The Cipher was my first novel, published in 1991 by Dell Abyss. The original title was The Funhole, but the publisher’s marketing department, or whoever it was, made us change it to The Cipher, a title I must confess I never quite understood, except for its suggestion of willed nullity. Or maybe they meant it to mean a total nonentity? Or a secret to be puzzled out? Maybe all three. Maybe it’s a good title. I still prefer The Funhole.


I loved the Marshall Arisman cover (still do) (still love Marshall Arisman); and Rick Lieder made me look badass and glam in the author photo, though the whole “oyster cowboy” thing sounds silly now, and I never wear leather anymore. (I do still have the jacket; maybe I ought to sell it, and donate the proceeds to PETA).

Someone recently told me what a great graphic novel The Cipher would make. Film, too (and more details on that soon…). “An almost painfully visual book,” he said. Someone else said it would make a fantastic game, a world to get lost in.  A 3D game …. Deliberately seedy, deliberately late 20th century, before any of the connective tech we take for granted now. A cheap video camera, a hole in the floor. Curious eyes.

Writing The Cipher was a thoroughly joyful experience; I had no idea what would happen, I only followed the story. Would people like it? Who would read it? Who would publish it? I asked none of those questions, I just wrote.  I did the same thing with Under the Poppy. Joy is a bellwether.

[For all those who have asked, signed copies of The Cipher are available from me, both original and reprint editions; email kathe AT kathekoja.com for details.]

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