My good friend Adam Christopher has today revealed the exquisite artwork for the US edition of Empire State (Art and design is by Will Staehle), his debut novel being released by Angry Robot in the US on 27th December 2011 and on the UK on 5th January 2012. Since I nabbed his first interview on being announced as an Angry Robot signing, I thought I would continue the trend and ask for some brief responses to a few questions regarding the US cover art for Empire State.
Amanda Rutter: What was your initial impression when you opened the email that had the cover artwork in it?
Adam Christopher: It was actually a surreal experience, in more ways than one! I was in Barcelona attending a meeting when the email arrived - Marc gave me a URL to download a high-res PDF, but the hotel where I was staying that the worst internet in the world. I tried to download it, but it was going to take 26 hours! Lucky I wasn't paying €17 a day for fast hotel broadband, right? Oh, hang on...
So I had to wait until I got back home two days later. Thanks to a series of late nights and early starts for the past week I was totally wiped - I stumbled in at about 7am, took one look at the PDF, then fell into bed in a daze. And then I got up again, just to take another look!
I knew who the artist was ahead of time, and I was really looking forward to seeing what he would come up with. Marc and Lee were both pretty excited, so when I saw the cover I was pretty stunned. It's beautiful and amazing and so eye-catching. I couldn't be more pleased.
AR: Were you given more than one image to choose between? What made you decide on this particular image?
AC: There were a series of proposals to look through, and I gave my thoughts on each. The decision to use this particular one wasn't mine - as the author my opinion is important, but it's not anything to base an important decision on. But after I ran through them all with Marc, he told me which had been chosen, and I think my exact words may have been: oh hell yes!
AR: How well does the cover art reflect the text of Empire State?
AC: I think it captures it very well - it's very period, it's clearly showing New York, but one where things are very different indeed. While I wouldn't exactly call Empire State a superhero novel per se, I'm glad a couple of the more iconic figures made it onto the cover. You can't go wrong with a guy in a gas mask and fedora!
AR: How does the AR process work in terms of cover art? What input does each author have?
AC: Angry Robot are great in that they are really keen to get the author involved in the cover. I know a lot of publishers don't do this at all. But this does make sense - as an author, what do I know about book covers? You don't judge a book by its cover, but you do sell a book on it. In that regard Angry Robot know what they're doing, so really I'm lucky (and grateful) to have any kind of input at all.
The process was pretty simple - I was asked to make some notes on what I would like to see on the cover, what elements from the story would be good to include, etc - bearing in mind of course that the artist isn't going to have read the book! So I worked up a series of descriptions and gathered together some reference imagery, and piled that all off to Marc. Afterwards I thought I'd perhaps gone a bit overboard - I think my notes were about three pages long!
From there it was out of my hands. A few roughs were prepared, then once the cover had been selected it underwent a round of revision based on some more notes from me (getting the look of the characters was important as they need to match the descriptions in the book).
AR: What are your general thoughts about the importance of cover art?
AC: I think book covers are terribly important - as I said above, a book cover will sell a book. I've bought so many books that were complete unknowns based purely on the cover. I can also understand totally why authors are rarely involved with their covers - the publisher knows the market and knows how to position the book and sell it, and the cover is an important factor. So while I was asked about the cover and the various other options that were worked up by the artist Will Staehle, it was really out of my hands, but that was entirely expected and quite logical.
But the end result is pretty amazing. I still have a hard time believing that's the cover to my book!
So there you have it! What are your thoughts on the cover of Empire State? Would you buy this book based on the cover?