We’re excited to share the cover for Nevernight, the first novel in a new epic fantasy series from Jay Kristoff—available August 9th from Thomas Dunne Books. The cover is illustrated by Jason Chan, who also worked with Kristoff on the covers for the Lotus War series. Below, Jay shares his thoughts on the cover design process, including some of Chan’s early sketches!
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Jason Chan is one of my favourite fantasy artists, and I was lucky enough to have him illustrate the covers for my Lotus War series. So when my editor informed me we were saddling up together again on Nevernight, cue the air guitar.
Jason and I chatted for a while about ideas, and we kept circling back to the work he’d done on Mark Lawrence’s Broken Empire trilogy—a triptych showing the evolution of the central character over the course of the series, growing from a neophyte into a fully-fledged badass. But unlike Broken Empire, Nevernight is set in a land of perpetual sunlight, where one of three suns is burning almost constantly in the sky. So the palette needed to be stark, burned, more white than black, with some cool shadowplay and splashes of red to hint at the carnage to be found within the pages. Hey, it’s about an orphan girl’s induction into a cult of assassins, you know there’s going to be bloodshed. The setting was also heavily inspired by Venice during the reign of the merchant princes, so we wanted to capture that too, if possible.
After appropriate sacrifices of small fluffy animals to various blood gods were made, Jason sent through a few ideas with some placeholder typography. Behold!
Yeah, that last one is an actual blood bath. Trust me, it’ll make sense once you read the book.
The first design seemed to capture the feeling of the book best—showing off some of Mia’s shadow powerz and featuring the Venetian-inspired architecture/masks that are so much a part of the setting. From there, I gave a few notes on the kind of details that only the author of the book will actually give a flying toss about, and Jason set about finalizing the artwork. The full piece, including spine and inner flap, is below.
After Jason handed in his final illustration and was lavished with my fangirly praise, it was time for the typography. Most authors don’t get to pick their typographer (or actually get any say in their covers whatsoever), but I used to be a designer myself, so my editor trusts me a little more than the average bear. I also throw an awesome author tantrum, you should see it—I lay on my back and scream and everything.
In my wanderings around the interwebs, I’d actually seen a post from a book blogger who redesigns book covers in her spare time. And I figured her work was amazing and she might be willing to take a shot at the Nevernight typography if I asked nice enough (ie, paid her vast sums of money). That’s the wonderful thing about the internet—through it, artists have a platform to get their work out to more people than ever before. So, Meg said yes, and a few rounds later, we had some wicked type to go with Jason’s amazing illo. (I particularly like the bit where the F in my name is big and pointy like the J. I look like an ‘80s thrash metal band.)
Behold the pretty:
AND NOW, THE BLURB:
In a land where three suns almost never set, a fledgling killer joins a school of assassins, seeking vengeance against the powers who destroyed her family.
Daughter of an executed traitor, Mia Corvere is barely able to escape her father’s failed rebellion with her life. Alone and friendless, she hides in a city built from the bones of a dead god, hunted by the Senate and her father’s former comrades. But her gift for speaking with the shadows leads her to the door of a retired killer, and a future she never imagined.
Now, a sixteen year old Mia is apprenticed to the deadliest flock of assassins in the entire Republic—the Red Church. Treachery and trials await her with the Church’s halls, and to fail is to die. But if she survives to initiation, Mia will be inducted among the chosen of the Lady of Blessed Murder, and one step closer to the only thing she desires.
Jay Kristoff is the New York Times and internationally bestselling author of The Lotus War series, Illuminae (The Illuminae Files) and Nevernight, available August 9th from Thomas Dunne Books. He is a winner of the Aurealis Award, nominee for the David Gemmell Morningstar and Legend awards, named multiple times in the Kirkus and Amazon Best Teen Books list and published in over twenty countries, most of which he has never visited. Being the holder of an arts degree, he has no education to speak of. He is 6’7” and has approximately 13030 days to live. He abides in Melbourne with his secret agent kung-fu assassin wife, and the world’s laziest Jack Russell. He does not believe in happy endings.