Great cover art can make or break a book. All you have to do is spend ten minutes browsing through a used bookstore or on Amazon to see where some publishers and authors have gone hilariously wrong with their choices.
I made a decision when I decided to publish Nightfall Gardens that I wouldn’t release the books with anything less than a stellar artwork to convey the dark fairytale tone of the series.
Anthony Roberts did a masterful job of transmitting the medieval woodblock-style tone that I envisioned for that series and I couldn’t be happier with the results. You can see more of his eye-popping work on his site, Black Mind's Eye.
For my new series though, I wanted to go with a more contemporary feel, befitting the fact that the novels are set in current New York Cities across multiple alternate universes. From the beginning, I envisioned the artist Colleen Stiles, as the one who could visually bring the books to life. Colleen has a deft touch with portraying both the realistic and fantastical that sums up the effect I was going for in my new urban fantasy series. You can check out her drawings, sculptures and writing from Colleen at her own online home.
Over the next week, I’ll be unveiling the amazing cover that she did for The Shadow of All Things as well as the illustrations for inside the book.
You can sign up to be one of the first to see the new cover and to get an exclusive look at the drawings by signing up to my email blast.
So what about you? Have any favorite book covers that you’d care to share?
Literary Spring Cleaning
Yesterday, I tackled a project that I’d been ignoring for eons — paring down some of the several hundred books I’d collected over the last two decades.
The final straw came when I looked around my living room one day and noticed that the bookshelves were overflowing and mysterious piles of fiction had sprouted on my kitchen table, writing desk, and other available flat surfaces.
Fellow bibliophiles will understand. There is nothing harder than culling your book
collection. Each has a backstory or overpowering impulse behind its purchase. The
copy of Religions of MesoAmerica you bought at a secondhand bookshop in Chicago
where the owner chain-smoked and drank Coke out of a can, causes a tangible pang
when you think of getting rid of it, even though you haven’t cracked it in five years.
Besides, you never know when you will need to know more about ancient Mayan religions … at least that’s the way I justify it.
Once I realized I was running out of places to sit, the reality sank in that no matter
how unpleasant the task, I had to do something at last. So, on the first day of spring I set to work, culling my collection into two piles, the books I’d keep and
those that would be donated.
The process was relatively painless, once I was honest (Did I need three copies of
The Windup Bird Chronicle?) and set ground rules: 1.) Was the book a gift or did it
have some meaningful attachment 2.)Would I reread the book? 3.) Was the book by
a favorite author or did it have “literary” merit? 4.) Would I read the book if I hadn’t? 5.) Did I want to keep the book … just because?
Four hours later, I had cleared out almost a hundred books, not as much as I wanted, but not a shabby start. While I was cleaning I ran across several novels that had been given to me as a teenager that had made a favorable impression.
My grandmother on my father’s side fostered an early love in reading by giving me Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazines as a kid and later introduced me to Ed McBain,
Agatha Christie, Issac Asimov and others. While I was cleaning I discovered a couple of battered copies of Michael McDowell’s Blackwater series she had passed along to
me. McDowell is probably best known now for writing the screenplay for Beetlejuice.
For anyone who hasn’t read the series, imagine William Faulkner gothic ambiance combined with the horror of HP Lovecraft. I moved those books to my keep stack
and plan on hopefully digging back into them at some point. I see that the entire series is back in print including the volumes I was never able to get my hands on.
All of this got me thinking about great books that have fallen through the cracks, never attained the status that they should or aren’t widely known. Are there any books in your collection that you wish were better well known?
Happy to sign off on the last draft of The Shadow of All Things so it is ready for a May 20th launch date. The book is the first in an urban fantasy series set in modern day New York City where the shiny face of gentrification hides a monstrous evil that is brewing under the glittering lights of the skyline.
I’ve made the Kindle version of Nightfall Gardens free for the next two days to celebrate the finish of the first book in my new urban fantasy series that will be released in May. Grab a copy if you haven’t read and forward to others who may like.
You can download here: http://www.amazon.com/Nightfall-Gardens-Allen-Houston-ebook/dp/B00CPF7INK
Stay tuned for more news about The Shadow of All Things, which will be released on May 20th.