• USA Blog Tour - Day 5

    10 July 2020

    Day 5 of my blog tour rolls round, and there's a slight change to the schedule. (Actually, the schedule as outlined in advance has pretty much gone completely haywire since almost day 1, but hey, it's been fun to juggle these posts around!) I wrote a piece called The Story Behind The Covers, explaining how the Archibald Lox covers came into being. It was supposed to be featured on one of the tour blogger's blog, but it seems to have fallen between the cracks, so I'm featuring it here instead, in full. Enjoy -- and be enlightened!




    The Archibald Lox covers have had a great response from readers – many have commented on their high quality and praised the cover designer – so you’d never guess that they’d been thrown together at the last minute!


    I hadn’t intended to release the first three books until later in the year, so I was planning to approach my regular designer Liam (www.frequency.ie) when I was finished editing them. I thought we’d have lots of time to bounce ideas back and forth, maybe incorporate some original art, discuss the longer term look of the series as the story moved forward into Volumes 2 and 3, and so on.


    Then lockdown hit. With so many people being forced to hole up, I made a snap decision to release the eBooks of the first three Archibald Lox books far earlier than scheduled. I was just about done with my final edit, and decided that if it was at all possible, I wanted to release them the following week, to bring at least a little bit of light into my readers’ lives during these dark times.


    So I emailed Liam and basically said, “Um, I have this new series that I want to release, like, pretty much straight away. Could you knock me up three amazing covers over the weekend?!?”


    I was fully prepared for Liam to say he couldn’t do that, as it was a major ask, but he took it in his stride and simply asked for some details about the books, what the major characters looked like, if there were any significant buildings or sites featured in them, stuff like that.


    Once Liam had that info in hand, he descended into his world of design, worked his magic, and came back a few days later with a mock-up of the Book 1 cover. “Could this work?” he asked. When I replied with a resounding, “Yes it could!” he fired ahead and within a couple of days the covers for all three books had been completed and were ready to go. I still can’t believe he pulled it off that swiftly and with such style!


    Since this is a series about a locksmith, I suggested to Liam that we have some kind of a lock design on all the covers, but he went with keys instead, which looks a lot cooler and perfectly frames the name of Archibald Lox.


    Liam found the photo of the boy who features as Archie on the covers. He was looking for a model who’d been snapped from a variety of angles, so that he could play around with the boy’s look and give it a different appearance each time. I love the way that Archie’s head rises over the course of the three covers, and it also ties in nicely with his “rise” in the books as he learns more about the Merge and his lockpicking skills, and slowly starts to come of age.


    The “halo” was Liam’s idea too, and again he was able to tweak it to give it a fresh look on each cover, so it ties the trilogy together without becoming stale.


    Finally, he had to decide on what background images to feature. Book 1 ends in New York, and the Empire State Building plays a key role at the start of the second book, so that was an easy enough choice for Bridge Between Worlds.


    In Book 2, Archie find himself in a place known as a wrap zone, which contains elements of both the Merge and our own world. In this zone, he can see lots of famous landmarks, such as Big Ben, the Sydney Opera House, the Great Pyramid of Giza, Moscow’s Red Square, etc. Liam slyly references this — I think a lot of people have looked at the cover and assumed it only features London’s Houses of Parliament, but if you look more closely, you’ll see that the building on the left actually hails from Moscow!


    A giant tree is the setting for the climax of Book 3. Liam experimented with  including a photo of a very large tree, but nothing really worked. He’d have had to either develop or source original art to depict the tree that I’d described in the book, as it didn’t really look like any tree you’d find on Earth, but because of the tighter-than-tight deadlines I’d set, there simply wasn’t time to do that. In the end he went for a forest background, with Archie looking up at something massive off-page, and I have to say, it works perfectly.


    I was very lucky to have such a close working relationship with Liam already in place, and that he was able to turn the project around so quickly, and produce such stunning covers in the process. Having said that, I’ll do my best to give him much more of a heads up when it comes time to start preparing covers for the books of Volumes 2 and 3. I don’t want to push my luck too far!




    In tandem with my blog tour, I'm also doing a week of Darren-Shan-characters-wearing-masks-to-help-in-the-fight-against-Covid-19, and today it's the turn of the bad boys!! The first two drawings, by Forest Spirit and Glossi Honey (Twitter names, I presume, unless parents have changed a LOT since I was a child!) are of everyone's favourite best-friend-turned-worst-enemy Steve Leopard, while the third, by Vampire Council (another Twitter handle) features Mr Tiny, who doesn't like it when viruses start wiping out his playthings -- well, not unless HE has created the virus and set it loose!!


    The first Steve picture, and the one of Mr Tiny, are both panels taken from the Cirque Du Freak manga, with masks digitally added in -- proof that you don't have to be a great artist to get in on this! There are still a few spaces left to fill, so if you'd like to maybe see YOUR maskiwork (see what I did there?!?) one one of this posts in the near future, get drawing or tweaking and existing drawing, and see where your muse leads you...



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