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  • jonsparks3

Cover Stories (Part 2)

Updated: Jul 2, 2023

The first step was a trawl through my image collection: 30,000-plus photos to look at, though nearly all could be dismissed in a fraction of a second. The gestation of The Shattered Moon goes back nearly as far as my photographic career, but it had never occurred to me to create a collection of potential cover images as I went along. Eventually I had a reasonably small selection to consider.

One I kept coming back to was the very photo I finally went with. I took it in 2005, quite early in the digital phase of my career, on Moelwyn Bach in Eryri (Snowdonia). I’d always liked the way the light made something out of such simple subject matter.

I played around with this and a few other contenders; should I use the photo straight, or tweak the colours for a more ‘other-worldly’ feel, or even do something a bit more extreme? In the end the image that grabbed me uses Photoshop’s ‘Find Edges’ filter. This can give really messy and indecipherable results with some images but with the right raw material it can be very striking.

The other element that was added is the direction arrow marked on the rock. This was all happening not long after my partner and I had decided that Three Kinds of North was the title for the first book, reserving The Shattered Moon for the series as a whole, so the idea of having some kind of map/compass reference was fresh in my mind. The arrow was easily drawn using the Line tool, but it took a fair amount of work with Layer Masks and other tools to get it looking reasonably convincing as having been carved into the stone. I spent a lot of time looking at it at 300% magnification, which no one else will ever see.

The remaining question was the typography, and specifically the font. I tried lots of alternatives, some a lot more fancy, but in the end we liked the simplicity of Big Caslon.

Having done this for Three Kinds of North, I am of course going to follow the basic pattern for all the books and bonus stories. You can see a couple of the results already, with The Singer and the Silversmith, which you’ll have got free if you’ve already signed up for my mailing list, and Watching the Selkies, which is free for all to read via the website. FYI, the covered bridge in the former cover is in the Lechtal in the Austrian Tirol, and the shore scene in the latter is Mewslade Bay on the Gower peninsula in South Wales (though if you've seen a 'prototype' it was Tapotupotu Bay in the far north of New Zealand’s North Island).

Very soon I’ll be knuckling down to final edits on Book Two, The Sundering Wall, and then I’ll have to find a cover image for that too. So it goes on…

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