Today I had my very first look at the cover for Moonlight Sketches. Gotta say, I am impressed, delighted, thrilled, excited, and just generally pleased.
The artist is Darren Whalen, who does amazing work. His website is http://www.darrenwhalen.net/ if you're interested in checking him out. He's been painting and sketching and what-not for a long time now, but he's still very young and, really, is just getting beginning to become known in the art world. I haven't a doubt, based on what I've seen of his work, his name is going to be pretty big one of these days, maybe sooner rather than later. I can't show around the cover for Moonlight Sketches just yet because it hasn't been approved by the publisher, but Darren also did the artwork for another book, an anthology named Hard Ol' Spot (see image below) in which I had two stories published. Both stories, "Break, Break, Break" and "Hold Out" also appear as part of my collection that's due out in the spring.
This process has taken a while, of course. When I first met with my publisher, Donna Francis of Creative Publishing (MS is being published under their Killick Press imprint, which has been doing high quality work with fiction for a long time now), I mentioned that I loved Darren's work on Hard Ol' Spot and she said if that's who I wanted to do my cover, that would be fine with her when the time came. I was blown away. Not many authors (especially first-timers) get to have any say in their cover art at all, let alone in who the artist would be. This has been the beginning of a beautiful friendship with the people at Creative. They've been an author's dream, right from the start. Lately, I've been dealing a lot with the publicist/marketing specialist (not sure of the exact title) Janine Lily, who is the consummate pro and very friendly and easy to get along with. She is razor sharp too--just like Donna--and doesn't mind giving an opinion when needed...and it's often needed.
Darren and I got together earlier this summer--sometime in June, I think it was--to discuss ideas for the cover. He and I were on the same page right from the start. He wanted to convey the essence of the entire book--which is essentially a series of dark-themed short stories all set in the same small town, a place called Darwin--and to do this, he thought the best thing was to represent the entire town on the cover. Of course, he wanted to cast it in moonlight. While I loved the idea, I was concerned about the cover being too dark. Not to fear: he had it all figured out. It would be dark, it would be a sketch (as suggested by the title), and it would be this kind Blackwoodish dark blue tone to evoke the nighttime. And there would be lots of light coming from the suggestion of a full moon overheard. Anyway, I won't give all the detail, but it came out exactly as he described it, only better.
Seeing it with my name on the front, Darren's sketch of the town that has existed in my mind for nearly twenty years, and the words of praise on the back from some very well known and respected writers, just felt very...humbling. I've used other words (see above), but thats the ultimate one. This whole thing at times feels so much bigger than me, seeing my words go to print, my stories of people who, again, existed only in my imagination but are very real to me all the same, no words can convey the feeling that gives me.
Bravo, Darren. Bravo. Thus far, and I'm sure it will continue, it has been an absolute pleasure working with you and an honour having you design the cover of my first book.