Masterful Covers

We often get asked how we go about creating the covers for Telos’ books, and often there’s no real story there, but in the case of the new titles from Priscilla Masters in Telos’ Moonrise Criminal Pursuits range, the story of the covers is perhaps worth telling.

It starts as it always does with the books themselves, and these are a range of six titles, all featuring a Detective, Joanna Piercy, and all set in the wilds of Staffordshire. Thus some imagery from that area seemed appropriate, of the moors, and trees, and rocks that you can see there. We contacted Iain Robertson, one of our regular cover designers who has worked on many of our non-fiction titles, with a brief to create the covers so that they would all match, all have consistent lettering on them, and that each would have a different colour ‘pallet’ such that the covers could easily be differentiated either on shelves, spine out or in thumbnail for the Kindle editions.

The initial thought was to just use some stock photographs, but trying to locate copyright free and usable imagery was proving difficult. So as I was working up at Halifax, and my route there took me along the M62 through Saddleworth Moor, I said I’d try and get some shots myself for the covers.

Thus on a very dull day in March 2014, I set off, armed with my camera, to explore the moors around the M62 …

It was cold and actually drizzling, but the wind was whipping the rain at me. Although I had a small tissue to wipe the lens with, I quickly found that it was impossible to take any photos into the wind … they all had to be of down-wind places. So we drove around, stopping occasionally so I could leave the warmth of the car and venture out into the cold drizzle to walk and see what shots I could get!  And it wasn’t easy …  I managed to get some of some brick structures, some around a dam on a reservoir there, some of some bleak-looking trees and some of the moorlands … all told I managed about 20 shots which I hoped might work on the covers.

There were some other requirements too: The Winking Man is a real place situated over the other side of the moors, with a rock which has an ‘eye’ hole in it through which the Sun ‘winks’, and another cover needed a large house … luckily my photographic archive had some pics of large houses which we could use.

The images were all given over to Iain, and oh my goodness … the magic he worked on them! Iain is something of a photo manipulation expert, and in his hands my bleak and rain-spattered images became the most incredible set of moody covers, just perfect for the crime novels they were to adorn.

For ‘The Winking Man’ we had no photos we could use, so Iain created the cover himself in photoshop! Genius or what! The cover can be seen on the book CATCH THE FALLEN SPARROW.

Hopefully the final covers are everything we needed: startling and attractive; drawing the eye and making the potential reader want to pick them up …

Here are two of my original photographs, and the covers which Iain created from them …

IMG_5130-s    Serpent CreateSpace Cover F 100

This is a small building which is actually visible from the M62. No idea what it’s used for, but it made for quite a nice shot with it silhouetted against the sky. Once Iain got hold of it, the sky is changed to dramatic, and the orangy colour is made to envigourate the image!

IMG_5137-s     priscilla 3-1-s

This is a shot taken across the big reservoir alongside the M62 – at the end it is dammed and the water pours down the concrete dam wall through a break in the wall at the top – very impressive! For the shot, I wanted the bare tree … and Iain has taken this and created an incredible image in violet, removing the cars on the M62 in the process …

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