Cover Art From a Writer’s Viewpoint

The new cover for the second Arcadia book, SUMMONING THE NIGHT, began popping up on the web last week. In case you’ve missed it, here it is:


The cover artist is Tony Mauro, who also did the cover for KINDLING THE MOON. Tony creates covers for other Pocket urban fantasy/paranormal series, like Jennifer Estep’s Elemental Assasins and the intriguing debut from Delilah S. Dawson, as well as additional non-Pocket series by Nalini Singh, Yasmine Galenorn, and Anya Bast, just to name a few. He is extremely talented (and incredibly gracious) and I feel quite lucky to have him working on my stuff. Here is his full painting without the text:


Tony Mauro's full painting for SUMMONING THE NIGHT

Pretty awesome, yeah? I like how you can see details in this one that get lost under the text, like the heel of her boot, or some of the graffiti on the walls. I love the colors he chose. So vibrant and warm. When my editor first approached me about the cover, she asked for setting suggestions. Two scenes from the book came to mind: a Halloween carnival, and an abandoned fish cannery on the coast. Pocket had just commissioned a cover with a carnival backdrop, so that idea got dropped, but the cannery was passed along to Tony. This was the passage he was given to work from:

A shallow ramp led into a cavernous empty room. Everything was concrete—the floor, walls, rows of columns, and ceiling. Only a narrow, rectangular band of windows broke the monotony. Stormy twilight passed through busted glass and illuminated an impressive display of faded graffiti that tagged the walls. Near the entrance, a stack of wooden crates created a make-do ladder leading up to one of the broken windows, presumably used by graffiti artists to get in and out of the building. A pile of rusted spray-paint cans lay nearby.

Tony did an amazing job bringing this scene to life. I feel like I’m right there in the cannery with her! (Alas, this is not a place you really want to visit, as you’ll discover when you read this chapter!) As far as Arcadia—Cady— herself is concerned, I think the Pocket art department probably made the decision to show her face on this cover. For KINDLING, they gave me the choice of cropping the face, which I requested; I liked the sense of mystery it imparted. Had I been given the choice on this one, I probably would’ve requested the same, but mainly because showing her full head exposes something which is missing—something that’s vital to the character: her silver halo. Don’t get me wrong—it’s probably fairly tough to illustrate a wispy, nebulous cloud of light over the head without it coming off as hokey, so I understand why they resisted doing that. (And you could argue that only Earthbound demons can see her halo anyway!)

For the sake of scientific interest, here’s what the cover originally looked like:

Original cover

It was fabulous, as it is now, but I wanted to communicate a stronger supernatural element (so I suggested the caduceus staff that Cady uses when kindling electricity for magick, and a change to a more demonic design on the shirt). I also wasn’t crazy about showing off her abs. Nothing wrong with a belly shirt, but it just wasn’t Cady. I like the new longer shirt much better. Also, I found it amusing that Tony gave her a haircut on this cover. No one would probably notice that detail but me, as I don’t really describe Cady’s physical appearance in great detail in the books—I figure she’s the one telling the story, and she’s got better things to worry about than what she’s wearing or how her hair looks in the mirror. But, as a writer, I do consider these things, even if they don’t make it onto the page. I’m an artist myself, so I tend to think in visuals before anything else. This is the original document I drew up and sent to my editor before Tony created the KINDLING cover, which described how I saw Cady. I was a little worried that she’d think I was cuckoo-for-cocoa-puffs for thinking about all these details (as I mentioned on Twitter this week, Cady’s got a curvy backside), but luckily both she and my publisher have a sense of humor. And yes, I misspelled stilettos. Luckily she overlooked this as well:

Early guide to Cady's look, click to expand

So there you have it. Big, big thanks to Tony Mauro, Jennifer Heddle, and everyone in the Pocket art department that made these beautiful covers possible! And now that you’ve seen the cover, in a few days you’ll be able to take a peek into a short Halloween-related outtake from SUMMONING THE NIGHT on the Paranormal Haven blog, featuring Cady, Lon, and Jupe. Stay tuned for details!