Amanda here, wanting to chat about covers and retaining the look to a series of books. Strange Chemistry has been running officially for a year and a half, and I’ve been working behind the scenes for over two years, so we’ve now had the experience of seeing sequels and follow-ups being published by authors on the list. And one of the things I have been incredibly keen to do is try to retain the look of a series across different covers. I’ve seen numerous comments from people about how they dislike when covers change mid-series, or when a paperback is very different from a hardback. As a reader, I feel the same. I adore seeing on my shelves a completed series that has the same look and format, so this was a principle I definitely wanted to bring to Strange Chemistry.
Since we recently released the stunning action-packed cover to DELETE – the final novel in Kim Curran’s twisty, turning, thrilling series about shifters, it seemed like the perfect time to show off some of those linked books covers we now have. Enjoy!
The covers for Shift, Control and Delete are by Larry Rostant, and show the hero, Scott Tyler. Each of the covers picks a specific scene from within the books, and we definitely wanted to achieve a very cinematic feel. What I like best about these covers is seeing Scott in action shots, but also seeing the way his character develops on the front of the books as well as within them. By Delete, you get a real sense of the danger and determination of this teen Shifter.
Poltergeeks and Student Bodies by Sean Cummings feature Julie, a red-headed witch girl who most definitely eschews ballgowns and fancy outfits. She is a jeans and t-shirt kind a gal. Again, the front covers feature scenes from each novel. My favourite part? The fact that Julie is rather sneakily wearing an Iron Maiden t-shirt on the Student Bodies cover (yes, they might just be my fave band!) These covers were by Paul Young.
With the covers for Cassandra’s high fantasy novels, I wanted to evoke the feel of the world, as well as try to present the mystery and magic present in each book. Hence the more Eastern feel to the cover, with the filigree patterning around the edge. I was very determined that the covers for the first duology would be a little unusual, and definitely not show the characters so that the reader could imagine them his or herself. Personally I think that Sarah J Coleman did a stunning job with these.
The Katya books by Jonathan L Howard were, once again, a very different direction. At the time that this cover was commissioned, there was a definite move towards more symbols on covers (like Divergent, I suppose), especially to highlight that a novel was SF rather than any other genre. I followed this idea, but wanted to pull out the aspects of the novels that made it so original: the Russian background, the water planet, the military side of the story, and I love the way that Lee Gibbons captured this.
This duo of beautiful covers were done by Steve Wood – he has definitely been one of our go-to artists and produced some stunning and very different pieces of art. The author in this case – A E Rought – is incredibly visual and created a fantastic mood board on Pinterest that helped guide us towards the end result. I like the fact that the first novel is narrated by Emma, and features her on the cover, while the second is narrated by Alex and so features him on the cover in a scene directly from the book. I also like the switch in colours from Broken to Tainted, and think they look beautiful side by side.
Ah, Pantomime and Shadowplay! Tom Bagshaw was the chap behind this lovely pair of covers. Pantomime was one of those novels that required a lot of thought in terms of how to present the cover. I wanted to capture the secrets, the hiding, the mysteriousness of our protagonist. Putting Micah on the cover required looking at a whole lot of androgynous models, and one of those I liked the best was Tilda Swinton – a strong, beautiful and unusual face. It was Laura’s idea to feature Cyan on the cover of Shadowplay and this just seemed perfect. It also allowed us to put a non-Western face on the front of a Strange Chemistry book, and I particularly wanted this for Laura’s books since the inclusivity and diversity is part of what makes them such a stunning read.
I will confess that The Holders and The Seers were two of the very hardest covers to brief in the whole time I have been working up ideas. Once I decided that I wanted to represent some of the magical items that featured in the stories, Lee Gibbons seemed the perfect choice, especially when I saw the work he’d done on other book covers featuring gems. and jewelry. I wanted the green gem on the first cover to be something that absolutely draws the eye, so the background was kept plain by necessity. Julianna was the one to find the beautiful image of the crystal ball that we then included on the second cover. In both cases we tried to present a Celtic tinge to reflect the events in the books.
Oh, I love these covers! They so perfectly represent the books and were done so professionally by Amazing15. From the hardest covers to brief (The Holders and The Seers) to the very easiest. As soon as I read Emilie and the Hollow World I could absolutely envisage this style of cover, that showed the adventure, the travelling, the era. You will have seen that we quite often go from blue to orange across a series – this is because the colours work so perfectly alongside each other.
And finally (for now – over the next few months we’ll be presenting some more second in series) the gorgeous covers for the Zenn Scarlett series. These were done by our own incredibly talented Steven Meyer-Rassow – he has now worked on a few covers for Strange Chemistry, Angry Robot and Exhibit A, and I think they’ve all been exceptional pieces. These covers both say SF in a really beautiful way – I was guided a little by the way I’d seen other SF covers in the YA arena.
There you go – a quick look at some of our linked covers. You’ll see that we try to keep the same artist for the covers in a series, and that we use the same font and feel for the covers. To me it’s important that a person can identify the genre and the tone of a novel from the cover. It’s also important to have a cover that will feel both familiar but look just a little different to others around it. I enjoy identifying trends within YA covers, and then thinking about how to best utilise that trend, or possibly subvert it a little.
I would be very happy to answer any questions about the Strange Chemistry covers, and the process behind cover briefing – just leave your comments below and I will get to them as soon as I can. And it would be fab to hear from you which of these sets of covers speaks to you, and appeals to you the most!