We’re pleased to share the cover for Beth Cato’s Breath of Earth, designed by Richard Aquan and illustrated by Gene Mollica. For this alternate history fantasy (coming August 23 from Harper Voyager), Cato had a clear mental image of the cover: her heroine, geomancer Ingrid Carmichael, in the center of the 1906 earthquake that threatens to devastate a San Francisco under the allied control of the United States and Japan.
Check out the full cover below, as Cato and her editor, Kelly O’Connor, share insights into how they worked with Aquan and Mollica to bring Cato’s vision to life.
Author Beth Cato on the book cover process:
As an author, you can’t help but daydream about how your book’s cover should look. In the case of Breath of Earth, I had a very clear image in my head: my heroine Ingrid, standing in the devastation of San Francisco, with the blue energy of the earth coiling along her body. My editor, Kelly O’Connor, thought that sounded great, and she passed the idea along. I wasn’t too worried about Ingrid being white-washed. Harper Voyager was fantastic about showing Alonzo on the cover of The Clockwork Dagger, so I had faith that they would represent Ingrid well, too.
Editor Kelly O’Connor added:
Working with Beth on covers is always so much fun, because she has tons of ideas from the start and is always great about sending us reference photos so that the designer can get the details correct. Breath of Earth was no exception, and thanks to Beth’s clear vision (and the designer’s willingness to indulge us) we were able to really capture the essence of Ingrid, the heroine of the story. Ingrid looks fierce, powerful, and in total control while her world is literally crumbling around her. This is definitely the kind of cover art that would make me grab the book off the shelf to figure out what is going on?!
Below, Cato shares her reactions to two of the reference photos (click to enlarge):
This pose [on the left] is all about drama, but it just doesn’t fit with my character of Ingrid. She wouldn’t want her bloomers exposed, much less her whole leg! I do love the model’s expression, though, and I asked that it be combined with my favorite pose in the series. […] I love the pose [on the right] and I knew right away I wanted this for the cover. It’s regal and dignified as it shows off the pleats in that gorgeous dress.
Designer Richard Aquan and illustrator Gene Mollica produced the final cover, combining elements from both reference photos and, of course, a little magic:
Cato’s final thoughts:
I’m thrilled with the end result. The model is lovely and perfect. I would have liked to have seen Ingrid in something more distinctly Japanese, but at the same time the dress they used is absolutely gorgeous. Those colors! That fabric! I love the subtle use of historical photographs in the background, too. It creates questions: did this woman cause the destruction or what? What is she doing with that rock in her hand? At least, I really hope the cover creates questions. I really want people to read the book and find out the answers!
Breath of Earth is available August 23rd from Harper Voyager. From the catalog copy:
In alternate 1906, the United States and Japan are allied as the Unified Pacific with one shared goal: world domination, beginning with China. Ingrid Carmichael is a headstrong secretary in San Francisco, assisting a group of powerful geomancer Wardens. Unbeknownst to the men she serves, her power far surpasses any of theirs—and she is the only woman with such skills.
When the Wardens are killed by assassins, Ingrid’s powers save the lives of herself and her mentor, but they are not out of danger. Without its full force of guardian geomancers, San Francisco is on the brink of a cataclysmic earthquake. To make matters worse, political tensions flare as Chinese refugees prepare for their last stand, making the city a veritable powder keg.
As Ingrid runs for her life, she discovers new depths to her magic—and that she may be the fulcrum that determines the balance of world power.