pushed a stack of twenties into it. In return, the staffer produced a hotel keycard and slipped it into the breast pocket of the big guy’s shirt.
      This was getting interesting. Flicker unfolded her cane and stood.

What I like most about Jennie’s work is that it combines illustration with collage. As you can see here, Flicker’s background is created with yarn and watercolor. So the characters are sort of like superpowered paper dolls.


Tune in over the next couple of weeks to see the rest of the characters. Click here for more about Zeroes.

It’s out now in Australia and the UK, and on Tuesday, Sep 29 in the US.

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