Thursday, June 26, 2014

Family Ties Can Be Deadly: The Inquisitor's Mark Cover Reveal

I'm very excited to share the cover for The Inquisitor's Mark, Book 2 in the Eighth Day series, here at Project Mayhem!

And I'm not even going to bore you with my babbling over its deliciously sinister appeal. I asked my editor if the cover designer would be willing to share a few words about how this cover came to be, and I was delighted to get his response -- along with preliminary sketches. 

From Mike Heath, the cover artist:

When I first got the Inquisitors Mark assignment, one of the directions was to create a creepy basement/cellar type of image and after thinking it over, I knew we needed a long hallway basement scene for it to accommodate our lengthy title. So I began modeling the architecture and as I did so I wondered how we could communicate the idea that the tunnels in the book, including the basement, led to different places in the story. A thought that came to mind was to make the drainage pipes, running along the roof of the tunnel, to twist, turn and juncture all over the place.



So after getting a basic structure modeled, I did my initial sketches for Heather Daugherty (Senior Designer at HC). She and her team approved the sketch so it was time to bring the rough sketch to final. To do so,  I typically draw on top of my sketches with notes to myself about what I want to add in the final image.


Then it’s time to add final architectural details and texture the whole area with high resolution textures.This is the most time consuming portion because most of the pieces had to be textured by brushing decay, mold, moss cracks etc on each part of the model from little bolts to pipes to brick. This process is what helps make a place feel real and not computer generated. Once the texturing was complete, I setup the lights in the basement. Being mindful of where the center of interest was, I used a warmer light coming from the end of the tunnel and a cool light setup for the outside of the tunnel as that was to be a secondary interest area.


Being a visual storyteller, I’m pretty intentional about the items in my images. Things like the skateboard in the foreground, the pipes just mentioned, the warm and cool lighting of the structure and the puddles of water all add to a story I'm trying to tell visually.



For me, as the author, seeing this cover for the first time last winter, I was sucked in immediately by the creepy atmosphere. (And I wanted to know if this is what the basements of old buildings in Manhattan really look like! Who knew!?) When my editor mentioned HC was still looking for a tagline at that point, I did some brainstorming on the ski lift -- my favorite place to think -- and threw in my own contribution to the finished product.

Before I share the final cover, you might want to know what the book's about:

After returning from an all-out war with the evil Kin lord in Mexico, Jax Aubrey is back in Pennsylvania with his guardian, Riley, and liege lady, Evangeline. Although they’re in hiding, a man named Finn Ambrose tracks them down, claiming to be Jax’s uncle and giving Jax hope that he has a family after all.

But Uncle Finn may have an ulterior motive. As it turns out, Jax’s great-aunt is the reigning leader of the Dulacs, the enemy clan who assassinated Riley’s family. When the Dulacs kidnap Jax’s best friend, Billy, to lure Jax to New York, it becomes clear that the Dulacs, family or not, will stop at nothing to get what they want. Hoping to trade himself for Billy—while keeping Riley and Evangeline out of danger—Jax goes to Manhattan on his own, where he meets Uncle Finn; his cousin, Dorian; and the rest of his relatives.

There, he stumbles upon a maze of magic tunnels below his family’s luxury apartment building. Uncle Finn and the sinister Dulacs have been keeping secrets from him--and one of them might be the location of Evangeline's long-lost sister, Addie.

With the Eighth Day—and the entire Emrys bloodline—hanging in the balance, Jax struggles to understand who he really is despite all that he knows.

An Ambrose? A Dulac? An Aubrey?

Or an inquisitor who will stop at nothing to keep his liege safe?



What do you think? You can add The Inquisitor's Mark to your Goodreads shelf HERE.

Thank you, Mike Heath, for your great work and for sharing your creative process with us. Thanks also to my HarperCollins editors -- and also to the Project Mayhem crew for letting me share my cover here today!

44 comments:

  1. First, that tagline is awesome, "Family ties can be deadly". It sets a ripe mood for danger and intrigue.
    The cover is truly a work of art. Getting a chance to know the story behind the design is enlightening. And the fact the cover isn't just some formulaic, slapped together thing makes it that much more appealing. I love covers that do a bit of story telling themselves, and this cover hits the mark spot on!

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    1. Thanks, Angela! I never really appreciated how much effort it would take to insert all that mold and moss and decay into the bricks in a non-formulaic way. Reading Mike's description made me magnify the image and *really* look at those walls and appreciate them. ('Cause, you know, I don't normally want to get closer to mold ...)

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  2. Simply awesome!! I love how the cover has the similar look as the first books cover but takes on a darker feel. Can't wait to read it! Looks and sounds great!!

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    1. Thanks, Christine! Yes, I love the darker feel to this one. Have you ever seen more sinister-looking plumbing?

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  3. I love hearing about the process for the cover art. Which is stupendous! I cannot wait to read this...

