Unveil the Veil! Or Something!

OK, it’s time to unveil the cover art for Book 2, Veil of the Deserters. (Wow. That was so bad I’m going to keep it).

I’ve had to keep this under wraps until I got publisher approval. And it was hard. Really hard. Because, frankly, I think this is splendiferous. Uber-awesome. Kickass. Insert other excessive adjective for overexcited celebratory crazy talk here. And I just wanted to share it soooo badly. The book itself won’t be out until the fall/winter, but it feels really good to finally reveal this bad boy.

When Night Shade told me they were going to use a different artist for the second book, I was a little nervous. OK, a lot nervous. But they assured me that Michael C. Hayes was rock solid, and when I visited his site, I had to agree, though being neurotic, I was still a mite uneasy. And this didn’t disappear at all when Night Shade said they wanted this cover art to be a contrast to the first one. I liked the first one. It was moody and evocative and atmospheric. And cool. But then they said some magic words: “action”; “dynamic”; “fight scene”; and “input.”

This last one was big. Typically, writers don’t get a lot of say in the cover art unless they are self-publishing or have last names like McBigshot. But Night Shade Books invited me to give some synopses from some heavy-hitting scenes in the book, and any other notes I wanted to add.

Mistakes were made. They really should have been more specific with their invitation.

I described what Braylar, his sister, Soffjian, and Braylar’s opponent should be wearing and using in excruciating detail. Including tons (and still more tons) of reference pieces—photos from museums, sample images of various coats of plates, ranseurs, some Norwegian mace heads that were carved to resemble demonic faces, lamellar armor, Byzantine scale armor, the way mail isn’t opaque and allows light and shadow through, and rustles during movement. I included the caveat that, yes, it’s fantasy, not historical fiction, but I really tried to capture some realism in the combat scenes in the books, and most covers fail woefully in this regard, and have impractical armor that would be impossible to move in or offer no protection whatsoever. I argued that real armor could be attractive and eye-catching, even if it predated full on plate with all the artistic flourishes, and sent a ridiculous number of images to prove my case. Sure, maybe only purists will notice or care about some of these details, but it was important to me, so I described it in triplicate.

And above all, I stressed about 33 times that Soffjian, while attractive, should absolutely NOT be cheesecake—no cleavage, no mail bikinis, no overt objectification. Her armor needed to be functional, and she needed to look athletic, proficient, dangerous, and no less badass than her brother.

Which is to say, I made a total nuisance of myself, and fully expected the publisher and artist to nod, smile politely, and ignore the hell out of me, all the while thinking, “Who the hell is this jackass? And why did anyone ask him what he thought in the first place?!”

But I was stunned and pleasantly surprised—they not only listened, but the artist totally nailed it. The whole thing. The colors, the way everything pops, the movement. And I’m so impressed with the level of detail Michael achieved I can barely put it in words—it’s phenomenal. . . the sleeves and aventail shifting and flowing, the tassel on Soffjian’s ranseur, Braylar’s splinted vambraces, the siblings’ matching long dagger/short sword (a staple of Syldoon and Memoridon armament). And on and on. He used plenty of what I sent as inspiration, and was truly inspired.

Yep, I’m biased, but I think it’s absolutely beautiful. It’s almost a shame we have to put a title and author name on there. Almost.

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16 Responses to “Unveil the Veil! Or Something!”

  1. Brad Beaulieu January 29, 2013 at 4:43 am # Reply

    Very cool, Jeff. Congrats. Soffjian’s garb strikes memories of Elmore and Dragonlance. Which, frankly, is pretty cool in and of itself.

    • jeffsalyards January 29, 2013 at 5:04 am # Reply

      Thanks, Brad. Yeah, I can see the hints of Elmore in there. Mr. Hayes is a talented guy. He did Teresa Frohock’s Miserere cover, too.

    • Paul Weimer (@princejvstin) January 29, 2013 at 4:51 pm # Reply

      And, again, not a Chainmail Bikini. And she’s a redhead!

      • jeffsalyards January 29, 2013 at 4:56 pm # Reply

        I told Night Shade it would be great if the colors, skies, and action were all straight out of Frazetta, but the combatants dressed like they actually wanted to avoid getting cut into ribbons. Michael got that combo perfect.

      • @Loerwyn January 29, 2013 at 7:49 pm # Reply

        No, but she’s still less protected than the two guys behind her, has joints exposed (including under the armpit, where a stabbing attack could puncture her heart or lungs), and also – rather worryingly – a bare throat. Whilst more practical than most “feminine armour” we see on covers, she’s still got some vital points exposed.

