That’s right, folks, a new cover for Sufferborn is in the works and will be released soon! You may or may not find this news favorable and I understand either way. So for now, I’ll fill you in on my reasoning and let’s take a moment to appreciate the old book cover.
Why am I changing Sufferborn‘s book cover? The answer is simple: advertising. That’s all. I do love the painting on this cover and will cherish it forever, but in order for me to have more flexibility for advertisement, I’ve decided to design something a little less edgy. Lately, my attempt to buy an ad was rejected for reasons of “blood and gore”—hahah, I’ll take it as a compliment! So that’s the practical reason for doing so. Let’s go back in time a few months though. Although it IS a good painting and I love it a lot, I can’t deny that I’ve felt a slight…hesitance(?) about how the cover was looking. It was one of those things that you love at first, but then your mind starts wandering into foggy territories of doubt. My doubt was so, so slight, it’s hard to explain. I did not voice my doubt for a long time, but it was there. After a lot of wonder and debate and finally asking my husband and friends if they thought a book cover change would be good (my husband was against it), I decided to just leave the cover as is and move on with my plans for book 3… And then the advertising problem happened. It was the answer to my dilemma.
What made the old cover so special? My friends, it was special. Let me tell you. I don’t know if it was the ideal cover for book 1, but I really put my heart into it. Let’s take a look at “Open Heart,” Sufferborn‘s soon-to-be-former cover…
What to say first?… “Open Heart” was designed to express the character that is Dorhen. His soul. I thought, “If I can paint his soul, I will.” The wound is symbolic. In the book, he tells Kalea, “I lost my soul.” And in another scene, Kalea tells him he has an empty heart, or maybe a hole in his heart. The hole in his chest means a lot to this book. It’s everything in the book. The look on his face was aiming to show Dorhen’s desperation in the book. He’s looking at Kalea and showing her his wound. He needs her help and he’s pleading to her. The fire in the forest behind him is his past, a literal representation of something in the story. Even his codpiece is made apparent on the cover—something of his garments that is brought to attention. This, I would say, is a perfect image of Dorhen. Dorhen is a character I’ve had trouble painting and drawing for many years. Not that it’s hard to come up with a brown-haired boy with sad eyes, but maybe its all the emotional signals I had been missing in previous attempts.
How did I construct this character in paint? Dorhen in this painting is made up of a radical number of different references. Even I was shocked at how many things were blended to create this person! Once again, I was also shocked that I had finally created such a perfect image of the elusive Dorhen. Who would’ve thought that all I needed was a photo of my husband, one of my favorite bought art model photos (who looks nothing like Dorhen), and a few stock photos of manly chests? The most recognizable trait of my husband’s is the hands and forearms. I snapped a photo of him doing this pose and it proved all I needed for the arms. As a result of using his meaty Scottish arms, Dorhen turned out looking strong—like someone who can take a lickin’ and survive in the forest. The “strong” trait was exactly what I was looking for too, because I don’t think of the “Norr elves” as being lithe and delicate. The Norr elves are rugged and tough. Male elves (a.k.a. saehgahn) like to fight within their own communities, and building a strong appearance for female elves to ogle is very important to them. Dorhen’s face was a thing of trial and error and it required many layers and a little frustration and repainting to achieve. Each step, whether it was on purpose, unplanned, a mistake, a repaint, or a well-planned system of layers, played a part in achieving this face. When I put down that final “draft” of the face, it was a magical moment.
The fire in the background was by sheer accident, regardless of what I said about it being a direct communication of the book’s content. I was going for a sunset effect behind the trees (to symbolize that his time is running out). Instead, it looked like the forest was on fire, and I went with it. It had to have happened subconsciously though, because I was quite emotional around the time of painting. Lots of emotion was flowing as I worked, and I think it shows quite clearly.
In conclusion, “Open Heart” was emotional, tragic, fiery, sad, desperate, and a little romantic (gotta love that codpiece!). It seemed like the perfect cover for Sufferborn at the time. But now I’m moving on and trying something else. Fans of this painting, do not be sad. It may be disappearing from the book cover, but that doesn’t mean it’s actually going anywhere. I still have the painting and always will. And I’ll see about putting it on a poster for sale soon. Look at it this way: printed copies of this book cover will soon be rare collectors’ items!
When does the new cover come out? I’m aiming for early February (2021). I spent the Christmas season painting and right now the final cover is deep in the works. I will share a cover reveal teaser soon, followed by an official unveiling. The new cover is also one I find very relevant to the story.