It's been a little while since I've done a flourish post, and today I have a project to share that makes me shake my head in wondrous disbelief every time I look at it. I started this blog nearly 7 years ago, and just before I did so I discovered a little series by a new-to-me author thanks to a blogger recommendation. That "little" series was the Elemental Assassin series by Jennifer Estep, one I fell immediately in love with and that has held me captivated through sixteen books and seven years. After finishing the first book Jennifer became an auto-buy author for me, and I devoured everything she wrote as soon as it released, including her YA urban fantasy Mythos Academy series.
Why am I telling you all this in a flourish post you ask? Well, I'll tell you. I had the completely surreal experience of being asked recently to design the cover for Halloween Frost, a Mythos Academy short story. *falls down dead* After I picked my jaw up off the floor and pulled myself together into some semblance of professionalism, I jumped on the project and Jennifer and I began working.
I always start my projects with idea boards – a multi-page PDF that groups together existing covers as well as stock imagery/illustrations and font suggestions into various design concepts – so that I can get a better feel for what my clients are looking for before I move forward with comps. It's basically an outline stage for the design work, and prevents me from going in one direction while my clients are picturing another.
After submitting the initial boards, Jennifer and I both knew we wanted to move forward with an illustrated cover (YES!) that created an entirely new brand for the Mythos books. Given this short story is Halloween-themed, we started by focusing on that element, working pumpkins, bats, spiderwebs and a black panther-type creature called a Nemean Prowler in and around the title.
While the first comps were cute, the general consensus was that they were almost too cute, and read younger than we wanted them to. We thought it was likely the classic Halloween elements that were giving us the more middle grade feel, so we abandoned that concept entirely and decided to focus on just the town and the prowler.
Jennifer was taken with the first of the revised comps, but there was a concern that emphasizing the paranormal creature might be tricky from a series perspective as the creatures in future books venture into lesser known mythological beasts, and thus might make them harder to find in stock illustrations. (I'm not an illustrator, so I always start with a stock illustration as a base, and the build from there to create something new.) We ended up keeping a few of the main design elements from that comp, but eliminated the prowler and played up the town's clock tower instead, while also making a few adjustments to the overall color scheme.
While we both liked the new color scheme and the changes to the clock tower, the cover just didn't have the same impact and sense of danger as it did with the prowler, so we retraced our steps and went back to the prowler design, taking the new color scheme, font, and clock tower changes with us. The final cover is one I'm infinitely proud of and so honored to have worked on, and I hope you guys love it as much as Jennifer and I do!
HALLOWEEN FROST (Mythos Academy #1.5)
It’s Halloween at Mythos Academy, and Gwen Frost and her friends are ready to have a little fun. But when a mythological monster shows up, the night turns out to be more trick than treat.
Halloween Frost takes place in between the events of Touch of Frost, book #1, and Kiss of Frost, book #2, in the Mythos Academy young adult urban fantasy series. The short story is about 6,500 words.
Halloween Frost was originally published in Entangled, A Paranormal Anthology, in 2011.