Week two of this series and today Alex S. Bradshaw and Lyra Wolf are here to tell us all about their cover design processes.
Windborn by Alex S. Bradshaw
Drowning is only the beginning…
Edda Gretasdottir is a raider, a fell-handed shield-maiden, feared along every coast. Hers is a life woven in battle scars.
But she never wanted to walk the warrior’s path. All she wanted was freedom, to earn enough gold to buy her family their own remote farm, and to escape their oppressive chieftain. Now, she has enough plunder so that she can finally hang up her shield and live in peace.
That peace is stolen from Edda, however, when raiders burn her home, destroy all that she loves, and toss her, wounded and bleeding, into the ravenous ocean.
But the fates are cruel and this is not the end for Edda: she rises from the bloody surf as a Windborn, a cursed warrior whose supernatural gifts are a poor exchange for everything she has lost.
Fuelled by rage and armed with strange new powers Edda will hunt for whoever sent the raiders, for whoever is responsible for taking everything from her. She will show them the sharp edge of her axe… or die trying.
Windborn is a dark, character-driven Norse fantasy packed with emotion, deadly foes, and vicious battles.
The Cover Design Process
For a long time I wasn’t sure about what kind of cover to go for, but I did know who I wanted to do it. I’ve been a fan of Raph Herrera Lomotan’s artwork for ages. I was first drawn to him from his amazing paleoart and the longer I stared at his art the more I liked it. He’s got a brilliant, almost rough brush style that I love. And I also knew that if I could I’d get Shawn King for the cover design and typography. He does amazing work for loads of indie authors and you know that if Shawn’s done the cover then it’s going to be an awesome book. Luckily for me, they were both available and happy to work with me!
I had a few ideas about the cover before we started work. As it’s a story that’s very much focused on our main character, Edda, I knew that I wanted her to be front and centre of the cover. I also wanted to incorporate some elements of the story into the cover as well, like the Northern Lights and Edda’s carved shield and the other super-powered characters. This was so that readers could see the character on the front really was who they were reading about and also so it was obvious to anyone glancing at the cover that this was a Norse-inspired story and there was going to be an action-packed, superpowered book. So I wrote up some information for Raph to give him as much information as I could in a short space (I think it was a page or two on Googledocs) and it wasn’t long before he sent through some amazing concept sketches for Edda’s stance.
Then, once we’d all agreed on the best one (and we did agree!), Raph started adding more and more details (and always managing to fit in all the bits I hoped for!). It was amazing to suddenly see a character I’d spent so much time with in my head appear in full colour on my screen. There were a few instances of back and forth as I asked Raph to tweak something, or he had an idea and wanted to know what I thought of it (spoiler, they were always good ideas), but soon there was an amazing wraparound cover for Shawn to work with. Shawn didn’t need a whole lot of input from me as he pretty much nailed it from the beginning! It’s pretty clear from the illustration that the story is Norse inspired and Shawn helped really drive that home with the design. He added a banner at the bottom of the cover which is reminiscent of Viking age carved doors and he was happy to add motifs that incorporated the rune Ehwaz into the cover, which transliterates into E (for Edda!), including on the spine.
I feel really lucky to have been able to work with Raph and Shawn for my cover. Their work came together to make something that – I think – is a kick ass cover. Here’s hoping they’re available to work on the next one!
About the Author
Alex S. Bradshaw grew up in Kent in the UK and spent much of his childhood hiding (sometimes under tables) and reading a book.
He has always been a fan of epic stories (as well as dinosaurs and cake) so it came as no surprise to anyone that he went on to study Classics and Ancient History at university.
Now Alex works in publishing and has turned his hand to making epic stories of his own.
Lyra Wolf – Truth & Other Lies, The Order of Chaos, That Good Mischief & Thunder Blood & Goats
The Cover Design Process
I went through quite the trial and error with my cover art for my The Nine Worlds Rising series, as I started with a completely different design than what I currently have. Sometimes it takes making mistakes to find the right path, and I found that right path when I partnered with designer Dominic Forbes, who is my new personal hero.
While The Nine Worlds Rising is an adult Norse fantasy series, the original cover leaned too far YA, and so was a big swing and a miss for my target audience. Not only that, but while the cover said ‘fantasy,’ it didn’t really give the feel of what the story of Truth and Other Lies is about.
I was lucky to have Dominic Forbes redesign the entire series, and he has done an amazing job in capturing both the dark tones, and the humor, that are innate to Norse mythology. Dominic has designed the covers for Anna Stephens’ The Godblind Trilogy, R.F. Kuang’s The Poppy War, and Robin Hobb’s Assasin’s Fate, just to name a few.
