Saturday, October 13, 2012

Cover Story - Rob Steiner

A great book cover inspires readers to ask the question the book seeks to answer. Since my design skills scream “amateur” (to put it kindly), I hired professionals to design great covers for two books I will publish in 2013. I think both designers did a fantastic job conveying the question of each book, and it was a pleasure to work with them both.


ZERVAKAN is a fantasy novel set in a world with 19th century technology -- steam engines, guns, telegraphs -- where two magical bands of light suddenly appear in the sky one night, spanning the horizons like rings around the planet. A scientist and a priest must discover the mystery behind the rings before their world is consumed by an evil they're not ready to fight.

Given the setting, I wanted a cover with a 19th century feel, but one that said "fantasy" and not "historical."

TJ Lomas brought my vision to life. He found an old photograph and added two bands of magical light on the horizons. He added color to the bands so they stood out. It's simple, but elegant. It grabs your attention and makes you ask, "What's with those two bands of light?"

ZERVAKAN will be released in January 2013, but you can read the "pre-published" version on


UMBRA CORPS (a working title) is an alternate history/sci-fi novel about a Roman Republic that survives its true-life fall and reaches the stars. A star ship crew of rogues must help the 12-year-old Consular Heir escape Rome with the terrifying secret behind the Republic's god-like technology.

For this cover, I worked with professional illustrator Stone Perales. My idea was to combine something iconically Roman with an anachronism that told readers it was alternate history.

The result: Mark Antony holding a musket while looking down on his Legions as they sack Rome.

Stone did a wonderful job capturing the ethereal look on Antony's face and the subtle detailing of his armor. My hope is that readers will see the cover and think, "Why is that ancient Roman soldier holding a musket? I've got to read this book to find out!"

UMBRA CORPS will be released in 2013.

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