The First (and Probably Last) Danger Peak Photo Essay

courtesy Google images

For the past few months, I’ve been blah blah blahing (or should I write “blog blog blogging”) about my road to publication, and since people seem to respond more to visual stimulation these days, I thought I’d take a crack at creating my first Danger Peak photo essay. As the title says, it will also most likely be my last. Here we go!

This pic is in my bio, but I wanted to point out how this is my most 1980s photograph of my entire life. For context, it was my (10th?) birthday, and I had just unwrapped “Ghostbusters” on VHS as part of a treasure hunt my sister set up. “Ghostbusters” is a movie I had been coveting for over a year, and after renting it from the local Andor Video (R.I.P., playa) around the corner from my house nearly every week, my parents finally relented and bought me the damn thing, figuring it would be cheaper in the long run. (Remember, this is back when videocassettes cost almost $100 to buy.) But back to the ‘80s references: Besides the obvious “Ghostbusters” tape I’m so proudly brandishing, I’m wearing a “Transformers” sweatshirt; there’s an Atari 2600 to my left; there’s an old-timey, boxy television set, a VCR, and blank, recordable VHS tapes behind me; there’s a Toys “R” Us bag (once again, R.I.P.) on the bed in front of me; and there’s a pennant of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus (do I need to say it? R.I.P.) on the wall. In fact, there’s actually more ‘80s memorabilia in this photo, but I cropped it out because my sister was in the shot, and I wasn’t sure she’d want to be advertised on this site/blog. In the original shot, there are several posters from Nintendo Power (one last time: R.I.P.) taped to my bedroom wall. And yes, you better believe Nintendo Power gets several shout-outs in Danger Peak.
Here is my official headshot for my Amazon author page. Photo courtesy of Nicole Esposito Photography.
Here is the first alternate headshot. Again, photo courtesy of Nicole Esposito Photography.
Here is the second and final alternate headshot. Photo still courtesy of Nicole Esposito Photography. I promise this is the last picture of me in this blog!
As alluded to in an older blog, here is a snapshot of an early outline for Danger Peak when it was still titled Action Bike. At first, I was a little hesitant to post this behind-the-scenes info since it gives away some of the plot before anyone has had their copy of the book delivered (not even me!), but then I realized no one will be able to read my handwriting anyway. If you can though, congrats! You don’t need glasses!
Here is the first rejected cover of Danger Peak. (These rejected covers were already featured on my Facebook profile and in my Twitter feed, but I realize most people don’t follow my social media.) I thought this cover was too “dark and gritty” for what is mostly a lighthearted kids’ adventure. Though there are dramatic elements in my story, I didn’t want to overshadow the fact that hey, this book is actually fun.
This rejected cover was a runner-up to what was eventually chosen, but I was glad I was able to incorporate the illustration of the kid pumping his fist in the air for the official back cover.
This was my least favorite cover, though, ironically, it was my wife’s and her best friend’s favorite (go figure). I thought it was too serious and sparse looking. Also, that bike tire in the foreground is obviously not from the ‘80s. Oops!
Here is the final full cover of the book, including the back-flap copy and my bio. (Again, this was already posted in my social media, but this is the first time it’s been posted on this website.)
This was the interior design I submitted to my publisher. The lightning bolt has a double meaning. It’s meant to signify the lightning-fast Action Bike that Robert and his friends build throughout the book, and it also illustrates the hazards of Danger Peak itself, which include lightning strikes. I liked the dichotomy of the metaphorical (lightning-fast bike) with the literal (actual lightning bolts on top of the mountain).
Here is the original cover of Danger Peak that I designed when I was 11 years old and the title was still Action Bike (inspired by the NES game “ExciteBike”). If nothing else, this is proof that I originally wrote this story in 1988.
This is the cover design I submitted to my publisher earlier this year. As you can see, there were a few changes made to the final design. As you can also see, my drawing style hasn’t improved much in the past 30 years. (Those rectangular blips blasting out of the front of the bike are supposed to be laser bolts.)
Here are a few more pics scattered throughout the original short story version of Danger Peak.
At this point, my beta readers are going to start recognizing moments from the story. Here is a shot of Robert hiding in his teacher’s closet, with a set of test tubes broken in the corner. (Those are supposed to be his teacher’s legs in the foreground.) Just why is Robert hiding? You’ll have to read the book to find out!
Here are two of the boys trying to escape the cops. In the novel version, the kids’ school guards are chasing them in this scene, and the cops end up chasing them later in the story (in other words, Escalation of Conflict 101). Why are they being chased by school guards and cops? I think you all know how I’m going to answer that question.
Here is an illustration of one of the action scenes, where Robert and Rinnie narrowly escape the cops by hopping over a wall. (Again, in the novel, they’re trying to outrun their school guards.) I remember being proud of this drawing at the time. (I especially loved the frustrated, mustachioed, cartoony cop in the corner.) Then again, I was 11.
This is from the chapter titled “Determined.” (That chapter title is one of the few things that safely translated to the full-length novel.) In the original version, after getting caught by the cops, Robert spends the night camping outside with them and watches the sun rise, and this inspires him to climb Danger Peak once and for all. Of course, camping out with the cops doesn’t make a lick of sense (hey, I was 11!), so I changed it in the novel to the cops letting Robert off with a strong warning (there’s more to it than that, but I don’t want to give everything away) and escorting him and his friends home. Then, in the middle of the night, Robert wakes up to watch the sun rise from his bedroom window. This version is much more plausible. And that’s why pencils have erasers, kids!
Here is a drawing of Robert climbing Danger Peak and blasting the boulders with a laser. At this point, I feel I’m giving too much of the story away, so I’ll stop here.

Hopefully, you guys enjoyed this photo journey through Danger Peak’s history. If nothing else, after you’ve seen my crudely drawn illustrations, now you know why I became a writer and not an artist!


P.S.: Smash that Amazon button!

P.P.S.: If you happen to think Amazon is evil (and honestly, I can’t completely blame you), Danger Peak should be available at Barnes & Noble next week or so.

P.P.P.S.: My free book, Lists, Life, and Other Unimportant Details, is still available if you sign up for blog updates. As always, read the instructions on top of the Blog/FREE Book page for more info.

P.P.P.P.S.: Next week’s blog: Danger Peak’s Book Proposal

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