Cover Stories: The Iron Witch by Karen Mahoney

The Iron Witch Final.jpgKaren Mahoney is here to tell the tale behind her amazingly gorgeous new cover. The Iron Witch is out this month!"My publisher asked for my input on the cover, which was awesome! (And unexpected.) I'm lucky that Flux are open to author input - although obviously there's no guarantee that what you say will be in any way 'followed' or slavishly adhered to. All I really wanted was to make sure that we didn't actually see Donna's face (I'm not so keen on that with covers, though there are always exceptions that I fall in love with), and that we get to see her iron tattoos. Other than that, I just left it up to the art department. "Truly, the very first time I saw the initial cover concept I fell in love. I can honestly say that the cover for The Iron Witch is perfect - every single part of it. I can't believe I was so lucky with my first ever book! I didn't have any need to ask for changes (even if they would have been considered) because there was simply nothing I wanted to change. I couldn't believe how well all the elements came together: Donna's pose shows how conflicted she is, and how angst-filled the decision she has to make; her tattoos are gorgeous and exactly how I imagined them; and she's even holding a vial of the Elixir of Life (which plays a big part in the story). The vial is beautiful, and Lisa Novak - the amazing designer - made the liquid inside it red, which is accurate to the story. I couldn't possibly ask for more. "I'll now pass you over to Lisa Novak from Flux to tell you more about how she actually put the cover together. It's so interesting to hear Lisa talk about the cover in this way. Everything she says about the presentation of the main character (Donna Underwood) and the general atmosphere of the cover - and, therefore, of the book - is just perfect: Lisa: "The image of the girl is stock photography. I don't know anything about what prompted the photographer to take the photo the way he did but I can tell you that it is titled 'Grief.' iron_witch_grief.jpgThe only part of the photo that had color in it when I found it was the girl's hair, the photographer had desaturated the rest of the photo to focus the viewer's eye on the hair, the highlights, the way it fell. Because that sort of photo treatment wouldn't work for our book I added the color back into her skin before adding the 'iron tattoo' (right). "When I'm putting together a cover like The Iron Witch I start by searching for the main element, which in this case was the girl. There are about half a dozen stock photo sites that I typically use and after entering some basic search words I end up sifting through hundreds of photos to find the one that speaks most strongly to the book. Sometimes this search can be over in an hour, other times it might take days. I think this one came to me somewhere around the 6 - 8 hour mark of scanning images. "Once I find an image that feels like it might be right I'll look at it and see what I can add or change to make it become the book even more. In this case, I knew I needed to add the iron tattoo to Donna's arm and hand. I wanted something delicate, but densely entwined, and ultimately strong looking in a feminine way. iron_witch_vial.jpg"Next came the vial (left). Because the rest of the cover is fairly stark I wanted the vial to be intricate and beautiful and something you couldn't take your eyes off of. After adding the red Elixir I thought it looked almost a little too out of place and richly colored so I pulled back the saturation a bit and ended up giving it a bit of a steampunky look in doing so. "And finally, to keep the image from floating away in space and to tie her to the title, I added the same iron filigree in the open area around Donna that is on her arm. I think it gives it an overcrowded feeling and helps heighten the tension going on with the angle of her arm and the fact that she's hiding her face from us. I think the cover makes people slightly uncomfortable, yet draws them in at the same time." iron_witch_2.jpg"You can see some alternate cover concepts on Lisa's website [one is on the right] but, really, everyone at Flux was in agreement that there was no competition and our chosen cover was The One." Thanks, Kaz and Lisa! This design is so intricate and lovely -- you can tell how much thought went into it at first glance. The colors are perfect, and the sparkle of the vial is completely intriguing. What do you guys think?