We started simply by discussing the story, and then I sent him a copy of the book. With this, he created 4 totally unique design styles, each containing 4-6 options. From there, we did a bit of mix-and-match, where I told him what elements I liked from the various designs.
After he merged it all together, then came the hardest part…which color scheme did I want? I agonized over this for weeks. Would dark blue be better than black? What about the bright teal? And don’t get me started on the symbols and border…there were so many options and versions to choose from.
We ended on the final design you see here, a dark green with a battered edge and symbols. I felt it captured the feel of the story, where some of the symbols show the fun and humor of the book (angry Viking boat, anyone?), where the worn metallic look showed the beaten and bruised characters you meet within.
I owe so much to Dominic Forbes and his amazing skill in bringing the series to life through his cover design. And as the series continues, I can’t wait to see what he creates next.
Truth and Other Lies by Lyra Wolf
Nothing is trickier than the truth.
All Loki the trickster god of Asgard wants is a peaceful life where he’s free to stir up a bit of harmless mischief. But when he’s struck by a painful vision of blood, ash, and death he knows his fun has run out.
Refusing to have his life obliterated by some stuffy prophecy, Loki feels he must save Asgard. Except the gods stand in his way. They don’t trust the God of Lies—which means his only hope is to return to Odin, the man he wished to forget thanks to their complicated history.
When Loki meets a mortal woman, his plans hit a snag.
Sigyn is delightfully stubborn and quick with a blade. She also, inexplicably, possesses a divine element found only in a god.
As Loki falls deeply in love with her, he never expects their bond to fulfill the prophecy threatening all their lives.
Forced between honoring his oath with Odin or protecting the woman he loves, Loki will discover that the only thing crueler than truth are the lies behind it all.
And the truth changes everything.
The Order of Chaos by Lyra Wolf
Ending the worlds was supposed to be fun…
After five hundred years of imprisonment and torture, Loki the trickster god has broken free and is consumed with revenge. He has a promise to fulfill—he’s coming for the gods and will burn Asgard to the ground for what they did.
Igniting Ragnarok, the end of everything, will be a glorious surprise.
Except the gods have a surprise of their own.
Sigyn, the delightfully stubborn woman he loves, is alive.
This complicates his plans to break all the Nine Worlds. The fact that she also has an elven lord beau complicates them further. Afterall, three is a crowd.
Loki puts his raging vengeance on hold, wanting to stop what he started and protect Sigyn from a fiery death.
But, this is Ragnarok and one never can predict the apocalypse, and Loki is no longer sure if he’s in control. Chaos isn’t about to start taking orders from anyone, not even the god of chaos himself—and it has a universe to destroy.
That Good Mischief by Lyra Wolf
It wasn’t supposed to be like this.
It was supposed to be Loki the trickster god’s happily ever after with Sigyn. They had gone full Midgardian, settling down in California, with Loki doing what he does best—mischief.
When Sigyn collapses, Loki senses a grave darkness growing within her, and he knows only one god who may be able to stop Surtr before this sinister force possesses her completely.
Once again he finds himself forced to ask Odin for his help…which always carries with it some kind of price. However, Odin is the least of Loki’s problems, especially when buried secrets start surfacing because of brothers, both dead and alive. Blackmail is a nasty business.
Loki worries that his happily ever after with Sigyn could have an unhappy end.
Lies are unraveling, the truth is spinning, and consequences are flying faster than Loki can run and he may lose Sigyn forever—either to the darkness, or to his own lies.
Thunder, Blood & Goats by Lyra Wolf
Killing one measly dragon wasn’t supposed to be a problem.
It seemed like a good, if not practically heroic, choice to join Thor on a quick mission to rid the realm of Alfheim of a minor dragon infestation. It all goes wrong when Thor insists on bringing the goats. And then it gets worse when Elénaril—an elf with an attitude and a crossbow—steps on the scene.
Loki finds her absolutely charming.
And so does Odin. He craves Elénaril for his army in Valhalla. Loki sees this as a (second) chance to secure his place in Asgard and impress the gods.
He wants to show them he isn’t as bad as they say.
About the Author
Lyra Wolf is a Swiss-American author of fantasy and mythic fiction.
Raised in Indiana, home to a billion corn mazes, she now lives in Central Florida, home to a billion mosquitoes. She enjoys drinking espresso, wandering through old city streets, and being tragically drawn to 18th century rogues.
When Lyra isn’t fulfilling the wishes of her overly demanding Chihuahua, you can find her writing about other worlds and the complicated people who live there.
Lyra has earned a B.A. in History and M.A. in English.
You can follow Lyra on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, or visit her website at www.lyrawolf.com.