Jilly: New Story, New Cover

It’s August already, and the end of this pandemic is starting to feel very far away. Here’s hoping at least one of those vaccines turns out to be a magic bullet.

I expected to be in California now, drinking cocktails, eating ice cream and hanging out with Eight Lady Kay. Instead I’m about to start the nineteenth week of our involuntary staycation in North London. Sigh. The weather has turned gorgeous. I like my house, and we’re lucky enough to have a small garden. My husband is great company. The food is okay and the wine is good. I’m trying to stay focused on the positives, but a change or two would be welcome.

So while I wait for the copy edits of The Seeds of Exile (Daire’s novella) I’m turning my focus to a new writing project—the second full length Elan Intrigues novel, called The Seeds of Destiny. The main character is a mountain-dwelling healer with uncanny powers. She’s called Annis Benkith. Daire seeks her help as he battles the energy sickness that is driving him toward an early and painful death.

It’s always hard to get to grips with a new character and a new piece of world building. Annis is a nomadic mountain dweller, wildly different from the princes and princesses of the two previous books. Fortunately I have a cover for The Seeds of Destiny that evokes the ambience I’m trying to capture. I’m using it for inspiration.

It took me hours of searching to find a stock photo of a woman who looked as though she could be Annis. She makes eye contact with the reader. She looks natural and rather serious. To me she feels like Annis—calm and empathetic, skilled, but also decisive, courageous and determined. In the original photo she was Victorian and glamorous, but my cover designers, Deranged Doctor Design, gave her a new look with a homespun dress and a high-altitude setting.

What do you think? I hope you like the cover as much as I do. I’d love to know what signals it gives you. Does it look like your kind of book? If you noticed it as you were browsing online, would you click on it to check out the blurb?

Thank you in advance for your comments, whatever they may be.

And huge thanks to the talented team at Deranged Doctor Design. I feel very lucky to be working with them.

10 thoughts on “Jilly: New Story, New Cover

  1. What a beautiful cover, Jilly. The continued lockdown is mentally exhausting, but how great that you have this to help inspire your story. I like the fact that the model appears to be making eye contact. It’s also great to see a cover featuring a woman whose clothes aren’t in the process of falling off. 🙂

    • Thanks, Elizabeth. It’s just as well the cover designers are good at photoshop, because so many of the stock images out there are of women with their clothes falling off. Annis is absolutely not that kind of heroine 😉

    • Thank you! I’ve ordered a box set cover with all three Elan Intrigues images and can’t wait to see them side by side. I think/hope they’ll look great. As you say, Deranged Doctor are really good.

  2. Another beautiful cover! I find it so interesting that they can do that — but of course, they can. Photoshop a face onto a body. They did a very nice job of it. Pretty, pretty colors, and a strong sense of fantasy.

    • Glad you like it! When you see some of the things people do with deepfake technology these days, re-purposing a Victorian lady as a nomadic healer seems tame, but I’ve seen enough bad book covers to know it could have gone very wrong. Fortunately DDD have a great feeling for genre and the right blend of artistic and technical skills to make it work. Plus they’re nice to work with. Win/win/win 🙂

  3. It’s lovely, Jilly, and sets all the expectations you mentioned. I, too, like that she’s looking at the reader. And I definitely see a bit of defiance/strength in her. Well done!

  4. It’s a beautiful cover, absolutely. The model captures the emotions you want to convey, or so it seems to me. I love it.

    I looked at the Ilona Andrews site to see what they did with long-running series (aren’t you planning eight or nine books?). I’m not crazy about a lot of their covers, but they change them up a fair amount in the series, going from a single person to a closeup of a face (sometimes in profile) to a couple holding different things (a magic ping-pong paddle, a sword, a gun, a magical hummingbird, etc.) with different backgrounds and colors. Have you given any thought to these kinds of variations? Just wondering…

    • Very glad you like it, Kay!

      You’re right, I’m planning more books in this world and I’ve been thinking quite a bit about covers. The three Elan Intrigues stories fit together as a prequel for the main series (Alexis’s story). So Seeds of…Power, Exile and Destiny have to look as though they belong together. They’re character-driven rather than plot driven (not always the case in fantasy) so they have the main character facing the reader. I may add more Elan Intrigues books later, but if I do I expect they’ll look and feel a little different.

      The main series, let’s call it Elan Chronicles, will be first person, more of an adventure. Current plan is six books following the same heroine. If I can figure out how to do it she’ll be on the cover of all the books, though it may take more than genius-level photoshop skills to solve that challenge. Chronicles books will have to look different but related to the Intrigues stories. I’ve been thinking about that a lot. They also need strong series branding. I think there’s a good chance I’ll work on all the Chronicles covers at the same time, even if they have placeholder titles.

      With Ilona Andrews covers the first thing to know is that their books broadly fall into three categories: Kate Daniels series, trad published by Ace/Penguin who design the covers. Hidden Legacy series, trad published by Avon who design the covers (but these are more recent and I get the impression IA have more input), and Innkeeper, self published by IA. Kate Daniels is urban fantasy, first person, one main character on the cover, with sword and lion (Kate’s true love). I don’t care for these covers. There’s a separate page on the website for Kate Daniels because there’s more than just the Ace KD series. Books with different branding (like Andrea, side profile woman with gun)–are about significant secondary characters, not Kate. The Avon books are urban fantasy, but much sexier and more romantic. They have couples on the cover and are getting glossier all the time. Pretty sure they have super-expensive custom photoshoots. The self-published Innkeeper books are fantasy. They have illustrated covers and beautiful artwork. These are my fave stories and I love the art. The IA website has been recently re-designed, follows the branding of their indie stories, and does a great job at drawing together the different series (they have Kate Daniels artwork on the home page that I like a thousand times better than the Ace covers, which are buried on the books/KD series page).

      I’m deeply envious of the gorgeous artwork on their website and indie published books. I really hanker after illustrations. Sigh. Maybe one day…

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