- - October 27th, 2009
The Unit by Terry DeHart has a pretty straightforward concept: it’s about a family fighting to survive the aftermath of a nuclear apocalypse. It’s a very violent, gritty book, and it reads like an action movie, so we wanted to give the cover a very cinematic look. The “Unit” of the title is a bit of a play on words, as it’s a family unit that must turn itself into a military unit in order to survive. I could go on about the “nuclear” family having to face “nuclear” holocaust but then you’d all groan and go read someone else’s blog post here. (sorry, couldn’t resist)
The cover is a collaboration between the fabulous designer Chad Roberts and myself. He really gets all the credit for establishing the look and typography, but the original had more graphic, as opposed to photographic, figures of the family. After the final manuscript came in we realized the book was a little more gritty than the graphic look communicated, so yours truly took the template for the characters Chad had designed and found more realistic images we could then backlight and do fancy photoshop magic on to make them look like they were totally all standing together in front of a big fireball waiting to spring into action. (A.K.A. “Designer Magic”)
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- - October 21st, 2009
Winner of officially the hardest cover of the season to nail: Feed by Mira Grant. I don’t want to give too much away on this one, because it’s one of those books that sounds a little odd in the describing, but then blows you away when you read it. There are a lot of layers going on in this book and it’s really smart. It’s an adventure, a political drama, a medical thriller, a character-driven almost first-person memoir style book that sucks you in and you literally cannot put down. And there’s zombies. Yes, a smart book about zombies. But don’t get hung up on the zombie thing. this book is not a joke, or a gimmick. Seriously people, I literally teared up at the end, I got so into the characters. I don’t do that for a lot of science fiction books. (Okay, I cried at the end of Endymion Rising. And Ender’s Game. but that’s it, I swear.)
As I have said before, liking a book a lot before you start designing is a bit of a curse, because you kind of put a lot of pressure on yourself to do a good job. That was definitely the case with Feed, but even worse it was a book that had to combine so many things into a smart package: zombies, politics, blogs, science fiction, horror, and a real world this-could-happen-to-you kind of impact. Tall order. Read the rest of this entry »
- - October 19th, 2009
One of the best parts—and hardest parts— of my job is getting to match up artists with a new book or series. You have a big responsibility to get the image “right” — there’s nothing worse to me as a fan than reading a book and picturing it in your mind and loving it, then having an image on the cover that just doesn’t capture the depth or feel of the book. This can be true of a cover whether it’s designed or illustrated, but there’s something about an illustration that locks the image of the character or world in your mind, and it’s unshakeable. So you want it to be RIGHT.
The Gaslight Dogs by Karin Lowachee was definitely one of those books that begged to be illustrated. And the editor and I both thought Sam Weber had the perfect style for the book—both for his beautiful but haunting figures, and for his stark backgrounds. We thought he could perfectly evoke that arctic wasteland feeling, while giving us a compelling but accurate picture of the main character and her spirit form. That’s the tricky thing about hiring an illustrator also—you don’t just want them to paint a scene straight from the book—you want them to add something to it. Another layer, a feeling, it’s hard to describe, but you know it when you see it. It’s a very elusive quality, and one of those things that makes Creative Directors tear their hair out in their sleep. Read the rest of this entry »
- - October 12th, 2009
And the first new cover for the Spring/Summer 2010 season is the next book in the Jane True series: Tempest Rising by Nicole Peeler. (Just because I will be seeing her in the Orbit HQ this week and I don’t want her to kick my butt for not posting it yet)
Of course I went back to the fabulous (and award-winning) illustrator Sharon Tancredi for our next look at Jane True. Tracking the Tempest finds Jane learning how to cope with her new view of the world, and the powers that come with it, in the midst of a very action-packed story. Where in the first book, Tempest Rising, we had more of a portrait of Jane on the cover, this time we wanted an action shot. Jane is learning how to control her powers, and growing as a character, and I think Sharon did a fabulous job of picking this scene out of the story to illustrate that.
I love how Sharon kept the theme going from the first book with the illustrated frame, and a new take on the heart icon that is very apt to the story.
