The Wrath of the Four Horsemen, a very personal project for my after-work alter ego.
Algie Kreake is a pen name for my after-work alter ego as a writer. I started writing in 2007 whilst undergoing chemotherapy for testicular cancer in St Barts, London. The solitude and physical inactivity – along with copious amounts of morphine – seemed to heighten my powers of imagination, which needed an outlet. Scribbling down my thoughts (however random or bizarre) proved therapeutic, especially when I couldn't sleep during the long nights alone in hospital.
About a year after the treatment finished I pieced all my notes together then sporadically over the next four years moulded all the disparate ideas into a fully-fledged book.
The Wrath of the Four Horsemen
The title of the book, The Wrath of the Four Horsemen, is a metaphor for the four sessions of chemotherapy I had to go through, each one representing a Horseman of the Apocalypse.
Although the story describes the emotional turmoil and physical pain of undergoing intensive chemo – the brutal, debilitating and often degrading side effects – it soon morphs into a different beast entirely. Fact and fiction become stapled together, wrapped in fantasy adventure, then smothered with a big dollop of black humour and satire chilli sauce.
I abstracted my knowledge, experiences, fragments of memory, hopes and fears, and blended them with my imagination to write a story that lurches between fact and fiction like a old drunkard staggering home after a skinful, expounding his theories on life to every passerby: how the dinosaurs really died out; the shocking truth as to why the Tooth Fairies have suddenly 'gone off the rails'; and a taste of what life is really like in a typical English seaside town.
Parts of the story try to interpret the absurdity of the world through the eyes of someone who was existing outside the normal flow of life. With any serious illness or trauma, there is a feeling of being trapped in a bubble and, especially when on medication such as morphine, the boundaries between real life and imagination can be hard to distinguish.
Read more about the book: Algie Kreake: A Special Personal Project
Book Design, calligraphy and illustration
I didn't want the book to be viewed as just a factual journey through cancer. So to reflect the fantasy and humorous elements of the story I drew some quirky calligraphy and illustrations which were used on the outside cover of the book and in an animated trailer.
The book was written in Word before being imported into InDesign for formatting. I chose Baskerville for the text as it's a good, solid English typeface. I then did all the conversions for both print and Kindle versions.
The animated trailer was put together in Flash and then converted to mpg (if I remember correctly). The trailer is on YouTube: any likes would be appreciated.