Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Cover Musings

The typical urban fantasy cover shows us an attractive young woman in leather holding a weapon. It's staggeringly popular and I'm not here to question why. I mean, duh, what's not to like? But Hounded is a wee bit different from most urban fantasies in that the protagonist is male. There are a few other male protagonists out there—Harry Dresden, of course, and then the dude in Harry Connolly's Game of Cages series and Simon R. Green's Nightside books—but mostly, it's a genre dominated by kickass heroines.

Not that there's anything wrong with that.  Plenty of people want to be dominated by a kickass heroine.

But I can't put one of those on my cover. I can't even put my character in leather, because he doesn't wear it, and he doesn't wear a trench coat or a leather duster or a hat pulled low over his eyes. To make things more difficult, my main character isn't a vampire or a werewolf—nor is he in love with a vampire or werewolf, employed in the vampire and werewolf-slaying industry, or related to a half-vampire and raising werewolves in the basement. He is, in fact, a Druid—but not the kind with giant beards and white robes.

So. How does one design a cover for such a character? How does one come up with something that will appeal to fans of the genre? Well, stay tuned. People smarter than me at Del Rey are figuring it out, and you can be sure I'll post it here when it's available. But I think it's safe to reveal two things at this point:

1. There will be no purple.
2. There will be no man boobs.

And I will not apologize for those things, because they are wrong.


  1. I admit I don't like urban fantasy, so I don't know what their covers 'must' be like, but I do know that I often love covers (sci-fi and fantasy) where the characters are rather tiny and the picture focuses more on some fantastic setting. It is usually like a snapshot of a moment from the novel, with perhaps an amazing building or nature scene and the figures are just a small part of it. I loved the original covers for the Risen Empire, for instance.

  2. Take a cue from 'Supernatural', is MY vote! No manboobs (well, on rare occasion anyway), no leather jackets, plenty of ye old dark-and-gritty atmosphere...and there ya go!