        Oh, and that armour’s going to chafe like there’s no tomorrow with that much bare skin.

        It’s certainly an interesting cover, and I do like it, but I would still suggest aspects of it could be improved.

        • jeffsalyards January 29, 2013 at 7:59 pm # Reply

          Thanks for your comments, and for stopping by.

          The chief difference is that a Memoridon, even one combat trained, isn’t a front-line fighter, but a support troop. She is capable and can handle herself just fine, but she isn’t expected to wade in and be a death dealer (especially since her chief contribution to combat is mystical as opposed to physical). It might help to think of her was a “war mage.”

          So, while she certainly isn’t as heavily armored as the two fellas on the cover, she is far more armored than most Memoridons, who use their talents for scrying, spying, interrogating, assassination, and the like. When she does engage directly in combat, it’s still more as a “flanker” or guerilla striker.

          I do agree about the chafing. But they had to put some skin on there. It is a fantasy cover after all—there are debauchery quotas to meet and low standards to maintain. :)

          • @Loerwyn January 29, 2013 at 9:10 pm #

            Hi Jeff,

            Thanks for the calm & reasoned response! I was wondering if she wasn’t a front line fighter (it explains the difference in ‘weight’ and protection), which is also supported by the fact she has a fairly long weapon rather than something that needs to be used within arm’s length.

            I do tend to get a little carried away with the female armour debate, hence why I may have overlooked the context a little in order to make my points.

            But I must confess your reply has interested me in your work. I’ll have to track down the first when I get paid :)

          • jeffsalyards January 29, 2013 at 9:26 pm #

            Hi Loerwyn,

            No worries about a passionate post. Get crazy! Go off the rails here! It’s all good. ;)

            I can see where you’re coming from, since you didn’t have a synopsis to provide some of the context. While I *did* expect Soffjian to have a tunic on under her scale cuirass, she’d otherwise armored about how I asked her to be, given her role. So if you have any beef there, it’s with me, not the artist. Except for the tunic thing. That’s all him.

            And I would never want to discourage anyone from buying my book (and the fact that I’m leading with that disclaimer should make me shut up now! Shut up, Jeff!), but just so you go into it with open eyes—Scourge is actually low-magic, and the Memoridons are only lurking in the background. They play a much larger role in Veil.

            That said, Scourge of the Betrayer totally rocks, and you should totally buy it. It has seriously good, realistic combat scenes. And awesome characters. And funny dialogue. :)

          • @Loerwyn January 29, 2013 at 10:34 pm #

            I read lots of different kinds of fantasy, so I tend to be fairly open-minded about magic systems. In fact, I really only care about whether the characters are good, whether (if present) the romance isn’t vomit-inducing, unrealistic rubbish and whether the plot is interesting. I don’t seek out different kinds of magic consciously and so on.

            So yes, count me interested! Bring on payday in… um… four weeks. Gives me time to clear some reading backlog, anyway ;)

          • jeffsalyards January 29, 2013 at 10:36 pm #

            Fantastic, then! Good luck with your backlog.

  2. Mihai A. January 29, 2013 at 9:28 am # Reply

    It looks good. And Michael Hayes is one hell of an artist. I discovered him through the cover artwork he made for Teresa Frohock’s “Miserere”, also published by Night Shade Books. His portfolio is impressive and he is very talented. I hope to see more covers made by him in the future.
    Wait a minute! Braylar has a sister? I was already looking forward to read “Veil of the Deserters”, but now I eagerly waiting to see what secrets the new novel will reveal. :)

    • jeffsalyards January 29, 2013 at 3:35 pm # Reply

      Thanks, Mihai. And yeah, the guy has all kinds of crazy talent. I’m really happy Night Shade got him for this cover.

      Yep. And she gives Braylar a run for it in the badass department. While she migh not be *quite* as formidable in regular combat (she’s a Memoridon, not a front-line Syldoon), she holds her own quite well, and has plenty of other intriguing skills besides. :)

  3. John January 29, 2013 at 6:59 pm # Reply

    @jeffsalyards

    You know what would be even cooler ? a full jacket cover spread in all it’s glory,hoping that you are able to post it in future.Also,when can we expect a blurb/synopsis of Book 2 ?

    • jeffsalyards January 29, 2013 at 7:08 pm # Reply

      Hey John,

      The final front cover design should be done in February sometime. I’m not sure about the glorious full jacket, but probably not too long after that.

      I’m guessing the blurb/synopsis will be ready for public consumption soon. But you’re really asking the wrong guy–I know next to nothing about almost everything.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

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