Monday, December 3, 2012

Cover Story: King's Raven by Maggie Secara

If you aren't busy waiting for the Mayans to destroy the planet on 21 December 2012, may I suggest an alternative event? King's Raven, the sequel to The Dragon Ring and second in the Harpers Errant series by Maggie Secara, will be released.

When last we left the Harpers Errant series, I had just completed a cover for The Dragon Ring, based on a sketch by folklorist and amazing author in his own right, Ari Berk. (You can read more about that here.)   This time around, though, Ari was working on the release of his own beautiful and magical book 'Nightsong' so I was on my own with the new cover.

Maggie wanted something based on a greenman with a raven or two worked in somehow. In the last book, she had been shooting for a green cover but it didn't work out, so I really wanted to get her a properly green solution for this one.

With some ravens worked in.

Thanks for the most part to my wife the textile artist, my home library has a number of historical embroidery and design books, including this one (below) from a 1532 book of "voidwork" embroidery.

For the timehopping urban fantasy/historical fiction story like this, it was an excellent place to begin. In other words, it was exactly what I needed and yet nothing like what Maggie wanted, so into the Photoshop it went...

The 16th century green man looks like a bit of gloomy Gus. Look how long his face is! I wanted something livelier and a bit brighter in the eyes, certainly the King of Faery should be a bit more well fed, not to mention leafier.

In keeping with the 'woodcut' style of the cover illustration Ari and I collaborated on for the first book, I re-drew the green man from the original sketch, adding detail and taking nearly as much away.  Several layers of texture and a title block later, we had this:

 "While Oberon, immortal king of Faerie, lies under a terrible curse, the artistic spirit in the world is slipping away. The king's Raven would do anything to lift the spell, if only it hadn't also stripped him of his magic and flung him into an iron-bound past with a damaged memory. The only thing that can save them both is sealed inside a riddle wrapped in a puzzle that spans the centuries. Even with the help of an Elizabethan magus, a Victorian spinster, and a mad reporter, can mortal musician Ben Harper find Raven in time to solve the riddle, stop a witch, and restore the creative heart of the world? First he has to find the key."  - by Maggie Secara