So far I’ve talked about the other images we considered when creating the cover for Wanderer – Origins, and the cover that almost was. Now it’s time to talk about the photo itself. First off, here it is – the original photo from which the cover image was created.
The Original Photo
Pretty different, isn’t it? The colours are really vivid. In fact we decided they’re just too vivid. We tried toning them down a bit, then Sue had the brilliant idea to convert it to black & white… but more on that in a little while.
So, what is it? Well, if you know the background of the other Wanderer book covers then you’ll probably have guessed that lights and movement are involved, and you’d be right. There are differences though — where the images for the first three books were all taken from a moving car, I took this photo while standing still. To be precise, I was standing on Felixstowe beach on a particularly chilly winter’s night, with my hands going numb despite the fingerless gloves I had on.
The lights in the picture run along the grassed and paved area between the road and the beach and have a definite christmassy feel, even though this was taken well after Christmas. I had a feeling they’d make a great cover if I could get the shot right, so I set the camera to a long exposure, moved the camera in just the right way, checked that the single shot I’d taken was perfect and then hopped back into the warmth of my car.
Yeah, right! The long exposure bit is true – that’s the same trick that Sue used when taking the pictures used for Wanderer – Echoes of the Past and Wanderer – Tainted Universe. The image we used on the cover for Wanderer’s Escape was taken by my brother using a DSLR so who knows what magic settings he used!
As for the rest of it… no, there was a lot more than one shot. It’s hard to tell on a small camera’s screen whether you have an image that’s actually any use, especially as at times we’ve found that just a small part of an image we’d rejected as a whole is perfect for a cover. Even the images I was sure weren’t any good were kept. I experimented with different ways of moving the camera, different speeds, different angles and different sets of lights. Some were the christmassy lights, others were the pier, and all the time the icy cold was stealing the warmth from my hands.
It was really peaceful though, standing on the beach in the dark with fairly heavy waves slamming against the shore. If it hadn’t been so damn chilly I’d have happily stayed an hour or two, but even with two jumpers, gloves, a scarf, a hat, and a warm winter coat I only managed about twenty minutes. Then I got into my car, once I managed to get my fingers working well enough to retrieve the keys, turned on the engine and started to warm up as I drove home.
Did I have any good photos? I hoped so. I even thought so, as far as I could tell on the camera’s small screen. Would there be any that were good for a cover? I had no idea. Even a great photo can be ruled out because we can’t fit the text in, or because there’s something in the image that jars. Or because the image isn’t quite sharp enough, see the cover that nearly was for more info on that.
Creating the Cover
Once we knew we had to look for a new cover image Sue quickly zoomed in on this one, but some of the colours were too strong. We tried playing with that but it didn’t really fit. Then Sue suggested making it black and white, which gave us this…
The moment we saw it we knew we had a winner, it was just a matter of working out which section to use. The other images we considered were all taken from this same photo, and allowed us to home in on exactly what it was we wanted. After that it was easy. In case you’re interested, here’s a rough idea of where in the original image the book cover comes from.
After that it was just a matter of getting the text in the right places, which wasn’t too hard as we wanted to match the previous two books, and then we had our cover. Easy! Well, easy when you have a marvellous designer like Sue.