The Visions Of Duncan Halleck

If you’ve been keeping up with my shenanigans (ie, the publication of the first two books of the Feral Space Series) you’ll have noticed the gobsmackingly awesome covers.

They’re by the artist Duncan Halleck. I’ve been incredibly and undeservedly lucky to get Duncan as my cover artist. Feral is, after all, my debut series. I’d have been happy with something ripped from a stock photo site and sexed up a bit. But what I ultimately got was my own imagination staring back at me.

But better.

Early version of The Scalpel cover, with a bit more of the landscape on view.

So how does the process of cover art happen? Well, of course, it’s different with every publisher. Castrum Press are very keen to let the author and artist converse and throw around ideas together, which I absolutely relish. I can’t draw to anything like a professional standard but I love SF artwork, having grown up with two older brothers who collected a lot of those spaceship art coffee table books (I don’t know what else to call them) that were fairly popular in the eighties.

‘Elspar Capital City’

With The Scalpel, I sent a quick description of three scenes from the manuscript with a few paragraphs of quoted text. My advice to any writer in a similar position is to remember a cover is not there to explain the book, rather it’s there to sell it. That might sound cynical but, if you’re selling it right then you’re getting the individual essence of your work across, which is all to the potential reader’s benefit.

Cover for The Cronian Incident, by Matthew Williams (available from Castrum Press)

Duncan came back with a rough sketch of a character called The Ashemi and his eldritch surroundings. Now, the Ashemi isn’t the main character. In fact, he’s the protagonist of The Scalpel’s subplot. It was the last of my three suggestions that I’d have thought he’d use. But it was the right choice, in retrospect. The Ashemi- a lost soul incarnated into a sumptuous statue body- really captures the essence of my space fantasy epic.

‘Tactical Unit x57’

The cover for the sequel, The Delighted (see above), was pretty clear by this point: another Ashemi picture. After all, we had a ‘brand’ now, as it were.

I’m delighted with the, er, cover of The Delighted. It takes the same character but evokes a sort of awe rather than mystery this time around. Both covers compliment one another. They’re both markedly different but share an aesthetic.

‘Delta Airlines Global Cargo Hauler’

Anyway, go and check out Duncan’s work (see link at top of article). I love his visions. He’s one to watch.

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