The Falconer Cover Reveal (A special guest post from Elizabeth May)

A very special thank you to Elizabeth May for sharing this blog post with us on the making of the cover for her debut novel The Falconer


THE FALCONER’s cover is here!


:tosses confetti:

:dances more:

And if I may say so, it is…

I couldn’t be more pleased with the level of input I had on the cover. If you were never aware: authors often have very little say over their cover. Sometimes, they don’t have any input at all. And, sometimes, they’re literally the last to see it (because it shows up on Amazon).

So when my editor asked me if I had any ideas for the cover, I was like, “OMG I HAVE SO MANY LET ME TELL YOU ALLLL OF THEM.” Because, let’s face it: every author has some mental picture of their ideal cover.

Firstly, as I possess a very basic level of digital art skillz (very, VERY basic), I created a cover comp. It’s incredibly crappy, I’m bad at blending, I used stock images that had a general pictorial representation of what my ideal cover was. I’m going to share it with you. Don’t make fun of me. Don’t. Promise now. Okay. I’m going to hold you to it.

#1. Don’t kill me, but I wanted a damn poofy dress on my cover. My heroine is an aristocrat, the daughter of a rich marquess, and this was a point I wanted to get across on my cover. But, since Pretty Girl in Dress covers dominate YA, I told my editor that it couldn’t just be a pretty girl in a poofy dress. She had to look like she could kill something. I wanted her to look capable. I wanted her reasonably dishevelled (unlike the stock photo model in my comp), like she’d just been fighting and was ready for more. I suggested a bit of mud and blood.

#2. I thought it would be awesome if she were holding a weapon, and it would also be the perfect opportunity to show a steampunk element. My heroine engineers her own weaponry, so the altered pistol in the final version of the cover is actually a weapon she uses in the book. As is the blade.

#3. A hint of the city — in this case, Edinburgh — to ground the novel in a setting.

#4. MIST! Something Scotland does very well, I think.

#5. Another thing Scotland does well: inclement weather.

The last three on my list weren’t essentials. Mostly, I put them in because I wanted to give a vague sense for the feel of the cover: something dark, a hint of danger, that drives home that this is an urban fantasy novel. (I was not expecting the fiery explosion on the final cover, but when I saw it, I was like, “OMG SPLODEY THINGS!”)

My editor and I then discussed which cover artists we thought would do well with this. We considered a few incredibly talented people, but settled on Gene Mollica, who creates some truly fantastic urban fantasy covers that I’ve always coveted. It was a dream come true when he agreed to do this. Gene also hired a dress designer and seamstress, who made the gorgeous dress just for the cover.

Then my editor sent over images for models and we discussed which one would fit best. Ultimately, we decided on this particular cover model because she such an impeccable Aileana Expression: a balance of fierce and vulnerable that I thought was so, so important to have. It’s a spot-on embodiment of the character.

A few months later, I got the images from the cover shoot. And later, the rough cover. It was perfect. It was better than the ideal cover I had in my mind. Gene Mollica had captured all of the elements of the story and balanced them so beautifully together.

And as an author, I couldn’t be more grateful to the team at Gollancz for letting me have my say in this cover. It was a wonderful thing to see it all come to life the way it did.

Go see the final result!