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Month: January 2014

Cover Artist Audition Sketch – Rich Whyte

Posted in Artwork, Structures of Earth, and The Affinities of Magic

CoverSketch-RichWhyte-karen1Here's the second candidate for cover art for The Affinities of Magic from artist Richard Whyte. He's taken a different approach to the academy building.

Both Jake Bullock and Rich Whyte are British, and I'm amused that, given encouragement to use any period in any region, or to make up something out of whole cloth, they each defaulted to more or less Victorian England. (Apparently you can take the Brit out of England but you can't…)

Is this the influence of steampunk, do you suppose?

I find that the sketch by Jake Bullock seems to capture more of the flavor of “fantasy” and more of the notion of the academy building as a “main character” in its own right, where Rich Whyte's has more of the flavor of a period mystery or of the aforementioned steampunk. Covers are very important for genre fiction — they should immediately suggest the appropriate genre, and I think Jake Bullock's is doing a better job of that.

What do you think?

You can find more of Rich's work here.

Life on the farm

Posted in A Writer's Desk

It's always good to have backup utilities.

If we run out of oil, we have a fireplace and a woodpile. For water, we can melt snow or filter the spring. And, just in case, we have a two-door outhouse.

One door died years ago and has not been resurrected. The second door has a tendency to not stay shut. Porcupines gnaw the wood for the salt from human sweat.

And, apparently, it makes a great home for screech owls. Pardon the quality of the photo: I was using a cellphone through a car window somewhat coated in basset hound drool. (But isn't that how it always works?)

Pictures of more easily visible screech owls to the right
Pictures of more easily visible screech owls to the right

Cover artist audition sketch – Jake Bullock

Posted in Artwork, Structures of Earth, and The Affinities of Magic

Cover-Sketch-Crop-Jake-BullockI've asked two cover artist candidates to do a preliminary cover sketch for The Affinities of Magic, and a third is considering. I thought my readers would enjoy looking over my shoulder at the process of picking a cover artist for a series, and I'd be delighted to hear your thoughts.

Artist Jake Bullock has just sent me his preliminary sketch and I wanted to share that with you.

The cover for all the novels will feature an old wizard guild house, fallen into bad times along with its clan. Because of one brilliant young student and his systematic discoveries, the guild house will be gradually revived into an academy for a new school of magic. In each new novel you can see visible improvements, both to the building and to its surroundings.

The series background concerns a world that is moving from the biological equivalent of alchemy to chemistry, that is, from a mystical practice to a science-based one. Every story, short or long, will include a natural biological entity that produces an insight into how things really work, and that will be featured in a small vignette on the cover.

For long works, that vignette will be on the back cover. For short works, the back cover scene and its vignette will function as the front cover (short works don't appear in print and only need front covers).

You can find more of Jake's work here.Cover-Sketch-Jake-Bullock

Planning cover art for The Affinities of Magic

Posted in Artwork, and The Affinities of Magic

eolin_saga__revenge_of_ruyzouy_by_ertacaltinoz-d6wq03bMy next large work, after I complete Bound into the Blood, will be the start of a new series called The Affinities of Magic. That doesn't mean I'll stop writing stories in the first series, but just that I'll be keeping two going now.

All of the paintings for my covers for the books and stories in The Hounds of Annwn are the work of Larissa Kulik, a Russian surrealist. I've been using her paintings from stock photo sites and adapting them to my use.

For my next series, I plan to commission art work for the covers instead. It's an interesting challenge because, although I only need to buy one to start with, I have to plan for several novels and collections, as well as short stories, and they need to be both reasonably priced and recognizable as a single body of work. (Each series needs a brand.)  So I need to find an artist who:

  • Wants to commit for a number of digital paintings over the next couple of years without charging a fortune.
  • Works in a style which I think is suitable for the books.
  • Understands the basics of book cover composition for placement of book titles, etc.  I'll do the layout and design myself, but the paintings should take all that into account.
  • Isn't too overloaded to produce work fairly promptly.

The way you shop for this is to ask for recommendations from other authors and scour places like Deviant Art and ELance for artist portfolios that seem to meet your criteria.  I've spent the last couple of days pouring through portfolios by the hundreds and sending out feelers, but it will take a while before I can settle on a very short list.  I'll show you all samples as I go through the process, for your amusement (and input).

There are some amazing graphic artists out there.   The illustration for this post comes from Ertac Altinoz.

Sci-Festival Interview

Posted in Interviews

microphoneChele Cooke has just posted an interview I did with her for her Sci-Festival, a series of blog posts interviewing authors of Science Fiction & Fantasy.

Here are the highlights…

How did you get into writing Sci-Fi/Fantasy?

I’ve been an avid reader of SFF since I was a child (I can well remember when paperbacks first became popular, and Ace doubles hit the local stores).

As a writer, what I like about Fantasy, in particular, is that you can make it quite as character-driven as you care to. In some ways, it shares with Westerns the notion that a man’s character is everything, and with Science Fiction the notion that there are innumerable new worlds of wonder held together by consistent rules that we can explore. Anything is possible in the Fantasy genre, and the stakes can be larger than life.