Gambit, Book IV of Dark Tales of Randamor the Recluse, and the first part of the new trilogy, The Invisible Hands, is in the final stages of being made ready to be published.
There is of course the inevitable editing-process. I’m lucky enough to have an editor who is very generous with her time, and who is equipped with eagle eyes. There are maps to be made and there is formatting to be done. Last, but not least, there is the cover…
The cover is a particular nightmare all by itself. Especially for people like me who would like an artist to put their vision on paper as accurate as possible. And if you thought writers were self-involved, egotistical, stubborn maniacs with an overblown sense of self-importance and entitlement, well, think again. We are of course, just not the only ones.
So, I was very surprised — in a good way — to actually find someone who is very patient with yours truly’s often petulant whining, who listens to his ramblings and demands for finicky details almost nobody except himself will ever notice, and then goes back to the drawing-board — literally — and comes up with always better sketches.
For those who are interested in such things I will give them a peek behind the scenes of the birth of this cover.
My problem was this: I had used stock-photography for the first three covers. But there is only so much you can do with that. There are, most of the time, only a very limited number of pictures of the models you like. The posture has to be right and the lighting as well. You can do a lot with computer graphics, but not everything. In short, you’re at the end of the road very fast.
So, for this new trilogy I thought I’d go with drawings (or paintings). I found a lot of leads on Kindleboards, some of which I like very much. I also soon found that there are a lot of obstacles. The artist must be willing to do it and have the time. To make a long story short: it took me some while to find someone with both the ability and the time to make a cover that I would like.
Once the right artist was found, the problem was conveying what I would have liked to be shown on the damn thing. So, after the initial contact, I put my “vision” in an email and hoped for the best. I had made a dummy with the necessary lettering on it to give the artist an idea which space he could use.
This is what came back:
Very good, certainly if you take into account that the artist had to work from a text. The figure standing prominently on a sort of precipice is Anaxantis, watching over his borders to some possible threat in the distance. There is a face in the clouds. It will be obvious for those of you who have read the first trilogy who that is. I’ll call him the Other One so as not to spoil anything for those who haven’t. In the distance you can see Lorseth Castle.
I decided to gather my meager graphical skills and the Gimp, and throw together a collage to make more clear how I “saw” things.
This is what I came up with:
Both figures now face in the same direction. For the Other One I used a stock photo of which I had bought the rights some time ago. I particularly love that the Other One is looking straight at the reader. He is clearly on Anaxantis’s mind, hovering above him as he does. Oh, and that’s Edinburgh Castle, if I’m not mistaken — you’ll have to consult a Scot — that is standing in for Lorseth Castle.
At this stage, we’re not nearly there. Not in the least because Anaxantis is as yet faceless.
I’ll show you what the artist came up with in the next post.
Gambit will be published in April 2012.