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[EXCLUSIVE] Making Covers New: Creating An Epic Look For Helen Lowe’s THE WALL OF NIGHT Series

The Author’s Take

HelenL2-1 (2)Helen Lowe, is a novelist, poet, interviewer and blogger whose first novel, Thornspell (Knopf), was published to critical praise in 2008. Her second, The Heir of Night (The Wall Of Night Series, Book One) won the Gemmell Morningstar Award 2012. The sequel, The Gathering Of The Lost, was shortlisted for the Gemmell Legend Award in 2013 and Daughter Of Blood, (The Wall Of Night Series, Book Three) is forthcoming in January 2016. Helen posts regularly on her “…on Anything, Really” blog and is also on Twitter: @helenl0we.

When Kate told me Voyager were so excited about Daughter Of Blood, the forthcoming third book in the The Wall Of Night series, that they giving the whole series new-look covers—well… I’m sure you won’t be surprised to learn that I was Really Very Excited!

I was a little nervous, too, because as a person who is always first drawn to new books by their cover art, I feel it’s vital that the jacket “speaks” to the story. So I may have bombarded poor Kate with screeds of notes on everything from “covers I love most” to details of characters and scenes, clothes and armor, that I’ve collated in writing the books. But rather than the Voyager team throwing up their hands, instead Kate came back with: “What do you think of something focused around weapons?”

Since one of the enthusiasms that drew me to epic fantasy was a love of armor and weapons, I was on board at once—and suggested: “What about not just generic weapons, but the three weapons of power that are integral to the Wall Of Night story: the Moon-Bright Helm, the Frost-fire Sword, and the Shield of Heaven?”

“Yes!” said the Voyager team—“But please give us as much detail as possible about the style of these weapons.” So I did! My primary source was descriptions in the books, particularly The Heir Of Night for the helmet, and The Gathering Of The Lost for the sword. But I also spent many hours poring over my resources on armor and weaponry, looking for exactly the right “look” for each cover weapon. In the interim, Kate and I were also to-ing and fro-ing regarding colors and how to keep the overall look dynamic—hence the line of fire across the shield for Daughter Of Blood.

And now (drum roll!) here they are: the helm, sword, and shield imagined for a bravura, new-look Wall of Night series. From the style of the weapons, to the eldritch mist about the helm and line of fire through the shield, I feel they “speak” to the Wall Of Night’s epic story and dangerous world.

As an SF Signal “irregular” I’m delighted to be able to share them here first. I thank John and the team for all their help in “making it so” today.

The Editor’s Cut

Kate Nintzel is an Executive Editor at William Morrow/Voyager. In addition to Helen Lowe, she has worked with Chuck Wendig, Katherine Harbour, Melissa Marr, Lois McMaster Bujold, and Fiona McIntosh.

When Helen delivered the final draft of Daughter of Blood, one of the things I started thinking about was: What can we do to bring attention back to this incredible series?

By the time we publish Daughter of Blood in 2016, it will have been almost six years since we introduced readers to The Wall of Night with The Heir of Night. A lot has changed since 2010! HarperVoyager changed its name from Eos and switched its logo from a sunburst to a crescent moon, the percentage of people reading e-books has risen dramatically, and epic fantasy got a huge boost in pop culture from HBO’s adaptation of George RR Martin’s Game of Thrones.

Given all that, I thought we might look at a new cover design. I loved the gorgeous scenes we had on the original editions of The Heir of Night and The Gathering of the Lost, but the exquisite detail that comes across so clearly on the books themselves gets lost on the thumbnail-sized image that appear on your computer screen and/or e-reader. Whereas those simple iconic images, the bold covers and clean designs that you see on the classic jackets such as Neal Stephenson’s Cryptonomicon and the A Song of Ice and Fire series really do pop.

But saying you’d like an “iconic image” cover and actually coming up with the images to be iconic are two different things! So I was thrilled when Helen suggested using the long-lost weapons of power that are a lynchpin for the entire series: not only do they speak to epic fantasy as a genre, but they represent the books as a whole better than any one scene can. So I felt that was a perfect match of marketing (which is what covers are, at their bones) and editorial integrity. Helen provided the details, our art department came up with the weapons and a few artistic tricks (my favorite being the line of fire across the riven shield on Daughter of Blood), and there you have it: a new, fresh look that looks great on all formats people are reading these days and gives a new life to the backlist as we prepare to launch Daughter of Blood next winter.

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3 Comments on [EXCLUSIVE] Making Covers New: Creating An Epic Look For Helen Lowe’s THE WALL OF NIGHT Series

  1. Paul Weimer (@PrinceJvstin) // September 15, 2015 at 5:08 am //

    I think I prefer the UK covers (with Malian) a little better. These ARE striking, however

  2. The US covers are simple but striking. I also like the air of mystery that comes through, particularly for book one and three.

  3. The 3 new covers are all eye-catching. Beautiful colours. Having read the first 2 books I know what the UK and American covers represent.

    All 3 sets of covers correctly represent the content of the books, but each focus on a different aspect. I am not sure which covers I prefer as an established reader of the series, but I do like colour and meaningful artwork on the covers.

    I am so looking forward to the 3rd book

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