Chasing Graves by Ben Galley – COVER REVEAL
Meet Caltro Basalt. He’s a master locksmith, a selfish bastard, and as of his first night in Araxes, stone cold dead.
They call it the City of Countless Souls, the colossal jewel of the Arctian Empire, and all it takes to rule is to own more ghosts than any other. For in Araxes, the dead do not rest in peace in the afterlife, but live on as slaves for the rich.
While Caltro struggles to survive, those around him strive for the emperor’s throne in Araxes’ cutthroat game of power. The dead gods whisper from corpses, a soulstealer seeks to make a name for himself with the help of an ancient cult, a princess plots to purge the emperor from his armoured Sanctuary, and a murderer drags a body across the desert, intent on reaching Araxes no matter the cost.
Only one thing is certain in Araxes: death is only the beginning.
I am by no means an artist. I can sketch a map or two for my books, but beyond drawing mountains and coastlines my skills fall short. As far as I’m concerned, painting detailed landscapes, characters, dark monsters and axe-wielding saviours is akin to some sort of arcane wizardry.
When it came to the artwork for my new book Chasing Graves, I had a clear idea from the start about what I wanted on the cover. I spent several evenings in May propping up the bar at a local taphouse, deep in thought over which scene or character would be best to represent the book and trilogy as a whole.
Chasing Graves is a grimdark novel set in a world largely inspired by Egyptian mythology, where the murdered are bound after death as slaves for the rich. It’s the first in a trilogy centred around the struggle for freedom in a deeply corrupt and unjust world. Chasing Graves follows master thief and all-round prideful idiot Caltro Basalt as he’s thrust violently into this world of slavery. As such, I decided I wanted the cover to show the moment of Caltro’s removal from mortality, depicted in crisp, custom and powerful artwork. I was keen to show his outrage and helplessness, as well as hint at the ghostly themes of the books in the trilogy. I also wanted something eye-catching, with elements of horror woven in between the fantasy vibe.
And so, members of the jury, I present to you my crude sketch, the very first iteration of the Chasing Graves cover:
Hideous, right? Laughable. This is why I needed an artistic wizard; somebody that could take the feverish scratchings of a madman and turn them into something I’m proud to have as the book cover. Chasing Graves has been in the writing pipeline for many years now. It’s a trilogy I’ve enjoyed every minute writing, and I knew I had to do it justice.
Enter artist Chris Cold. When I say I stumbled upon his portfolio, I was walking around downtown Victoria, thumbing through ArtStation on my phone, and tripped over my own feet when I came across his profile. His artwork is a transfixing mix between painstaking detail, gothic and horror elements, as well as bold uses of limited colours. I couldn’t get enough of the thumbnails of demons and ghouls and spiny, derelict cities.
I emailed him before I got home and within a day I had a reply. I provided my horrendous sketch, a detailed brief, and several inspirations, such as the scene in Watchmen where Jon Osterman is blasted apart at the cellular level before becoming Dr Manhattan.
Over the next few weeks, art began to pop into my inbox. Each time, I have to admit, there was a smidgeon of dancing on my part.
Chris ended up being a mindreader as well as a wizard with a paintbrush, and honed in on exactly what I had in my mind’s eye. He added something of a Venom-y feel to the piece, too, which I thought was a great touch. Here’s the final piece he created:
Enter Wizard #2, Shawn King. I’ve had the pleasure of working with Shawn twice before and he’s a more than consummate professional. He produced the covers for The Heart of Stone and the prequel short story Shards, and as he did such a great job with those titles, I had to have him work on the typography for the very final covers. Within a week or two, he did just that, and with his usual brand of excellence:
I couldn’t be happier with the final result. It’s even better than I imagined, and every time I look at it, which has been a lot, I’m more and more convinced that I’ve got the perfect cover for my story. The dark tones and detail of Chris’ art and the grungy yet dynamic style of Shawn’s fonts suit Chasing Graves to a tee. The style of the ghostly elements is a perfect depiction of the binding process, and the bright blue and white against the bleak black certainly captures my eye. In short, I’m immensely proud to have worked with both of these wizards, and I’m thrilled to be finally sharing their work with you all. They’ve made Chasing Graves shine.
A huge thank you also goes out to The Fantasy Hive for hosting me and this cover reveal, and for letting me tell the story of how it came together. I hope you enjoyed it!
Chasing Graves is the first book in a new trilogy, and will be released on December 7th 2018 (ebook and paperback). Pre-order the ebook here.