Following a recent reassessment of Darklands’ cover, my designer has come up with a new wraparound cover which I am HUGELY excited about! The changes are kind of minor, but the effect is major. You can see Darklands’ new cover here.

Kikimora is still a way from finished (yes, I know, I foolishly said, ‘coming summer 2012’ in the blurb at the back of Darklands!) I’m mid second draft, doing a fair bit of reshuffling and writing a few new scenes. But I’m already thinking about the cover design as well.

Murder Ballads by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds

Murder Ballads by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds

Kikimora takes place in winter in a mountainous, forested land. I’ve had a pretty strong idea of what the cover should be for a long time: I want it icy blue and white, I want trees. And for contrast I want the title in dark pink or red. There could also perhaps be a ghostly figure amongst the trees.

The minute I thought of these things I pictured two album covers which each in their way come pretty near the mark. The first is the 1996 album, Murder Ballads by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds.

The second is the slightly more obscure 2004 album by Mono, Walking Cloud and Deep Red Sky, Flag Fluttered and Sun Shined.

Walking Cloud and Deep Red Sky, Flag Fluttered and the Sun Shined by Mono

Walking Cloud and Deep Red Sky, Flag Fluttered and the Sun Shined by Mono

It’s not just that each of these images ticks the boxes outlined above; I also love the mood of mystery and unease which they evoke: the dark and lowering trees, the sense of isolation and wilderness; the dramatic effect of small flashes of red against a fairly uniform blue-white.

I particularly like those red figures on the Mono album. There’s something both jaunty and sinister about them – with their 70s hairdos, their little violins, the fact that they’re holding hands – and mostly how they bring to mind the ghostly little girls in The Shining,

“Play with us.For ever.And ever…”

Petrified Forest by Mossmottle

Petrified Forest by Mossmottle

Once I’d got the basic idea, I kept finding more images that are close to what I envision, such as this painting by Mossmottle, Petrified Forest.

So I have a really strong idea of what the design should be – but not where it’s going to come from! Once upon a time (about 20 years ago), I was pretty keen on oil painting. It’s one of those things I would love to get back to; but it’s also one of those things I’ve given up because all my free time and creative energy goes into writing.

I would love to be able to pick up my brushes and create the cover image myself, but I think this is one of those situations where I ought to know my limitations. Any skill I might once have had is bound to have atrophied through complete lack of use (I don’t think playing Draw Something a couple of times a week counts? Though tbh that accounts for the most drawing I’ve done in the past decade!)

I also used to be pretty keen on photography (though was never that great. The few good shots I got were presumably more due to luck than skill). I know somewhere I have a black and white photograph I took about 15 years ago of a stream in sunlit woods. I had it framed and it was on my wall for a long time, but of course I can’t find it now. I think an image like that, suitably abstractified and colour washed may end up being the basis of the design [late edit: I eventually found that photo, and used it here].

Or I might just ask my faithful companion and comrade in arms at Uncut ID to come up with something. He’s done me a stunner on the Darklands redesign 😀

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