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- - October 9th, 2009
Sorry folks, I know I’ve been a little absent from the new-and-improved-now-with-author-posts orbit blog, but, as you might surmise from the photo to the left, I was off getting hitched. Not only that, but I had been feverishly working for months on the covers for the new Spring/Summer 2010 season, finished almost every one, had a huge Sales meeting here at Orbit HQ, and then ran off and got married in a supremely geek-flavored way. Among other geeky touches, Han and Leia over there were the cake toppers, and I made all the wedding party enter the reception to the opening theme to Star Wars.
Just wanted to let you loyal readers know, Orbit HQ is staffed with geeks at literally every level.
Now let the cover posts commence! (And yes, work on the WORST COVER EVER continues…)
- - August 7th, 2009
The votes are in and we have a winner! We’re pleased to present to you the title for your worst cover ever.
Across a Trembling Sea the Cyborg Fairies Dance
It was an incredibly tight race, with Rise of the Fallen, Book Seven, The Pre-Antepenultimate Battle in second place, but in the end the Cyborg Faries put down the Fallen.
So there you have it. Our fearless art director is warming up her Photoshop as we speak, but before she can start we need two more key cover elements: the author name and the reading line.
Author names are straightforward enough (if you’re having problems, heed Dr. Ronald Chevalier’s advice).
The reading line is a more delicate matter — for that we need the top-line description of the book that will inform everything. The best reading line will give the reader a hint about what to expect in the book – even if that hint is wholly inaccurate.
- - July 28th, 2009
Congrats to Sharon Tancredi, the fabulous illustrator of TEMPEST RISING by Nicole Peeler – She is being honored for her work on the cover by inclusion into the prestigious Communication Arts Illustration Annual. It’s in “unpublished” because the book doesn’t come out until November, but the buzz is already building for our new half-selkie heroine, Jane True. Read the rest of this entry »
- - July 16th, 2009
Hand of Isis is the next book from Jo Graham that we are repackaging for the mass market version. If you’ll recall the cover launch for Black Ships, Mario Pulice and Debra Lill had designed lovely covers for the original trade paperback version, but we wanted to go with a more traditional fantasy look for the new versions and commissioned new artwork from the famous, and fabulous, John Jude Palencar.
Black Ships and Hand of Isis definitely go together, but I wouldn’t call them a series, exactly. You can read either first, but as you read more of the books (I am lucky enough to have already read the next book, Stealing Fire, which comes out in 2010) you will realize that while the characters are different, the souls of the characters appear again and again. But you don’t need to know anything about that to enjoy any of the books alone. They’re just fabulous historical fiction, with a fantasy leaning. If you like Mists of Avalon, this is definitely up your alley. Jo Graham’s great accomplishment on these is the very personal perspective her characters give you on famous events everyone already knows the story to. Read the rest of this entry »
- - July 6th, 2009
Here at Orbit we’re very proud that our books tend to be smart, sophisticated — dare we say, awesome? (yes, we dare) — but there’s still a part of all of us that loves the look and feel of a truly, epically bad SFF book cover. And since we don’t get a chance to publish books that fit that profile we thought we’d call on our readers to help us create one — or at least create the jacket for one.
Over the next few weeks we’ll be asking for your help coming up with the most ridiculously bad high-concept SFF book cover in the universe – think Wyvern II: The Wyverning, or Martian Under the Doormat. (We know you can do better) Once we’ve settled on the titles we’ll work out the reading line, the blurbs, and cover elements. And then, with your help, our fearless Orbit US Creative Director Lauren is going to design a cover for it that will present it in all its mad glory.
Think you can help? Leave your suggestions for titles below (*)
(*) As much as we appreciate good satire, the point of this exercise isn’t to riff on the titles of an older work, or to haze existing covers — we want to come up with new vistas of badness, so original titles only please.
- - June 16th, 2009
Ever wonder where those fierce looking warriors on the front of fantasy covers come from? Brian Ruckley has a fascinating interview over at his blog now with the (real life!) knight pictured here.
A few weeks ago, I was sitting at home when I got a text from a friend. It was a jpg, and I couldn’t quite make out the image. I handed my phone to my son, and he squinted at it saying, ‘It looks like YOU! Yeah, I think it is you, on a poster or maybe a book cover … Fall of Thrones? No, the Fall of THANES?’