Gary Gibson's Marauder, an outstanding standalone space adventure, is coming out in September. And the hardback cover looks just *so* amazing that we wanted to give you a bit of advance insight into this artwork from both the illustrator and author's perspective. Those breathtaking cover visuals are below, with mini-interviews from illustrator Steve Stone and the author following.
Here's the full front and back cover wraparound, before type was added:
Now onto that mini-interview with Steve Stone, with some cover thoughts from Gary Gibson below that.
To be honest, the biggest source of visual inspiration is movies. Very often that is also to do with the way something is framed, be it a landscape or a figure. So, I get a lot of compositional ideas from films that I see. I also finally got to produce and direct my own film, Entity, which is released here in June -- starring Dervla Kirwan who many people will know from her many TV roles. The film is a paranormal thriller.
2. What was your favorite part of putting Marauder together?
Just trying to achieve that epic 'cinematic' space opera feel. I like images that imply huge scale and therefore trying to convey that in the confines of a book cover can be a challenge. But, yes, trying to make this cover look as epic as possible was the thrill for me.
3. You’ve produced artwork for some wonderful authors, including our own Peter F. Hamilton. Can you name any other authors whose books have been particularly fun to work on?
I just finished up a three month project for Raymond Feist which was certainly a challenge. That involved over 30 illustration from his Midkemia world and that was a real joy because I got to illustrate so many different aspects of the same fantasy world. As a cover artist I have to jump from world to world as each commission comes in, so it was lovely to be able to concentrate on one world for an extended period. It helps that Raymond is such a nice guy to work for. He knows what he wants but is very interested in what the artist can add in terms of his/her own visualization of some aspects of the world. So, I always felt like he was giving me the room I needed to express myself within what is quintessentially his epic vision.
4. What’s it like for you, as the illustrator, to see a finished book in the bookshop/online featuring your cover? Is it a thrill that never gets old or as a professional artist is it something you have become used to over time?
That is always a thrill. Especially as sometime I have not seen the final design that frames the art, so it is like seeing it for the first time. I still buy copies of the ones I am really pleased with, so I guess that it must mean something to me. You know, I really still get a big thrill from the printed cover on an actual book rather than the digital formats. There is something about books that will always hold a place in my heart.
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I think at some point you become used to it, which feels really disappointing to say. Mind you, when I say 'used to it' I mean 'no longer jumping down and emitting squeeing noises'. I mean, everyone who's ever written or wanted to write a book always imagines what that books is going to look like, right? And not just how it looks, but where it's going to be on a shelf in a shop somewhere. Anyone who says otherwise is a damn liar.
At the same time, there's also an awareness that this is someone else's interpretation of how parts of your book might look, and that interpretation is further influenced by the reality of the artwork essentially being an advert for your work. It's designed to give a flavour of the contents. In terms of the kind of books I most often write, that usually means bloody great spaceships.
That's not to say I haven't occasionally tried to influence book artwork indirectly, ie sneakily. I still have a book of Chris Foss's artwork I acquired in the Seventies, with the typical Foss stripy spaceship on the cover. Like a lot of people, I have crumbling paperbacks with Chris Foss artwork on it. When I wrote Nova War, I deliberately described certain structures - the Bandati Hive-Towers, to be exact - as having broad horizontal stripes. I had a feeling given some of the scenes that take place in a Bandati city in that book that it had a chance of making the cover art - and I was right! I kept my mouth shut when the original artwork (before this new version) first arrived in my email, with distinctly Foss-ian crumbling towers and a gigantic spaceship dropping amongst them. I tell you, it made my inner 13-year old very happy. I can't say for certain whether the artist, Lee Gibbons, was aware how Fossian those towers looked, but i like to think he knew exactly what I was up to.
Now I've got the new covers, and they're just stunning. I was totally blown away by Steve Stone's cover art on fellow SF writer Mike Cobley's trilogy for Orbit, and even a bit envious. So now I've got the same guy doing the covers for my books, it really doesn't get any better.
2. Do you any thoughts typically go through your mind when you open that email entitled ‘cover visuals’ for the first time? (excitement, fear, confidence!)
I've said here and in other places in the past that one of the things that make me particularly happy to be writing for Tor UK is that they include the writer in the decision process when it comes to book covers. I believe it’s fairly rare for an author to have as much input on a cover design. In the main, I've been extremely confident about the artwork because in most cases I've been well served. And the funny thing is, I rebooted my website recently, and in the process glanced through some of the earliest entries in my blog, from not long after my first couple of books had been acquired by Tor. I discovered to my surprise an entry in which I mentioned being asked by my then-editor if I had any preferences vis à vis possible cover artists, and top of my list was Steve Stone. But I had already been impressed by the work Steve did on a series of fantasy novels by Mike Cobley published at the turn of the century (also mentioned above), and that had probably prompted me to make the suggestion.
3. What do you think of the end result, thinking of that Marauder cover art?
I've had people tell me it might be the best cover art I've ever had. The star in the background comes across particularly well - part of the story is set in the environs of something called a Wolf-Rayet star, which is essentially a star in the run-up to going nova, when it's casting off vast amounts of plasma and generating a particular kind of nebula in the process. The story in part involves spacecraft hunting each other through vast glowing clouds of burning plasma in a dying solar system, and I think Steve Stone's art illustrates that nicely.
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Marauder is published in September in hardback, with info on the book here. It's a standalone adventure set in the far future of Gary Gibson's Shoal trilogy books, which have been reissued this month. The trilogy consists of Stealing Light, Nova War and Empire of Light.