It started with sketches and discussions over coffee with Angela, and then by email with Lisa, searching for an image that would catch the linked stories. In the end we focussed on the mythological elements, with flowing lines, a white raven and Mymnir being beautiful and mysterious.
I took the opportunity to play around with coloured inks, as Angela and Lisa wanted a more painterly style – in the end, we went with the softer style I used on Small Beer Press’ cover for Sofia Samatar’s A Stranger in Olondria, but that had not been finished at this stage.
At Continuum in Melbourne, we sat down in the hotel restaurant and worked out the general layout. It was fun working this way – I rarely get to work up a sketch over coffee with the interested parties, but it is much more fluid and less fraught process than the usual back-and-forth by email. At the top left is Lisa demonstrating arm poses.
Russell, the publisher, had sent me templates for the paperback and hardcovers. These have different dimensions. I layered the templates to get a single template which would let me allow for all croppings in the one drawing. I then did a layout sketch (above, lower left) to make sure there was room for the title, blurb, bar code and so forth, and sourced more cape and arm reference (courtesy of Aimee, and my hand).
From there: pencils, inks, colour flats and a long colouring/texturing/shading session in front of BBC crime shows, nominally keeping my father company.
And… in the end the line work was too bold and “YA”. But the cover for A Stranger in Olondria was in the wild by now, so I had some more experience (and everyone had more reference) for what we were trying to do. In the end, after tears and weeping, the only way to soften the lines was to redraw the whole thing in pencil. Which was much more soothing than aiming for precise inkwork. I griped a lot. They turned out to be wise and correct, but I reserve the right to guilt-trip Certain Authors into buying me coffee.
At this point, the lines were approved but the colours were still too bold. This is one reason why, with short turnarounds, I colour digitally! I knocked back the colour and transparency and brought up the paper textures in the sky. This is the point at which I began to grudgingly forgive Angela and Lisa, because this second version did look much, much better. They said kind and soothing words and presented the cover to Russell, who had been suffering in (not quite) silence. He had one request – to adjust the lady’s shoulder – which turned out to be more possible than I expected (to summarise: everyone involved was wonderful and reasonable and I apologise for my histrionics, subject to the coffee comment above).
And voila, the full wrap-around cover (which appears larger here).
Some time after this, Russell sent over the title pages for the limited edition hardcover and I spent a pleasant morning signing them with Angela over cupcakes. By the end – by even 20 pages – my signature looked like “K twitch-muscle-spasm”.
The launches are at Avid Reader in Brisbane on 30 November 2012, and at the SA Writers Centre in Adelaide on 14 December 2012, and you can pre-order the trade paperback or the limited edition hardcover at the links on the Ticonderoga page.