When I decided to commission an artist to illustrate a short story in the Spiritwalker universe, I was thrilled that Julie Dillon agreed to work with me…
Besides the black and white drawings for The Secret Journal of Beatrice Hassi Barahal, I also asked Julie for two color illustrations. I picked the subjects based on passages from Cold Steel that I thought would be visually evocative.
I particularly wanted an illustration for a scene in which the heroines, Cat and Bee, emerge from a cave onto a beach whose strand, instead of sand, is “red coals and smoking ash.” Here in the spirit world the sea isn’t water; it’s smoke. In the scene a dragon rises out of the sea of smoke to confront them.
Therefore, when Tachyon Publications approached me about the possibility of publishing a collection of my short fiction (now available as The Very Best of Kate Elliott), I asked if they would be interested in using this illustration for the cover. They politely agreed to look at it, making no promises that it would be suitable, right up until the moment they saw it. At that point they were, understandably, quite enthusiastic.
Not every illustration or photo can be used on a book cover because the dimensions and balance have to work together. Furthermore, using the wrong typeface, color, and design can ruin an otherwise interesting image. Designer Elizabeth Story did an incredible job turning the illustration into a gorgeous cover. She flipped the image (my daughter, also a designer, explained why the image works better flipped on a book that opens on the left; it has to do with the way the eye gets drawn to the right and thereby to the side of the book you open). The clean, classic typeface doesn’t clutter, nor does it draw attention to itself and away from the image. The gold color of the letters echoes the fire in the dragon.
You can buy prints of the color illustration at Julie’s INPRNT store.
Read about the rest of the process including the black & white sketches that lead to the finished image at A Dribble of Ink.
For more on THE VERY BEST OF KATE ELLIOTT, visit the Tachyon page.
Cover art by Julie Dillon.
Design by Elizabeth Story.