Red Ned Tudor Mysteries

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Darkness Divined- A Cover! A story in Itself!

Good day to my growing legion of devoted readers.  First before we start this instalment of Red Ned’s Tudor blog I would once more like you to take a moment to continue to think of those of us undergoing threat or privation around the world.  Disasters happen, then all too soon our attention is drawn away by some other media event.  Or maybe you have a neighbour who’s a tad poorly, well how are they?  Have you seen them recently, could they do with a hand?  Improving the world starts with your own community, I ask you that if it is possible please donate or support a local/international charity of your choice.

Now on to the latest news!  My first Red Ned The Liberties of London novella is now usually found in the Amazon UK top twenty of the Historical Mystery genre.  While even more gratifying its two longer companion stories in the series The Queen’s Oranges and The Cardinals Angels hover in between the top twenty and top fifty.  Thank you to all my friends and readers for your encouragement and support for quality historical fiction.
Also in the news my very talented partner and Uber Editor Jocelyn is now producing a series of blogs and video posts at about life, design art, cats, knitting and more cats.  Also, did I mention the cats?  So have a stroll over and watch a very entertaining (and amusing) segment from the creative crew of Maison d’ House.

Now on to the first book in my new dark Tudor historical fantasy Series Dark Devices —Darkness Divined.  It has recently gone live on Amazon as a downloadable ebook for Kindle or any little electronic beastie with a Kindle app.  So if you like your fantasy darker and firmly based in a historical period, then cruise on over and check out a sample.
In the meantime I thought we’d look at the cover art process for this novel.  In keeping with the Tudor theme of the series we have used a composition of the story elements based on existing period art work.  Personally I think this is much better than the headless bimbo theme currently used for almost every piece of historical fiction whether appropriate or not.  In fact a generally headless presentation would be perfect for at least two Tudor figures that spring to mind Mary Queen of Scots and Catherine Howard, apart from them I suspect it is laziness on the part of publishers.  A wonderful article on that theme can be found here or my satirical version on Prognostications and Pouting

 The covers for the other books both in the Red Ned and Peter Wilks series have taught us the advantages and pitfalls of the Indie author/publisher’s need for quality art.  Luckily our in-House budding artist Alex is improving in leaps and bounds with his design work and skill level.  While the critical eye of my dear Uber editor has summarily executed my wilder or more insanely complex suggestions (sigh I don’t know why she didn’t like the mechanical Tudor elephant, it looked great to me).

Thus the first stage was hours and hours going through the covers of fantasy, historical fantasy and darkly gothic/fantasy on Amazon, searching for ones that stood out or impressed.  That wasn’t as easy as it sounds there are thousands of books out there in those genres.  The result was dark tones or shadows with a hefty splash of red seemed to work best for visual atmosphere and mood.   As for the period flavour paintings I felt these were mainly used for straight Hist Fic except for some clever mashups like Pride and Prejudice, and Zombies.  So those were out, instead the most tempting medium was wood cut prints bang on period and versatile plus an excellent variety readily available.
After a fairly broad search I happened upon a beautiful set of prints by one of the true masters of the Tudor period Holbein.  Now honestly he should have been first on my list but as you know the most obvious is never really so.  This is one of a set that the master produced in his series the Dance of Death through the ranks of Renaissance society.  Due to Shakespeare’s wonderful use of allusions for London Tudor slang I chose this plate showing Death snuffing out the life of a Nun.  (Read the book I’m sure you’ll get the allusion)  See the following links for the orignial and the entire series

The stone wall represents either a cellar or a crypt where of course dark deeds are always committed. 

The background wall is a touch light in this shot, so we need to add Darkness with a circle of illumination to add atmosphere.

As for the artistic spray of blood down the bottom, I sure I don’t have to explain that for a Dark Historical Fantasy.

In this next stage we bring the woodcut into the cover projecting it on to the wall as from a magic lantern, completing the basic cover. 

The projector is based on a small sketch by the master of renaissance devices Leonardo da Vinci, whose mind must have been the very ferment of creativity for all the intricate drawings that sprang forth.  This one has the ubiqitoius lion's feet without which no piece of renaissance table art is complete.  To add to the Da Vinci-ness of the illustration we put the sketch on aged parchment and overlaided a selection of the master's reversed writings.

For the last stage see the finished cover at the start of this section, we chose a Tudor style gothic script to fix the period in the mind of the viewer and then inserted over it a colour and pattern of acid etched gold for the aged quality.
 As you can see here at the Maison d’ House we’re a creative bunch I hope your enjoyed this article and from here I suggest you cruise on over to Amazon and check out an Indie writer in your preferred genre.

Any way for those of you who may be interested here are the links to Darkness Divined at

Regards Greg.

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