June 5, 2015

Guest Post: On Cover Art by Courtney Alameda

Happy Friday, Misfiteers! Courtney Alameda, awesome author of the spooky SHUTTER - about a girl who combats the paranormal with her SLR camera - is back to talk about the cover art for her latest digital short story TRIGGER!


I admit, when I saw the cover art for TRIGGER, I gasped. The detail! The colors! The Golden Gate Bridge! The bats! All perfection for the story. I also loved Dominick Saponaro’s (artist’s) pulpy, science fiction take on the Helsing uniform.

Maybe it’s obvious, but good cover art—even for digital short stories like TRIGGER—are integral to the success of a work of fiction. While many toss around the adage of “not judging a book by its cover,” most readers make snap decisions on whether or not they’ll find a work of fiction interesting, basing their opinions on the cover alone. Cover art compels readers to pluck books from shelves or tables, rifle through their pages, read blurbs and cover copy, and maybe even take the book to the register on a whim. Powerful stuff, cover art.

So I wanted to write a few words in homage to the incredible art Saponaro created for TRIGGER, since I believe the artwork captures the feel of the story so exceptionally well.

First things first: You have to see the cover image in its full glory:

The image is so incredibly epic.

But the first thing I noticed? Micheline’s uniform. I often see women sexualized on the covers of genre fiction, even when they’re strong and/or supposed to possess a lot of martial ability. Seeing Micheline dressed in a functional, layered, and practical uniform came as a relief, mostly because she’s a very sensible character with a job to do. Everything she’s wearing, from holsters to ammo packs to fingerless gloves, serves a specific purpose.

Micheline looks powerful in the cover art, if not exactly confident. She’s moving forward, though her body language tells us it frightens her to do so. It’s amazing how much of Micheline’s fifteen-year-old personality Saponaro manages to capture in this one image.

Also, if you look closely at her handgun, you’ll see Micheline’s finger hovering closely to her trigger, but not resting on the trigger. It’s a fabulous little look into her mental state (and training, too).

Secondly, the piece of the image I noticed last: The Embarcadero Scissorclaw, the story’s antagonist, lurks behind Micheline’s right flank. In the full illustration, the scissorclaw’s easy to see, but less so on the actual cover image.

I actually noticed its pincer first, then worked my way up to its head. I love that the scissorclaw’s haunting Micheline in the background, since it spends more time in Micheline’s head than it does on the page; moreover, the viewer is unable to see the monster entire, which makes it all the more frightening and sinister. I also love the muck streaming off the creature’s head, claws, and flanks . . . it’s all very brilliant.

Finally, I love the level of detail in the cityscape of San Francisco, the soaring tower of the Golden Gate Bridge, all offset by a thick layer of fog (also present in the story and novel). The bats, the full moon . . . everything contributes to a truly amazing piece of art, one that I’m grateful to see attached to a story I love so well.

You can find TRIGGER on the Tor.com website here.

Thanks to Caitlin Greer and the YA Misfits for hosting this guest post! Please use the Rafflecopter to enter the giveaway for a signed copy of SHUTTER and a San Francisco skyline necklace (US only)!


erica m. chapman said...

Such a great cover!! I absolutely loved SHUTTER!!!

zoan andreas said...
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