Thursday, 16 November 2017

The Lost Solace Book Cover


The excellent Lost Solace cover was created by Matt Hill. Some time ago I did a consultation using early drafts, to gather feedback on what people liked or didn't like. Different people liked different options - but the key point was that everyone liked one of the covers. That showed we had gone in the right direction. When you have multiple options, all of which are winners, you are in a good position. I thought I'd share a bit more insider information about a few of the choices made.

Title Treatment

We tried various title options. I decided that, regardless of colour (gold, white or blue) I liked the three bars that create an angular block of title and author. Perhaps because it makes the title treatment a bit different from other books. The gold option felt like something I might have created, but the ones with the bars were something new, and that made them more interesting to me. They make things look tidy and regimented (and, in fact, the three lines also resemble futuristic military stripes, which fits in with later parts of the book). The one we chose in the end also makes me think of the E being mutated and stretching to the line above, an imperfect copy, and that also ties in to some later elements in the story. Those subtleties would be irrelevant if the appearance was affected negatively but the order there works: a tight rectangle of conformity and clear information (like a computer might provide), which also contrasts with the humanity and quirkiness of an off-centre character above, perfectly matching the character of Opal.

Opal's Suit Design - No Boob Armour

There were a number of space suit options. The one we chose was listed as a male space suit, but it was a far better option than the suits listed as "female" that had boob armour and seemed shaped more like a fetish than a practical piece of armour.

In plot terms there was no reason for the suit to have any femininity, since it wasn’t custom-designed for Opal – it was a stolen military suit, so adornments and comfort wouldn’t be considerations.

I decided it was fine if Opal looked a bit androgynous. In fact, I think the face still has some femininity to it, the kind that is picked up subconsciously, or by close study. As such it creates a nice discrepancy: woman in a man-style military suit, reappropriated for her ends. It fits the theme of a woman resisting the forces trying to control her, and using whatever is around to survive and pursue her own goals, which makes me like the combination even more. Opal somehow takes the overt masculinity and feminises it slightly by her actions and character.

At the end of the day, I couldn't face the idea of unrealistic fantasy armours. I wanted every aspect of Lost Solace to be more real than that. If you are interested in this, here are some articles:

Opal's Face

I chose the model, as seen in this interview post. I wanted someone who captured Opal's intensity, caution and strength of will. Putting her in a suit and zooming out hides some of the details in the amazing original photograph, but we still have her eyes.

Sci-fi Cover Match

A science reviewer got in touch with me to say: "Just as a curiosity, I don’t know if you’ve seen the cover of Andy Weir’s upcoming Artemis, but clearly a certain cover look is in vogue."


I hadn't, because Lost Solace and its cover were finished long before Artemis was available, but it is a wonderful similarity between the two covers. What’s interesting is that when I first began to work with Matt, I sent him various links to reference images and book covers that had elements I liked, and amongst them were a few showing images of The Martian, with close-ups of helmets and faces. I wanted to focus more on Opal than on spaceships, so seeing the similarities with Artemis pleases me that we were on the zeitgeist for this one. Even the colour schemes match! (An early draft of the Lost Solace cover mixed blue and gold colours, which is my favoured colour scheme, but in the end we removed the gold and just kept the coldness of blue).

In fact, one of my early mock-ups to test out photos involved a faint element of stars overlaid on a face, as seen here, which is a subdued version of what the designer did with the Artemis cover. Fascinating to compare them. I have a whole reference folder of book covers that stand out for different reasons, and I have saved this one into it too.

And, as a Classics student specialising in Ancient Greek history, I can’t help being pleased by the link between the Greek names of Artemis, and Athene (who appears at the end of Lost Solace).

The reviewer said "It is interesting about the cover designs - these things definitely have cycles, and I’d say your designer has definitely hit it on the nail!"

Funnily enough, my book got the same rating as Artemis. That's huge for me, since I have so much respect for what Andy Weir has achieved.

Update: The Cover Won A Gold Star!


We were awarded a gold star in the E-book Cover Design Awards (on The Book Designer), 27th November 2017.

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