Motion and Visual Poetry


Last week, we got a peek at Tom Kidd’s cover art for House of Rough Diamonds.

It features Grunwold (stag), Vereez (fox), and Xerak (lion) with Heru the xuxu flying high guard, and the ship Slicewind soaring overhead.

I always enjoy seeing how an artist will interpret my work, even if it doesn’t match my own vision.  One thing a lot of authors miss is that a cover is not an illustration, it’s a tool.

Let me quote Tom Kidd’s eloquent discussion of the topic:

“I liken book covers to poetry because of their limitations (flat rectangles of colors and type) and the importance of them to communicate. They should capture the feel of the story even though stationary/stagnant images that suggest movement, emotion, and story, something to make a person wonder about the book. Covers aren’t typically scenes from the book but a scene that could happen that says something true about the characters, location, or the action. Sometimes I’m left with something that was never described but had to have happened.”  (FB message, 2-19-23)

When I saw the covers for Library of the Sapphire Wind and Aurora Borealis Bridge, well before I’d ever been in communication with Tom Kidd, this was precisely how I felt.  The art differed in detail, but the spirit of swashbuckling adventure was absolutely right.  And his choices of detail were delightful.  One of my favorites was Peg fighting using her knitting needles.  She never does that, but she absolutely would should the situation arise.

This latest cover is a perfect example of the cover that “could happen that says something true about the characters, location, or the action.”  You can see the trust between the characters, get a feel for how they approach problems.  (Vereez is definitely the most impulsive of the trio.)  I like how Xerak’s mane is groomed, and he would definitely love those arm bracers. 

I also love how Tom Kidd uses fabric to create a sense of motion.  All three of his covers for me feel like scenes in motion I could walk right into.  Given the choice of dully static or vibrant, both Vereez and I absolutely forgive him for putting her in a dress, which would not be her choice of combat attire. 

As we get closer to the release date, I’ll talk more about what House of Rough Diamonds is about, but for now I want to give people a little more time to read the first couple of books, so there won’t be any spoilers!


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