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    1. Thanks, Michael! I am sure I can get you on the list for an ARC if you like! ;)

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  4. Holy moly! This is amazing. What a cool glimpse inside the process.

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    1. Thanks, Matt! I found the process fascinating, too.

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  5. Very cool cover!! I loved hearing about the artist's process. And, great tagline, Diane!!

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    1. Thanks, Paul!
      My two best places for brainstorming are the ski lift and the pool float.

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  6. Oh, Dianne, it's soooo cool!! And I also loved hearing about the artist's process. The abandoned skateboard in the foreground says SO much without using any words. Visual artists just blow me away.

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    1. I know, right? The skateboard clearly grounds the scene in modern day, despite the creepy basement tunnel. And the fact that it's left behind suggests the owner was pulled away from his normal, every day life by something extraordinary. (At least, that's the impression it gives me.)

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  7. Gorgeous cover! And thanks for the peek into the artist's process - very interesting.

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    1. Thanks, Marissa! I learned a lot, too!

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  8. Dianne, what powerful cover! Great tag line. Thanks for sharing the cover designers process. It's always fun to see the story of how the cover came together. I'm looking forward to reading this one!

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    1. Thanks, Robin! I am excited to see what people think of this one. I had fun writing it.

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  9. LOVE it! What an awesome cover!
    And seeing all the steps along the way was super cool

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    1. Thanks, Sarah! I notice he played around with the position of the letter Q a bit. It was cool to see the way the image developed.

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  10. That's an awesome cover. I'm just about to start The Eighth Day. Can't wait!

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    1. Thanks, Kimberly! I hope you enjoy it! I've got your book on my TBR list for this summer.

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  11. WOW!!! It looks WONDERFUL, Dianne, really. Thanks for sharing your art, Mike. If The Inquisitor's Mark is half as awesome as The Eighth Day it will knock our socks off!! Already added to my Goodreads list!

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    1. Thanks, Eden! I hope it doesn't disappoint!

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  12. Love the cover. And dying to read this from the blurb. Congrats, Dianne!

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    1. Thanks, Natalie! You know you're on my list of "Bloggers to Get an ARC!"

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  13. YAY! Congrats on a terrific cover. That's fantastic, Dianne, and I'm so happy for you. It sounds so compelling too, I can't wait to read it. Wish we didn't have to wait until January for the book.

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    1. Psst, Joanne. YOU probably don't have to wait that long.

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  14. This is made of pure awesomeness! Absolutely love it. I agree about the tagline - very drawing. Congrats!

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  15. Thanks, Sheri! I'm glad everyone likes my little contribution of the tagline!

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  16. Love this -- the reflection, everything.
    Also love how we were tracking together today. :)

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    1. Very different covers, but similar thought processes went into the designing of them. Cool, huh?

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  17. Hi Dianne - I read this and slowly moved down so it was like a short story til the full and finished product showed itself .. I agree it was so interesting to read how Mike put the cover together and I had no idea as to the amount of effort visual artists put in - but I guess that's because I'm not one and I've never followed the process through before ... though I'd dearly love it as a talent.

    Such a brilliant cover - no wonder you're so chuffed .. and yes the tag line - just glad you didn't need to fall off the ski-lift or be pushed off when you were with your own family!! Ghastly thought ... and very unlikely from what I see ...

    This is just brilliant to see and read about .. now for the book - cheers and very good luck with the future and all it holds - Hilary

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    1. LOL, Hilary! No, I wasn't in deadly danger from my own family while skiing. That wasn't the inspiration for the tagline. Phew!

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  18. I love, love, love the cover!! This is the first time I've seen anyone's artist do a stage-by-stage with explanations. The final product took my breath away. I'm so excited for you and can't wait until the book comes out! :)

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  19. Thanks, Lexa! I think the final product is so amazingly complex that even seeing the gradual build-up doesn't prepare you for the final thing!

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  20. Fantastic cover, Dianne! Best one yet.

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  21. That is amazing! I love it! And it was great to have the artist give his thinking behind it. Thanks a lot. This was tons of fun to read.

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    1. Thanks, Tonja! I have to admit, I worried a bit about how the artist was going to handle that long word "Inquisitor" and still use the same style of lettering from Book 1. I couldn't be more happy with how he handled it!

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    1. Thanks, Marcy! You know I've been sitting on this for a long time!

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  23. Gorgeous cover! I had the honor of serving as copy editor for both the first and second EIghth Day books. They're so wonderful! Readers will absolutely love this sequel.

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    1. Squeek! Thank you! And you kept me on my toes, so a better book could go out to the readers. I love the copy-editing stage of publication. Fixing up all the details is so close to achieving that final state we want to present to the reader. So close to done!

      First drafts and me, however -- we have a hard time getting along. :( So far away from done ...

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Thanks for adding to the mayhem!