Today we get an interesting take on both writing about Zombies and making the cover art! So pay attention, any writers out there with a keen eye for cover pictures. Writer Ella Grey tells us her story.
A few weeks ago my first zombie story and probably my last dip into that genre was published by Three Worlds Productions. Originally I wrote the story for a different publisher but decided to go into another direction, hence it stayed in my inbox and gathered dust.
I have a lot of stories in one state or another on my hard drive that might never see the light of day. I guess that’s part and parcel of being a writer tied to a fickle muse. I really need to get rid of him and get my hands on an ungraded model.
I’m not a great fan of zombies. Okay, I said it. I don’t watch ‘The Walking Dead’. I stay clear of George A Romero’s series of films, though I have seen some of them. I can actual tell you a lot of random facts about zombie movies because I’m a geek like that but I don’t like zombies. I’m okay with vampires, werewolves and other monsters but there is something about zombies that really freak me out. Maybe it’s the unrelenting shambling. The slightly dazed expression. There isn’t much going on behind those eyes but there is one burning need. They want to snack on you. An arm. A leg. I’m sure they would gobble up a finger or toe. There is no reasoning with them. You can’t put them off. A mother, father, child or a friend. They can be anyone and the only way to stop them is with a very sharp sword, a shotgun or anything to severe the spinal cord. Could you do that? I know that the will to survive is strong but say your daughter or son is coming towards you. Could you kill them? Maybe would argue that they are already dead. That they aren’t the person they once was and that’s true but when one of the monsters has the face of someone you love, could you hurt them?
When the zombie apocalypse comes I’m taking my family to the local supermarket and hiding out there.
Anyway back to the point.
I wouldn’t describe ‘The Last Days’ as a zombie story. They’re there but they aren’t the main focus. It’s a story about the bond between a mother and daughter. How far Grace Killen will go to save her daughter who’s been kidnapped by her father, an abusive man who Grace was paired with due to a lottery.
It’s also a story of Robert Carter. A man who is the leader to the small community of Oak. They both must work together to save the little girl. For Robert it’s a case of redemption. He has made a lot of mistakes in his time. He certainly doesn’t feel worth of the position of leader.
With a dash of an unconventional relationship and a monster who has a heartbeat. It’s a story that I’m proud of and it’s perfect to fill an hour or two. I also created the cover and I love the way it turned out.
I’m not an expert by any stretch of the imagination. So why did I decide that I needed to create the art for ‘The Last Days’? It’s a good question. To do a decent cover that wouldn’t end up on one of those websites that mock badly put together ones, I had to learn how to use Photoshop. Then I needed to spend hours searching stock image sites. I could have just let the publisher sort out the cover but I didn’t.
What did I find out about doing cover art?
A lot actually. It really isn’t as easy as A, B and you can get an awesome C. No it takes a lot of work. I was lucky I found an image that worked perfectly. I actually found the image a while back and knew that it needed to be the cover art for my story. I even suggested it to the publisher and they suggested I put it together myself. I’m never one to back away from a challenge.
Here’s the original image:
As you can see it really could have stood on its own. A strong image. It certainly got the point across. The town of Oak is surrounded by a chain fence so it even included elements of the story. The woman didn’t look particularly scary. So I worked on making the picture more imposing.
Using Photoshop I coloured in the iris making it a pale pink/red. I added the title in blue since I thought that went well with the colour palate. I even found a font called GOGOZombie, which went really well with the genre. It did take me a while to find the perfect font but that’s what trial and error is about. I shopped this cover about. Considering that I’d never really done it before I needed a second, third and a fourth opinion. People liked it but it was missing something. It looked too flat.
I was finally reaching a happy balance with this one. The eyes are redder. The title in red drew it all together and brought out the colour in the eyes. It still needed something so after a suggestion from Victoria Miller and Jo Huysamen. I ended up with this….
I ended up doing the rule of three, it probably has a more technical name but I’m calling it that. We have the title in red. The subtitle underneath it and the name in the corner. I wanted a reader to be drawn in by the eyes and then for their gaze to drift lower, taking it everything and settling on my name.
There were a lot more steps in between. I had to watch tutorials on YouTube on changing the colours of eyes. Then I had to learn about layers. All of the text are on separate layers which made it easier to move them into place. After I settled on this image I started to play around with it some more. This one was probably a step too far and I got told it looked more like a stone statue than a zombie.
What do you think?
The world went to hell a long time ago. Grace Killen is a woman on a mission. In a world where pairings are decided by a lottery, she got stuck with a man who abuses her. After their daughter is born, he leaves and Grace couldn’t be happier. He could end up as a meal for one of the shambling dead and she wouldn’t cry a single tear. Then he came back for Sophie. Robert Carter is a man with a lot on his plate. The leader of the Oaks and the only known person whose visited Chicago and lived. He doesn’t expect a beautiful woman needing his help or the baggage that she brings with her. Neither knows what the future will bring but they plan on facing it together.
The Last Days can be found here:
Three Worlds Productions: http://www.threeworldsproductionsllc.com/books/the-last-days/
Ella Grey can be found: