Amanda, my editor in HarperCollins, has just sent me the final cover of the US edition of ‘The Demi-Monde: Winter’ (out January 2012, folks) and mighty fine it looks too. Amanda was kind enough to involve me (and by default my designer mate, Nigel) in the design process so I got to see how the cover evolved. I think it’s quite an interesting process.
It all started when I got an email from Amanda in the beginning of April saying that HC were having a cover concept meeting and did I have any thoughts regarding which design elements might be useful for inclusion in a design. So I had a think and below is a précis of what I sent (edited so some of the spoiler bits have been taken out).
The Demi-Monde is an ensemble story told over four books of the protagonists’ adventures in a virtual dystopia locked in a Victorian timeframe. While the story deals with what I hope are serious issues (fascism, racism, eugenics and anti-semitism) I’ve tried to do this in a satirical way and invest the books with humour. They are written to be fast-paced and fun. I’ve also attempted to introduce a Lost-like unexpectedness to maintain the readers’ interest throughout the four books and keep them intrigued. I call this script-tease. The words/phrases I think (hope) best describe the Demi-Monde series are fast-paced, dark-humoured, surreal, thought-provoking and fun. It appeals to females as well as males (and this has certainly been borne out by the reaction in the UK). It is not hard SF.
The basic themes which permeate the four volumes of the Demi-Monde are as follows:
SEASONS: Each volume of the DM is contained within a particular season, Winter, Spring, Summer and Fall. Quercus is intent on showing this via the use of the cover colour (Blue for Winter; Green for Spring etc.).
LOCATION: Each volume is set in a different Sector of the Demi-Monde viz,Winter in the Rookeries of London and in Warsaw; Spring in Paris and Venice; Summer in Peking; and Fall in Istanbul and the walled city of the JAD (a faux Jerusalem).
REAL CHARACTERS: There are new historic characters (‘PreLived’) introduced in each volume. Each of these will be shown on the website by means of a cigar card.
DUALISM: Dualism is a key feature of the Demi-Monde series, viz the virtual Demi-Monde and the physical Real World; and Norma Williams and her doppelganger Aaliz Heydrich.
PURSUIT: The single connecting theme of all four books is Norma Williams and her ‘journey’ from being spoilt teenage brat to sage and peacenik. By the suffering and anguish she endures as she is pursued through the Demi-Monde she grows in maturity and stature.
BLOOD: Blood is very important in the Demi-Monde. All the Dupes inhabiting the Demi-Monde are blood dependent.
STEAMPUNK: The Demi-Monde is technologically ‘fixed’ in the year 1870, but some of the tweaks the Dupes have made to their world are quite steampunky (steamers are their equivalents of cars, they use PigeonGrams to communicate etc.).
RUNES: There is a flavouring of Seidr magic in the books and hence quite a few references to runes and other Norse elements. The Valknut rune is the emblem of the quasi-fascist unFunDaMentalists while the combined Laguz sinister and dexter is the symbol of Lilith.
RELIGIONS: Each Sector of the Demi-Monde has at least one religion: UnFunDaMentalism; ImPuritanism; Confusionism; HerEticalism; nuJuism; and HimPerialism.
This I followed up towards the end of April by a selection of ‘reading lines' I’d dreamed up (I’ve already blogged about these) and then at the beginning of July Amanda sent this cover mock-up through:
They obviously weren't keen. It seems they thought it a tad too travelbook-esque and wanted something funkier.
So without further ado, ladies and gentlemen, I give you the final US cover of 'The Demi-Monde:Winter' (and bloody brilliant it is too!!!!!!) ...