Revealing the Magical Rainforest of Thoraiya Dyer’s Crossroads of Canopy

We’re excited to show off the cover for Crossroads of Canopy, the highly-anticipated fantasy debut from Aurealis and Ditmar Award-winning author Thoraiya Dyer. Set in a giant mythical rainforest controlled by living gods, Crossroads of Canopy is the first installment of the Titan’s Forest trilogy—publishing January 2017 from Tor Books!

Below, get a full look at the cover art—both with and without text—by renowned genre artist Marc Simonetti. Plus, author Thoraiya Dyer shares her thoughts on both the design and overcoming the persistent superstition that green covers are “newstand poison.”

 

 * * *

All budding authors have heard the terrifying legend of the Cursed Green Cover, right?

The one where green-jacketed books languish, unsold?

The (statistically disproven) notion that green is poison on a newsstand might have sprung from the days when inks were way less awesome. A mixing mishap could end with dollops of vomit or baby-poo instead of apple- or emerald green (one of the best greens, manufactured with arsenic, was famously the most toxic ink ever made). Yum yum!

Anyway, when I first heard about the Curse, I was baffled. Most of my favourite fantasy covers were green. Exhibit A in the Completely Anecdotal Court, Your Honour: The original Hobbit cover by Tolkien, the John Howe cover of Robin Hobb’s Assassin’s Quest, Peter Goodfellow’s devastatingly beautiful cover of CJ Cherryh’s Fortress In The Eye of Time, and more recently, the irresistibly gorgeous cover of Seanan McGuire’s Every Heart a Doorway.

When I was asked for any images that might have inspired me while writing Crossroads of Canopy (in which no character ever sets foot outside of the rainforest) I sent in cheesy altered photos I’d taken (in the rain!) of some local rainforest trees:

Dyer-Canopy-References

The cheese wasn’t intentional. I was hoping for less of this:

Still from Honey I Shrunk The Kids (1989)

Still from Honey I Shrunk The Kids (1989)

…And more of this:

JungleBook-RobertGFresson

Jungle Book illustration by Robert G Fresson

In other words, when it came to the rainforest home of my reincarnated deities, killers and kings, I longed for a world of greens while mentally preparing myself for the lingering effects of the Curse.

I prepared myself for non-green.

Preparations or no, it was still extremely exciting. Would my cover, perhaps, show the green of the forest contained in a tiny window, wrapped in the enticing yet ultimately yellow illuminated parchment effect of Naomi Novik’s Uprooted? Maybe I’d get a close-up of fantastically dressed priestesses? Weapon-wielding warriors? The interior of a palace?

Trees so mist-wreathed they looked more grey than green? That wouldn’t be so bad. I gazed fondly at my bookshelf; there was the much-beloved viking ship and fog-shrouded turfed islands of Juliet Marillier’s Foxmask, while mist rolled in over the green hills of Avalon. Maybe I’d end up with black tree silhouettes and a sunset. Like Raymond Feist’s A Darkness at Sethanon. I’d always loved that cover.

But then rough sketches for my cover came, and they were green.

Simonetti-Canopy-sketch

Art by Marc Simonetti

Not only was this one green, but with its unusual perspective, it drew the eye into a terrifying, wonderfully vertiginous dive into the unknown. The cover was asking the same questions that my protagonist, Unar, had asked: What was down there, in the dark? What lay beneath opulent, sun-drenched Canopy?

I was thrilled.

And here we are, only a couple of months later, and the completed cover has landed. Still asking the questions. Still leading the eye, but with details of verdant vegetation and woody tree-trunk dwellings. (Which distracted me for ages, deciding which little window would be “my house.” Doesn’t everyone do this with fantasy city covers? Find a lantern-lit window, or corner of a stone ruin, or ship anchored in the harbour, and whisper to themselves: That’s my house?)

So twisty. So lush. So dangerous. So green.

Canopy-full

Canopy_full_art

Crossroads of Canopy publishes January 31, 2017 from Tor Books. From the catalog copy:

At the highest level of a giant forest, thirteen kingdoms fit seamlessly together to form the great city of Canopy. Thirteen goddesses and gods rule this realm and are continuously reincarnated into human bodies. Canopy’s position in the sun, however, is not without its dark side. The nation’s opulence comes from the labor of slaves, and below its fruitful boughs are two other realms: Understorey and Floor, whose deprived citizens yearn for Canopy’s splendor.

Unar, a determined but destitute young woman, escapes her parents’ plot to sell her into slavery by being selected to serve in the Garden under the goddess Audblayin, ruler of growth and fertility. As a Gardener, she wishes to become Audblayin’s next Bodyguard while also growing sympathetic toward Canopy’s slaves.

When Audblayin dies, Unar sees her opportunity for glory–at the risk of descending into the unknown dangers of Understorey to look for a newborn god.  In its depths, she discovers new forms of magic, lost family connections, and murmurs of a revolution that could cost Unar her chance…or grant it by destroying the home she loves.

You can listen to a short story set in the same world, “The Chimney-Borer and the Tanner,” at PodCastle.

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