Kevin Hearne has turned urban fantasy on its ear with his Iron Druid Chronicles, a fast-paced, action-packed series that blends the smartass humor of Jim Butcher’s Harry Dresden novels with a fresh take on legends, myths, and stories of gods and goddesses. The series has followed ancient Druid-turn-occult-bookshop-owner Atticus O’Sullivan through seven adventures. The next—and penultimate—volume, Staked, comes out in January 2016, but Del Rey Books has given us the opportunity to show you the cover today.
The full cover appears after the publisher’s blurb, along with a few thoughts from the series’ art director, David Stevenson.
Iron Druid Atticus O’Sullivan, hero of Kevin Hearne’s epic New York Times bestselling urban fantasy series, has a point to make—and then drive into a vampire’s heart.
When a druid has lived for two thousand years like Atticus, he’s bound to run afoul of a few vampires. Make that legions of them. Even his former friend and legal counsel turned out to be a bloodsucking backstabber. Now the toothy troublemakers—led by power-mad pain-in-the-neck Theophilus—have become a huge problem requiring a solution. It’s time to make a stand.
As always, Atticus wouldn’t mind a little backup. But his allies have problems of their own. Ornery archdruid Owen Kennedy is having a wee bit of troll trouble: Turns out when you stiff a troll, it’s not water under the bridge. Meanwhile, Granuaile is desperate to free herself of the Norse god Loki’s mark and elude his powers of divination—a quest that will bring her face-to-face with several Slavic nightmares.
As Atticus globetrots to stop his nemesis Theophilus, the journey leads to Rome. What better place to end an immortal than the Eternal City? But poetic justice won’t come without a price: In order to defeat Theophilus, Atticus may have to lose an old friend.
And here with some thoughts on the cover is art director David Stevenson:
As his fans will attest, Kevin Hearne’s novels are full of richly wrought details. Consequently, it can sometimes be a challenge to match the jacket illustration to the specifics of his stories, requiring hours of image research. Fortunately, Kevin is a generous collaborator, furnishing us with helpful information, and the super-talented illustrator, Gene Mollica, is versatile enough to handle any art task.
In the case of Staked, we were continuing with the character of Atticus. Prior to the previous book, Shattered, the model who portrays Atticus went and cut his hair! Imagine our surprise when he showed up for the shoot with shorn locks! Coincidentally (and luckily for us), Kevin had written about Atticus cutting his hair so the matchup was perfect. Staked was also going to be the first Iron Druid book to show Atticus without his trusty sword. Instead, Kevin told us that he should be brandishing a stake for his vampire encounters. These custom-designed stakes had to be dark wood, round, rustic, and carved with Celtic motifs. As usual, Gene was able to fashion the perfect depiction.
Our initial sketches were done before the final manuscript was completed, and showed Atticus lunging at the viewer with his stake, backed by a nondescript dark urban setting. At this point, Kevin explained that a central scene in the story takes place in the Piazza de Spagna in Rome, near the famous Spanish Steps…at night…in winter! Gulp. Lo and behold, digging deep we were actually able to unearth a nocturnal shot of the deserted Steps covered in snow. Why deserted? Well, we didn’t want Atticus fighting vampires with tourists milling about, now, did we? Collateral damage is bad, even in a fantasy world!
Following series style, we wanted Atticus to be the focus of the jacket so we decided to only hint at the vampires by making them eerie silhouettes tracking him from the rooftops. This is an example of anticipated action being more effective than actually showing the confrontation. Finally, once we had the pose and the background down, we added Atticus’s signature tattoos to complete the jacket.
And that’s the story of the jacket art for Staked. We hope his readers enjoy it!