Well, it’s been a busy August.
Blood Hunt prep reached a frenetic level in the past few weeks as I scrambled to assemble the various documents necessary to create the Kindle, Smashwords (who distribute to Nook, the iBookstore, Sony, and so forth), and print versions of the book. I’m pleased to say that as of today, there’s nothing left for me to do — it’s all in the hands of the people whose job it is to go over the book and approve it for distribution. I see no reason it won’t be approved by all of the above, and it should be available in most places on the expected launch date of September first. Awesome, right?
It almost wasn’t. Awesome, that is. It was almost terrible. I had a cover artist lined up and he started working on his illustration months ago, back in May. Unfortunately, something happened — I don’t know what — and he seems to have disappeared off the face of the earth. I sincerely hope he’s ok, and I waited as long as I could to give him a chance to answer my emails, but eventually I had to move on.
Fortunately, I had spoken in the past with the very talented Karla Ortiz [blog], who was one of my finalists for the original website artwork job for The Blood That Bonds. I ended up going with Garry Brown, who has a more graphic style, for that particular project, but I thought that Karla’s painterly style (her fine art is magnificent) would work well for a book cover. So I sent her a desperate email, hoping she was both interested and available for some freelance work. It turned out that she was, and that she didn’t even mind the ridiculous, three-and-a-half week deadline that I was proposing.
I sent her some excerpts from the book, a couple of character descriptions, and a few other items and ideas I thought might help, and she got to work putting together some thumbnails — small, rough drawings of potential layouts. Here’s the original thumbnail that I ended up going with:
I made several suggestions to Karla about how I’d like to see the drawing evolve, and she came back with this second thumbnail, which I thought was pretty awesome:
Happy with that, we went to doing the full sketch, which is a more detailed line drawing that she would use to paint the final piece. Here it is:
It was at this point that I made what Karla described as “the most awesome request ever” — I asked her to not make Two too pretty. Karla is a video game artist and has to spend a lot of time drawing women who are supernaturally beautiful, and while I’ve always described Two as cute, she’s definitely not a fashion model. I felt it was important to contrast her a bit more against the exquisitely pretty vampire she shares the cover with, to show that Two is a human being who has not been perfected by decades of exposure to vampire blood. Excited to draw a “real” woman for a change, Karla went back and made some changes to Two, resulting in this sketch:
I liked that very much, and so we were ready to proceed to full painting. After a couple of days, Karla came back with this mostly-finished piece:
I thought it was gorgeous, and only had a few small tweaks (for example, mentioning that Two’s eyes are green). She also wanted to put some more detail into the hair, the background, and a few other areas. The final illustration looks like this:
Now it was my turn to do some work — I do my cover layouts myself, and had actually been working with Karla’s sketches and thumbs to block out the type the way I wanted it, so it didn’t take long to pull everything together into the final cover. Here it is:
And that’s the story of Blood Hunt’s cover illustration evolution. Huge thanks again to Karla for getting everything done in such a short amount of time. She rocks!
Oh, and who is that lovely vampire leaning over Two’s shoulder, who seems both ready to attack and yet oddly gentle in her touch? I guess you’ll have to read the book and find out.
September first. Watch this blog (and Twitter, and Facebook, and the website) for information on how to get it!