It is my absolute pleasure to reveal this stunning book cover from US publisher ACE and artist Bastien Lecouffe Deharme for Mark Lawrence‘s upcoming book, The Girl and the Stars. It’s the first instalment of his new trilogy, The Book Of The Ice and just like Red Sister, it is set in the world of Abeth.
I myself was blown away by how beautiful this book cover turned out, but instead of just me gushing here about how much I love everything about it, I decided to talk to Mark, to his ACE editor, Jessica Wade, and to Bastien about the work involved.
In my experience not many interviews get done with cover artists, and readers in general know very little about the process. I often see comments on social media that are based on the assumption that Mark has considerable control over his covers. As Bastien confirms this isn’t the case, at all. Artists and authors in most cases have no interactions with each other, at all.
“Publishers would usually send me a little extract of the book, their descriptions and ideas of what they’d like to see on the cover,” he tells me. “It can sometimes be challenging to follow them all and to work them together into something that also looks good. For this reason, just as was the case with this book, the first draft doesn’t necessarily always work and can get discarded. Then I make further sketches based on our follow-up discussions with the publisher and once we agree on which sketch works best I continue developing that one.
This cover has taken about five months to make, from the moment I received the request from the publisher until I finalised the art. Much of this time is spent waiting for answers and decisions. Once everything has been discussed and I know exactly what I’m aiming for it usually takes me three days to then complete the work. Which is what happened in this case, too. Five months might seem like a long time, but I usually work on multiple projects simultaneously anyway. Often three different covers a month, or a cover and two Wizards of the Coast Magic cards at other times. I’m also developing a new fantasy tabletop roleplaying game, GODS which is quite a big project and keeps me busy.
The work on book covers is essentially a teamwork in the sense that various people are involved in the process and they may have different ideas from not just me but from each other too. Different in terms of what will work and what won’t. Once everyone’s requests and suggested changes are put through we might end up with something that isn’t looking that great in the end. Luckily this wasn’t the case here and I’m very happy with the end result.
The character as it appears on the cover is a mix of what I know of the character, the photoshoots I take of a model that fits the publisher’s description, and the way I paint it. So what you see in the cover is not an exact painting of the model. I paint her in a way that fits the character, or at least what I understood that character to be.”
I asked Mark what he liked about the cover and what he felt important to include as feedback when the publisher sent him the first drafts. He answered:
“While I was more than happy to retain Bastien Lecouffe Deharme, the artist from The Book of the Ancestor, for The Book of the Ice, it was important to me that the cover for The Girl And The Stars present the main character as something distinctly different from Nona on the previous covers. I hoped that would include distinction in terms of her appearance, dress, and setting. They are very different people and I didn’t want even similarity of style to suggest that this was more of the same. I’m very pleased with the result. Yaz isn’t a repackaged Nona, and she doesn’t look like one in Bastien’s realisation of her. Yaz isn’t a warrior and she’s not shown with a weapon. I hope the cover poses a question, with the icicles at the top suggesting some sort of cavern, but the stars undermining that assumption, leaving the matter unresolved.”
I also asked Jessica Wade, who works as a senior editor for Ace Books, to share with us her thoughts on the cover work and on publishing this book. She answered with: “A new trilogy from Mark Lawrence is always an event! I am so excited for readers to get their hands on The Girl and the Stars. Because it’s set in the same world as the Book of the Ancestor novels, we were happy to go back to the very talented artist Bastien Lecouffe Deharme, which gives both series an overarching aesthetic unity. But of course I think he has done a stellar job giving the new series a striking look that is also all its own.”
The Girl and the Stars will be published by ACE Books in the US on 4/21/20.
Pre-order it on the publisher’s website: HERE
Or on Amazon: HERE
Link to my previous (spoiler-free) post about The Girl and the Stars is: here
If you’re keen on getting an Advance Reading Copy before April I’ll be running a few give-aways here next month, so stay tuned! 🙂