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Covers of 1941

AN-whitecoat-book-coverWe all judge books by their covers. Though we hopefully remain open-minded about what we’ll find on the pages within, the cover inevitably creates a first impression –– helps frame our expectations, and sets the context. That obviously makes covers terribly important, and with Champions, we’ve already discussed some of the effort that went into getting them right.

With Whitecoat, and with the forthcoming War Footing, which Jacqui talked about yesterday, the fruits of those efforts are tangible –– you can (or soon will be able to) hold the book. For the ebooks of the first season of Champions, though, the covers exist only as light on a screen, or digital ink on a tablet. While this is a very fair trade-off for all the wonders the new platform offers for writing and publishing… it’s still a trade off.

After all the work put into creating these great images, I therefore want to pause and look back at the covers of 1941, and give credit where it’s due. Below are higher-resolution copies of the covers than you’ll find anywhere else, so take a moment to have a closer look, and read some stories behind them.

Stephanie Shylock on the train is somewhat undeniable. Kris Scalisi slipped naturally into her boots and battle dress –– a uniform supplied by Matt Kipper (the real-life son of Mark Kipper, who you’ll see on the cover of Elspeth). If you’ve read Chapter 6 of Whitecoat, you know the process we had to go through to get standard battle dress fit properly –– I couldn’t make up something as practical as cross-buttoning. We figured that out during advanced fittings, and you can see how well it worked.

Grand Banks-1941Grand Banks
Alex is generally defined by her white coat –– hence the nickname and the title of the first novel –– but while we were doing multiple angles of this image, it became pretty clear that her boots were rather excellent too. They’re just not as easy to write about. Jacqui has already discussed the process of finding the footgear for the shoot; her time on that front was well-spent indeed.

Mark Kipper embodies Mike Strong in a way that is somewhat scary, and as I shall have to explain sometime soon, the Sergeant owes much to him. For this cover, we’d initially staged a completely different shot… but when a major plot revision moved the story into the days after a snowstorm, we needed an alternative that either had snow, or was an interior shot. Fortunately, we had the perfect location to work with.

This shot is entirely to the credit of photographer Olivia Witzke. She spotted a great angle on location, and made sure to get shots of Alex (Lizz Caston) while we were in there. When a major plot change shifted the setting of the fourth novella from Constantinople to Hong Kong (what was originally to be called Sublime Porte became Mandarins), this turned out to be exactly the image we needed to get inside the Peak Tram.

Probably my favorite cover of the year, this setup and shot are just too good. While Olivia Witzke was shooting this primary angle for the cover, Mik Christensen and I were shooting from the sides… and the whole batch of images is just cool. Special note here of Amy Bridger, who handled hair and makeup. Obviously she did wonders in placing Alex and Stephanie in our alternate version of the 1940s… but she also did a great job on Mark Kipper: he’s a real hippie, with hair down to his waist. Honest.

Next year we’ll have more great covers, thanks again to this fine team of artists and experts. Thanks again to everyone involved –– it’s a real privilege for any author to see some of his or her imaginings realized in reality, and yet again with Champions, I’ve been properly spoiled.

Now I just need to write the novellas to go under the covers… right, better get back to work.