From rough to ready

Irene Gallo, art direc­tor at Tor Books, re­veals how she chose the fi­nal cover for Karen Mem­ory, a book by El­iz­a­beth Bear. The illustrator was Cyn­thia Shep­pard. She had 10 days…

ImagineFX - - Sketchbook -

“See­ing Cyn­thia Shep­pard’s work at Spec­trum Live so­lid­i­fied my in­ter­est in work­ing with her. This was, how­ever, a trial by fire. I was late on the book for var­i­ous rea­sons. One cover didn’t hit the mark and I spent some time re­think­ing it. So by the time I set­tled on Cyn­thia, we had only 10 days left.

My email to her in­cluded the word panic and this brief: ‘It’s a por­trait of a woman. Steam­punk. Bad-ass. Runs a brothel. Be­hind her could be a stylised me­chan­i­cal kraken or a steam­punk city. If it’s the kraken, it could read as a de­signed back­ground – it would not need to look like a lit­eral scene’. I promised more de­tails, but be­fore I got them, she handed in three amaz­ing sketches…”

Sketch 1

“I loved ver­sion one. It was clever, had at­ti­tude and would have made for a good cover. In this one, the ti­tle would be­come the star of the pic­ture with the leg as a strong sup­port­ing cast mem­ber.”

Sketch 2

“Sketch two didn’t quite have the strength of one or three. It felt a lit­tle lost. It’s hard to know where she is and what’s hap­pen­ing. The type and the fig­ure seem to be fight­ing for equal time. It was the first one dropped from con­sid­er­a­tion.”

Sketch 3

“This one is a beauty. It’s all about the char­ac­ter – the reader would want to know who it is. Once en­gaged in the pic­ture, the back­ground de­tails are fun to look over. It has bril­liant use of the kraken shapes. And they clev­erly fo­cus at­ten­tion on Karen’s face.”


“I sent one and three to the edi­tor and we set­tled on three. We made a few tweaks and let Cyn­thia fin­ish it. Cyn­thia nailed this piece by cre­at­ing a woman who’s fun and sexy with­out giv­ing up Karen’s char­ac­ter. You be­lieve she’s strong, smart and ca­pa­ble. Some­one the reader wants to meet and spend time with.”

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