Five years ago (!) Rings of Anubis was published by Masque Books. When Masque passed on the sequels, Apokrupha picked the books up, which meant we needed covers and a new design aesthetic, which was terrifying and exciting. When I sent editor Jacob a link to my dream cover artist, I never imagined it would work out as perfectly as it did.
This summer, the final Folley & Mallory book -- The Ebon Jackal -- shall arrive and with it, another smashing cover from Ravven. Ravven was kind enough to endure an interview from yours truly, because I was curious about her and her work -- because she's made some astonishing covers through the years. While I absolutely want to show you the work she did for The Ebon Jackal, I wanted you to know her better, too! Soon: the reveal of the final Folley & Mallory cover and a preorder link! Now: interview!
You have done the art for best selling authors such as Annie Bellet, Shay Roberts, and Daniel Arenson. How long have you been creating book covers and how did you get started?
I started doing covers back in early 2012, if memory serves. It was a panic decision due to quitting my job as a web developer and designer, mainly building ecommerce sites (which I liked) for a terrible company (which I didn't). After a week of total panic, I dove into building a portfolio of book cover art and haven't regretted it at all since!
Did my Folley & Mallory book covers pose any specific challenges for you?
I hardly ever get to do steampunk covers, so it was enormously fun to work on these! Steampunk does require a bit of “frankensteining” (creating a model or a costume from many different images and painting in the rest), and you have to be careful that the overall image doesn't get too stiff as a result of having many bits of different images composited together. I love the main character's model, and she was fun to work with.
Are there any artists you take inspiration from?
SO many! I envy and adore Chris McGrath. John Jude Palencar. The old Thomas Canty covers.
Ah! I love John Jude Palencar. Do you have a favorite book cover (that someone else has made, not your own)?
Again, so many – either because of the artist, or because they do something that I'm terrible at, such as stunning typography or symbology/high concept covers. I love the Toby Daye covers for Seanan McGuire, as well as the Dresden series covers – both done by the same artist, Chris McGrath.
Some artists work with ink and paper, others with tablets and pixels. Has technology changed the way you work? Has it made it easier to get what's in your head onto the cover?
It's made it easier, certainly. My line drawing skills are poor, so my traditional art pieces were always very stiff. Having access to digital media allowed me to come closer to the image in my mind without being held back by my stupid fingers. Also, graphics tablets have made an enormous difference in the quality of the artwork and I couldn't work without my Wacom tablet.
You do a lot of different covers—urban fantasy, steampunk, romance; do you have a favorite genre to work in? To read?
I read mainly fantasy, science fiction, and urban fantasy. (I don't read a lot of the really steamy PNR stuff though.) Science fiction has always been my first love. I enjoy all of the different genres that I work in, although I don't consider myself to be a very good romance artist because I don't read in that genre, so it's more difficult to understand what that audience needs. I love steampunk (that's also the main type of cosplay that I do).
In addition to being an artist, you've also written poetry and fairy tales. Does one form inspire the other for you, or are they wholly separate pursuits?
It's all escapism, to be honest. I'm someone who has always wished heart and soul for that magic door, the wardrobe in an empty room, the portal to fall through into someplace magical. So both my personal art and the things I write are made of a wish for magic coupled with despair. 🙂
What are your favorite video games? Do games inspire your art?
Same as above – I love gaming and it's all portal fantasy for me. I mainly play MMOs (you name it, I've tried it, but currently mostly FFXIV) due to a sense of permanence. I like feeling as though I can always escape to that world and be someone different whenever I need to.
Do you have a dream cover that you would love to design—either in terms of who the author is, or the kind of story being told?
I've said recently that I would love to do a cover with a badass, sexy, older woman on the cover. There are rivers and oceans of books out there (that I do honestly love) with teenage main characters, but as I get older I see fewer and fewer books with people like myself. Although being just a bit younger than Madonna, I certainly don't feel old or boring or weak...I dream of being that tough, kickass woman in leather.
If you could redesign one book from the last two hundred years, what book would it be and why?
My ultimate dream would be to do covers for Charles de Lint's Newford books. So, not a single book but a number of them. Many of them have gorgeous covers already, especially the John Jude Palencar covers, so it's an entirely selfish wish!
Has the world at large over the last year changed the way you approach your work, or has it changed the work that emerges from you?
The world currently is...not great for most people. For a lot of us it's been pretty bleak and hopeless, and to be honest that is why I love being able to do this. My work is either fantasy/escapism, or tough UF heroines who are fighters. Both are acceptable responses to an increasingly dark world.
What's next for you? Any upcoming covers you can tease us about?
No covers that I can hint about, but I am working on (slooooowly working on!) ideas for a graphic novel and a tarot set. You'll hopefully see one or the other in the next decade or so, haha.
Tarot! That would be amazing. Ravven, thanks so much for taking the time to talk with me, and for all the work you've put into the Folley & Mallory covers. You really captured the spirit of the books.
To see more of Ravven's artwork, please visit her site, www.ravven.com, and if you're considering self-publishing your books, be sure to find the premade covers she also offers. They're beautiful and inspiring!
And now, because you've been so good, here's the cover for The Ebon Jackal! In this final book, Folley stares into that abyss and becomes the very thing that stares back at her... Three generations of women come together for one explosive conclusion!
The Ebon Jackal ebook is yours for pre-order, and don't fret -- if you want a paperback for your shelves, that will be along this summer (June 11!). I won't stop hollering about it, either, so there's no chance of you forgetting.
None whatsoever. <3