...by its cover

Other than 'congratulations you're getting published', what is the best email a writer looks forward to finding in their inbox?

If you said a confirmation email from apple that a new laptop has shipped, you'd be wrong. Try this:

For artwork for book 2 I'm considering using this artist, Lisa Rye (links below). ... She can make basically anything we can think of...but to get what we want we might need to provide rough sketches or a detailed brief. Time to start cooking some ideas.

That was from my publisher (and editor and writer and all round great bloke, Michael Foster -- but more about him in another post) and it was exactly what I needed to break the monotony of my final editing montage.

"rough sketches" he said, "time to start cooking ideas?" What follows is a piece that came to me in a dream when I was eleven. (okay, not really -- but that pretty much sums up my inner writer)

Problem is, I can't really sketch to save myself. Luckily, the gods invented Photoshop. This is what I sent back to Michael.

Inspired by Alex Perrin's work on my book trailer, I wanted an image that showed the White City with the main character silhouetted in the foreground. I threw together a collage made up from Neverending story stills, nasa images, and an assortment of other buildings and weird spire designs I hastily borrowed stole with the help of google. It was a half hour hack job, but conveyed what I wanted better than pen and pencil.

I sent the image to Michael, and then went back to Lisa Rye's deviant art page to wonder what she might make of my mock up. If you have a look at the rest of her work (you really should -- it's amazing) you'll see a style of work that I excitedly described to my friends as part Hayao Miyazaki with a dash of Frank Frazetta -- pretty much the perfect mix for my books.

Michael was a little worried that i'd asked for more than Lisa could provide given the limited budget and time. Then a few days later I got this in the mail.

I was thrilled. It was early work -- and I needed to say if anything needed adjustment before Lisa began the final rendering stage. I felt like scumbag steve, but I had one nit to pick. The city looked amazing -- but having not read the book (how could she, i'm still editing the damn thing;)  Lisa did not know how important the depiction of the city was. I really wanted a more sci-fi version of the buildings and central tower. So, feeling very apologetic for asking for changes to something so awesome, I emailed back my suggestions and once again got back on with writing and inbox OCD.

Then I got this:

Any other changes? Michael asked -- somewhat nervously, i'm sure.
Are you kidding? Was my hasty reply. Lock that in!

Little did I know that this was not yet the final version.  Two days ago I got this.

And then yesterday Michael sent me the final final version in super hi res.

One word. Stunning.

I asked if I could show off Lisa's process here to reveal how something like this develops. Lisa, it turns out, is both talented and generous and sent in this sketch.

Pretty stunning -- and I feel so honoured to have so many people working with me to make the world of Arkadia come to life. From Michael's Herculean efforts editing the MS itself, to Alex Perrin's work on the original trailer, and now Lisa's work on the cover art -- you can imagine how much it motivates me in this last dash to the finish line.

Of course, I couldn't let it go there.

Even though Dragonfall Press have their own designer to put all the text bits and pieces together, I just had to see what Lisa's work looked like with the title. Wanna have a peek?

And that is the first glimpse of what will be the next chapter in what I now realise is the Magickless Tetralogy. But wait; there's more!

So impressed was Michael that he has now commissioned Lisa to re-do the artwork of The Dragon and the Crow. I know this is turning out to be a very long post, but have a look at this:

I know right?

So please, head over to Lisa's facebook page or tumblr and tell her how awesome she is. And stay tuned -- I think it is about time to post a little snippet from The Sceptre and the Sword.....


Edit 11th May.

Okay, just to make this a complete post about the new cover designs, have a look at the final version of The Dragon and the Crow.

And this is my photoshop mockup that was sent to Lisa Rye.

It's like Lisa is a magic 'Make it awesome' art pixie, in the same way that Michael is a 'make it better' elf for my writing.

Now I just need one for my day job and everything will be perfect.

Thanks for reading.....



  1. Travis! This is all amazing. Congratulations! Please let me know when all exciting things like launches and all are coming up, I would love to come and support Magickless and it's awesome author!

    Hope you're well and editing isn't driving you too crazy!
    Hi from an old student :P

    Jasmin Isobe


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