Hurrah – it’s once again time for the #Norsevember reading event hosted by Alex from Spells and Spaceships Blog! Grab a drinking horn, braid your beard and curl up on your sleeping furs, because there are going to be some seriously entertaining posts and features coming your way this month if you follow the #Norsevember tag on Twitter, or alternatively you will be able to find them all helpfully collected by Alex on the Norsevember hub on Spells and Spaceships Blog. Skål!
We all know how important a great cover is for helping readers to choose one book over another. This year for #Norsevember, I decided to reach out to some of the authors of Norse fantasy and ask them how they decided upon the covers we know and love. In some cases they designed them themself, in other cases they chose a designer and some had little creative input – but still ended up with amazing covers. This is the first in this series and features books by Cat Rector and Thilde Kold Holdt.
The Goddess of Nothing at All by Cat Rector
Perhaps you know the myths.
Furious, benevolent Gods.
A tree that binds nine realms.
A hammer stronger than any weapon.
And someday, the end of everything.
But few have heard of me.
Looking back, it’s easy to know what choices I might have made differently. At least it feels that way. I might have given up on my title. Told my father he was useless, king of Gods or no, and left Asgard. Made a life somewhere else.
Maybe I would never have let Loki cross my path. Never have fallen in love.
But there’s no going back.
We were happy once.
And the price for that happiness was the end of everything.
Book Link: https://books2read.com/catrector
Book Cover Process:
My book cover is by the wonderful Grace Zhu (please check out her work here: GraceZhuArt.com). I have a background in both art and public relations, so it was a personal priority of mine to work with an artist on a unique commissioned painting. Covers are such a large part of a reader’s discovery process, and I knew that this book would stand a better chance of finding its audience if I invested in the cover upfront. I spent a long time looking for the right concept art and an artist who could do it justice. And she really, really did.
Despite a cheerful beginning, The Goddess of Nothing At All grows into a darker, heavier tone, and it was important to me that the cover reflected that. Sigyn also needed to be the only focus, since this was her book and her voice. I asked the artist to intentionally leave her face obscured on the final cover so that there’s not only an air of mystery to her, but that it also leaves her looks up to the imagination. And finally, we chose details for the clothing and such that would make the genre of the book clear to anyone passing by.
I couldn’t imagine being happier with this cover. I still adore it all these months later.
About the Author
Cat Rector grew up in a small Nova Scotian town and could often be found simultaneously reading a book and fighting off muskrats while walking home from school. She devours stories in all their forms, loves messy, morally grey characters, and writes about the horrors that we inflict on each other. Currently, she lives in Belgium with her spouse. When she’s not writing, you can find her playing video games, spending time with loved ones, or staring at her To Be Read pile like it’s going to read itself.
The Goddess of Nothing At All is her debut novel. You can read the first three chapters on her website, CatRector.com
Northern Wrath (Part 1 of the Hanged God Trilogy) by Thilde Kold Holdt
Following in the steps of Neil Gaiman & Joanne Harris, the author expertly weaves Norse myths and compelling characters into this fierce, magical epic fantasy.
The bond between men and the gods is weakening.
A dead man walks between the worlds and foresees Odin’s doom.
The only survivor of a slaughter unleashes a monster from fiery Muspelheim.
Long hidden among mortals, a giantess sighs and takes up her magics once again.
A chief’s son must overcome war and treason to become the leader his people need.
And the final battle is coming…
Book Cover Process
As a traditionally published author I did not design my own cover, but I was blessed with a lot of say and a beautiful product. My editor, David Moore, was the one who came up with the idea to have Hilda’s axe on the front cover and he hired the brilliant artist Larry Rostant to bring it to life. I sent resources in the form of historically correct patterns, as to me, the historical accuracy was key. And then, a few months later, I received a first draft of the cover. Being my usual pedantic self, I had two main concerns: (1) the shape of the axe was from an earlier time period than the one I was writing in. (2) the axe carvings didn’t precisely match the description in the book. Only sort of matched. The shape of the axe could work to my advantage as an older axe might seem even more magical to my characters, but I really wanted the descriptions in the book to match the cover, so one of the two would have to change. My second concern was also essentially about needing the description in the book and the cover to match. The engraved image was described in the book as covering the entire axe-head, like on the famous Mammen Axe (see photo). That detail was important to me because the engraving is what show the true skill of the smith who made the axe. I wrote a novel length e-mail explaining my two concerns and providing possible ways to fix them. My editor warned me that he didn’t think he could get much changed this late in the process, but took it to the artist who thankfully was happy to make changes. After a back and forth they both agreed that the bearded axe shape looked best, but the engraving would change, and I agreed. And so, when I got my edits back, I went through every description of the axe in the book to ensure that it matched the cover. It may be a minor detail but as a reader I love it when covers and descriptions in books are exact matches, not just kind of, but exactly how they’re described. That way the cover and manuscript don’t feel like two separate pieces that work together but like two halves of the same experience.
Here’s a photo of the Mammen Axe from the National museum of Denmark:
About the Designer – Larry Rostand
I’ve always loved making images. I used to do it with a paintbrush – now it’s with a camera. It used to be on my own – now it’s often as part of a team.
Grew up in the Caribbean – bright and colourful. Moved to the UK – a bit grey and often dark… sort of sums up my work.
Went to college to study graphic design – became an illustrator instead, later a photographer but there’s still a bit of illustration in there.
I’m happiest when working with people – in front of the lens and behind.
- Lürzer’s 200 Best Digital Artists worldwide 15/16
- Lürzer’s 200 Best Digital Artists worldwide 17/18
- Creative Quarterly 38 Spring 2015 – winner
- Graphis Gold Award – Graphis Photography Annual 2014
- Graphis Gold Award – Graphis Photography Annual 2013
Shackled Fates (Part 2 of the Hanged God Trilogy) is out now and the third book in the trilogy, Slaughtered Gods will follow next year.
Covers also designed by Larry Rostant.
As Ragnarok looms, the trickster Loki breaks free from his chains.
In the battle to come, all shall die, but Ragnar will do anything to save his gods.
Einer scours the nine worlds for Hilda, who walks among gods and goddesses, searching the truth of the Runes.
For centuries Siv has run from her past, but she knows that to protect her daughter, and Midgard, she will have to face her worst fears.
It is time to confront the Alfather.
About the Author
I am a writer of fantasy novels. My first series, the Hanged God Trilogy, centres around Vikings and the Old Norse gods. I’m represented by Jamie Cowen at the Ampersand Agency.
I am a novelist by profession, currently working an epic fantasy series about 7th century Korea. My epic fantasy trilogy about Vikings, the Hanged God, is currently being published. I have lived enough different places that the most difficult question to answer is: “where are you from?” I am, quite simply, from the planet Earth, for I have yet to set foot on Mars. Someday, though…