Today, I’m both honored and excited to host a cover reveal for Underneath, the latest release from the Princess of Twilight and Dawn series. Earlier this year I fell in love with the first book, Tab Bennett and the Inbetween and since then, I’ve been eagerly awaiting the continuation of Tab’s story. When I saw the cover for Underneath, I was thrilled. I love that in both covers for the series, the model and pose reflect the heroine perfectly – in the cover for the first book, she looks back towards camera with a sense of uncertainty; in the second, she looks back with determination. I can’t wait for this release!
Jes Young, author, and Bill Wadman, cover artist, are here today to discuss collaboration, creativity, and curse words.
Without further ado…
Underneath by Jes Young
Jes Young, Author
SWR: Can you tell us a bit about Underneath and its heroine, Tab Bennett?
In Underneath, it’s been six months since Tab reluctantly let go of her past and embraced her future as an Elvish princess on the cusp of her gifts and the edge of her destiny. She never wanted a fairy tale life, but as the daughter of the Dark King and the Light Queen, that’s exactly what she got. She’s pretty much made her peace with it, but before she’s ready to take the Light throne, Tab wants to journey to her father’s stronghold in the kingdom of the Underneath. Once she’s there, far away from the Light in which she was raised, she’s forced to confront the seductive nature of Darkness and her own potential to truly become her father’s daughter. This Tab is more confident, mature, and self-possessed than the one we met in Tab Bennett and the Inbetween, the first book in the Princess of Twilight and Dawn series.
SWR: What was the most important idea you needed the cover to convey and why?
I really wanted this cover to suggest action and strength because while Inbetween was about being in a cage and breaking out of it, Underneath is about what you do once you’re free.
SWR: Can you tell us about the creative brief or concept you presented to Bill when first discussing the project? References, inspiration, etc.?
I’m pretty sure I told Bill I wanted this cover to look tougher, sexier, and darker than the one we did for Inbetween and then set him loose on it. My policy is always to work with really talented people and then get out of their damn way.
SWR: How did you learn about Bill’s work and what about it made him a good match for bringing Tab to life?
Bill is both an incredibly talented photographer and one of my dearest friends. When I told him I was going to self pub my book, he offered to help me with the cover art. I said yes because, in spite of any reports to the contrary, I’m no fool.
Bill Wadman, Photographer & Cover Artist
SWR: Can you briefly discuss your collaboration with Jes. How did you two work together on creating the cover for Underneath?
Jes and I have known each other for a very long time. So often it’s conversation in verbal short-hand. Jes might say it needs to be ‘darker’ or ‘more sexy’ and it’s my job to make that happen. There’s certainly a fair amount of trust that needs to happen in both directions. We knew that we wanted to make the covers beautiful. We wanted them to stand on their own outside of this context. We also wanted the model to be integrated into the background, to make it seem more like a still from a movie rather than a composited creation. These are tall orders. Basically, there’s a translation that needs to happen to get from the imagery in her writing to a photograph that both makes sense in the context of the story as well as being a successful composition in it’s own right. So to that end there is a lot of back and forth of suggestion and refinement as we whittle and idea down to an execution.
The process for the two covers was more similar than different actually. We tried to find visual elements from the book to use as ingredients to whip up the final shot. So for the first book it was Tab, the stone wall delineating safety from the dark forest beyond, and of course the birds signifying the dyer portend. In the book two, Tab is a much stronger heroine, much more sure of herself. Sexy and resolute. So we pulled from the new story and threw the downward spiral staircase, darkness, and the sword into the mix. In some ways the second was a little easier because we already had our visual language and look sussed out. It was about building on what we had before rather than starting from scratch.
SWR: How did you create the cover for Underneath?
Right, well Jes has a friend who let us borrow their castle up on the Hudson River for a few hours and that ended up being perfect for our use. We had gorgeous stonework, and archways, and turrets, but in the end decided that the book required something darker and more claustrophobic and so the stairs won out. I would like to point out that the actual location was beautiful and very well maintained and that I ‘grunged’ it up in the computer to add to the ambience. To make the logistics a bit easier and give us more options, I shot the model, the beautiful Mary Catherine Green, in the studio on blue screen in order to place her into the environment in post-production. This gave me much more control over lighting, pose, and her position in the frame. Even if it ends up being a bit more work on the back-end. The sword, which I borrowed from a friend who collects such things, was also added as a separate element as well since I wanted to be able to try different weapons to match the composition. It’s a bit of work to get all of these disparate elements to mesh together. But if you get it right you can create a much more magical final result than you can in reality, and with a much smaller production.
Underneath releases on December 1, 2012. Please check out my review for the first book in the series here. And if you haven’t read Tab Bennett and the Inbetween, please rectify that problem. You have a good month to catch up on a wonderful new urban fantasy series!
SWR: Who are some of the artists who have influenced or inspired you?
Jes: Chagall for his dreamy, almost poetic style. Klimt for his ability to convey the feeling of adoration and the sense of being adored.
Bill: For me, I most often turn to renaissance and baroque painters for inspiration. Caravaggio and Rembrandt’s use of light was so good that we’re still trying to top the bar the set hundreds of years later.
What is your creative process and are there any rituals or routines you have prior to starting a project?
Jes: My creative process is somewhat chaotic. I usually begin with an opening sentence and a vague idea. When I get about half way through, then I’ll outline the rest of the story.
Bill: I always start with the idea that I want to make something really great and just keep banging against the questions until I end up with a piece I’m happy with. Again, it’s a much more iterative process than BANG! inspirational most of the time, but sometimes the satisfaction at the end of a long ordeal with the muse makes the results that much more satisfying.
Tell us about any upcoming projects you have on the horizon.
Jes: I’m working on Nothingmore, book 2.5 of the Princess of Twilight and Dawn series, right now as my National Novel Writing Month project. It’s about Rivers, one of the peripheral characters from Inbetween and Underneath. If all goes according to plan, I’ll have a first draft on December 1.
Bill: Oh I’ve always got multiple overlapping projects, nothing to announce at the moment. Though lately I’ve been getting great responses from my podcast On Taking Pictures (www.ontakingpictures.com/podcast) which I record weekly with my co-host Jeffery Saddoris. It’s about many of these subjects and a lot about the philosophy of making images. The ‘why’ rather than the ‘how’.
And for fun…the Pivot quiz!
What is your favorite word?
Jes : Nauseous
Bill : Hypergolic
What is your least favorite word?
Jes: Moist (yuck)
What turns you on creatively, spiritually or emotionally?
Jes: Other people’s talent.
Bill: Making things
What turns you off?
Bill: Consuming things
What is your favorite curse word?
Jes: Fuck. It’s just so fucking versatile.
Bill: Bitch-ass Motherfucker
What sound or noise do you love?
Jes: The sound of a quiet house.
Bill: The sound of a Leica camera shutter
What sound or noise do you hate?
Jes: The bing-bing-bing noise the car makes when I leave the keys in the ignition and open the door.
Bill: Drips from a leaky roof
What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?
Jes: I’d like to be a ballerina.
What profession would you not like to do?
Jes: Flight Attendant. People are so annoying when they fly.
Bill: CIA Operative
If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates?
Jes: “I didn’t see a thing.”
Bill: “I know you didn’t believe in me, but you treated other people well even without the promise of retribution. So come on in.”
Special thanks to Jes and Bill for stopping by the blog!
Please visit them at their favorite spots: