It took about three years to write the novel RATHEN. As I neared completion I started thinking about what the book cover might look like. I wanted the cover to be an action scene and selected a fight in the story where the group encounters a large demon. I wanted Rathen in front and the cleric, Vargas on the floor where he was knocked to the floor in the story. Because the character, Bulo has a leading role I wanted him on the cover too.
On Facebook I saw a great painting of the Skeleton, Krom from Conan. I contacted the artist without know exactly who he was asking about his work. The artist was Matthew Stawicki whose work includes various book covers, illustrated cards for the Magic: The Gathering and work with Dragonlance. I asked Matt about the possibility of painting a cover for RATHEN so I could not only use it as a cover but also hang it up on my wall. Luckily Matt was interested in getting back into traditional media.
Matt drew up the first sketches that included four versions of the scene I described to him.
I liked them all but felt it would be better to focus on the demon and leave Rathen’s face hidden so the reader can maintain their own image. I liked number 2 and number 4, but the demon in number 4 looked a bit more like a dragon and the vertical image would be harder to create a book cover. So, number 2 it was. A few weeks later Matt sketched out a version in color.
I loved it! The colors really made the scene come to life. It was amazing to see how my characters popped to life. It was one thing to create the characters by deciding how they look, sound, and act. But to see them portrayed like a scene from a movie was a highlight of the writing process. It took several months for Matt to paint the sketch. I was lucky enough for his wife to take a picture of Matt in the process of painting RATEHN.
Another month and the painting was complete!
The details in the painting are unreal! Even the demon’s red eyes really stand out. This picture does not do the actual painting justice. The details in the armor and floor are incredible.
Writing a novel is a great experience but finding the perfect cover gives the process a perfect ending.