Let me start this post by saying it contains no pictures. I promise that as soon as I’m given the green light to post something, I will do it that very instant.
I’ve been meaning to write about this for some time, but life has gotten in the way. The other day, Ace sent over the preliminary cover sketch for the CONTROL POINT, the first book in my forthcoming SHADOW OPS series. They hired the amazing Michael Komarck to do the painting. Komarck is the same guy who did the art for Shadowrun, for Dragonlance, for Fantasy Flight Games, for Wizards of the Coast. He’s done covers for some of the biggest authors in fantasy, including George R. R. Martin, Philip Jose Farmer, Steven Erikson and Lynn Flewelling. He did the outstanding cover for Jack Campbell’s most recent addition to the LOST FLEET series, DREADNAUGHT.
So, I guess you could say that I’m in good hands.
I’ll admit that I was really concerned about the cover art. I’m of the mind that, after word-of-mouth, cover art is the biggest factor in selling books. So having Komarck assigned to my book did a lot to assuage those fears. I wrote a really long email to my editor, giving inputs for the cover. I was particularly concerned that any gear shown be exactly right, so that it would pass muster with the real military operators I hope will read the novel. I gave inputs as to what I thought each named character in the book should look like (giving famous actors as reference points, of course). I went on and on about which scenes from the book would be best for the cover. I attached dozens of photos of gear, uniforms, vehicles. I’ve gotten a lot of compliments on the painting Nick Stohlman created for this website. I worked tirelessly with him to make that image perfect, and I tried to imitate that process here.
Ilona Andrews, another Ace author with the same editor, told me not to get my hopes up. Publishers solicit author input, but in the end they go with the cover they think best. It was good advice, and I steeled myself for diasppointment.
I needn’t have worried. The sketch arrived, and was absolutely outstanding. Komarck absolutely nailed it. The gear is perfect, the uniforms exactly as I envisioned them in the story. The postures, the faces, the sizzle and glow of the magic. Everything.
And there in the middle is my protagonist, Lieutenant Oscar Britton, 158th Ops Support Flight, steel-eyed and gazing into the middle distance. Komarck made him more Vin Diesel than the Djimon Hounsou I had envisioned, but you know what? He’s right. I couldn’t stop staring at him.
Because, after living cheek to jowl with this guy for over a decade, this was the first time I’d seen Oscar Britton outside of my own head. “Hello, Oscar,” I whispered at the painting. “It’s nice to finally meet you.” (good thing I live by myself, otherwise they might lock me up for talking to paintings).
It is so amazing to see my work inspire that of someone I respect as much as Michael Komarck. If covers sell books, CONTROL POINT is going to be a blockbuster. I am thrilled to get to meet Oscar Britton after all these years. He’s a flawed, complicated guy, but in the end he’s hellbent on doing the right thing and has the muscle to get it done.
Can’t wait for all of you to meet him too.