As well as writing my books I also like to design the covers. I am not a trained artist, just an enthusiast. I also like messing around with photograph manipulation in a digital format. I do draw and paint as well, but I find digital to be a both quicker and less messy in the respect that mistakes are very easy to put right, and I do not have to pack everything away when my session has finished, just close the computer down.
When I was writing ‘The War Wolf’ the image for the cover came to me very quickly. The same was true in respect of ‘For Rapture of Ravens’ and ‘The Blade’s Fell Blow’. I did eventually change the original covers, however. Having completed the trilogy I felt that a more uniform look would work better, but the themes remained very much the same. There is a wolf, a raven, and an image of Mildryth just like in the earlier versions.
‘Eugenica’ originally had a cover that was heavily influenced by Art Deco, a style I really admire. This book has always struggled to find a readership, even though I do not why. I decided to change the cover to something altogether different. I think the current image is very dramatic and even provocative. The idea of putting an image of Grace, complete with her false leg and missing hand, before a Union Flag struck me as quite powerful. I still think that it is.
For ‘Mesozoic’ I originally tried to draw a scene where members of the Palaeontological Field Time Unit encountered a dinosaur in a dramatic way. To be honest, although I enjoyed drawing the dinosaurs, I could never get the tension right. There was always something about the images that just did not work for me. The idea for the arm with the rip in the sleeve came about quite by accident. I was actually working on the PFTU badge on the top of the sleeve. It worked very well and looked quite atmospheric. The garment is supposed to be an encounter suit, a closed system that separates the scientists from the environment that they are studying, but I took a little artistic licence and added the hand without the glove. It just seemed to work much better, especially with the rip further up the arm. The only addition to this image has been the ribbon of dinosaur silhouettes on the left, which I added a few weeks ago.
When I started work on ‘The Queen of the Mountain’ I actually had a very clear image that I wanted to capture, but it never worked. I tried all kinds of approaches. Getting the elements together was relatively easy. I knew that I wanted an image of the mountain, one of Princess Saran, another main character, and soldiers at the bottom. I appear to have been heavily influenced by movie posters, particularly from the adventure genre like Indiana Jones. Despite this clarity of vision, the finished article just refused to be realised. Last weekend I finished revising ‘Eugenica’ and decided to give QMK another go; this was the end result:
From plugging in my graphics tablet to exporting the image into a jpeg file I worked continuously for about four hours. Everything just seemed to come together to work. I modified a photograph of a mountain peak, getting it to look dramatic and a bit thinner than it is in real life. The image of Saran is a tock photograph that I worked on to make her look somewhat ethereal. The young woman’s face is very close to what I imagined Saran to look like, actually. The officer is Risdun Hak, a mercenary returned home to the Mountain Kingdom after many years spent away. He is pivotal to Saran’s plans to take the crown and defy five hundred years of history that insists a woman cannot hold a position of authority over men. Finally, the soldiers are at the bottom work well to suggest that this fantasy novel is set in a different period to the usual medieval one favoured by most other writers. I think it works quite well. I might make some subtle changes to the image before the book is published, but it will not be anything major.